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Taking God out of Godparenting?

Taking God out of godparents

By Victoria Combe, Churches Correspondent  

PARENTS and godparents may no longer have to say that they believe in God, under proposed revisions to the baptism service. The proposals, which will continue to be debated by the General Synod today, have met opposition from evangelicals, who see them as weakening the liturgy.

The priest would no longer say to godparents before the profession of faith: "You speak for yourselves and for this child." Instead, the onus is taken off the godparents' personal faith and put on to the child. The new baptism says: "Parents and godparents, the Christian community receives these children with joy. Will you trust God for their growth in faith and walk with them in the way of Christ?"

It continues by saying: "In baptism these children begin their journey in faith. You speak for them today." The godparents would no longer be asked: "Do you believe and trust in God?" They would still have to say they "turn to Christ" and "renounce the devil", but the change means that they do it by way of proxy for the child, not for themselves.

Father Sam Philpott, of Exeter diocese, said: "This is turning Christianity into a soft option. We need to know that people making promises on behalf of would-be Christians are Christians."

The Rev Michael Norman, of Bath and Wells, said it was imperative that godparents declare their faith. The Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, however, supported the more open wording because "it moves the concept of baptism beyond being rules for joining the club".

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