The Mormons baptize Anne Frank

February 24, 2012 • 10:45 am

Like several faiths, the Mormons have the odious practice of proxy baptism, in which one can baptize a living person in the name of a dead heathen, thus ensuring that that heathen will go to heaven. As the Wall Street Journal notes:

Baptism by proxy has its roots in early Mormonism, when adherents were troubled by the fact that their ancestors had died before the 1830 founding of what became the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Mormon prophet Joseph Smith taught that baptism was necessary for salvation and that only those baptisms performed by the true, restored church counted. That left the vast bulk of humanity on the outside looking in.

Smith wanted to offer a second chance to those who had died. Bringing to life an obscure New Testament passage about believers being “baptized for the dead,” he announced that his followers could seek baptism on behalf of their departed kin.

This, by the way, explains the Mormons’ fascination with genealogy, for they need to know their ancestors to ensure that those ancestors enter the Kingdom of God.

The Mormon Church has gone nuts with proxy baptism, conferring it on everyone from Albert Einstein and George Washington to Barack Obama’s mother. They even baptized the parents of Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal.

The Mormons’ obsession with baptizing Jews and Holocaust survivors (really, why do they want to do that?) finally raised Jewish hackles, and the Church has vowed to stop turning Jews into posthumous Mormons.  Yet the madness continues—in an obsession with baptizing Anne Frank. As USA Today (and other places) reports,

Radkey [Helen Radkey, an ex-Mormon who investigates issues of proxy baptism] said she discovered that Annelies Marie “Anne” Frank, who died at Bergen Belsen death camp in 1945 at age 15, was baptized by proxy on Saturday. Mormons have submitted versions of her name at least a dozen times for proxy rites and carried out the ritual at least nine times from 1989 to 1999, according to Radkey. But Radkey says this is the first time in more than a decade that Frank’s name has been discovered in a database that can be used both for genealogy and also to submit a deceased person’s name to be considered for proxy baptism — a separate process,according to a spokesman for the church. The database is only open to Mormons.

A screen shot of the database sent by Radkey shows a page for Frank stating “completed” next to categories labeled “Baptism” and “Confirmation,” with the date Feb. 18, 2012, and the name of the Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Temple.

From a HuffPo article (click to enlarge):

Well, it’s all madness, for the Mormons’ zeal for baptism (based on Scripture, of course) is just as evidentially unfounded as the Jews’ taking offense in the name of their God, but, really, the Mormons ought to have some decency here and lay off.

On a lighter note, reader Diane G. notes that we can get revenge, for on this site you can convert a dead Mormon into being gay. I’ve converted Joseph Smith:

And be sure to see Bill Maher’s hilarious unbaptism of Mitt Romney’s dead father-in-law (who in life was an atheist).

But this brings up a serious question: how do we deal with political candidates who are religious? Of course they shouldn’t be prevented from running for office, but how far can we evaluate them based on their beliefs?

The United States has an invidious history of this: John F. Kennedy was widely criticized for being Catholic, and had to make an explicit statement that he would separate his faith from his goverenance.  We’ve had no Jews as President, and it’ll be a cold day in July when we have an atheist President.

Can we still hold candidates accountable for their beliefs, though? Can we even ask them about their beliefs? The Wall Street Journal says this:

But Mr. Romney can’t take responsibility for all the members of his church or its hierarchy. To be sure, one might reasonably ask him to comment on his church’s century-and-a-quarter denial of full membership to persons of African descent, a ban that did not end until Mr. Romney was 30 years old. Like most any human institution, the Mormon Church has a great deal of explaining and apologizing to do for its past mistakes. In this instance of proxy baptism, though, the level of outrage simply does not match the purported offense.

I go back and forth on this.  I agree with the WSJ comment above, in that acceptance of (erstwhile) Church policy on minorities does have a direct effect on governance, but I’m not so sure that candidates should be asked publicly to explain or defend their faiths unless those faiths might impact their views and actions in office. At the very least they should say that they’ll keep their faiths separate from their governance.

But still, with loonies like Rick Santorum— who believes in Satan—on the loose, I don’t think I’d even consider voting for a candidate whose religious beliefs were so extreme. Obama, well, yes, but fundies like Santorum—hell no, even if they were Democrats. (That’s very rare, of course).

Question for readers: how seriously would you consider religious beliefs when evaluating candidates for government office? (I realize that this is more a problem in the U.S. than elsewhere.)

193 thoughts on “The Mormons baptize Anne Frank

  1. Did you see Colbert’s response to this last night? It was hilarious. He made turned all the dead mormons into Jews with a posthumous proxy bris (using a hot dog)

    I would consider religious beliefs seriously if the person (like Santorum) would try to impose them rather than uphold the Constitution as his job would require him to do.

  2. lolz. I wonder how far back in their ancestors they would go? I mean would they baptize their fish ancestor that crawled onto land? lolz.

      1. Are you sure it wasn’t Adam and Steve? And that by eating of the “forbidden fruit” Steve was punished by being turned into Eve?

        (That is a joke, just in case some troll thinks I’m serious.)

  3. How does that differ from the Calvinist doctrine of irresistible grace? Apparently Calvinists believe that god condemns some people to eternal salvation, whether they want it or not, and they can’t undo or “resist” it.

    1. I’d say there is a difference between holding a generic doctrine, and specifically naming the names of all the people you’ve baptized. Namely that one is part of your philosophy, and the other is really creepy.

    2. Just for accuracy’s sake (ex-Mormon, here), the lunatics claim the proxy baptisms aren’t imposed on the deceased individual. He or she can choose to reject it. Of course, why would they, sitting there in “spirit prison” (oh yes, that’s an actual term from an actual piece of doctrine).

  4. And I’m watching zombie movies while I work … I see that to be about as relevant as proxy Baptism. I think Mormons are completely wacko, but think Rick Santorum is evil. If I had to choose between the two, I’d vote Romney. Or maybe I’ll just move to Nova Scotia.

  5. A politician’s positions on issues is important, but even more important is why they hold those positions. Once they are in office they will make decisions on new issues. If they claim to use religious beliefs to make these decisions, I won’t vote for them. Any decisions need to be made with logic and reason that applies to all of us.

  6. If I were a U.S citizen, recognising the vanishingly small chance of an (openly) atheist candidate, I would worry less about what religion they profess and more about evidence of their respect for (at least): secularism (including but not limited to separation of church and state); freedom of expression; and rational inquiry (not just science, but fact-based public policy as well).


  7. Religious beliefs should have no place in politics. Of course, anyone can believe whatever they wish to (no matter how absurd), but these beliefs should have no bearing on the decisions being made that affect the lives of every citizen of the country.

  8. I have to admit that I have come to put a great deal of weight on a candidate’s religion for 2 reasons: 1) religious belief usually comes with a political agenda, and 2) sound critical thinking is one of the most important attributes I like to see in a candidate.

    1. Agreed. Even if they’re not that religious, but just pandering, it still falls under #1. I also bring up point #2 often; not a big fan of people making decisions that can affect millions of people, based on superstition and dogma.

  9. I, too, go back and forth. But I can not imagine myself ever voting for someone who was a bat-guano-crazy fundamentalist. If they are not able to support secular government and keep religion and state apart, they are never going to get my vote. Less extreme believers are the best we seem to be able to hope for, sadly.

    1. That is another thing. Is it Mormonism that believes after death they go to another planet and become royalty? Or is that some other inane cult?

      1. They believe that they will be the ‘first tier’ of heavenly creatures, with all non-mormons subservient to them (on a sliding scale depending, presumably, on their piety).

        So, basically, yes.

      2. Kolob is the name if the “planet” where the being we (well, not us) consider god lives.

        We can, so the fairy tale goes, progress in righteousness even after we die, until we attain godhood ourselves – creating souls to fuck with and all!

        1. “Kolob is the name [o]f the “planet” where the being we (well, not us) consider god lives.” Good grief! It’s just 19th century Scientology!

    2. The Mormons are on earth of course.

      Their god is on planet Kolob. No kidding. God lives on a different planet.

      Mormons believe that males, when they die can become gods. Each god gets his own planet.

      They also get a fleet of goddess wives. Those nameless goddess wives are to make “spirit babies” with. Which cycle down to the planet and get bodies.

      In other words, in the highest Mormon heaven, men spend all their time fucking their horde of wives. Women are out of luck. They spend all their time giving birth. Supposedly all 7 billion of us humans were conceived and birthed on Kolob first.

      In Mormon mythology, we do have a goddess mother. She is so important, no one knows her name. You can tell this religion was made up by an overaged horny adolescent.

    3. What planet are these people on?
      Unfortunately they do appear to be on the same planet as you and I.
      We’ll have to do something about that.

  10. In view of the present vogue for baptism, I suggest that three recent tv performers be re-baptized as Thick Sanmoron, Mutt Wrongly, and Nought Dickrich

  11. I take a candidate’s statements of belief and faith quite seriously, trying to figure out how much influence the craziness is likely to have in a time of crisis. JFK I felt all right about on that score–and Johnson and Nixon, too. I’m sure Bush’s fundamentalism was no small factor in getting us into the mad tragedy of the Iraq war.

    Jerry, have you altogether discarded your notion that Obama is really a closet nonbeliever? I still think it’s possible. Many an atheistic reverend goes convincingly through the motions year after year for the sake of his career and family.

  12. It all comes down to the ole is it a literal, or is it a allegory interpretation of their sacred books they are making, I suppose. If they believe that the book of Revelations for instance is how it is going to end, no questions or doubts at all, then you should not be allowed to be in a position to fulfill its doomsday self fulfilling prophecy. After W. and now hearing Satan-torum spew their idiocy over and over, this is not the time to have a fundie near the button. Religious beliefs only seem to matter when politicians want to use them to show how righteous they can be. If they are putting their beliefs out there, we have every right and should be questioning them at all times, as to how far those beliefs are going to be used. They could, and I kid you not, be used one day to incur a nuclear holocaust on the rest of us. The “good” book tells me so.

  13. Speaking as a UK resident, we had almost the opposite problem in 1997 when Tony Blair was elected by a landslide. His people took great care to play down his religiosity, to the point of saying “we don’t do God”. Subsequent memoirs have revealed the extent of Blair’s piety; IIRC he even knelt by the bed to pray every night! He REALLY believed it all!

    Now that is fine…as far as it goes. But would someone with a better (or indeed any) critical faculty have made the same decisions? Would a rational person have looked at the evidence for WMD and concluded invasion was necessary? By all accounts Blair’s belief in his illegal war was entirely impervious to reason – even the haemorraging of his personal popularity was not enough to dissuade him.

    People DIED because of this man’s irrationality. Would all religious people behave like this? Of course not. But it demonstrates how an irrational mind is clearly hostage to such catastrophic errors of reason, in a way that it is more difficult to imagine a reasonable mind being

    1. I don’t think Tony Blair’s religious beliefs drove him to sanction the invasion of Iraq. Nor, for that matter, did George W. Bush’s. The decision to go into Iraq was perfectly rational, it just turned out to be based on flawed and misinterpreted intelligence. Bush and Blair concluded that Saddam Hussein was a ruthless, mass-murdering dictator with a proven track record of developing and using WMD and of supporting terrorism (which is true), that he had an active, current WMD programme (which, as it turned out, he didn’t), and that in the post 9/11 world allowing him to stay in power was too great a risk (a judgement call, but one that I personally agree with).

      And for all the tedious, left-wing excoriation of George W. Bush as a “fundamentalist”, I can’t think of a single thing he did while in office that would justify that term. He didn’t push the nuclear button to bring on the End of Days. Nor did he stage a theocratic coup. Instead, when his term of office was over, he stepped down and handed the White House keys to Obama, as the U.S. Constitution obliged him to.

      And finally, of course, many people would still have DIED if Bush and Blair had decided not to go into Iraq. They’d have died at the hands of Saddam Hussein and his regime, as they had been for years beforehand. I’m as hard-core an atheist as anyone here, but I supported the toppling of Saddam and still do. The only regret is that we didn’t do it in 1991 when we had the chance.

      1. Some years ago now, writing in “The Guardian,” Karen Armstrong made an excellent case for the ways in which Bush’s fundamentalism affected his policy decisions, from his veto of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act to his advocacy of the teaching of Creationism. Many other observers made note of similar influences, including Bush’s claim that he talked regularly to God and received God’s advice.

        In his AMERICAN THEOCRACY, Keven Phillips writes, “In the months before George W. Bush sent U.S. troops into Iraq, his inspirational reading each morning was a book of sermons by a Scottish preacher accompanying troops about to march on Jerusalem.”

      2. “The decision to go into Iraq was perfectly rational, it just turned out to be based on flawed and misinterpreted intelligence.”

        Man, you drank an extra glass of the Kool-Aid, didn’t you. Fess up.

      3. Yes you can make a case for doing what Bush and Blair did given what they thought the situation was. But Bush was notorious for “going with his gut” rather than seeking evidence. So the criticism is that he acted on bad intelligence which he did very little to check out. It seems that any president who makes a decision as momentous as starting a war is morally required to do everything they can to verify that they are acting on the best information possible. In fact, any number of accounts of the run up to the Iraq war (start with Bob Woodward’s for example) show that the administration actively pushed to get the intelligence assessment that they wanted from the start.

        1. This illustrates an instance of the general principle I try to apply.

          I evaluate candidates and their party based on principles of rationality I hold more generally and try to see where the balance of such lies. I don’t rule out openly religious candidates, but to the extent that it is clear it will be detrimental to their reason I do hold it against them. I may oppose religion in general, but this is perfectly compatible with regarding some deeply religious people as good people and some as reprehensible monsters (like the apparent psychopaths in the US republican party).

          The principle applies generally. I’m somewhat adverse to voting Green, for example, because I don’t think an attitude categorically against GMOs is wise – even though being categorically against Monsanto et al as they are now is more than sensible IMO.

          1. Any thinking person is bound to end up with far too many “gray areas.”

            So many times I’ve wished I could be as absolute & passionate about a given candidate/party/-ism as the true believers…

      4. Can we please dispense with the “flawed intelligence” bit? The proper word is not “flawed”. It is “manufactured intelligence”. Or perhaps “false intelligence”. Or maybe just “propaganda”. But let’s not pretend we went to Iraq because our intelligence was bad.

        1. I would love to use the phrase “Artificial intelligence”, but in practice, artificial intelligence is “reasoned” intelligence, whereas real intelligence is too often irrational.

      5. I seem to recall there was no convincing evidence of WMD, not even at the time. Blair and Bush only wanted to hear evidence that supported their case, and the intelligence community told them what was demanded of them.

      6. Horseshit! The intelligence was crafted to fit the decision. I can’t believe anyone still spouts this lie – take it to some wingnut site, please.

      7. Apologies up front for the length but this is complicated.

        “The decision to go into Iraq was perfectly rational, it just turned out to be based on flawed and misinterpreted intelligence.”

        Dave, that’s incorrect. You should have said:

        “The decision to invade and occupy Iraq was a completely irrational decision based upon one man’s vanity and backed by falsified intelligence.”

        I’m one of those people Pres. George W. Bush sent into Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein from power. I’ve spoken with the locals and provided support to diplomats, ambassadors, and high ranking members of the coalition military forces.

        Blair went along for the ride because Bush convinced him he had solid evidence that Saddam was in on the 9/11 attacks. Bush didn’t. He ordered the US intelligence community ‘review’ their analysis of what happened on 9/11 when it found no links to Saddam. Bush insisted there were and forced them to ‘find’a connection to Saddam. Our allies with the best intelligence in the region (Mossad and MI-6), as well as the FBI said this new found ‘evidence’ was total B.S.

        Pres. G.W. Bush ordered the US military to invade Iraq with the intent of removing Saddam from power and installing a lasting democracy in the heart of the middle east because Afghanistan was just to far away to have an impact on Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, etc.

        Bush’s plan for after the invasion was essentially to tell the Iraqis to ‘create a democratic government’. He had no real plan to help the Iraqi’s setup a new government. The plan was to give them time and they’ll figure it out. He had no plan to get out of Iraq.

        Bush seemed to think that we would invade Iraq, kill or capture Saddam, and be greeted as conquering heroes. Then the Iraqi’s would magically form a democracy, and we could come home in a few months. There was no long term plan. Bush the Lesser didn’t invade for religious reasons; he wanted to do what his father couldn’t do (overthrow Saddam) and cement his place in history as the man who brought democracy to the middle east.

        The only time Iraqi’s think of themselves as Iraqi’s first, is when the Iraqi national soccer team is winning. Otherwise, they see themselves as members of one or more much more important groups. Roughly in order from most important to least important: family, tribe, ethnic group, religious group, occupation/trade, and lastly, Iraqi. So of course they wouldn’t automatically band together as one people and instantly form a stable society.

        From all the evidence I’ve seen (mostly classified, some not) Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, it was not a clear and present danger to the US or the world at the time, and we therefore had no legitimate reason to invade in 2003. But invade Shrub, er Bush did. I consider myself a responsible person. If I break it, I have a responsibility to fix it. We broke Iraq thanks to Bush’s leadership. Therefore, we should be committed to fixing it. I re-enlisted after my first deployment and went back again.

        Did Saddam deserve to be removed from power. YES!!! He was raw evil in its most base form. His two sons were highly refined, purified evil, literally trained from childhood to intimidate, torture, kill and do whatever they wanted to whomever they wanted.

        But was that reason for us to invade? No. Despite what the republican party and all the neocon’s would like to think, we are not Team America World Police, F*CK YEAH! If we were the world police, there are a few places we should go all in to help where worse atrocities than those Saddam inflicted upon a comparitively small number of his own people, are committed in mass. Sudan. Somalia. Haiti after the earthquake.

        The only way to establish a stable democracy in Iraq is to be prepared to stay for a long, painful, bloody time. Go door to door nationwide and disarm everyone who’s not coalition forces (during the occupation every Iraqi house was allowed to keep one AK47 and ammo). Put a soldier/cop on every street. Rebuild the infrastructure we destroyed during the invasion (water, electricity, telecom). Rebuild all the social institutions that Saddam destroyed in his last moments in power in an effort to make our time in Iraq more difficult (schools, hospitals, etc.). Build a corruption free police force (every Iraqi cop I met was either corrupt or loyal to some group other than the Iraqi govt/police force).

        For this to work we must be willing to work hard, sweat, bleed and even die. Literally, generations must pass. Those currently in power in Iraq only know ‘might makes right’, do as I say or else. They can rationally grasp the concept of democracy, but don’t believe in it. A new generation of people must grow up with democracy, seeing that it works, learning and understanding how it works, in order to believe that it is possible, and therefore believe that they can do it on their own.

        I’m an atheist because I’m a realist. Logical thinking tells me that I should only believe that which there is actual evidence for. Everything I’ve seen says there is no evidence for the commitment and level of support from the American people to do what it takes to build a stable democracty in Iraq. I fully understand – its difficult to willingly put yourself in harms way for total strangers. Therefore, the answer to how to win the Iraq game is not to play in the first place

        When you’re making decisions that will cost people’s lives, you have to think of the consequences of your actions before you act. Bush didn’t. We freed the various factions of Iraqi society from the prison of Saddam’s Baath party rule. Now each of the factions is fighting to become the next Baath party.

        A decade of war, 100,000+ Iraqi civilians dead, 4500+ Americans dead, tens of thousands wounded, and slow burning civil war in Iraq are the product of one man’s wishful thinking, vanity, and inability to grasp the consequences of his actions: George W. Bush.

        1. “… the product of one man’s wishful thinking, vanity, and inability to grasp the consequences of his actions”

          Once such a (possibly closeted) fanatic is allowed to develop a critical mass of power, he needs little more than a suitable scapegoat and a gullible, apathetic, shocked, or numbed populace for that one man to be able to inflict an incredible amount of damage. Thankfully, there are more controls on “the button” than most of the American populace assumes there to be.

          Can you imagine the degree to which the horrors you enumerated could have scaled if such a man had been born in Austria near the end of the nineteenth century? Oh, wait, one was.

  14. I would/will consider religious beliefs important as it often conflicts with civil rights. Such beliefs will often also impact the way the candidate views established science and policy concerning that science.

  15. On the question of politicians, I know there are a number of liberal commentators who say that they do not care about what a politician thinks, but what they do.

    In line with this, I saw an article in Slate the other day saying that conservatives who claim Rick Santorum is criticised for his faith are wrong, because he is instead criticised for his policy plans. Well, with someone like Santorum, I don’t think the two are separable. Santorum’s entire political agenda is to impose his brand of Christian morality on the U.S. population. When he comes up with a policy idea, it is directly lifted from Christianity and makes no attempt to be secular, so when you criticise his policies you simultaneously criticise his faith, and vice-versa.

    I think there is something to be said for judging a person by actions rather than beliefs, especially if they’re wise enough politicians to be secular, but you can’t help but think that various degrees of religious belief, implemented or not, hint at some deeper mental deficiency!

    1. He’s a Catholic… Which mean’s a devil worshiping papist who should be burned at the stake with the rest of the Whores of Bablyon… And not a True Christian (TM)…


        1. Sounds to me like he’s channelling Ian Paisley. Father or son, doesn’t matter. They’re pretty difficult to distinguish.

  16. “Obama, well, yes, but fundies like Santorum—hell no, even if they were Democrats. (That’s very rare, of course).”

    If Santorum is a “fundie”, what is a moderate? The belief in Satan and demons is bog-standard Catholic theology – just crack open the Catechism.

    So should we re-classify Catholicism as a fundie religion, with the Pope as a fundamentalist radical Christian?

  17. Has ANYone encountered a GOOFIER theology than Mormonism??? [I mean, besides Scientism?]

    But what currently distresses me the most is how the rest of the 2012 GOP candidates for PotUS make the Mormon among them look to be the most reasonable guy in that pack…

    1. Has ANYone encountered a GOOFIER theology than Mormonism???

      Well, yes?

      I mean for starters we can go extreme and point at Scientology (L. Ron Hubbard’s personal sociopathy wrapped up as a religion) or Raelianism (worship of aliens ranks pretty high on my list of weird).

      But we don’t really have to do that – what’s so goofy about Mormon theology that is that much different from any other religion in the world? The “special garments” that they’re supposed to wear? I believe that certain Jewish branches require special garments. The fact that they have dietary restrictions? Islam and Judaism are “normal” religions and they also have them.

      The fact that when they die their heavens don’t match the typical Christian heaven? I’m sorry, but the very idea of heaven is already weird and the only reason anyone’s vision of heaven looks “normal” is because of its age. The fact that they believe weird things about the history of North America that have been proven false by archaeology? I’ve got news for you – check out what archaeology has to say about the “historical” narratives of the Bible.

      No, the only weird thing about LDS theology compared to other “normal” theologies is that it isn’t that old, so it doesn’t have the excuse that “people in Antiquity thought differently than modern people”. It was designed by a modern person trying to ape Antiquity, and that’s weird. But the underlying theology really isn’t that weird because Smith did a damn good job of aping the mindset of Antiquity when he came up with it.

    2. Mormonism only sounds goofier than mainstream Christianity because it’s not as widespread as they are or, as Jer pointed out, as old and entrenched in the establishment.

  18. “how seriously would you consider religious beliefs when evaluating candidates for government office?”

    How seriously would you consider political,scientific,economic,social justice beliefs when evaluating candidates for government office?

    I take their religious beliefs seriously and think they are no more off-limits than any other beliefs they may hold. All other things being equal, I would vote for the atheist, as the atheist candidate would be more likely to be a rigorous thinker, IMO.

    With the current crop of Republicans, the issue of their religiosity runs concurrent with the issue of their rationality.

    And I think it is fair to say that as crazy as Christianity is, Mormonism is even crazier. If there was a Zoroastrian candidate, would we not be justified in questioning his basic sanity? How about a devout Scientologist or a Nuwaubianist? There is a continuum of crazy in religion, and I think that the rational sensibilities of candidates is important, and should definitely not be off-limits.

    1. And I think it is fair to say that as crazy as Christianity is, Mormonism is even crazier.

      In what way? Mormonism is significantly less crazy than certain fundamentalist forms of Christianity and significantly more crazy than certain liberal forms of Christianity. The only thing that distinguishes Mormonism from Christianity is that it’s obvious to an outside observer that Joseph Smith made it up whole cloth. But the actual religion itself is not much crazier than other forms of Christianity that cropped up in the 19th century (including, but not limited to, the ancestors of modern fundamentalist evangelical Protestantism).

      If there was a Zoroastrian candidate, would we not be justified in questioning his basic sanity?

      Wait, why? Why would a religion that is arguably even older than Judaism be “more crazy” and cause me to wonder about a person more than, say, Christianity would? I don’t see how that religion can be any weirder that an late bloomer religion like Christianity that came along half a millennium after it.

      1. Mormonism & Scientology don’t pass the sniff test, yet xian blood drinking rituals are just fine with most people.

  19. As a Canadian, religious affiliation was the main reason I did not vote for Stephen Harper who is an evangelical christian

  20. Apparently it is goofier.
    One thing that should be made perfectly clear about Mormon baptisms for the dead is that each deceased soul has the personal choice to accept or reject it. There is nothing in Mormonism that states that the person who is being baptized by proxy must accept this ordinance; he or she is simply given the opportunity to choose.


    1. Why is that goofy? It solves a huge problem in traditional Christian theology, which is that those who were born before Jesus or never heard of him are screwed for all eternity. This is why Catholicism has/had the kludge of “Limbo” for dead babies, and why the problem of the “virtuous pagans” was so vexing.

      The notion that there are do-overs for the dead seems far more sensible to me than having Aristotle (or Anne Frank) in Hell.

        1. But why is that goofy? Many Christian sects practice adult baptism precisely because they think the person should be able to understand what is done to them, and should choose it willingly. Those groups don’t think that one can be baptised against one’s will. How is this any different?

          1. The point was about the dead being able to say yes or no. I said nothing about adult baptism.

            I suppose they are all equally goofy. I was not making a comparison with other Christian sects or the followers of Vishnu for that matter. It was not an attempt at a ranking.

            1. The point was about the dead being able to say yes or no. I said nothing about adult baptism.

              Sure, but the point is the same, if one believes the “dead” are still around in some afterlife. Which, of course, all Christians do.

              All of Christian theology is goofy. The Mormons aren’t any more goofy, and in this case, the practice solves a theological problem — if anything it is far less goofy than the notions that dead babies are tortured for all eternity, or hang out in some ill-defined “limbo”.

              1. You are right. I was not making a comparison even implicitly although I used a comparative tense.

  21. I have mixed feelings about the Mormon postumus baptism thing. On the one hand it is so obviously nonsensical and has no real world effects whatsoever. On the other hand it is so arrogant and disrespectful. On balance I would say that if they are making themselves look ridiculous, and pissing off the other cults in the process, I suppose I am OK with it.

    1. As insane as Rick Santorum is, Michelle Bachmann is even worse. She would be willing to embrace worldwide nuclear war, because HER god has a plan…

          1. No, personality wise she’s more of a Dalek, except instead of a Dalek’s malicious intelligence she’s got malicious stupidity.

  22. The upset over baptism by proxy confuses me. Presumably other faiths don’t think it actually works, right? So why care? Isn’t this like getting upset that a voodoo practitioner is poking pins into a doll?

    As Mark Plus pointed out above, Calvinists think that almost everyone is going to be tortured for eternity, and there is nothing anyone can do. The Mormons are trying to get people into heaven — why is that somehow worse?

    And it really confuses me that atheists get upset about this. Seriously, isn’t this like getting angry that one comics fan told another comics fan that Superman could beat up the Hulk? Isn’t it all simply silly? Doesn’t this upset give precisely the deference to religion we say it doesn’t deserve?

    1. +1 Distasteful practice, but not worth promoting by paying attention to it, a la “no such thing as bad publicity” rule.

      1. Agreed. One is reminded of H L Menken’s comment:”One horselaugh is worth a thousand syllogisms. It is not only more effective; it is vastly more intelligent.”

    2. I find the offense a bit puzzling too. It’s clearly a silly practice, but who cares? And at least it’s a nice sentiment… hey, they want us all to get to Heaven. How sweet. That really beats the people who relish or are indifferent to our going to Hell. And a huge fraction of Christians think that all un-converted Jews and atheists and Buddhists and Muslims and Hindus and even other sects of Christians are going to Hell. That part is unremarkable. Maybe that belief, that lots of otherwise decent people (including Holocaust survivors, etc.) are going to Hell, is itself offensive, but among the groups who think that most everyone else is going to Hell, the Mormons seem, to me, to be the nicest in this regard by giving everyone they can manage an escape hatch.

      Now, I can understand if they are trying to misrepresent someone’s identity, to say that “No, Carl Sagan wasn’t an atheist, he was a Mormon… see, he was baptized in 2010”. That would be offensive, because it’s lying about who that person was. It doesn’t appear to me that they are doing that, though. They seem to just be saying that they want to give people a shot at Heaven that, according to the balance of their beliefs, they wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s clearly silly, but the offense is hard for me to see.

      It’s like the people I know of who wave sage around a room to remove negative energy. It’s stupid, but they have good intentions and nothing is harmed by waving around sage, so what’s to complain about?

      1. I wish I could agree, but, truthfully, it’s a sales ploy. Let’s face it: You’re more likely to convert if you don’t feel guilty for leaving your family behind to burn in hell. You convert, then they die, then you take them with you, and *POOF* you’re a hero.

      1. Too many people have seen me being very naughty over the years, and yes, im afraid, i did inhale. If I had 500 quid (refundable with 5 percent of he vote) to chuck away i might consider it.

        1. Maybe these are further grounds to vote you into office. Pardon the spin, but doesn’t all this make you more human, more like the very constituents you’d be representing, if they were courageous enough to admit it? And, as for inhaling, any rational person sees more danger in tobacco than all other “drugs” put together. Your platform could include how much taxpayer money would be saved, and how much additional taxes could be paid into government coffers (i.e., a double win), just for legalizing nonlethal, “organically grown herbs.” Result: Fewer taxes overall and even less for the non-herbal types.

          1. Completing the thought: … how much taxpayer money could be saved by not wasting it to police, prosecute, and incarcerate anyone associated with the herbal remedy.

            1. For the USA , probably hundreds of millions? I dont think the uk is so strict. Farms go up quicker than they can be busted mind, but individuals are only occasionally made examples of. The portuguese model of decriminalisation of all drugs, would i suspect save both the USA and EU, tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars. It would reduce the number of drug users and the strain that that puts on, already stretched, health care services. And cops aren’t wasting so much of thier time and ours

            1. Well, when you’re ready, feel free to use me as your SpinDocAtheist. I’ll do all I can to let logic hang loose and free in the sunshine of reality, where all your constituents can see it.

              1. The jobs yours Doc, but really, the image that comet to mind is, I dont know if you are familiar with the guys who spin plates on long sticks,(its supposed to be some kind of entertainement thing) until they have dozens of them on the go, well , you would probably be, like, in a football field full of them, trying to spin me into any kind of, credible, candidate.
                I do like someone who likes a challenge tho’

  23. Our American Founding Fathers (and the Founding Mothers who supported them without appropriate credit) made a point of focusing the Constitution and laws on a person’s actions, not a person’s thoughts. Where thoughts lead to action, they cross the line. Evangelicals, Mormons, and anyone else who believes their faith compels them to act on that faith, regardless of civil laws, gets my just-for-buffoons laughter, not my vote.

  24. Bringing attention to this issue is good for showing how nutty Mormons are, but I don’t understand actually taking offense, which would imply the baptisms actually do something. There is no effect, so why not ignore them or just have a laugh?

    Crazies gonna craze.

    1. From the things I’ve read by him, I think he’d be disturbed by the extent to which religion has become entangled in American politics.

      Granted, he might also be disturbed by all the women and black people who’ve run for president in the last decade, but nobody’s perfect.

      1. Didn’t y’all hear? That’s what caused the East Coast Earthquake, last year: Thomas Jefferson rolling over in his grave!

      2. It might be naive to think so, but there are certain historical clever folks and geniuses that I’d like to think would see the mistakes in reasoning given a proper interaction with the modern world.

        I don’t know much about Jefferson, but it seems like he might have come around …

        Of course, there’s an interesting problem about it being *them* – like when you rescue them from their time, how much time they have to learn and from whom, language barriers in the case of folks like Aristotle, etc. I mention Aristotle because I wonder sometimes what would have convinced him that slavery and sexism (for example) were wrong, in addition to his physics and such.

        1. I have no doubt that many people of previous centuries would have held different views than the ones that they did if they’d been exposed to the knowledge of the present.

          However, speculating exactly what they’d think differently turns too quickly into an exercise of politically correct fan-fiction.

  25. Show no fear, I’ve just baptized everyone who wrote (either this post or wrote a comment) in the name of the Frog God. In fact, if you post AFTER this, the omnipotent Frog God knew that you would do so and already baptized you.

    Seriously, as far as the question about how seriously I take a candidate’s religion: it depends on how they intend to govern. If they accept a naturalistic cause and effect to events (e. g., physics and engineering determines if a bridge is going to collapse or not), then I am ok:


    I thought that Dodd and Clinton waffled but Biden and Edwards and Obama answered ok.

  26. I still think “plays well with others” is a good standard. If a candidate stands up for secular values, as JFK famously did, then not a problem: “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.”

    1. I agree with this. An lot of people keep their religion pretty separate from their everyday lives anyway, and certainly don’t use it to decide, say, what medical treatment they should get. These typical people wouldn’t use their religion to decide whom to launch nuclear war against either. So, for me, the question is how much do they seem to base their practical decisions on practical realities and the degree to which they are willing to embrace sentiments of independence like those above.

      In practice it seems pretty easy to me to separate these out. Several candidates are open about their desire to inject religion into the public sphere, and that disqualifies them from my vote. And some have a generalized ignorance, where their religious beliefs are only an example of a a pattern, and they wouldn’t get my vote anyway.

      Romney seems OK in that regard to me. Romney bothers people I guess because his beliefs are not mainstream, and that makes the silliness more apparent, but in reality they are no less silly than a lot of mainstream beliefs (transmutation anyone?), they are just less familiar, less dusty with age. On the whole, even though I disagree with him on many political things, and find the spectacle of watching him pander to the Right rather nauseating, Romney seems fundamentally reality based and not interested in injecting his Mormonism into government. He seems like an opportunist, to me, and while people often hate opportunists I feel they are safer than ideologues. So, for me, Romney’s religion doesn’t, itself, affect me much.

    1. Julia is an atheist but Kevin is anything but, that man is more religious than Tony Abbott which an appalling thought. And his obsession with power means that we will have one religious nutter or the other in the Lodge in the not-so-distant future unless we are very lucky.

  27. I have to admit, it would bother me a little if the candidate I like is a Mormon. How could anyone take that story seriously.

    1. I wonder of Newt Gingrich, or Joe Biden, really think that they are eating the actual flesh of Jesus when they take communion?

      There is “belief” and there is belief.

      I doubt that many religious people really believe in a lot of things that they claim, or their religion claims, to believe in.

      Politicians, moreover, are not free to just up and abandon a long held religion. Certainly not for no religion. Perhaps some aspects of Romney’s path would be easier for him if somewhere along the line he converted to Catholicism, but his family is Mormon, so there would be some cost there, and there’d be a political cost because his intact family and consistent religion is part of his brand, the thing he can point to to counter the perception that he has no principles. I’d almost be a little surprised if Romney really did believe it at this point. But he has no choice but to stick with it.

  28. Some more Romney family history: the amazing life of Sarah Marinda Bates Pratt.

    Sarah Pratt was the first wife of Orson Pratt, Mitt Romney’s great great granduncle. She was excommunicated by the Mormon Church for her public condemnation of polygamy and the Church, apostasy, and her role in a sex scandal involving Romney’s relative and Joseph Smith himself!

    In 1840, Joseph Smith told Sarah Bates he was attracted to her and intended to make her “one of his spiritual wives.” Bates refused Smith’s proposition, “I have one good husband, and that is enough for me”, and delivered an ultimatum to Smith: “Joseph, if you ever attempt any thing of the kind with me again, I will tell Mr. Pratt on his return home. Depend upon it, I will certainly do it.” Joseph Smith countered with a threat of personal destruction against Pratt:

    Sister Pratt, I hope you will not expose me; if I am to suffer, all suffer; so do not expose me. … If you should tell, I will ruin your reputation, remember that.

    Sarah told her husband about the incident; Orson took Sarah’s side and confronted Smith, who denied Sarah’s allegation and responded that she was the lover of his doctor, John Bennett. Numerous affidavits were then printed in the pro-Mormon Nauvoo, MO press denouncing Sarah Pratt as an adulteress.
    After Joseph Smith was murdered by a mob for his scandalous polygamy, Sarah Pratt migrated with her husband and the other Mormons to Utah. Her personal experience with polygamy led her to be a founder of the Anti-Polygamy Society. Sarah Bates called herself a Mormon apostate because “I have not been a believer in the Mormon doctrines for thirty years.” She resolved to “rear my children so that they should never espouse the Mormon faith while concealing from my neighbors and the church authorities that I was thus rearing them.” Of her own husband Orson Pratt’s polygamy she said,
    Here was my husband, gray headed, taking to his bed young girls in mockery of marriage. Of course there could be no joy for him in such an intercourse except for the indulgence of his fanaticism and of something else, perhaps, which I hesitate to mention.

    Sarah Pratt also furnished an explanation of why Joseph Smith left no children from his plural wives. According to Pratt, Joseph Smith allowed his doctor John Bennett to perform abortions on Smith’s polygamous wives who were officially single. In a public charge “that was likely true,” according to author Andrew Smith, Bennett was accused by many of performing abortions, including Jospeh Smith’s older brother, Hyrum Smith. John Bennett said “that he could cause abortion with perfect safety to the mother at any stage of pregnancy, and that he had frequently destroyed and removed infants before their time to prevent exposure of the parties, and that he had instruments for that purpose.” If the women refused, Bennett stated that he came with Joseph Smith’s approval. Sarah Pratt recounted an incident in which

    Bennett was en route to do ‘a little job for Joseph because one of his women was in trouble.’ Saying this, he took out a pretty long instrument of a kind I had never seen before. It seemed to be of steel and was crooked at one end. I heard afterwards that the operation had been performed; that the woman was very sick, and that Joseph was very much afraid that she might die, but she recovered.

    These facts all explain why the Sarah Pratt’s remarkable life is suppressed by the Mormons and undoubtedly the Romney family, as she is an important part of their family tree.

    1. Did they re-baptise her, after her death? Or, did Smith’s followers judge her as deserving of eternal hell? After all, she was guilty of honesty, logic, fairness and courage, not to mention a lack of mythological thinking.

    2. Was she the one who stole Smith’s original manuscript and challenged him to reproduce it from the tablets again?

  29. Give me a cynical politician over a true believer, either a pious Christly saint or a manipulative Jerry Falwell type. Spare us all the sermonizers. That Obama even mentions religion occasionally turns my stomach; the thought that he actually believes such drivel after what was ostensibly a good education, rather than that he has merely taken up religion as a cynical step towards his ambitions is pathetic.

    Thus I can understand someone who steps with his eyes on the prize rather than someone who actually believes nonsense, and would rather have the cynic than the dupe, even if I know the cynic is manipulative as well. I am pragmatic and in politics pragmatic compromises are necessary; a tenacious hold on vapid principles inspired by delusions is not so appealing

  30. With the Republicans, it’s a contest between two bishops – one who actually is one, and the other who acts like a sanctimonious, fundamentalist one, and is behaving exactly the way Republicans were worried that Kennedy would act, 52yrs ago. With Romney, I think the arrogance of having played this little schtick on the memory of his father-in-law ought to make it fair to question in the coming campaign. The followup would be what he thinks about the Anne Frank example. And if he navigates that one, then how would he feel about doing the ritual on [pick a prominent dead Muslim].

    Someone’s going to probe it further, at least. But for now Romney’s poll numbers among Jews ought to be about the same as with autoworkers.

  31. I tend to judge candidates by the policies that they support and don’t care what religion they are. But I think when a candidate makes a point of bringing up their own religion (like several of the Republican candidates have done) that is different. Usually the whole point of doing so is to score points with voters of a particular religious persuasion by making them think that the candidate is going to pursue policies along their religious lines. So yes, Santorum, Bachman, Palin and any number of others who explicitly touted their religion as part of their campaign – I would say that it is a relevant consideration.

  32. BTW, I believe the first time religion was a major issue in a US Presidential contest was 1928 when Al Smith (Catholic) ran against Herbert Hoover. Hoover refused to make an issue of it, and he and Smith remained personal friends as long as Smith lived, to the point that Smith would shut anyone up who tried to tell a Hoover joke in his presence.

    Hoover was a Quaker, but if you read his 3-vol autobiography there is scarcely a shred of religion in it, and, having been at the helm of efforts to keep the civilian population of Europe from starving as a result of the blockade in WWI, as well as Russia in (IIRC) 1921, he had ample opportunity to invoke deities as his motivation, but I never found any. The closest he came was a section about some slimeball (forgotten who), where he wrote that he remarked to his wife (first female graduate in Geology from Stanford) that “since we are fundamentalists,” [something to the effect that] “this fellow will spend eternity in a hot place”. The way he wrote it was more in the sense that “since we can claim to be fundamentalists, we can pretend that he will wind up in hell”

    In his last decade, I think Hoover became more religious, but there isn’t much evidence of anything on his part even remotely close to the current sentiments in the Republican party when he was president that I’ve seen. On the other hand, he often delighted in telling the story of how, when he was Secy Commerce under Harding, he ushered in the concept of radio stations broadcasting on a fixed wavelength. The (pioneer, I guess) broadcast evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson paid no heed, and when she was pressed to toe the convention, he got a telegram, “Please order your minions of Satan to leave my station alone. You cannot expect the Almighty to abide by your wavelength nonsense. When I offer my prayers to Him, I must fit in with His wave reception.” (Hoover then dispatched someone from Commerce to deal with her. He succeeded to the extent that they eloped!)

  33. I’m never voting for a theist again in local and national elections as I value critical thinking highest in any candidate. Good job I’m living in the UK.

    1. I take it you didn’t vote for Tony ‘We don’t do God’ Blair then?

      Or in other words, how can you be sure?

  34. So, the Constitution says there shall be no religious test for public office.

    OK, fine. I don’t judge someone on the basis of being a member of religion X or religion Y.

    However, if their political beliefs as a candidate are negatively influences by their religious beliefs, that’s fair game.

    What’s your political view on stem cell research? Gay marriage? Equal rights for women? Religious exemptions to secular laws?

    Those, I make voting decisions on.

    And would sooner move to Minsk than live in a country with a President Frothy Mixture.

    1. FYI, per the Constitution/Bill of Rights, technically, those in government are barred from letting you into a governmental position based on your religion, but, as a civilian, and even as a governmental employee acting in your capacity as a civilian, can vote in whomever you like.

      1. Sorry. I kind of screwed that up. Those in government are barred by the Constitution/Bill of Rights from barring you from entering a governmental position or job. Government can’t (read: shouldn’t, but sadly, too often does) show prejudice against you because of your religion. You can do whatever you want, assuming you’re not representing government when you do it.

  35. Its not really much of a problem in canada where our politicians are private about religion. However I care as much about a candidates religion as it will affect their time in office. If they are clear that they are going to legislate based on their beliefs I want to know what those beliefs are.

  36. Un-Baptism, ur doin’ it rong!

    There’s money to be made here folks! reel ‘murkin dollars.

    “For a mere $88.38 [limited-time offer, act before the end of the month!], The Online Church of the Rivers of Eden (TM) will un-baptize your loved one according to the following Ceremonial Ceremony of Ceremonious Pabtism. Certificates of the ceremony can be had in three grades — “Official,” at $27.80; “Ceremonious” at $42.21, and “Sanctimonious,” at $98.77. And now, for the rest of this month only, gold leaf can be applied to and grade certificate for a mere $62.40. That’s GOLD LEAF friends, a gen-u-ine 12.5 carat investment you can make now in your future!

    Friends, it is a touching ceremony, no matter what level you opt for. Here are just a few excerpts from the beautiful and inspiring BASIC ceremony. Imagine how awed you and your friends will be if you opt for the CARING version. And, my friends, imagine if you will, imagine if you can how totally, irredeemably un-baptised you’ll be if you pay just $29,99 extra to receive the full “SHEOL” version!

    Imagine yourself standing before the waterfall of mysteries in your Pabtism ceremony. Imagine the hushed and reverend tones as the officiant says:

    “Oh being of the mysterious holy waters, diverse be thy name whose mysteries we are not meant to understand. Accept our presence here today to free {NAME} from a commitment (he/she) did not make to be damp-ed [wet-ed]. Unsanct now [substitute the word “forever” for an extra payment of just $16.43 (plus tax where applicable)], oh being of the mysterious holy waters, the wetness with which thou mayst heretofore have dampened [wetted] {NAME’s} brow [body].

    Officiant: who appeareth now in the presence of all of us and in the presence of the being of the mysterious holy waters?

    Applicant for Un-baptism: ‘Tis I, {Name}.

    Officiant: and for whom is this appearance made?

    Applicant: {If for the Applicant herself or himself: “For me.”} If for another: “For the wet one: {Name}

    {At this point in the ceremony, the officiant lays a dry hand upon the brow of Applicant, and dips the index finger of his or her other hand into a chalice of unholy water.

    Tossing a droplet from that finger upon a surface hot enough to create instant steam, the officiant intones:

    ‘This rising water lifts the burden of thy baptism. Pabtised are thee now [substitute the word “forever” if the extra payment of $16.43 has been received.]

    1. PS
      I wouldn’t vote for someone who was beyond a cultural believer. Prior to our atheist PM, we had Kevin Rudd who rolled up to an Angican (Episcopalian) church on Sunday, however no religion every passed his lips. And I don’t think he ever spoke of ….er….’Jesus’ – it was more of the cultural god. On the other hand, we have Tony Abbott or is a retrograde Catholic who is known for his troglodyte views about women – however…..’no Jesus’….its called ‘the faith’. Compared to the US, we do religion lite – except for some of the nutters who try and influence things.

    1. Not “Black and gay”, respectively, but to make BOTH of them gay and Black. Without changing their birth genders.

      No… strike that. I want to change both of them to Black and gay, swapping their birth genders… only because that would be funnier.

  37. Hi, I thought I would chime in with a few notes on history and doctrine, vis-a-vis Joseph Smith Jr.

    I am an atheist, but I also happen to be a descendent of Joseph Smith Jr. (one of many, and yes, *that* Joseph Smith Jr., not some random Joe Smith). He was one of my eight great-great-great grandfathers.

    I suppose a bit of familial pride prods me to set the record straight (more or less).

    For the historically curious, there is considerable controversy over whether Joseph Smith originated many of the “weird” Utah Mormon doctrines and practices. As it happens, when he died, there was a schism (isnt’ there always?), with about 90% following Brigham Young to Utah and about 10% remaining mostly in the midwestern states (there were many other splinter groups with <1%). The 10% who did not follow Brigham Young were lead by Joseph's son, Joseph Smith III, and the overwhelming majority of Joseph Smith Jr.'s descendents are not members of the Utah Mormon's, but rather of the "Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" (quite the mouthful… the Utah Mormons somehow got to keep the original name. A decade or so ago, the "Reorganized" church renamed itself "Community of Christ" to further differentiate themselves.

    The "Reorganized" church is quite different from the church known as the Mormons. No polygamy[*] (never was), no baptism for the dead, and the "Reorganized" church does not and did not have the authoritarian structure of the Utah Mormons. In fact "Community of Christ" now even has women priests — quite a liberal church by most standards. There is a joke that the "full name" of the "Reorganized…" church actually appends "–We are not the Mormons."

    Needless to say the two major branches of Mormonism disagree considerably about whether Joseph Smith Jr. actually preached any of the "weird" doctrines upon which they disagree. The early Utah Mormons may have fabricated teachings of Joseph Smith Jr. in order to support doctrines actually created by Brigham Young… or the "Reorganized" Mormons (and Smith family) may have suppressed bits of Joseph Smith Jr.'s history and teachings that they didn't like.

    You can bet that my great-great-great Grand Mother, Emma Smith, did not care for talk of polygamy and denied that Joseph ever preached it. Joseph certainly did not have any additional wives acknowledged in any public way. My own speculation is that he may have had some affairs and secretly justified them to his inner circle of male church leaders with talk of "spiritual marriages" and biblical polygamy, but he did not publicly preach polygamy. On the other hand, the polygamy thing may have been made up entirely by Brigham Young (but attributed to Joseph) once Brigham was firmly in power in the isolated Utah settlements.

    Joseph did teach about the requirement of Baptism in the "true church"… but I'm pretty sure the whole baptism for the dead ritual was invented by the Utah Mormons. It certainly never existed among the "Reorganized" Mormons.

    It is a silly, harmless ritual. And I know just enough about Utah Mormon doctrine to know that it only gives the soul of the deceased the "option" to accept Christ and get into heaven, but does not turn them into Mormons without their consent.

    It is also questionable whether Joseph ever preached another weird Utah Mormon doctrine, in which Adam equals God (if I've got it right) and all the really really good (saintly) humans (men) get the chance to become like God and populate worlds of their own (their wives get to be the spiritual mothers of the people of these new worlds).

    Anyway, sorry for the long post… hope some find it interesting. I freely admit the potential of bias due to familial connection — with a tendency to want to see ol' G^3 Grand Pappy Joe in the best possible light. I'm inclined, based on my own limited readings, to think he was a mixture of delusional and a well-intentioned fake (thinking people "needed" the tale he was spinning), rather than a greedy or power-hungry charlatan[**]. He did not profit much from his position as leader/prophet, and he founded the early church on democratic principles, quite unlike the authoritarian approach typical of cult leaders (and of his successors in the Utah branch).

    [*] FWIW, I think there is nothing wrong with poly-amorous relationships among consenting adults, including polygamy.

    [**] I am aware of his conviction for fraud — a fairly minor case involving something like "dousing" to find "treasure". My opinion is that like many modern "dousers" he believed in his own abilities at the time.

    1. Curious: Where does the label “Mormon” come from? I enjoyed your post, BTW: It seemed calm, insightful, and balanced.

      1. The short version: Joseph had a series of “visions” that led him to some gold plates on which were engraved the “history” of a family of ancient Hebrew people who were led by God over the ocean to the Americas, founded a civilization which eventually self-destructed, and the remaining descendents of whom are modern Native Americans. This history includes a post-resurrection visit by Jesus who preached to these people. Similar to the Bible, this “history” is divided into “books” each named for a prophet/king/historian who supposedly authored it. “Mormon” is the name of the last such prophet/historian (except for his son, Moroni), who witnessed the downfall of his people (Moroni being the last survivor). Mormon and Moroni were responsible for compiling & preserving the history of their people, hiding the plates where Joseph would find them centuries later. Joseph’s published “translation” of this “history” in its entirety is also titled “The Book of Mormon”, and Joseph’s followers became known as “Mormons”. It was published in 1830.

        See Wikipedia for more info:

    2. While I can understand your wanting to present your grampy as less than the tyrant that he was, I’m afraid your efforts are less than convincing.

      The historians that I have read put old Joe, your grampy, as the source for both inspiring the cult practice of polygamy or “spiritual marriage” to more than one wife and to the rather distasteful practice of wetting the dead or baptism of dead people without their consent or knowledge. Even while disregarding the objections of the victims family.

      Your attempt to trivialize his fraud conviction is also destine to be in vain due to the seriousness and problems associated with “glass-looking” at that time. However, even without that conviction, only a mor[m]on wouldn’t recognize the even worse fraud that he committed that cannot be denied. That is, the act of hiding behind a curtain while pissing on his thumbs in order to interpolate a message from golden plates, although I guess the plates might be golden after he pissed on them. Oops, I’ve got that slightly wrong, old Joe used a Urim and Thummim while hiding behind a curtain to translate messages written on gold plates. Humm, I wonder then how the plates were in a state of being golden? If you don’t see the massive and harmful fraud that Joe Smith was involved in I would need to question your heroic (in light of your familial association) claim of atheism.

      All of us have dirty laundry in the basket if we look hard enough and go back far enough so you needn’t be ashamed. Then on the other hand most of us aren’t so much in a rush to air it out and twist it around.

      1. Notagod, thank you for stating so clearly and in great detail pretty much what I thought when I read s.k. graham’s post.

  38. Ha and double Ha!

    Kink, Victoria and I just reverse-double-whammy baptized all the Mormons, living, dead and to be born, AND all their posthumous souls to KinkTheCatism and as a result we now have our own Galaxy!

    It’s a PINK galaxy and I’d tell you where it is but it’s Victoria’s Secret.

    And, now, I must bid adieu, warp factor 5, because “duty” calls.

  39. I used to not care. And then the election of 2008 came along with all the attention on Barack Obama’s religion. So I think the media has an obligation to pay attention to the religions of all the candidates lest they look like hypocrites for doing it in one case and not others.

    One of the reasons that many Jews take great umbrage about posthumous baptism is that there have been many pograms through the ages (The Shoah was only the most industrialized one). At times, Jews could have lived better if they had only changed their religion (of course, the Inquisition in Spain would have eventually caught any Spanish conversos if they weren’t careful). So many Jews are proud that their families didn’t give in, even in the case of extreme pressure. And it’s a little galling to have these latter day nutters claiming to be baptizing them.

    1. I’ve struggled to put into words what you just did about Jews remaining Jews and the pogroms in relation to the Holocaust. Thank you for doing it.

    2. Any attention directed to Obama’s religion during the 2008 campaign was strictly the right wing flicking filth at Obama in the hope that some of it would stick.

      AFAICT, the opposition to Obama, no matter what his opponents say, is entirely motivated by racism pure and simple. Otherwise, they’d be arguing about the core economic issues facing the US, namely the persistent Federal deficit and the enormous disparities in wealth.

      The fact that his opponents rarely speak the truth about their motivations is a good sign, in that it shows that they are aware that racism is not a popular stance to take these days. That’s a step forward from, say, fifty years ago. A small step, admittedly, but at least it’s forward.

  40. how seriously would you consider religious beliefs when evaluating candidates for government office?

    Not much, but as with anything in this universe, “it depends”. If the candidate allows their religious beliefs (or any other irrational beliefs) to cloud their judgement and allows them to deny facts (eg: climate change) then I would not support that person. Religious people are quite capable of supporting and defending a secular state and society.

    For example, as others have stated above, this exact question is being tested her in Australia, with Kevin Rudd (Christian) challenging Julia Gillard (Atheist) for the Prime Ministership. Note that Rudd’s first act when he was voted as PM was to ratify the Kyoto protocol to combat climate change. Big tick.

    Gillard, on the other hand, has not supported gay marriage equality, as it is perceived to be not “socially acceptable” to pursue it at this time, even though it would be the right thing to do. Mind you, this is also an example of a politician acting in a manner that is contrary to their personal (a)religious conviction in deference to what is assumed to be the majority position.

    In short, elected representatives can be religious so long as they don’t let it get in the way.

  41. Noting that Anne Frank’s baptism originates from the Dominican Republic, presumably by some who have been converted by Mormon missionaries (anything to escape the Catholics?), is this one of the job skills they teach them?

  42. Baptising dead people is one of those things that is so incomprehensibly stupid that participating in it demonstrates irrefutably that neither you nor your religion are worth 10 seconds of anyone’s attention.

    1. But it doesn’t matter because I just converted all of the dead Mormons and Jews int the cult of Yogsothoth.

      Next, I will convert the living into the cult of Nyarlathothep.

      That sinking feeling in your gut is the absence of your soul. Hmwa ha haha hahhahaha!

  43. I take candidates religious beliefs into account when I vote if the candidate makes it clear that he nconsiders his religious beliefs self defining or if he or she seems to spend a lot of time talking about it. Santorum is obviously a religious nut case, for example, and I wouldn’t ever vote for him. Mormonism is a wackier religion than most and so I wouldn’t ever vote for Romney. I don’t understand how anyone can remain a member of that church. How can I justify voting for any Christian or Jew is a legitimate question since in my eyes all religions are wacky. But many Chriswtians and Jews keep their mouths shut about their beliefs. I think many are members of a religion in name only and probably don’t consult with their church in order to make decisions. If I refuse to vote for those people I won’t be able to vote at all. Atheist candidates are hard to find. I think almost all politicians are crazy anyway and we are probably doomed, but the less religion is involved with anything, the happier I am.

  44. Isn’t being upset about the Mormons’ posthumous baptizing tantamount to buying into their supernaturalist viewpoint? As far as I’m concerned, baptize away. Baptize ma remotely. It is of no significance.

  45. In the spirit of fairness I have to push back a tiny bit on this remark:

    the Mormons ought to have some decency here and lay off.

    This is effectively the Muslim argument against the display of Jesus and Mo. It would be interesting to see the reaction of Muslims if it should become known that the Mormon church was performing this baptism on deceased Muslims.

    I find the conversion of Mormons to homosexuality a better response than asking the Mormons to back off. I felt great satisfaction yesterday in converting a handful of dead Mormons to a joyful gay eternity.

    This effort is a practical demonstration to Mormons of why their involuntary posthumous baptism ritual is a violation of the golden rule.

    1. But the Jews aren’t threatening violence or riots, or appealing to the civil law to forbid it, or or even holding protests at Temple Square, they’re just objecting to the practice. And generating negative press for the LDS organization.

      My favorite tactic are the various forms of ridicule that have arisen. Maher’s unbaptism adn Colbert’s converting dead Mormons to Judaism, for example. It both points out the rudeness and ridicules.

      1. I hope I wasn’t misunderstood. I wasn’t suggesting any kind of equivalence, either between the baptism and Jesus and Mo as offenses, or between Jewish and Muslim reactions to offenses.

        I was simply giving a reminder of a recent case where atheists were asked to abridge their first amendment rights by an appeal to decency from Muslims.

        The Mormons are within their religious freedom rights here. At some point they may calculate that the practice is not worth the bad press. But they seem to be good at secrecy, so it may just force the practice deeper underground.

        I totally approve of the free speech based criticism of the Mormons, and of religion in general. Colbert’s instant circumcision of all dead Mormons and conversion to Judaism was brilliant.

        The reactions of Muslims to perceived slights in the United States and Europe, for the most part, seem much more restrained and dignified than the reactions of Muslims in countries where they have expectations that Islam is both a religious and political system, and where authoritarian styles of rule seem to be the norm.

  46. Jane Elizabeth Manning, a Connecticut black woman born in 1822, was “attached as a Servitor for eternity to the prophet Joseph Smith and in this capacity be connected with his family and be obedient to him in all things in the Lord as a faithful Servitor”. (Salt Lake Temple Adoption Record, May 18, 1894, Book A, p. 26) [from Wikipedia]
    According to Wikipedia, Mrs. Manning was unsatisfied with this situation, but the Mormon Church refused to revoke its decision.
    Jane Elizabeth Manning was placed by the Chruch of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, based on its own conception of reality and moral standards, in never-ending slavery to Joseph Smith.

  47. The fact that the absurd baptism-by-proxy doesn’t do anything is beside the point. It’s still an offensive practice. (Not to mention idiotic.) And the belief that you can alter someone else’s identity is more of that arrogance the religious do so well.

  48. The Mormon Church has gone nuts with proxy baptism, conferring it on everyone from Albert Einstein and George Washington to Barack Obama’s mother.

    On a lighter note, reader Diane G. notes that we can get revenge, for on this site you can convert a dead Mormon into being gay.

    I’ll convert Albert Einstein to homosexuality, then debaptise him of both afflictions. Why? Because it makes great small talk: “Did you know that Albert Einstein was a gay Mormon?”

    1. Be careful what you’re calling an “affliction.” 🙂

      Personally, I want an app that converts all dead male Mormons to female…

      1. How about a green femaie, so he/she isn’t white but not a person of (currently recognized) color, either. Better yet, how about a green hermaphrodite, so he doesn’t count as male but still not as female, either?

        1. Wait. Picturing that, he’s starting to look like a candy colored robot. I think he’s already there, except for the candy color. All right: Who converted him first?

        2. You’re far more creative than I!

          Gawd, Mitt’s plastic, in’t he? Can’t wait for him to get out of my state (MI).

      2. Sorry, I was only thinking about being Mormon when I chose the word. *Sigh*, as Charles Brown undoubtely would have said…

        1. I knew you didn’t mean it that way.

          I actually thought more than once before sending the “convert a dead Mormon to gay” link to Jerry; afraid someone would take it the wrong way. The snark just seems so deliciously gay, tho!

  49. This really is spectacularly arrogant behaviour (typical of the godly in general and the Mormons in particular).
    Are there any close relatives of the Frank family still alive who can sue the Mormon church in general, the “Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Temple”, or Maximino Vargas personally into oblivion? Since this news has got to me in the UK, then I think that means that they’d have grounds for sueing under UK libel law, with it’s propensity for unlimited damages, and a jury pool and judiciary relatively lightly contaminated by the godly. There’s even a relatively good chance of finding lawyers willing to work the case pro bono.

    1. Much of the reaction to this is stemming from a misunderstanding of the Mormon beliefs. The “baptism for the dead” ritual, according to their doctrine, does *NOT* convert the dead persons to mormonism nor even christianity. It merely gives the dead persons the opportunity to be “saved” if they so choose. Compare this to many other christian denominations which believe that people who never had the opportunity to hear the teachings of chirst or be baptized will simply end up in hell (such as the proverbial saintly Buddhist monk on a mountain in Tibet).

      Seen in this light, it is a rather nice (if silly and superstitious) gesture, which forces nothing on anyone. It is really not much different from any religious person saying a prayer for the soul someone of another faith.

      One can imagine some mormon teenage girl, reading Ann Frank’s diary in school, and becoming terribly upset that Ann Frank might not get a chance to go to heaven and so submitting her name for proxy baptism. It is not surprising that this has happened numerous times — prior to computer databases, it was probably quite difficult to avoid repetition of famous people.

      Mormons do not list Anne Frank, or any other beneficiary of post-mortem proxy baptism, as a “member”. The database is a list presumably to avoid redundant proxy baptisms.

      Joseph Smith’s descendents (of which I am one) overwhelmingly did not follow Brigham Young to Utah and are not, per se, “Mormons” (there was a schism after his death, see my earlier post). But I am quite sure that all of my dead relatives on that side of the family have been proxy-baptized. It does not offend me.

      What I wonder is, what about all the unfortunate people who died without record of their names or even of their existence, or for that matter any people they simply do not have time to get around to proxy-baptizing? I’m not sure what mormon doctrine says about that.

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