So You Want to Make Dead Mormons Gay…

A satirical web site has gone up inviting users to help the “many Mormons throughout history [who] have died without having known the joys of homosexuality.”  You enter a name, click a button, and the deceased will then somehow have the chance denied them in mortality.

I think this is a great idea.  Seriously.

The only problem is, this web site’s method isn’t truly analogous to what Mormons do in their temples at all.  Here would be a far closer parallel:

Users would first have to do research to identify their own ancestors who died without being able to try homosexuality.  After all, your motive in this project is to bless those whose lives led to your own.  This will require dozens and even hundreds of hours of interviews, online research, and contacting vital records departments.

Once you’ve identified your ancestors, you can’t simply click a button, though.  You must travel to a certain special place dedicated to this work, which will require you to set aside a few hours, on average.  Once there, the work itself involves a simple ritual, but one that must be done precisely, and repeated for each ancestor.

If you care about your departed forefathers being able to enjoy the same things you’ve been blessed to enjoy, then this effort should be a small price to pay.

I genuinely hope that the creators and users of this site will upgrade their satire and find a richer spiritual experience through their service, as millions of Latter-day Saints find in baptism for the dead.  Then, I think, we’ll have more to talk about.

Jews, Mitt Romney, and Baptism for the Dead

This week, Nobel prize-winning author of Night Elie Wiesel asked the LDS Church to stop doing proxy baptisms in its temples for Jewish Holocaust victims.  Apparently, an errant church member erroneously entered such a name into our database, though no baptism was actually performed, as that would have violated a church policy that already bars such work for Holocaust victims.

  • Baptism for the dead is being described in some places as an “obscure” practice (such as in this First Thoughts piece here), perhaps in an effort to make something so strange seem less embarrassing to Mormons, or to shield Mitt Romney’s faith from criticism.  On the contrary, baptism for the dead is so mainstream that congregations frequently organize trips for groups of teens to go to the temple to do them.  There’s no reason to hide a belief that’s actually quite wonderful.
  • The Mormon practice of baptizing people on behalf of those who have died is a means of answering the question, “Since Christ said everybody had to be baptized to be saved, what happens to people who died without the opportunity?”  This practice is the world’s only real answer to that: an attempt to offer a chance of salvation to those in the next world who would like it.  No wonder Joseph Smith wrote of baptism for the dead, “It may seem to some to be a very bold doctrine that we talk of” but that it constitutes “a voice of gladness for the living and the dead.”  (Doctrine and Covenants 128:9, 19).