Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Why Is This A Big Deal?

I'm not a Mormon but I could never understand the brouhaha about this, uh, interesting aspect of Mormon belief:
Mormon church leaders apologized to the family of Holocaust survivor and Jewish rights advocate Simon Wiesenthal after his parents were posthumously baptized, a controversial ritual that Mormons believe allows deceased people a way to the afterlife but offends members of many other religions.
If you think the Mormons are wrong about God, then what they do has no impact on you at all. So they "baptized" your ancestors. So what? If they're wrong, the worst that's happened is they wasted their time. If they're wrong, then your ancestor isn't a baptized Mormon, which should make the complainers happy.

If the Mormons are right about God, then they saved your ancestor. You may not believe in Hell, but if the Mormons are right, there is one and your ancestor was going there--but isn't now, thanks to the Mormons. And if the Mormons are right, Hell isn't going to be a place of fun and partying, so no one truly wants to go there. They did your ancestor a solid, why are you complaining?

If you're offended because you don't like it that the Mormons think your ancestor (and perhaps you) are going to Hell--you don't like the Mormons anyway, why do you care if they think you're going to Hell? You probably think their religion is kookie.

This (to my mind) strange belief of the Mormons harms no one at all and it makes Mormons feel good for doing something to help the unfortunate. In all seriousness I ask, where is the harm? I don't believe in perpetuating a medieval superstition by saying "bless you" when someone sneezes, but I don't get all bent out of shape is someone says it to me when I sneeze.


Anonymous said...

Making a wild guess, I suspect that for the offended folks this "feels" similar to historical forced conversions.

It isn't.

But I can see how there are at least some superficial similarities.

-Mark Roulo

Jean said...

I'm a Mormon and I can see why people, especially Jewish folks, get upset about the idea. The fact is that although the LDS Church has had rules against it for years, some clueless people still put in Jewish names. Apparently the person who did it this time has been barred from ever entering names again.

Our beliefs are not, btw, that anyone who gets baptized posthumously is automatically saved. It's supposed to give them the choice. We're very big on the freedom to make choices. And we don't really believe in a fiery burning Hell so much. But everyone is supposed to get a chance.

pseudotsuga said...

Many people leave out the fact that these baptisms for the dead are giving the choice to the deceased--he/she can accept the baptism as valid or not. Thus, deceased Uncle John, a staunch Baptist/Catholic/Buddhist/Whatever who has a Mormon relative who performs a proxy baptism for Uncle John, is free in the afterlife to accept the baptism or not. And Mormons don't automatically think of such people as "Mormons" just because a baptism was performed for him/her.

Ellen K said...

It is funny you write this. My mother still seethes over the "baptism" of long dead relatives by a very zealous LDS cousin. She finds it an affront and get really mad about it. I figure that if I don't believe in it, it doesn't matter.