So I’m out on a pseudo double date the other day and a close friend of mine mentions how he just came from seeing his nephew baptized. He mentioned he’s the godfather -insert Marlon Brando’s voice here – and we all congratulated him on the honor. But then he continued by saying, “That was the first time I’ve been to church in forever, and I don’t plan on going back anytime soon” That got a little chuckle from me, but then he mentioned that though his godson’s parents are catholic, neither parent of the newly anointed child EVER go to church.
In adhering to my feline slaughtering curiosity, I decided to tread lightly into murkier waters, “If neither of them go to church, why bother even having the kid baptized?” To this I expected any of the following answers;
#1 The parents want to start going to church again and figure this is a good way to make them return.
#2 The grandparents forced it on them
#3 Our priest has revealing photos he threatened to publish in next week’s bulletin
But what he answered surprised me even more than #3 would have, “They want to make sure the kid has some guidance”
WHAT?!?! At that moment I bit my tongue until it nearly bled down my throat. I figured since I was on a double date, entering the gauntlet of a religious debate surely was no way to wooo her.
One thing that’s always bugged me about religion is that people always seem to blur the lines between ethics, and morals and their correlation with the big man on the cross. I have personally met the parents in question and they’re genuinely really great people. I just think its too bad that they believe without religion their child won’t have proper guidance, because I think it takes away from how great of a job I’m sure they’ll do.
I spent my entire pre-university education in the catholic system and the main difference I noticed was that I had to take 4 years of religion classes whereas my peers in the public system were free to take frivolous subjects like physics and computer science. The caliber of teachers was certainly no better. I’ve seen one teacher throw a dictionary at a kid for falling asleep in class, another tell a student they’ll never amount to anything in life, and my favorite, is the teacher that singled out and mocked a GRADE THREE student for what was apparently a lesson in how to be a tough douche-bag in front of a class of 8 year olds.
I don’t think it takes prayer and the fear of god for a child to have proper guidance. If anything I’m probably a better person now that I’ve left religion behind me. Catholicism in particular gives people a Get Out of Hell free card to sin. Sure there are the 10 commandments, but you can lie, cheat, steal, and even kill someone…but just show them to the nearest penalty box (see- confessional), and 15 Our Fathers later, they’ve got a clean soul to start knocking off convenience stores if they’d like, “See you next week father”.
Treating people with respect and dignity, being loyal to your significant other, and in general trying to live a life you’ll be happy to die with is something I believe is up to the parents to teach their children. If they happen to use certain stories from the bible to inspire those beliefs that’s great, but I think Aesop’s fables and Disney (Pirates I, II, and III excluded) can be just as useful. A lot of parents seem to shy away from assuming this responsibility and then blame it on Marilyn Manson, violent television, or Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction; and heaven forbid the parents lead by example to teach their children.
Religion’s ultimate weapon in child rearing is the fear of god’s wrath, the fear of hell, eternal damnation, yada yada yada. To sum up religion’s view on ethics, “Be good…or else”. I got tired of this empty threat around the same time I realized my uncle Dennis didn’t have Santa’s personal phone number. Like Santa needs a phone…geez!
All I know is that one day if I am fortunate enough to have children of my own (or even if I steal someone else’s), I plan to take it as my responsibility to live my life as an example for how they should live theirs.
As for any parents of a brand new catholic school student, they might want to mention that just because Abraham nearly murdered his own son because he heard it from god, its typically not okay to listen to other voices in your head.
And since I can’t leave a religious post without a laugh check out George Carlin condensing the 10 Commandments down to 2 Commandments.