The Christian Ministries Centre has taken a bold decision to reject marijuana smokers as godparents of any child being christened or dedicated at the St John’s-based church.
The rule applies to both males and females.
Traditionally, godparents are considered to be among the most important people at a christening, as they promise to support and stand in for the parents if the need arises, as well as to encourage their godchildren to grow in the Christian faith.
Fulfilling these important roles is the driving force behind the decision of the organisation’s head, Bishop Charlesworth Browne, who has decided to ban weed smokers from taking on those responsibilities.
“We do have a session with godparents before the day of the infant dedication, and we have taken the bold step to make a declaration that anyone who is a marijuana smoker cannot be the sponsor of a child for infant dedication,” Bishop Browne told Observer.
He said there is often pushback from young people when their parents caution them about the use of ganja, and that if the children’s godparents are using the herb, that in itself is a conflict of interest.
“Godparents ought to be helping the parents with the godly upbringing, the Christian upbringing and all that augurs for the fullness of human flourishing … but we have seen to be so destructive the reckless marijuana use,” he explained.
Bishop Browne admitted that there are “other things” that are critical to the matter, but the church will begin with the use of cannabis.
“We have taken a bold step to make a declaration and we want the entire community to know that at the Christian Ministries Centre, when it comes to the offering up — as we call it sometimes — of children, the dedication of our children, and where it relates to godparents or sponsors, a person cannot be a sponsor, cannot be a godparent, if he or she is a marijuana smoker. That’s a settled matter as it stands today,” he added.
There has been a move in recent years to decriminalise marijuana around the world, with Antigua and Barbuda among some Caribbean countries already allowing its use for medicinal purposes. Small amounts can also be used for personal consumption.
Antigua and Barbuda recently became one of the first Caribbean nations to grant Rastafari official sacramental authorisation to grow the herb.
For decades, Rastafarians have been persecuted and jailed for using marijuana.