Oh those silly Mormons, first it was Joseph Smith with a magic rock hunting (quite unsuccessfully) for buried treasure, then it was special holy underwear, now it’s all about baptism for the dead. What will they think of next?
Truly, Mormonism is on the cutting edge of religious-zaniness.
But I kid, I kid. It’s not like the other religions are any less ridiculous.
The whole baptism for the dead thing has been a feature of religious news for a few years now. The Church of Latter Day Saints has posthumously baptized all sorts of people over the years from all walks of life. You’ve got your Gandhis, your Anne Franks, and of course, Obama’s mother. I think they could take it a step further, you know, really step their game up and offer repentance to some truly weird figures from history. Maybe George Washington or Napoleon would fit right into the Mormon afterlife. Why not Genghis Khan? I mean, everyone deserves a second chance, right?
Watch out though, that stuff is bound to have consequences.
On a more serious note, the whole idea of baptizing folks that died either with the “wrong” religion or without access or knowledge to the “correct” religion is completely offensive to people outside the Mormon Church. It presumes that these individuals lived incorrectly or made the wrong choices in life and denigrates the memory of the lives they lived. Furthermore, (and this is an issue I take with all religions that propose some kind of hard and fast rules for admittance to an after life) the belief that it takes one hearing of and believing in the religion of Joseph Smith to get into the nice part of the afterlife means that God didn’t see it as necessary to offer up this “correct” religion until around two hundred years ago. Now, theoretically, every spirit that passes on ends up mucking about in some kind of shitty purgatory for thousands of years until Joseph Smith’s followers can get around to praying for them. But, since we don’t really know every single person that died everywhere throughout history, it’s impossible that everyone is given the opportunity to choose the Mormons’ “correct” path.
I call bullshit.
Let me be clear, I’m not picking on just Mormonism here, this is an issue with Christianity at large (and other religions with similar ideas) and one that has never been properly explained to me, though I have had many conversations with my family’s priest. It all just seems a little too…short sighted to me to be true.
While the whole concept of posthumous baptism seems silly and wrong to people of other faiths, it’s hard to say that it’s done maliciously. Mormons, like any other religious people, believe that they are right and that your beliefs and your choice of religion have far reaching consequences. We’re talking eternal consequences. Their idea is that they are offering you a choice in that purgatory realm by performing baptisms for the dead. It’s a sweet idea, if a little bit misguided.
All that said, there’s no real reason to get upset about it, it’s more funny than anything else, as is the case with most things in life. They’ve only just started on historical figures, Odin only know where they’ll go next. Maybe fictional characters?
I’d love to see what happens if they baptized Sauron or Harry Potter into heaven.
On second thought, this sounds like a great concept for my new graphic novel…