White Paper–Douglasadams525

How Mormons Help Save the Souls of the World

Content Descriptions

Why Mormons Baptize the Dead

Everyone is Welcome

Jewish Outrage and Antics

A Chance for Redemption

Who, How, What, and Why?

Progress So Far

Practice Opening 1

Ask atheists what happens when we die, and they’ll say that it doesn’t matter, because there’s no chance of anyone going to heaven or hell—we simply cease to exist. Ask a Mormon, however, and that person will probably say that it doesn’t matter either. While the answers may ultimately be the same, the rationale behind each answer is vastly different. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that it is never too late for salvation, even after death. Therefore, after a person dies, there’s a very good chance that the Mormon Church will baptize that individual anyway, thus posthumously saving their poor and unfortunate soul for Heavenly Father in the Celestial Kingdom, and providing comfort for those who die without believing that they have earned God’s favor. The notion of nonexistence after death may be highly depressing for many theists, who live their whole lives hoping for a better life after death. However, posthumous baptism eliminates even the slightest shadow of this concept, ensuring salvation and providing comfort for anyone. The most heartwarming part of this practice is that the Church will baptize any person, without even waiting to be asked—the Church casually and graciously disregards faith, or, as we will later explore, whether or not that person is actually dead.

Practice Opening 2

It is impossible for a living individual to know what follows death.  According to atheists, there is no afterlife, and our current life is all that we get.  This seems rather daunting to theists, who live their lives in certain ways, hoping to be rewarded with a better life after death.  This latter group exists in many forms, and have a number of different rituals and practices in which they participate in order to earn the favor of whichever deity or deities they worship.  In many faiths, one such practice is baptism, which normally happens at a young age, with certain sects baptizing their members again during their adult years.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is no stranger to the practice of baptism—in fact, Mormons are so enamored with the idea that they continue to baptize people after their death.  Furthermore, the Church has frequently posthumously baptized people who were not even Mormons during their time on Earth.  So baptism-crazed are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that they will even baptize those who are not only not Mormons, but are also, in fact, not dead.  Interestingly, the Church does not actually ask the individual if they would like to be baptized, thus raising a few eyebrows and more than a few arguments.  Here, we will examine the unusual practice of posthumous baptism, the surrounding controversies, and whether the Church is actually harming anyone, or simply trying to be a good spiritual neighbor.

Why Mormons Baptize the Dead

Mormons perform rituals baptism for those who are no longer living.  They do not, however, baptize dead people.  Rather, they task a living person with pretending to be someone else, and then physically baptize the holy imposter.  Fortunately, the remains of a dead person are not disturbed, allowing the process to avoid sacrilege altogether.

According to the New Testament, the practice of posthumous baptism was common in the days of the Apostle Paul.  The practice of baptism is, according to the Church, essential for salvation.  Evidently, it’s not too late for people who have foolishly gone and kicked the bucket without being baptized by Mormons.  Therefore, the Mormon Church continues to baptize people after they die, so that they may be saved for God—regardless of whether or not they wanted anything to do with God while they were alive.  Additionally, the Church keeps records of the people they baptize in order to avoid duplicates, except for the nine times that Anne Frank was baptized. However, one must give the Church credit for not adding the names of the baptized persons to their membership records, as that would simply be disrespectful of their religious beliefs and preferences.

Everyone is Welcome

Although the Mormon Church posthumously baptizes people who were not Mormons in life, these non-Mormons do not automatically become Mormons.  It is up to the soul of the deceased to choose whether or not it wants to be a Mormon, although it has no obligation to inform anyone of its decision, as evidenced by the fact that certain individuals have been posthumously baptized multiple times.  For example, Elvis Presley has been baptized at least seven times, and Anne Frank at least nine.

Some people are inexplicably outraged at the Church’s kindness.  Elie Weisel, a famed Holocaust survivor, discovered his name on a list of people whom the Church intended to baptize.  Rather than being gracious to the church for wishing to baptize a living Jew alongside a dead Mormon, Weisel asked Mitt Romney, a presidential candidate at the time, to urge the church to remove his name from the list.  At the demand of many, the Church reluctantly agreed to cease its practice of posthumous baptism for Holocaust victims in 1995, which goes to show that some people are simply incapable of respecting others’ religions.

Jewish Outrage and Antics

According to Michael Otterson, a spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the practice of posthumous baptism is done out of love and inclusiveness for everyone, a humanitarian value held very dearly by the Church.  According to Otterson, the baptism of Anne Frank was the result of a violation of Church policy.  The Church claims to believe that baptizing Holocaust victims is unacceptable.  Baptizing other Jews, however—such as Daniel Pearl, a Jewish reporter who was killed by terrorists in 2002—is completely acceptable, and the church eagerly does so, in order to save as many people as possible.

In spite of the Mormon’s message of sharing God’s love with everyone, some still lash out at the Church for trying to save everyone.  Anthony Hecht, a half-Jewish technology officer, started a website that allows individuals to convert Mormons—not to another religion, however, but to homosexuality.  The vitriolic, disrespectful website not only suggests that homosexuality is a choice (remember, the baptized person’s soul must consent to converting to the Mormon religion), but also mocks the poor, tender-hearted Mormons’ attempt to cross inter-faith boundaries by allowing any user of the website to choose a dead Mormon and label them as gay for eternity.  This is a clear example of how misunderstanding of religion can lead to hatred, even when both parties hold faiths that preach love.

A Chance for Redemption

Not unlike many other religions, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that baptism is the key to salvation.  In a gesture of inclusion for all, the Mormon Church frequently baptizes the dead by proxy, thereby giving the soul of the deceased a chance to leave Spirit Prison (the Mormon version of Purgatory, where the souls of the unsaved go after death) and enter the Celestial Kingdom.

During the process of posthumous baptism, a person is physically baptized in a Mormon temple, while a Mormon religious leader calls out names as the proxy is held under water, essentially allowing the Mormons to pretend that they are baptizing people who are not physically there.  In the eyes of the Church, this is good enough in the eyes of Heavenly Father, and the soul of the posthumously baptized individual may choose to convert to Mormonism or not.  However, there is no way to tell if the soul converts or not, leading to certain people being baptized multiple times—the Mormons are evidently firm believers in the principle of quantity over quality.

In a truly heartwarming display of religious tolerance for all and a belief that anyone can be saved, the Mormons do not discriminate when it comes to baptizing the dead.  For example, the Church has baptized individuals that would certainly be labelled as “evil” by those who have not seen the light provided by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—namely, among others, Adolf Hitler, Vlad the Impaler, and Ted Bundy.  On the flip side, the Church humbly recognizes that even the most holy among us cannot be assured salvation, promptly baptizing Pope John Paul II four times in the year 2006 alone.  Others among the baptized are Richard Feynman, a nonreligious theoretical physicist of Jewish heritage; George Carlin, an avowedly atheist comedian in a family of Irish Catholics; and Eazy-E, a rapper with no apparent religion.

Who, How, What, and Why?

While the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does baptize people after their death, the process is done with the utmost respect.  For the most part, it is done so that non-living relatives of living Mormons can be given the chance to await their descendants in the afterlife.  In the case that a non-Mormon is posthumously baptized, the Church maintains that the process only allows the soul of the deceased a chance to convert, which the soul may certainly reject.  The Church extends this opportunity to anyone, regardless of faith, as demonstrated by the fact that they posthumously baptized nearly 400,000 Holocaust victims in the 1990’s.

During the process, a Mormon priest calls out names of the deceased while a Mormon imposter is held under water.  In this elaborate game of pretend, the Church graciously extends the chance of salvation to those who are no longer living on Earth.  In 1995, the Church ordered the desist of baptizing Holocaust victims, although an excommunicated Mormon and whistleblower said that she had seen the names of many Holocaust victims undergo the process since then.

As the Church is interested in salvation for all, they disregard the faith of a baptized individual.  Mormons believe that everyone should be given the chance to join Heavenly Father in the Celestial Kingdom, and therefore baptized, among others, Joan of Arc, Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, Mahatma Gandhi, and Adolf Hitler—none of whom were Jewish.  In fact, the Church does not even exclude the living from proxy baptism—Elie Weisel was baptized by proxy, despite the fact that he is still living (and Jewish).

Progress so far

At this point, I am feeling quite confident in my research.  I believe that I can certainly find more information on proxy/posthumous baptism, and outline the strange nature of the practice.  Additionally, I am beginning to think that I may begin to elaborate on my second hypothesis, as my research may indicate that the Mormons are not in fact doing any harm; they are simply attempting to include everyone, although in a somewhat misguided fashion.  I am between two opinions at the moment.  One is that this practice is highly unusual and perhaps should stop.  The other is that the Mormons are actually of the mind that this is not a bad thing.  If I can successfully argue that the Mormons are the victims of aggression because of a misunderstanding, I may choose to do so.

This entry was posted in A06: White Paper, douglasadams525. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to White Paper–Douglasadams525

  1. douglasadams525 says:

    Feedback requested.

    Feedback indicated though not exactly provided.
    —DSH

    Like

  2. davidbdale says:

    I can’t believe I haven’t commented on this post before now, douglasadams, but it appears I haven’t. I’m comfortable thinking that I have provided you sufficient feedback on several of your posts and that you’re very well along toward completing this assignment, so much so that you don’t need me nit-picking arguments here, where they are not intended for publication.

    I’ve enjoyed watching this argument evolve to the point where you now seem entirely comfortable simply acknowledging without animosity toward the LDS that their bizarre practice is non-productive but also not harmful and performed out of generosity. I wouldn’t have predicted that.

    I do like that outcome.

    I once had an assignment to interview members of the Cherry Hill Mormon congregation and spent many hours at their church and in the home of one of the congregants where I observed the entire family. I haven’t been religious for decades, but I remembered enough of my Catholic catechism to suggest we start our conversations with a truce.

    —”If we first acknowledge that Virgin Birth, the indivisible Trinity of 3 Gods, the Resurrection of Jesus, and the entire narrative of damnation and redemption sound incomprehensibly crazy to nonbelievers,” I suggested, “can I then begin by saying how completely nutty sounds the story of how Joseph Smith used sacred stones to translate the dictation of the angel Moroni to produce your holy book?”
    —”Sure,” said my host. “I get it. It sounds nuts.”

    You appear to have found your way to an acceptance much like that one.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s