mormon-baptism
Typical Mormon Baptism

Ann Romney’s father was an adamant atheist—a reality that apparently did not sit well with her predominantly Mormon family. So 14 months after he died, she took care of that by having him baptized posthumously.

I was unaware of this, but it seems this is not an uncommon practice in Mormonism.  They have gone so far as to baptize tens of thousands of Jewish holocaust victims.  You know… just in case.

Let me be clear, I don’t think this is a political issue or liability for Romney.  Nor am I trying to make the point that Mormons are strange.  Every group has its rituals, customs, and practices that will seem strange to outsiders.  I have no doubt the church and the Romneys had nothing but good intentions here.

Still, my initial reaction was sympathy for the father who’s life had somehow been betrayed in death.  Once he was no longer in a position to choose, his “faith” was chosen for him by those who felt they knew what was best for him.  I would be more than a little pissed-off if this were to happen to me, but then I’d be rather dead at that point, so I guess I wouldn’t really know.

But in thinking further, it occurs to me that we do this sort of thing all the time.  Religious funeral ceremonies for irreligious people because it’s important to the family aren’t all that uncommon.  What’s more, there are lots of babies baptized in this culture, and they aren’t in any more of a position to choose than the dead.  Although I can’t help but feel that choosing a starting point for someone (a baby) that has never made a choice, and has a lifetime to re-choose, is a much more innocent gesture than reversing the choice of someone who has made a pretty clear choice and has no opportunity to re-choose.  Which is maybe why I can’t shake the feeling of revulsion here.

13 thoughts on “Wait, the Mormons Posthumously Baptize People?

  1. It all started when they made Jesus a Christian after he died.

    Can you posthumously make someone an atheist?

  2. Reminds me of Pat Tillman’s funeral where one of his brothers, Richard, responded to religious comments made by Maria Shriver and John McCain during the service. Richard asserted that Pat is “not with God, he’s fucking dead. He’s not religious.” He added, “Thanks for your thoughts, but he’s fucking dead.”

  3. The Mormons used to baptize Jewish people murdered during the Holocaust. The State of Israel objected to this practice and the Mormons “desisted”. Didn’t see how they had caused anyone harm. Felt offended.

    So it goes.

  4. This is NOT an F-U to the dead! They have a CHOICE to accept the gospel or dismiss it. Perhaps in death, a soul could realize that the word of God might be true, if is only a myth, than what is the harm?

  5. Yes, while alive, they have a choice. In this case, the choice to dismiss the Gospel was clear. If there is a soul which can repent and re-choose later, then fine, but the living people performing the baptism have no insight whatsoever to the soul’s new choice, or even if it’s possible to choose. And that is the F-U. Having chosen to live godless, other living people, in full awareness of the now dead person’s choice, and without any possible knowledge of the dead person’s soul’s actions since, have re-chosen for the person in express disregard for that person’s wishes. In other words, “I know what you said when you were alive, but you were wrong. And since you’re dead now, you cant stop me. So F-U, we’re doing it my way.”

  6. 1. think of it from their point of view. the gave him a chance to decide, “do i want to be an atheist or mormon in death?” if there is a god, bam! he’s in heaven, if there is only death, well, he’s dead. no offense.

  7. I don’t think the Mormons are ill-intentioned in this action. I’m sure they think they’re doing the dead a service. That doesn’t make the action any more respectful to the dead or the life they lived. Maybe the key is to look at it another way. What if a devout Mormon died, and he was then posthumously made a Muslim, and his grandchildren were brought up to remember him as a follower of Allah? Would that piss off the dead guy if he knew? Would others who knew and loved him think his family desecrated his memory? Same thing.

  8. Brigham Young and the entire Mormon hierarchy would have been hanged in 1857, had the Mountain Meadows Massacre been prosecuted to its fullest potential .. Whence some one hundred and forty, California bound Arkansas men and women, were slaughtered under a flag of truce, after Mormons decked out as Indians attacked their wagons.

    Forty two white men were hanged at Gainesville Texas in 1862, for failing to support the Confederacy, the same year thirty eight Santee Sioux were hanged in Minnesota, after five American settlers were killed by Indians, whose case rested on their assertion that the settlers had fired first.

    While eighty five Irish traitors, were justly hanged in New Mexico in 1846, they had deserted General Taylor’s command, and joined Santa Anna’s forces in Mexico, then crossing back into Texas slew eleven of their former comrades from ambush, on the northern banks of the Rio Grande!

    Fifty four Mormons took part in the Mountain Meadows Massacre, of whom thirty two were from England .. Brigham Y was up to his neck in it all, as well he received livestock and property looted from the wagons .. John D Lee Mormon Bishop and adopted son of BY, was the single Mormon executed by firing squad in 1877, twenty yrs after the event!

    Provo Utah is the site of at least one FEMA camp – picture inbred descendants of the massacre perpetrators, having their way with the thousands of internees, using the same rationale that fueled the MMM, that the victims are “Gentiles!”

  9. Yeah, this is one of the more strange practices I learned about when I lived in Salt Lake City for a few years. Overall though, their religion isn’t any more strange that any other. None of them make any sense if you’re not used to them.

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