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3/8/12

Mormons and Posthumous Baptism: Insulting or A Nice Gesture?

One of my LDS friends on Facebook posted an article from Slate, talking about Mormons and baptism of the dead.  Specifically of Daniel Pearl, a Jewish reporter from the Wall Street Journal who was beheaded in the middle east about 10 years ago.

My friend's opinion on the article was this:

"Can just say, If you don't believe it, does it really matter? If you don't believe in the LDS church, does it matter? It shouldn't be a big deal unless you believe the practice is actually going to "work". The Book of Mormon is just a book unless you believe it to be scripture."

And while I agree to an extent, I think it's the principle.  If you don't believe in religion and think 'dead is dead' there is no soul to play with after you've passed on and this practice is pointless.  However, for religious people, this could be seen as the Mormon Church trying to call 'dibs' on your soul...

If you read more into the actual ceremony, the LDS Church believes you can't get into heaven unless you're baptized, so that's what they do.  They don't necessarily baptize you MORMON, but they want to give you the chance to 'go home.'  According to this website, they only do it for ancestors and family members of mormons, but there are plenty of stories around citing random baptisms of Holocaust victims, and even Barack Obama's mother.

As far as I can tell, this is a 'souls only' thing, and they are not digging up graves in the middle of the night.  Still, in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse, it's going to be interesting to see how many of the undead think they're mormons now...

Some of the comments on the Slate website were interesting.  Askamormon has a website representative trying to explain the LDS point of view, while others chimed in saying "Mandate from heaven?  As a Catholic, I believe I have a divine mandate to burn you at the stake for your heretical practices. But as an American living in a pluralistic and secular society, I restrain that impulse for the greater good. There are some things that people of faith need to keep to themselves if we want to have a civilization. "

One commenter posted a link to a site called "All Dead Mormons are Now Gay" where you can baptize dead Mormons into homosexuals.  Interesting concept.

I also enjoyed the ever-confusing concept of Jewish people as a race vs religion.  I always thought Judaism was a religious choice, but apparently there are a lot of Jewish Mormons?  I don't even want to go down THIS road...

I just thought this was funny...
Lastly you can contact the church to be included in an opt-out list, so they don't go after you once you're dead.  However, a lot of people were asking for an opt-in vs an opt-out...

My general thought was I want to live and die by the beliefs I choose.  Whether that be Catholic/Atheist/Mormon/Hindu, etc.  Let me be who I want to be, and die that way as well.  I am free to make my own choice, and a posthumous baptism, to me, says "ok, now that you're done doing the wrong thing all your life, let US fix it for you!"

What are your thoughts on this subject?  Does it matter?  Do you believe in "Dead is dead?"  Or do you think a soul floats in purgatory (or worse) until the Mormons step in, and now, after 10 years, Daniel Pearl is finally in heaven?

Please share your opinions below.

(remember, you can comment anonymously if you like...)
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26 witty retorts:

Pickleope said...

Maybe it's because I just woke up but I'm so confused. Do they take the carcass and submerge it in water? Before or after embalming? Is it just a splash of water on the face? How do you baptize them as gay? Catholics have a mandate to burn people for heretical practices? My mind is melting. I can't even process this enough to form a judgement. I appreciate you enlightening me. At the very least provoking thought so early in the day.

Haven said...

First of all my spiritual beliefs are highly ecclectic but I'm essentially athiest. That being said, everyone has the right too choose their own path.

This baptism after death for people that did not ask for it is... EXTREMELY DISRESPECTFUL. I don't believe in gods or an afterlife and this actually infuriates me. Noone has the right to impose their will on another human being without their consent.

This is the equivalent of spiritual rape.

Forcing your beliefs on someone else, against their will, when they have no ability to defend themselves or voice consent/dissent, is just wrong.

Youngman Brown said...

Wouldn't choosing to be on an opt-in list be the same as choosing to be baptized while alive?

Additionally, as a side-note: I've got tons of people calling dibs on my soul.

A Beer for the Shower said...

Thank God the Mormons are here to save my soul! If you'll excuse me, I have to go out and cheat on my wife, beat a hooker to death with a lead pipe, rob the elderly, and shake a few babies. Then, when I die, just have the Mormons take care of my soul and I'll shoot straight up to heaven.

That IS how it works, right?

Bozo said...

I like ABFTS's version...

Personally I don't believe that doing something to a dead body will or can effect a soul.

Of course, if someone believes in it - why not... but it does seem strange to me that this would be imposed on someone who doesn't (didn't) share the same belief.

Zombie said...

I had no idea they could baptize dead people. lol

Ellen Lloyd said...

As a former Mormon I can say that most people don't fully understand how the posthumous baptism works. I personally think there's no problem with it. I'm not going to tell anyone they *can't* have a problem with it, but before you go claiming spiritual rape, it might be a good idea to research the issue thoroughly.

I will try to clarify a few points here:

1. No corpses! The baptism is done by proxy. This means that a live-person acts as a stand-in for the deceased. They just add the words "we baptize you for and in behalf of So-and-so." Done.

2. According to Mormon theology, posthumous baptism doesn't even turn people Mormon. The people aren't counted as members anywhere on the records. Posthumous baptisms are like paperwork, and the deceased spirit still has to "sign" if you will. They believe that everyone is free to accept or reject the baptism performed on their behalf; hence, no one is being "forced" into membership.

3. Mormons believe that a physical baptism (while alive or by proxy) is a prerequisite for salvation. Naturally, they're trying to offer it to everyone, just in case. I dunno about the rest of you, but I see it as kind of honorable that they believe non-members still have a good chance at being saved. I'd be a lot more offended if they thought everyone else was going to hell.

The long and the short of it? Meh... it's not hurting anyone; just let them do their thing.

Feel free to hit me up with any more questions! =)

P.S. If you're looking for a laugh, check out this "unbaptism" clip of Mitt Romney's father in law. XD

The Host said...

I'm an atheist, and a staunch one at that. I find the notion of a posthumous "conversion" profoundly disturbing. I have enough respect for the faith of others to know that those who lived in a faith have every right to stay a member of that faith long after their death. I wonder how the Mormons would feel about the Catholics stepping on their turf and gathering their own dead into the faith?

Mooner Johnson said...

Brandini. Are Mormon baptismals filled with cow urine?

That could explain quite a lot.

Mooner In The Perti Dish said...

OK, PS to Ellen Lloyd. What parts of Mormonism did you leave behind?

Al Penwasser said...

I don't know.....
but if I see a zombie riding a bicycle up my driveway, chances are probably real good that he's a Mormon.
Especially if he's wearing a white shirt and tie.

the Tsaritsa said...

The Jews consider themselves to be a tribe, and while there is no such thing as race, it's more than a religion. Thus, you have Jews for Jesus, and Jews for Joseph Smith (I guess?).

The whole posthumous baptizing is weird, at best, and disrespectful to those who are against the idea of religion.

And Daniel Pearl? Let the man rest in peace!

G said...

As a clergy man once said to me "It's ok if you don't believe in God, he believes in you :)"

Personally I thought that if you do get posthumously baptised by LDS that your soul gets the choice whether to accept it or not...

Electric Addict said...

all seems silly to me, but w/e. they're not hurting anyone

Katsidhe said...

It's a very odd concept. I guess that the Mormons are trying in their minds to do a kindness it makes the situation stickier. On the other hand if satanists were going around dousing old graves in blood, we would have a real issue.

I'm of a mind that I know where I'm, am pretty sure i know where my loved ones are going and really don't care about any "ancestors" that I've never met, so if a Mormon wants to come along and perform some voodoo on our graves, I won't lose any sleep.

(Wow I gave a serious response for once. I'm going to go drink Tequila now.)

Josie said...

I'm glad Ellen Loyde said all that to save me the energy. I would like to add one thing though... They do teach that the souls that are baptized are in kind of a 'limbo' and that when the baptism is done for them, they can ultimately decide whether or not to accept it.

And they don't go to dead peoples' graves. They just pull names from death records.

Hey Monkey Butt said...

First I still think dead is dead. I hope they clean those tubs or pools before they baptize the alive people... Ewwww! It's funny you post about zombies. Im thinking I want to run a series on zombies and the likes. want to guest post on my blog? email me kcdoe27 at hotmail dot com

StephanieC said...

Humanist.

Or fucking common sense. (Sorry - is it okay to swear here?)

Be a decent person. Don't be an asshole. Love those around you. Communicate. Don't lie or steal. Be compassionate. Make a difference.

Religion is just crazy in my eyes. Reasons to fight, kill, hate... and for blind faith. No hard proof.

Ok, now I've likely pissed people off, but that's my opinion.

Ellen Lloyd said...

@Mooner:

Belief-wise, I left it all behind, Christianity roots included. I currently identify as an atheist, agnostic and skeptic.

Lifestyle wise, I've kept a lot of the habits I grew up with, but not all... and I'm still figuring some stuff out.

Out of Barnes said...

I think the same thing applies with baptisms as it does with magic fairy dust. You have to believe in order for it to work.

Lady Estrogen said...

THIS, I want on a mug:
"As a Catholic, I believe I have a divine mandate to burn you at the stake for your heretical practices. But as an American living in a pluralistic and secular society, I restrain that impulse for the greater good."

OOOOOhh myyy feck. Love.

JJ said...

@Josie,
and what makes the LDS think that the souls they choose to baptize are souls that are in limbo? It seems pretty arrogant to make that assumption about people.

Red said...

Wow. Trying to be concise...

I understand that after the LDS has posthumously baptized, the sould still has to agree. I still don't think that makes it non-invasive. By forcing a baptism on a person's soul without their prior approval is denying them the right to decide.

I am Lutheran. I have always been Lutheran. I will always be Lutheran. I believe Martin Luther did his research and came up with the right idea. Don't ANYONE try to change me after I'm dead and have no say in the matter! Okay, i couldn't be outraged after i was dead, but for example if they did that to my dad? Hell yeah you better believe I am firebombing the hell (lol) out of their tabernacle!

Unknown said...

Just in case?? OK, so just in case your identity becomes irrelevant to you, after you are dead, we're going to claim your identity to be Jewish! How do you like it now? Is that clear enough?

NO. Jews have held on to our identity for over 5700 years. Do you think that was a casual decision that is likely to change? No. My ancestors WERE KILLED for our identity. Not so long ago.

I am not particularly religious, but this is an assault against living Jews. ASSAULT.

Brion said...

As a "Mormon", this whole baptisms for the dead seems to have blown out of proportion, in many ways. I see why it offends some people. I also think we are wasting time on a practice that we believe can be done after this life anyway, so why not wait. Let me explain my reasoning, bearing in mind most "Mormons" believe every person who ever lived has to be baptised to enter heaven.

1. Given how family history can only go back a small fraction of mans existence, we only be able to baptise a few people. And said records may be inaccurate or completely wrong.
2. We believe there is a period of 1000 years in which said "work" can be done. And all those still on earth will be immortal and able to baptise for the dead...also God will be there and can fill in the glaring gaps.
3. People are suffering now. Why are we as mormons sacrificing whole days travelling to temples, when we could help people with real needs. Think of the cost of building temples. Nice buildings keep religious people happy but at what cost? We've exceeded our happiness to extravagance ratio.

Some of our beliefs are crazy, some I don't even believe. Which is OK. But seriously we need to change. As I've said there are seasons for everything, and this should all wait for a season when there is no death, and the time to do it. Lastly we have faith in our varying beliefs, but there may well be no afterlife. We may be wrong. Faith may not equal the actual reality!

Anonymous said...

How do the re-baptizers know what a soul chooses? I have a theory; they are channeling the dead & hear voices (but only in their head & NOT from God) therefore they ALL need to get on psyche meds as soon as possible!!!

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