There are many things that are more than a little unsettling about the Mormon Church. As I previously reported here on The Stew, the Mormon Church still has racist overtones, and they did not allow African Americans to hold positions in the church until the late 1970′s.
This latest bit of creepiness is really over the top, though. It seems that the Mormon Church has posthumously baptized Barack Obama’s dead mother, confirmed by ABC News, and originally reported by AMERICAblog.
On June 4, 2008, Stanley Ann Dunham, the president’s mother, was posthumously baptized by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. She died in 1995 at the age of 52 from cancer. She was always described as a non-religious person in life, and was a self-proclaimed spiritualist, though she remained skeptical of all religions. Words used to describe her views on religion were agnostic, atheist, and secular humanist. Apparently, this was not good enough for the LDS church, and they saw fit to violate her in death when she could not defend herself. This was done in 2008 while her son, Barack Obama, won enough delegates to snag the Democratic nomination for President.
Here is what The Huffington Post had to say on the matter:
The baptism was first reported by AMERICAblog’s John Aravosis, who found an ordinance record on the Mormon genealogical Web site, FamilySearch.org.
Mormon Church spokeswoman Kim Farah said that “the offering of baptism to our deceased ancestors is a sacred practice to us and it is counter to Church policy for a Church member to submit names for baptism for persons to whom they are not related. The Church is looking into the circumstances of how this happened and does not yet have all the facts. However, this is a serious matter and we are treating it as such.”
According to “doctrinal background” from an LDS spokesman, “well-meaning Church members sometimes bypass this instruction and submit the names of non-relatives for temple baptism. Others — perhaps pranksters or careless persons — have submitted the names of unrelated famous or infamous people, or even wholly fictitious names. These rare acts are contrary to Church policy and sometimes cause pain and embarrassment.”
Even if this is “not church practice,” the people doing it need to stop it. Further, I find that to be no excuse, since everyone, by the time this happened, knew who Barack Obama’s mother was. They did this to cause pain and humiliation to Ms. Dunham’s surviving relatives, and to take a shot at the first African American Presidential nominee. Disgraceful is what this practice is, no matter the twisted reasons they present as justification.
This is not the first time the Mormon Church has baptized people posthumously. There was quite a bit of controversy over their baptizing of dead Holocaust victims. CBS News reported on that in February of this year:
Mormon church leaders apologized to the family of Holocaust survivor and Jewish rights advocate Simon Wiesenthal after his parents were posthumously baptized, a controversial ritual that Mormons believe allows deceased people a way to the afterlife but offends members of many other religions.
Wiesenthal died in 2005 after surviving the Nazi death camps and spending his life documenting Holocaust crimes and hunting down perpetrators who remained at large. Jews are particularly offended by an attempt to alter the religion of Holocaust victims, who were murdered because of their religion, and the baptism of Holocaust survivors was supposed to have been barred by a 1995 agreement.
Yet records indicate Wiesenthal’s parents, Asher and Rosa Rapp Wiesenthal, were baptized in proxy ceremonies performed by Mormon church members at temples in Arizona and Utah in late January.
In a statement, the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center denounced the baptismal rites.
“We are outraged that such insensitive actions continue in the Mormon temples,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean at the center.
The church immediately apologized, saying it was the actions of an individual member of church — whom they did not name — that led to the submission of Wiesenthal’s name.
“We sincerely regret that the actions of an individual member of the church led to the inappropriate submission of these names,” Michael Purdy, a spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said in a statement issued Monday. “We consider this a serious breach of our protocol and we have suspended indefinitely this person’s ability to access our genealogy records.”
But, there is hope of reversing this ridiculously offensive practice of posthumously baptizing people who would have wanted nothing to do with Mormonism. Comedian Bill Maher has the answer: unbaptism. As the Stew previously reported, Ann Romney’s father, Roger Davies, was an inventor, an engineer, and a staunch atheist who hated religion. However, 14 months after his death, the Romney’s baptized him in the Mormon tradition. It is more than obvious that Davies would not have wanted this, but they did it anyway, because they have no respect whatsoever for the wishes of others. So, Maher unbaptized Roger Davies on his show Real Time With Bill Maher. I think that, since Mormons seem to be more than willing to do what they would like to others, no matter what that person would have wanted, we should have a whole lot more unbaptisms, starting with Stanley Ann Dunham.