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Baptisms for Holocaust Victims

Posted by nebula0 on November 14, 2008

For background on this issue, check out: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27647809/.  I want to add to the article that it’s individual Mormons, not the hierarchy, who are adding the names.

Here are some thoughts that I have about this issue.  Many Mormons I know from experience are willing to go along with such requests to avoid offense but if you were to ask them their personal opinions on the matter they’d think it’s, well, stupid.  That is, most Mormons imagine that if Jews think that Mormonism is wrong, then what possible harm is there in a Mormon doing by proxy work for a dead relative?  Who cares?  To some extent I still agree with this view.  But, that is to misunderstand the importance that words and names have in other religions and cultures.  The words carry meaning and power, and the thought of someone doing all kinds of rituals in the name of a dead loved one is too much for some to accept gracefully.  Imagine for a moment that you discovered that someone has a voodoo doll of you and enjoys tormenting it.  Even if you don’t believe in voodoo dolls, wouldn’t you still feel a little, well, creeped out? 

Explaining to the people involved that relatives will have a choice about whether or not to accept the by proxy works really doesn’t help.  Nothing is going to help.  Mormons aren’t going to give up their religious obligations to the dead and outsiders are going to continue to be offended and creeped out.  That’s just the way it’s going to be.  You can’t be liked by everyone if you claim to believe in the one and only true church on the face of the planet with the only true authority to act in the name of God.


8 Responses to “Baptisms for Holocaust Victims”

  1. Seth R. said

    It just reinforces my theory that people are only OK with your religion if we can all pretend that it is irrelevant.

    The moment you start to act like it really matters, you are going to piss people off.

    People want us to take our missionaries off the streets for the same sort of reasons that are driving the opposition to “work for the dead.” It’s offensive to people to have to come to grips with the simple fact that we think we are right and they are wrong.

    That’s really what it boils down to.

  2. nebula0 said

    Seth, that pretty much covers it. Unless you want to be lukewarm someone somewhere will be offended simply by the fact that you deeply disagree with them, let alone that you take their dead relative’s name through the temple.

  3. Seth R. said

    And I think the same calculus is at play on the Prop 8 uproar.

    I’ve been thinking of writing a blog post titled “I Liked You Better When You Were Irrelevant.”

    Nobody cares about the Mormons when they’re just holding service projects and bake sales. But the moment they take their religion seriously to advance its values in public… well… we can’t have that!

    Basically, I think talk of tolerance is quite superficial and fragile. Anyone can be tolerant when it doesn’t cost anything to be so. Secularists in America like to talk about how tolerant they are. But it’s become quite clear that their tolerance is conditional on religion being weak, isolated, marginalized, and pretty-much irrelevant.

  4. nebula0 said


    I think we have to ask what tolerant means. Obviously defacing someone else’s property is crossing that line, but what about protests? Are those inherently intolerant? No, I don’t think so. The only tolerance I worry about it legal- preventing harm to people or their property. If those angry over Prop 8 want to peacefully protest in front of a MOrmon temple, they should not be accused of intolerance but the moment they give anyone a death threat or graffiti a building they have crossed the line.

    In our pc culture we’ve gotten to the point that to criticize anyone’s position as wrong is to be labeled as an intolerant bigot. I’m sick of that. It’s an inherently unstable position for one thing (isn’t labeling someone intolerant intolerant itself?) it’s also ludicrous.

    As to your last paragraph, there is a lot of truth to it. Here’s the deal, liberal Americans will protect who they see as the marginalized or historically persecuted. When Mormons show that they are not powerless, liberal America realizes that Mormonism doesn’t needs its special protection and in fact probably needs its scrutiny as a majority, powerful religion and the tables turn. Nothing surprising there.

  5. Seth R. said

    Yeah, except I NEVER felt much love for Mormons from liberal America.

    We know how people talk about us when they don’t think there are any Mormons in the room. You’ll get just as much negativity about Joseph Smith in an atheist chat room as you do over at CARM. That was true even before this election cycle.

  6. nebula0 said

    Seth, don’t feel bad about that. Atheists are anti religion in general. The only ones they seem to tolerant are Eastern ones, and that’s because they don’t know anything about them really.

  7. Seth R. said

    Plus atheist chicks look hot in yoga pants I guess…

  8. Seth R. said

    THAT’S what Mormons need!

    Hot outfits.

    Then atheists would dig us.

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