No, sorry. Just OF THE DEAD.
Mitt Romney’s family recently tried to save the soul of his wife’s father, who died some years ago, by posthumously baptising him. He hadn’t been religious in life, and certainly wasn’t a Mormon, although his atheism may have been exaggerated.
This is a common Mormon practice, and I’m still trying to decide what I think about it. Here are some of the thoughts I’ve managed to put together:
- If you think that performing some weird rite and invoking a dead person’s name will somehow retroactively make them a Christian in some way, after they’ve stopped existing, then that’s hilarious and I’m laughing at you right now.
- Whatever anyone says about me after my death, whatever weird magic or voodoo they try to summon, however they recategorise me in their own minds, will have zero effect on me. If some people want to delude themselves after I’m gone that I’m a Mormon now because someone else had some water splashed on their head on my behalf, you guys have fun with that.
- If you’ve already abandoned evidence and rationality enough to think that this rite is meaningful, and that the eternal fates of people’s souls are affected by whether the living perform this ritual, then it’s frankly a travesty that they’re not attempting to provide the same salvation to everyone who’s ever died. What could possibly be more important?
- That said, the choices for who gets this privilege are often weirdly self-serving and selective, as well as colossally presumptuous and patronising. Like when 380,000 Jewish Holocaust victims made it onto the list. So, why exactly do they need your help, Mormons? The church agreed to call this off, and only perform “vicarious baptisms” in the future if the dead people’s descendants wanted it.
- But why did they agree to leave all those murdered Jews alone instead of meaninglessly trying to baptise them into Mormonism? Because it’s fucking creepy? Yeah, no kidding. It’s seriously creepy. So creepy their eternal souls can go hang so that your church doesn’t get too much negative press. What the hell’s wrong with you people?
- If you or someone you know does get posthumously baptised and are worried about the effect this may have, don’t worry: Bill Maher can unbaptise you right back.
- Holy balls, you know what else they do? Mormons can also posthumously marry people. It’s not as bad as it sounds – you have to have been married while you were alive, too, but if you got divorced or separated, then once you’re both dead, you might end up being “sealed” together with no escape this time. (That’s a whole big paragraph of “citation needed”, though, so take with a pinch of salt.)
- I’m still laughing at you.
That’s about the sum of it.