Baptismals Anonymous – Or, How to Baptize the Dead

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by Joshua L. Durkin

Anne Frank, who was recently given a posthumous baptism at a Mormom temple.

In 2010 a pact was agreed upon between the Mormon Church and Jewish leaders that the Mormon Church would stop baptizing dead Jewish Holocaust victims after lists of names were discovered that indicated they had been posthumously baptized.

Even alive humans have found this a bit odd. For instance, in 2010 a pact was agreed upon between the Mormon Church and Jewish leaders that the Mormon Church would stop baptizing dead Jewish Holocaust victims after lists of names were discovered that indicated they had been posthumously baptized.

However, two years later, the memo for that agreement still hasn’t reached all the appropriate parties.

by Joshua L. Durkin

 


 

Say you died in 1936. You had been a practicing Jew and liked your religion enough that you would never consider joining another religion. You felt that your cosmic fate was safe. But then, seventy years later, you feel a little buzz in your soul and float back down to earth to find that someone you don’t know is baptizing your soul, and you’re not even related to them.

Anne Frank, who was recenly given a posthumous baptism at a Mormom temple.Even alive humans have found this a bit odd. For instance, in 2010 a pact was agreed upon between the Mormon Church and Jewish leaders that the Mormon Church would stop baptizing dead Jewish Holocaust victims after lists of names were discovered that indicated they had been posthumously baptized.

However, two years later, the memo for that agreement still hasn’t reached all the appropriate parties.

Andrea Stone reported in a Huffington Post article that last Saturday a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gave Anne Frank—the Holocaust victim we all know—a proxy posthumous baptism at a Mormon temple in the Dominican Republic. Helen Radkey, a former member of the Mormon Church turned Salt Lake City investigator, discovered Frank’s name on a list of recent posthumous baptisms.

Now, as some have already argued, Anne Frank (born Annelies Marie Frank) was only 15 when she died, was never married, and she bore no children. This is important, because the process of posthumous baptism is only supposed to apply to ancestors of the deceased. As such, Frank has none.

According to Mormon.org: “…Baptism is essential for salvation in the kingdom of God.” And that, “This practice has been restored with the establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [CofJCofL-dSnts].”

Elie Wiesel, author of bestselling memoir Night, was eyed as a candidate for posthumous baptism. Recently, he publicly said that Mitt Romney should tell the Mormon Church to stop posthumous baptisms. Wiesel, a Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor, is still quite alive.

 

Anne Frank—the Holocaust victim we all know—was posthumously baptized at a Mormon temple in the Dominican Republic.

 

What motivates the Mormon Church, or at least some members within the church, to baptize people of other religions that they are not related to? In a sense, the sentiment is like adopting another nation’s hero as one’s own with the added oddness of proclaiming that they were in fact a secret American the whole time.

Maybe, to boost international appeal, we can give some awards to historical figures such as Winston Churchill, or maybe Kofi Annan, and eventually claim that they all along were secret Americans? Might be fun.

At least, this is the same kind of logic that people use when they claim that our President is a secret Muslim. There is, of course, not a thing wrong with being Muslim, but in the absence of any evidence that Obama is a Muslim, and with all the evidence that he’s led a Christian life, it’s more than a bit stultifying that people still claim that he’s anti-religious and also a Muslim. A quick note: Barack Obama’s mother was baptized after death, along with scores of Jewish Holocaust victims who, obviously, would have a hard time defending themselves from unwanted baptisms.

But, people love to embrace conspiracy theories and their inner dumbasses. And as such there are some other ways to take this kind of logic.

What if the Statue of Liberty was given to our country by the French because it’s really a whatever-ton antenna that will tell any interstellar travelers to bomb the hell out of America and leave the rest of the world free of harm, while extolling the virtue of a good cigarette and how it enhances a person’s silhouette. It’s true, right?

But this Mormonic situation is not much else but ridiculous. And, it’s a shame for the Mormon Church because there are tons of Mormons who are good people, and it is likely that in this case the actions of a few are defacing the dignity of the many.

The revelation of posthumous baptisms of Jewish Holocaust victims, living survivors, and other notables such as Obama’s mother, reaffirms cynicism and general frustration with religion.

People who want to be idealists end up cynics like William Shakespeare’s Prince of Denmark, Hamlet, who stated, “What a piece of work is a man!”

So, why are Mormons baptizing people who are not their ancestors and were never a part of their religion? Is it the pride of having swollen ranks? Why else would they want to posthumously baptize people? They claim that it is to salvage the souls of the perceived damned, but those perceived damned didn’t think they were damned when they were alive, so it’s at least a bit of an insult to their memories to suggest they need saving even if the whole process is really just a bit of bad theatre that apparently all other forms of Christianity long ago disavowed.

 

The revelation of posthumous baptisms of Jewish Holocaust victims, living survivors, and other notables such as Obama’s mother, reaffirms cynicism and general frustration with religion.

 

Holocaust survivor Elie Weisel, who was recently on the Mormom Church's list for a posthumous baptism.Let’s go to the Mormon’s website again:

“To prevent duplication the Church keeps a record of the deceased persons who have been baptized. Some have misunderstood that when baptisms for the dead are performed the names of deceased persons are being added to the membership records of the Church. This is not the case.”

So, from their own digital mouths, it’s not about the numbers, or the fame.

The root of posthumous baptism is simple enough. A relative of yours dies, not having undergone a baptismal right, and you offer a body to baptize their spirit. He or she is your ancestor. What’s negative about that? Not much. But the problems begin when members of the Mormon Church start baptizing humans that aren’t their ancestors.

Note: Isn’t it a bit socialistic, possibly even in the realm of religious welfare (think about it), to say that you can offer salvation to everybody, even when they’re already dead? Chairman Mao must be giddy and rolling in his grave with all this posthumous possibility.

This weird posthumous peripeteia for the memories of people like Anne Frank and the still living Elie Wiesel are disturbing because history is so hard to get right as it is, and now there’s this odd situation thrown into the books.

And there are plenty of odd things going on right now as is with religion. For instance, some parishes performed drive-through ashing for Ash Wednesday. That’s weird. But not nearly as funny as the Rapturists—wow, they must have a hella awesome time with all their hallucinations. People usually have to pay to feel like that.

The rancor of the whole story is the petty, childish logic that the Mormons who have done this have used. The Catholic Church, as well as other Christian churches, have forbidden the practice, which apparently derives from a Gnostic group considered to be heretical.

When a group of people claim to have enough self-prescribed knowledge of how the world works—which is true stupidity—and they claim that they are saving the dead from waste, all they are really doing is perverting the memories of the dead the way that a young, newly pubescent boy on an urge perverts the image of a woman into some sexual object, while nearly ruining his sheets.

With all these non-consensual baptisms going on, have the Mormons who have preformed the acts actually altered the cosmic ends of these dead (and living) people? No. Of course not. But they’re altering how people remember them, and that’s wrong.

There are many reasons to avoid a posthumous baptism. But the main one might be that you would consider it a complete insult to your remembrance if you were baptized by a religion you did not belong to at any point in your life, after you had died.

 

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