THERE are all the ingredients for a Pythonesque comedy sketch focusing on the Mormon practice of baptising dead folk – including non-Christians like Jews, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, Pastafarians and the like.
Trouble is, a lot of people – mainly Jews – aren’t seeing the funny side of this barminess, and there has been a lot outrage expressed on the Internet following a report that some Mormon had baptised the parents of Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal.
The Church of Latter-Day Saints had to apologise over that blunder – and apologise once more after it was reported that Anne Frank, the famous diarist and Holocaust victim, had been secretly co-opted into the Mormon Church. She had been “christened” at a Mormon temple in the Dominican Republic. A local child, acting as her spiritual proxy, is believed to have been dunked in a font during the ceremony.
In an apologetic statement, the Mormon Church’s PR department neither confirmed nor denied that the event had taken place, but declared itself:
Absolutely firm in its commitment to not accept the names of Holocaust victims for proxy baptism.
It is distressing when an individual wilfully violates the Church’s policy and something that should be understood to be an offering based on love and respect becomes a source of contention.
Some wag (or wags) then thought:
Whoa, if dead people can be turned into Mormons, what’s to stop us from turning dead Mormons gay?
And so, people, we now have the All Dead Mormons Are Now Gay site.
I discovered its existence via this piece written by “queer Jew” Jay Michaelson, who concluded:
Of course, what we’re really offended by is that some living person somewhere thinks that this [post-mortem baptisms] is okay to do, using the names of our deceased and our historic heroes. It’s not offensive because their belief is efficacious; it’s offensive because of what it reveals about their intentions and attitudes toward people we hold dear.
Come to think of it, that’s true whether the people in question are dead Jews or living gays.
This prompted one Mormon to comment:
We believe that post-mortal spirits are sentient beings with moral agency, so they should be, and are, able to decide for themselves what choices they make. Denying individuals (alive or dead) the opportunity to choose for themselves is an affront to the justice and mercy of God. (I understand how events like the Holocaust can make it difficult for many to believe in justice and mercy, and indeed, to believe in God.)
Perhaps another example, the most important example of a vicarious ordinance, will clarify our viewpoint. Christ has already paid the price for the sins and errors of all human, whether they accept it or not. However, this atonement does not become operational until we accept Christ’s sacrifice for us. If this concept is an affront to non-Christians (including Jews), at least it is a loving and Christian one.