In both Protestant and Catholic denominations, christenings/baptisms have been gradually declining since the 1970s. Religion remains precariously positioned between the new and old world, constantly struggling to keep up with and stay relevant in these modern times. The dogmatic doctrine of our parents’ generation (think Meryl Streep as the yardstick wielding nun in the 2005 Best Picture nominee Doubt) is a thing of the past. Most millennials are happy to embrace less religious but more spiritual ways of practicing their beliefs, reinterpreting ancient faiths to accommodate their modern lives. Interestingly, while christenings are not nearly as popular as they were 40 years ago, the popularity of godparents has skyrocketed!
Religious tradition has always stipulated there be 1 male and 1 female, designated ambassadors of faith meant to provide spiritual guidance to the blessed child. I feel like it’s definitely more of a popularity contest these days. Michael Jackson made Macaulay Culkin and Elizabeth Taylor the “godparents” of both Paris and Prince Jackson. How much spiritual guidance do you think either of them actually provide?
The decline in christenings and the rise of godparents is an honest reflection of how modern society is embracing these old traditions. It has become less about religion and more about how many of your close friends can fit in the church.