Various Direct Links

24 February 2012

Repudiation: Church of Latter Day Saints - Posthumous Conversions

Seven years ago, Jews were offended by the revelation that the Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS, whose members are called Mormons) had been posthumously converting holocaust victims and other famous historic figures to their faith.  While this has no religious meaning in Judaism (there is no real possibility of converting a person's faith after they are dead), it was nonetheless seen as a significant slap in the face -- as if to say that their faith in the God of Abraham had no importance.  There were meetings between the leaders of each faith and eventually, the Mormons promised to undo those conversions and never do it again.
The church’s ability to fulfill that promise depends largely on its own Web site, through which 12 million church members and others submit roughly 150 million names for baptism each year. Although church leaders have publicly directed members to submit the names of only their direct ancestors, the Web site currently does not screen out erroneous names. A new system will be introduced in the next couple of years, church leaders said, that will feature a users’ agreement and possibly some screening functions.
Posthumous baptism, a central rite of the church, is based on the Mormon belief that those who lived before the church’s founding in 1830 should have the chance for eternal salvation. During the ritual, a church member stands in for the deceased person, who, according to church doctrine, can choose whether to accept or reject the conversion.
Jump ahead to 2012.  It seems that they are continuing the posthumous baptisms ... including one of the most famous victims of the Nazi concentration camps, Anne Frank.
Annelies Marie (Anne) Frank, a German-born Jew who perished in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, was allegedly baptized posthumously by Mormons on Saturday, the Huffington Post reported Tuesday.
According to the report, the baptism was conducted using a proxy, by a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Dominican Republic .
Yesterday, there was an apology from the LDS.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has condemned the recent proxy baptism of Anne Frank, the Jewish girl whose diary of hiding from the Nazis has provided generations with a first-hand account of life during the Holocaust.
Frank is the third Holocaust victim to have received a "baptism for the dead" in recent weeks. The baptism is a violation of a pact the LDS Church made in 1995 to no longer proxy baptize Holocaust victims. The LDS Church confirmed it happened over the weekend at the faith's temple in the Dominican Republic.
The LDS Church has since condemned the proxy baptism, calling is a violation of their policy and believe it took a great deal of “deception” for it to happen.
I do my best to not judge other religions.  While I might giggle over the LDS magic underpants, because it is different than what most other religions believe, they should never be condemned for their beliefs.  However, when a religion performs a rite that claims to pull people away from their beliefs without their consent that rite can be deemed reprehensible.  No one can stand in for the dead and say that they would repudiate that which they believed while alive.  No one.

The Mormons can believe whatever they want.  Their science-fictionish beliefs in life on other planets that they will be gods over after they die here is not something that I take seriously, but I do believe that it is their right to believe that.  They want to believe that the Native American Indians were a lost tribe of my Jewish people, they are welcome to believe that.  That I don't believe what they do does not matter.

The LDS Church is not doing enough by apologizing.  Every person they posthumously convert is an insult to the family of that person and to the religion of that person.  It is not enough to apologize.  The practice needs to stop.

Mr. Romney is the most visible member of the Church of Latter Day Saints.  He should repudiate this practice.  I don't expect he will as he has been trying to hide the details of his religion as he runs for the presidency.  He has to convince some that he is acceptable as a candidate despite his religion not falling within the Nicene Creed definition of Christian.  That shouldn't be a criterion for the presidency in the United States, but for many it is.

Since I am Jewish and there has never been a Jewish President, which version of Christian (or near Christian) does not matter to me in the civil office of President.  What matters to me is the political views, promises, and prior actions of the candidates.  In this case, since the religion is extending beyond its members into members of my faith, this does matter.  Mr. Romney needs to condemn this particular rite of his church.

Thanks to Joe My God for the heads up.

No comments:

Post a Comment

No longer open for freely commenting.