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.