Saturday, February 18, 2012

Mormon Retroactive Baptisms and Jewish Outrage: Give Me a Break

Mormon Baptize Dead

Religion News Service
(RNS) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has apologized for a Mormon who baptized the late parents of famed Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal. But despite calls this week from Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and others to rethink the controversial rite, the church is unlikely to drop it entirely.
Latter-day Saints trace posthumous baptism to the Apostle Paul, who wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:29, "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead not rise at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?" Mormons believe that Joseph Smith, their faith's founding prophet, restored the apostolic practice after centuries of neglect by mainstream Christians.

 Practical Buddhist Responds

For generations Mormons have been baptizing the dead  to make sure their unbaptized ancestors can get into the Celestial Kingdom, and to keep the family together forever. Do you think it's odd? It's no more weird than praying to saints or putting paper prayers in the Western Wall. 

Not long ago, in a burst of well-intentioned posthumous proselytizing, Mormons baptized hundreds of thousands of Holocaust dead, and LDS authorities had to apologize and  spend $500,000 to take the beneficiaries off the rolls.  You're only supposed to baptize family members, under normal circumstances, and certainly not strangers.

If I found out some zealous Mormons had baptized all my relatives for the past 300 years, I wouldn't mind. I'd say thanks, and remember that no matter what I believe, a  blessing isn't going to hurt.  Besides, Mormons teach that the baptized dead have to accept the Baptism or it doesn't work.

Get real. Religion makes people act strange. Sometimes it makes us violent or crazy, but it always makes us act a bit peculiar, or it wouldn't be much of a religion.  If you think Mormons are odd about the dead, you haven't been around Shinto practices, or Hindu lately. 

Jews have thousands of years of suffering and exploitation, just for being Jewish.  It's one of humanity's worst crimes to date. But I think all the outrage and fuss over an American Mormon baptizing two dead Jews retroactively, especially when LDS leaders have apologized so profusely and made it clear it was against the rules, well. . .give me a break.  We have far, far bigger fish to fry.