Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dear Mormon Church, stop the proxy baptisms and we are totally cool with your religion!

This is my attempt to explain to the Mormon Church (LDS) why baptizing deceased Jews is so offensive.

When I was little I remember being confused when my Bubbie would say that she was going to “visit her mother and father” at the cemetery.

Before I understood what death meant, I actually thought that my great grandparents lived there, and I just did not have the opportunity to meet them, yet.

Eventually, I came to understand that my Bubbie was visiting graves to ensure that they were properly kept to honor her parents.

Honoring the dead is an important value in Judaism. A candle that burns 24 hours is lit on the anniversary of a loved one’s death as well as on specific holidays.  There are points in the morning, evening, and afternoon prayer services to say a prayer in honor of the deceased.

In order to say this prayer, the tradition states that you need a quorum of 10 Jewish men. (Today in most Reform and Conservative Synagogues women are included in the quorum). My father goes to synagogue 6 times a week to ensure that there are 10 people in case anyone is in mourning can say the prayer.  My dad often is the one standing reciting the mourner’s prayer for deceased loved ones who don’t have anyone else to say it for them.

During the most important holidays of the year, there is a service specifically for people who have lost loved ones.

Jews take the responsibility of honoring the dead extremely seriously by commandment and by custom.

One might ask, who cares if a Mormon baptizes a Jew posthumously.  The person is dead; they don’t care.

To say nothing is to condone it, and this would be a violation of our duty to preserve and honor the memory of the deceased.  

(Not to mention that it’s distasteful given the centuries of forced conversions Jews faced to avoid further persecution).

Instead of apologizing, the LDS Church should rescind the baptisms (if you can baptize dead people, you can unbaptize them, right?) and stop any future baptisms of Jews like Anne Frank, Daniel Pearl, and others who lived as Jews, died as Jews and whose memories deserved to be honored as such. 

For more articles about this issue: 


Diapeepees said...

I guess we Catholics and Jews both appreciate the need to pray for the dead...

scarpetta said...

I don't know how it works in Catholicism, but in Judaism we don't really pray for the dead, but we pray to honor their living memory. I'm not sure if that's what you meant.

Anonymous said...

[Mormons] take the responsibility of honoring the dead [by proxy Baptism] extremely seriously by commandment [Of G-d] and by custom.

Its more than a practice. Its a Mormon religious fundamental. Mormons by theology can no more stop baptizing people by proxy than a Catholic Church can stop giving the Mass.

scarpetta said...

Dear Anonymous, all religions take their dogma, extremely seriously, but that doesn't mean that they can't change it. Just like Mormons didn't accept blacks in the LDS church, and now they do. That's a change, polygamy to forbidding it is a change.

So, I'm sorry, I just don't buy it.

You don't hear most Muslims say, "Jihad is a value of my religion, therefore it is my right to practice it as needed." The ones who do are terrorists.

This is practice that affects other people, not just Mormons. When your religion impedes on my right not to participate in your religion, there is a problem. Catholic Mass does not affect me. Therefore, it's not a good comparison. Besides, remember, Catholic Mass used to be said in Latin. Now it's not (for the most part).