I guess you can’t teach an old Mormon new tricks. Consider, for instance, what is called “baptism for the dead.” Despite public outcries, the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints continues to baptize other people’s dead relatives in order to supposedly get them into their version of heaven.
The latest victim of this bizarre ritual is President Barack Obama. At least one of his relatives, his mother, was confirmed by the Church to have been baptized posthumously after a researcher discovered records of some of the president’s family members on the Family Search database that is maintained by the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints.
Helen Radkey, who opposes “baptism for the dead,” told UPI News that Obama’s parents, as well as his grandfather and great-grandfather in Kenya, were among the President’s relatives who ended up in the database, because they had been accepted into the Mormon fold through baptism.
She discovered that the ritual for Obama’s mother, who died in 1995, was held in a Provo, Utah temple on June 4, 2008.
“Baptizing Obama’s African relatives, or putting their names in the LDS temple system for them to be posthumously baptized is offensive because it sends a wrongful message that Obama’s ancestors were of inferior religious stock,” Radkey told the Salt Lake Tribune.
Obama’s mother was indeed baptized, though she shouldn’t have been, church spokesperson Scott Trotter reported. He also said that Mormons should only submit the names of their own dead for posthumous baptism.
“While the vast majority of names submitted by church members fall within applicable guidelines, it is virtually impossible to ensure that no improper submissions will be made,” Trotter added.
This isn’t the first time the Mormons have gotten caught with their hands in the graves of someone else’s dead. Reportedly, the church has already removed 300,000 names of non-Mormon persons baptized after death, including Jewish Holocaust victims. Jewish groups raised a fuss after learning that many of those who died in Nazi death camps had been made Mormons.
According to news report, the subject of the baptism of Obama’s relatives wasn’t discussed at a recent meeting the President had with a Mormon leader, who presented the chief executive with a genealogical report on his family.
While as an atheist I don’t believe that baptism of the living or the dead means anything, the Mormons should respect other people’s ancestors by leaving them alone.
Tommi Avicolli Mecca is co-editor of Avanti Popolo: Italians Sailing Beyond Columbus, and editor of Smash the Church, Smash the State: The Early Years of Gay Liberation, which has just been published by City Lights Books. His website: www.avicollimecca.comFiled under: Archive