Pharyngula

Mormon ghoulishness exposed

Five months before the election, and thirteen years after her death, the Mormon Church posthumously baptized Barack Obama’s mother into their church. This is a common practice. It’s harmless and stupid, but it does highlight the fact that the church is a collection of ghouls. They’re also chronic liars about it all.

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.”

She’s lying. The church is slack about who submits the names — they maintain vast genealogical records, records that are continually growing as they scavenge the world for more information, and they rather freely toss the names into the baptismal font.

They only regard it as a serious matter because they’ve been caught at it. It’s one good sign: they have a little bit of shame left. But, you know, it’s kind of like visiting the graveyard and discovering that a ghoul has dug up your grandma; maybe he looks a bit abashed and quickly hides a gnawed-upon femur behind his back, but that wins him no sympathy and you still have to choke back your disgust and revulsion, and resist the urge to kick him until he is bruised and bloody.

Comments

  1. #1 Douchey France
    May 6, 2009

    WTF? That’s a little violent there, PZ. I guess it’s okay if you ‘resist’ the urge to kick someone bloody.

    But what the fuck harm is it if they write GRanny’s name in their book? She worm food anyway.

  2. #2 Endor
    May 6, 2009

    Agreed that it’s stupid, I disagree that its harmless. They also target non-Christians – i.e. Jews, etc. Those who would find it very offensive to be “baptized” into a different religion, or more to the point, those whose loved ones are offended by it. Granted the whole business is stupid, but its an imperialistic, insulting kind of stupid.

  3. #3 pikeamus
    May 6, 2009

    Yeah I’m not sure I understand why you’d react so strongly to this. I couldn’t give two shits if someone wrote my name in thier book of the posthumously baptised, nor if they wrote the names of any of my immediate family. It’s a symobol devoid of any meaning and has no affect on anything.

  4. #4 Zeno
    May 6, 2009

    Some people write to Salt Lake City to demand that the Mormon Church not baptize them posthumously into the ranks of the LDS. I doubt, however, that the church is very punctiliously about keeping track of such demands. After all, it’s a religion and religions do weird things (so that you can live happily ever after in their imaginary post-mortem fantasy land).

  5. #5 pikeamus
    May 6, 2009

    Since when did we care so much about causing offence? I agree that this might cause some people offence without having any useful effect but is that really such a big deal?

  6. #6 Endor
    May 6, 2009

    Of course its devoid of any meaning. The point is that they won’t keep their crap to themselves, but are to cowardly to try this shit out on people who can object and resist. If this were to be done to one of my loved ones (assuming it hasn’t already) I would find it offensive. Of course that loved ones is “wormfood”, but that doesn’t mitigate the duty to respect them and their wishes, imo.

  7. #7 Endor
    May 6, 2009

    “I agree that this might cause some people offence without having any useful effect but is that really such a big deal?”

    Imo, it’s the part about doing this to those that can’t object and resist that’s offensive. Is that such a big deal? To some yes, to some no. Having just recently had a death in my family, its fresh and yes, I do think its a big deal.

  8. #8 lordshipmayhem
    May 6, 2009

    Yes, it’s imperialistic and to her survivors, insulting, but it is all bombast, signifying nothing. What’s supposed to happen next, her ghost going around evangelizing on streetcorners?

    I find it a little difficult to get worked up over this. Trying to teach little kids that scientific fact shouldn’t be believed but religious fantasy should be, that gets me worked up. Saying that you just inducted a dead person into the ranks of your religion, not so much.

    Any religion that has to recruit from the dead hasn’t really got a lot to offer the living, does it?

  9. #9 Aquaria
    May 6, 2009

    I think I’ll put it in my will that these ghouls had better not try to claim me for their post-apocalyptic space fantasy.

    They have freedom of religion. They don’t have the freedom to claim people for their own religion who have no say in being claimed.

    I’m with PZ on this. Leave me and mine the hell alone.

  10. #10 James Sweet
    May 6, 2009

    I think if people were actually there for the baptism of the dead ceremony, they would be so much less offended. (I was raised Mormon, so uh, I’ve been baptized on behalf of dead people, heh…) The whole thing is actually really boring and pointless and business-like. The guy doing the baptizing talks as fast as possible so they can get as many done as they can.

    “JamesSweetIBaptizeYouForAndInBehalfOfPaulZacharyMyersInTheNameOfTheFatherTheSonAndTheHolyGhostAmen” “JamesSweetIBaptizeYouForAndInBehalfOfReverendBigDumbChimpInTheNameOfTheFatherTheSonAndTheHolyGhostAmen” “JamesSweetIBaptizeYouForAndInBehalfOf…” etc.

    Oh yeah, and because the people getting baptized in my case were kids who hadn’t received the magic underwear yet (I didn’t stick around long enough to score me one of those, dammit) everyone is standing around in white jumpsuits. Seriously. The whole thing is so corny, it’s hard for me to understand why people are actually offended.

  11. #11 Sigmund
    May 6, 2009

    Unfortunately for the mormons two can play at this game.
    http://sneerreview.blogspot.com/2009/05/joseph-smith-and-brigham-young.html

  12. #12 Erin
    May 6, 2009

    What I mainly find insulting is (as usual with religious stuff) the condescending nature of it. “Yes, we know you already made your religious decisions in life,” *pats head* “but all we’re saying is you were WRONG. Here, have a free baptism.”

    It nullifies the person’s own freethinking abilities posthumously. They’re essentially saying that whatever your life stood for, whatever the people who remember you think of you, was the wrong decision, and Mormons are there to make it right.

    It’s not much different than those other religious types who say all atheists KNOW that God exists, they just don’t acknowledge it. It’s a total rejection of someone’s ability to make their own choices and think for themselves, and it’s absolutely disgusting.

  13. #13 James Sweet
    May 6, 2009

    “”Any religion that has to recruit from the dead hasn’t really got a lot to offer the living, does it?””

    Unfortunately, Mormonism is growing really rapidly. I have two theories as to why this is so: First, the aggressive proselytizing. I mean, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon (or even an evo-devo biologist) to figure out that an organization that actively recruits is going to grow faster than one that doesn’t.

    My second theory, and I think this is an original by me, is that by having such a ludicrous story (see the South Park episode “All About Mormons” for about the best 22-minute summary) they get the whole Unquestioning Faith thing out of the way early. See, if your mythology is at least partially believable, then at some point you will be confronted with more convincing evidence that it is false, and then comes a crisis of faith. But with Mormonism, the falseness is mind-numbingly self-evident from day one — therefore, it is impossible to have a later crisis of faith based on new evidence. I mean, what evidence could possibly emerge that would make it less plausible?!?

    Anyway, my point is, don’t get complacent. Mormonism is spreading, and spreading rapidly, and the 10% tax they bully all of their members into paying (including my elderly parents who should really be spending that money on health care) gives them the political power to, well, deny gay rights in California even when it’s none of their business.

  14. #14 MadScientist
    May 6, 2009

    I was going to suggest that we find some satanic cult willing to baptize all LDS members (dead or alive) into their cult, but I suspect such cults (if they even exist) have more decorum than the LDS.

  15. #15 Felix
    May 6, 2009

    Islam is more clever.
    They declare every human a muslim by birth – so all they need are the lists of locals who evidently do not wish to be muslims or don’t behave as they should as muslims.
    It’s much easier to take care of deviants this way.

    Yeah, I’m generalizing. Sorry. A little.

  16. #16 Lauren Ipsum
    May 6, 2009

    Both my parents were atheists. I would be apoplectic to find that some organization of lunatics had decided to posthumously claim them as members of their lunatic society. If either of them had wanted to practice a religion, they would have freely and openly chosen to do so while they were alive, and it is libel and slander to pretend otherwise now that they’re gone.

  17. #17 James Sweet
    May 6, 2009

    FWIW, as far as the choice aspect, Mormons believe that those posthumously baptized do have a choice as to whether to accept it or not. Basically, there are still Mormon missionaries in the afterlife (yet another reason atheism is so comforting!) and it’s non-obvious that Mormonism is correct until after Christ’s return. So these zombie missionaries go around trying to convert all the other dead people, but unlike on Earth, if they convert, they can’t just get baptized, somebody on Earth has to have gotten baptized for them.

    So the real outrage should not be that they are baptizing people in the name of your dead relatives… it’s that they believe that your dead relatives in the afterlife are still getting their doorbell rung by “soul-peddling pigfuckers” at inconvenient times. Hellacious, indeed…

  18. #18 nate
    May 6, 2009

    Despite the motivations the LDS is a great resource for ancestral records. As a naturalist I certainly see no harm in the effort and their records are a great gift that’s worth a little discomfort to other superstitionists. All religions are welcome to induct me after death. Sweet! Its like insurance I don’t have to pay for ;-).

    Like I tell my kids all the time, “Other peoples lies have no affect on reality, why get upset?”

  19. #19 Knockgoats
    May 6, 2009

    Despite the motivations the LDS is a great resource for ancestral records. – nate

    I’m by no means convinced of that. What quality control procedures do they have? However, I agree that posthumous baptism is not something to get worked up about.

  20. #21 Matt Heath
    May 6, 2009

    Like I tell my kids all the time, “Other peoples lies have no affect on reality, why get upset?”

    err.. that’s not actually true, is it? Lies have plenty of causal power under the right circumstances. Look at the blood libel or “We have evidence that Iraq has WMD”.

  21. #22 Kausik Datta
    May 6, 2009

    @17:

    So the real outrage should not be that they are baptizing people in the name of your dead relatives… it’s that they believe that your dead relatives in the afterlife are still getting their doorbell rung by “soul-peddling pigfuckers” at inconvenient times.

    May be, that’s what hell is all about!! :)

  22. #23 Todd
    May 6, 2009

    Is there an unforgivable sin that you can commit to guarantee the Mormons don’t try to posthumously baptize you? I hope so, because it’ll give me something to do this weekend, after I clean the garage.

  23. #24 JD
    May 6, 2009

    Just leave one “m” out and you’ve got it.

  24. #25 just john
    May 6, 2009

    Some day when I have sixty dollars to spare, it’s my intent to buy posthumous memberships in the Church of the SubGenius for Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.

  25. #26 Moggie
    May 6, 2009

    #18:

    Despite the motivations the LDS is a great resource for ancestral records

    I’m no genealogist myself, but I’ve heard from people who’ve looked into this that their accuracy is lousy. If you’re doing research into family history, don’t trust Mormon records alone. After all, anyone who can believe Joseph Smith was honest is not reliable about history.

  26. #27 Barry
    May 6, 2009

    Is there any way to find out if they have baptized Lucy? Would Johanson know?

  27. #28 Falconer
    May 6, 2009

    If I came upon a ghoul gnawing upon my sainted grandmother’s femur, I’d wish really hard that I could actually make a Turn Undead check and be high enough level to blast it into dust.

    Failing that, I guess it’s big stick time. You don’t want to let one of those things touch you.

    If I came upon a Mormon baptizing my sainted grandmother, I would do my best to run him or her off the grounds of my grandma’s church, on behalf of her and all the others buried there who were Baptists. Much of my family is going to be buried there, eventually, after all. I might not go for the literal big stick — I still don’t want one of them touching me — but perhaps the figurative big stick of a trespassing complaint to the county police is in order.

  28. #29 JD
    May 6, 2009

    The word Mormon is one m too many.

  29. #30 James Sweet
    May 6, 2009

    @Todd: The Mormons do believe in one unforgivable sin, referred to as “blasphemy against the Holy Ghost”. This does not mean you just say something blasphemous like “The Holy Ghost eats its own invisible farts!”, it means you had direct evidence of the truth of “the Gospel”, and then later chose not to believe it, e.g. if Jesus appeared to you and said that Mormonism was the only true church and then later you became a Catholic or atheist or something.

    So the first piece of bad news is that, since you are probably unlikely to ever get direct evidence of the veracity of Mormonism, you probably don’t even have a chance of committing this sin. The second piece of bad news is that even if you did somehow, I don’t think there is any procedure in place by which you would get remove from the roles.

    Seriously, don’t sweat it. All that’s going to happen is some guy will rapidly mutter your name while he dunks a 14-year-old kid in a white jumpsuit into a tub of water made from giant marble cows. The absurdity pretty much cancels out the offensiveness…

  30. #31 Icelander
    May 6, 2009

    I’d rather they spent more time praying for dead people than bothering living people.

  31. #32 Zach
    May 6, 2009

    Look, I’ll agree that it may be offensive, but I don’t care. I don’t believe anyone has the right not to be offended. If “it’s offensive to me” becomes a valid excuse to oppose something, the fundies win.

    Now, it may well be considered libel, and that is a different, actionable, matter entirely… ;-)

  32. #33 James Sweet
    May 6, 2009

    @29: Ormon??

  33. #34 Sigmund
    May 6, 2009

    ” it is counter to Church policy for a Church member to submit names for baptism for persons to whom they are not related.”
    I’m afraid they’ve got us evolutionists on a technicality there. If we accept the idea of common descent then we must therefore admit that we are all related.

  34. #35 Ploon
    May 6, 2009

    It’s offensive because they are in effect saying that they are the One True Religion (TM) and you better be grateful to them that grandma can now finally go to Heaven despite all the mistakes she made in her life, such as having the wrong faith or none at all. It’s monstrously presumptuous (what else is new in religion) and they count on no one actively objecting. They should get both barrels (figuratively speaking) from someone who does object and feel what it’s like, as far as I’m concerned.

  35. #36 Adam F
    May 6, 2009

    My family is Mormon, and I was shocked to hear they baptized Hitler by proxy. No joke!

  36. #37 Siveambrai
    May 6, 2009

    Well while I do think its offensive. One of the reasons its wrong is that these numbers could be used to play up the church’s attendance, kind of like what the Catholic and CoE do already. It’s the same reason people are asking for the debaptism certificates. There’s someone who can now use the name of Obama’s mom to say, “We have x amount of supporters. Therefore you should do y.”

    And considering that the views of the church can be drastically different from the views the person held while they were living, that’s extremely insulting and condescending.

  37. #38 Ranson
    May 6, 2009

    My dad’s been doing geneaology for over thirty years now, and his opinion tends toward “LDS records are crap”. There’s little-to-no quality control. He’ll use them on occasion to get a lead, but never as any kind of evidence. Admittedly, his standards are high, but I spent a lot of my childhood digging the basements of rural courthouses looking for copies of wills from 1803; Dad can trace the paperwork on every connection he’s ever made, and his files contain tens of thousands of individuals. I’ll take his word when it comes to accuracy.

  38. #39 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    May 6, 2009

    I don’t get why it’s so awful to have some church you’re not a member of fill out some paperwork with your name on it. Do believers in other religions really think that their dead relatives can be coerced into the LDS? Sure, it’s pointless and weird, but it’s not causing any real harm.

    The church lying about its behavior, however, is more important. It shows explicitly that they are willing to lie to avoid bad publicity, and makes you wonder what else they lie about.

  39. #40 Greywizard
    May 6, 2009

    Mormons baptising the dead is not only insulting and condescending. It should be actionable. A person’s name and identity is a possession. To take that person’s name and identity and to use it in the context of religious beliefs and rituals they did not share, and may have regarded with contempt, must, one cannot but think, be an offence in law. I can’t plaster another person’s picture all over the place without a release. Surely, the same applies to the uses of names and identities in inappropriate contexts. Just a thought. Any lawyers around who could comment? Could it not be construed as libelous? I would consider it a libel on my good name, were they to do it to me, and I am sure my daughter would feel the same. Would she have no recourse in law?

  40. #41 Desert Son
    May 6, 2009

    Adam F at #36:

    My family is Mormon, and I was shocked to hear they baptized Hitler by proxy.

    Can you imagine being the poor youth in the jump suit for that one (as described in several posts by James Sweet this thread)?

    “Abimilech Derringer Stubblethumbs, Jr., I baptize you for and in behalf of Adolf Hitler in the name of . . . ”

    o_O

    That alone would have me rethinking the religion, reason and lack of evidence aside.

    No kings,

    Robert

  41. #42 Nils Ross
    May 6, 2009

    Irrespective of how I feel about the Mormons doing this, it does provide us with a rather nice riposte when missionaries come to the door.

    “Convert? That seems an awful fuss. You chaps will sort me out post-mortem anyway eh? Anyhow, five seconds to get off my property before I loose the dogs, so I’d get a jiggle on, if I were you fellows.”

  42. #43 raven
    May 6, 2009

    How does PZ or anyone else living know that they haven’t been baptized into the Mormon religion by proxy?

    It is an assembly line process with little fact checking and a massive effort considering the number of people who have lived.

    I rather imagine PZ Myers has been baptized LDS numerous times by well meaning Mormons or those with a sense of humor.

  43. #44 Tulse
    May 6, 2009

    I really don’t get the outrage. I figure that the only people who are really offended by this superstitious nonsense are those who believe different superstitious nonsense, and so my view is a pox on both their houses. I certainly can’t get worked up about people casting curses or giving the Evil Eye to someone, and this it seems to me is on exactly the same level.

    If someone wants to declare my deceased grandparent as retroactive Mormons or Zoroastrians or Shinto monks or whatever, I don’t give a damn — it can’t impact them because they are dead, and can’t impact me because it is nonsense (and they are dead).

    And, in the spirit of full disclosure, my spouse was raised Mormon, and even though she isn’t anymore, her explanation of posthumous baptism actually made sense to this former Catholic, as it gets around the sticky theological problem of what to do with all those good folks who didn’t happen to be born in the right place or time to be Christian. The Catholic solution is the kludgey “limbo”, whereas the Mormons avoid that with posthumous baptism. And it is important to realize that as noted above, such practice presumes that the baptizee can choose to accept the baptism or not. In other words, no one is forced to become Mormon after they’re dead, they’re just given the opportunity through baptism. Yes, it’s all silly, but as I said, it does solve a theological problem that other religions dodge.

  44. #45 NewEnglandBob
    May 6, 2009

    I hereby consecrate all Mormons as Official Fuckwads. I condemn them to spend the rest of their natural lives. There is no afterlife, so no need to mention it.

  45. #46 Mrs Tilton
    May 6, 2009

    The International Jewish Conspiracy (no, not that one; I mean the real one, the Jewish-run anti-antisemitic satire website) used to have, IIRC, a project to posthumously circumcise dead Mormons. A bris for Brigham? Now, there’s a religious ritual I can get behind…

  46. #47 Cosmic Teapot
    May 6, 2009

    I hope someone tells Fred Phelps.

    It would be fun to watch his head explode.

  47. #48 MZ
    May 6, 2009

    Does anybody remember the Cocoa-cola ads from a few years ago that used doctored images to make it look like people like Groucho Marx and Humphrey Bogart were endorsing Coke? I find this disgusting for the same reason I found those ads disgusting. They are exploiting people who cannot defend themselves. It’s similar to when creationists claim the authority of Isaac Newton or Albert Einstein.

    MZ

  48. #49 mhogan
    May 6, 2009

    In a previous worldview, I used to work for the administrative offices of the local Catholic Archdiocese. They commonly turned over old parish baptismal records (> 100 years old) to the Mormons who they would make two microfilm copies of the books, one for the Catholic church’s archives and one for the Mormons who I assume would use it to postumously baptise departed Catholics.

  49. #50 mhogan
    May 6, 2009

    In a previous worldview, I used to work for the administrative offices of the local Catholic Archdiocese. They commonly turned over old parish baptismal records (> 100 years old) to the Mormons who they would make two microfilm copies of the books, one for the Catholic church’s archives and one for the Mormons who I assume would use it to postumously baptise departed Catholics.

  50. #51 Gorogh
    May 6, 2009

    Quite obviously (from the examples given above), one does not have to meet any criteria at all for being baptized posthumously (except not having committed blasphemy as explained in #30), which is along the usual bizarre lines of christian (or other, “eternity”-focussed religions) ethics.

    Yet, as far as I understand – given #17 is correct -, this is actually not baptizing at all, but an attempt at meeting the physical requirements IN CASE a deceased person is successfully converted in the afterlife? So should this not be understood as some kind of offer? If that is the case, one really should not bother.

    On the other hand, if they actually believe in enforcing their horrendously stupid religion on the souls of dead people, it is quite justified to disapprove of it.

  51. #52 Glenn
    May 6, 2009

    I’m with those who say, why would anyone be upset about this? So they say some mumbo-jumbo over your name. You don’t even know about it, and neither does your family, I’m betting. Anyway, so what? To be offended is to give power to it, to acknowledge in some small way that there might be something actually happening when they say abracadabra. Don’t give them that satisfaction, folks.

    As for the possibility of legal action, I’m a lawyer and I can’t see it. First, I’m pretty sure you can’t libel a dead person. Second, they’re not saying the person was a Mormon. Third (we lawyers like 3′s), the First Amendment implications of trying to impose any liability would likely be insurmountable. There are several other obstacles I can think of too, but I’ll leave it at that.

    Finally, I always love the claim that Mormon doctrines are self-evidently wacky compared to other religions. Really? Go back and read the Bible again. It’s insane. I don’t find Mormonism, or Scientology, or any of these inherently less plausible than some dude being born of a virgin who got laid by an angel, who did cheap magic tricks like water-into-wine and healing lepers, and who got up out of his tomb after 3 days and flew into the sky.

  52. #53 Dr.FabulousShoes
    May 6, 2009

    Tulse @ 44 “In other words, no one is forced to become Mormon after they’re dead, they’re just given the opportunity through baptism.”

    You realize that the dead can’t choose, right? And furthermore, the living relatives of this specific individual, who would presumably know what she would have chosen weren’t consulted? How is that not forcing someone?

  53. #54 mhogan
    May 6, 2009

    In a previous worldview, I used to work for the administrative offices of the local Catholic Archdiocese. They commonly turned over old parish baptismal records (> 100 years old) to the Mormons who they would make two microfilm copies of the books, one for the Catholic church’s archives and one for the Mormons who I assume would use it to postumously baptise departed Catholics.

  54. #55 Lynna
    May 6, 2009

    I posted this earlier (on April 30) in the IRC Loves Them Some Scientists thread. I’ll post it again here. (I did edit out the part where I accidentally included Rev. BigDumbChimp as a possible baptizee, ’cause that would make him a Zombie.)

    Here are some posts from 2004, when the Mormons were already having trouble coming up with new names for the baptism bit–must be even worse now. These posts appeared on the exmormon.org website. None of them are written by me, nor by anyone I know:

    My TBM [True Believing Mormon] aunt who is a temple worker told me that the temples have a real problem because there are now so many temples and they are so efficient at doing temple work now, they don’t have enough names to process.

    They are recycling names. They’re using just names (and common ones at that) in some places and dropping birth dates and so forth.

    Since the Russians stopped the church from buying names last year, they are seriously short.

    But like any other number game, the numbers will catch up with you. Eventually, and sooner than later, the church will have to get out the whips and get the members to do genealogy again. [They did get out the genealogy whips again.]

    It’s a funny thing to sit in the Gen Lib in SLC. Most of the researchers there are for private profit. They are doing personal genealogies for nonmembers and other research. Besides, most of those names have been “extracted” and there is a limited source of new names.
    In my locale, the old missionaries were “extracting” names from public records. They finished up about 4 or 5 years ago. There were only so many names. Then they turned to other churches and were refused access.

    It’s really sick that they “extract” names from cemeteries. But they’ve covered just about all of the US, Canada, Europe, Mexico and South America.

  55. #56 mhogan
    May 6, 2009

    In a previous worldview, I used to work for the administrative offices of the local Catholic Archdiocese. They commonly turned over old parish baptismal records (> 100 years old) to the Mormons who they would make two microfilm copies of the books, one for the Catholic church’s archives and one for the Mormons who I assume would use it to postumously baptise departed Catholics.

  56. #57 Tulse
    May 6, 2009

    To take that person’s name and identity and to use it in the context of religious beliefs and rituals they did not share, and may have regarded with contempt, must, one cannot but think, be an offence in law.

    Really?!? That seems, well, “insane” comes to mind. We’re talking about superstitious nonsense that has no real impact on the person. You want to enshrine the weight of such nonsense in law? This seems to me to veer close to the notion of blasphemy laws — it is simply idiotic to me.

    And frankly, I’d much rather have the Mormons spending their time “baptizing” dead people than pushing Prop 8.

  57. #58 Alverant
    May 6, 2009

    What they’re doing is converting ex-people without their permission. It’s spiritual necrophilia, no more – no less. I find it disgusting. I wonder if I can put a clause in my will asking criminal charges be file against anyone who tries to do a posthumous conversion (desecration of a corpse) as well as a civil suit for libel/slander (claiming I accepted the conversion when there’s no independent way to verify it).

  58. #59 mhogan
    May 6, 2009

    In a previous worldview, I used to work for the administrative offices of the local Catholic Archdiocese. They commonly turned over old parish baptismal records (> 100 years old) to the Mormons who they would make two microfilm copies of the books, one for the Catholic church’s archives and one for the Mormons who I assume would use it to postumously baptise departed Catholics.

  59. #60 Lynna
    May 6, 2009

    It seems the proxy baptisms in the temple are most harmful for the Mormons who participate. It’s yet another way for the Church to keep them so busy that they can’t go more useful things.

    There’s pressure to participate in multiple Church-centered activities every week, and to go to the temple and baptize the dead folk every month, if possible. When it comes time for the local Bishop to interview his flock and see if they still are “Temple Worthy” he will ask if they have been doing their temple duties. If not, better hop to it or your daughter can’t get married in the temple, or you may not be eligible for handouts from the Bishop’s storehouse, or everyone in your ward may know that you are a slacker.

    Proxy baptisms are part of the brainwashing for the faithful.

  60. #61 Anonymous
    May 6, 2009

    FWIW, as far as the choice aspect, Mormons believe that those posthumously baptized do have a choice as to whether to accept it or not.

    As someone who also grew up Mormon – and actually did stick around long enough to get a pair of those magic undies – this is essentially correct, but is only half the story. Mormons have a very stratified view of “heaven” that is too complicated to get into here, but suffice it to say that entree into the highest level of heaven requires three technical, physical acts here on earth: 1) baptism, 2) confirmation, and 3) endowment (marriage in a Mormon temple). I never heard anything about posthumous zombie missionaries, but Mormons do believe that there will be a period after death where a person may choose to convert in order to obtain the “highest” level of heaven. The “problem,” of course, is that those who have lived outside the faith will not have completed these technical requirements. Not sure when the church came up with the idea of baptism, et al. by proxy, but this neatly solved the problem (and not coincidentally provided a ritualized set of faith-reinforcing activities that helps keep the rank-and-file members faithed up and in line). Mormons are continually told that this “temple work” is the most important thing they can do as members, and are continually being guilt-tripped into wasting perfectly good Saturdays on this nonsense.

    The Mormon faith puts more emphasis on works than does other christian faith which tend to emphasize faith over works. Under this view a person could live a very “worthy” life, thus being eligible for the top tier of heaven. This person dies, gets to the other side and realizes “ah heck” I shoulda listened to those two nice young boys who knocked on my door.” By having someone already in the church go through the required rituals in their stead, they will at least not be hampered by a set of mere technicalities when god does the sorting. (Why god would require such a set of silly technicalities, and why something apparently so incredibly important as it would bar you from entering “the bestest heaven ever,” is never fully explained.)

    It’s offensive because they are in effect saying that they are the One True Religion (TM) and you better be grateful to them that grandma can now finally go to Heaven despite all the mistakes she made in her life, such as having the wrong faith or none at all. It’s monstrously presumptuous (what else is new in religion) and they count on no one actively objecting. They should get both barrels (figuratively speaking) from someone who does object and feel what it’s like, as far as I’m concerned.

    But all religions present themselves as the OTR. So in that sense, baptism and confirmation of the dead should be no more offensive than the Baptists calling the Catholics names on Sunday. (Not that it isn’t offensive, but more that to me it really doesn’t seem any more offensive than your run-of-the-mill religious presumptions.) It seems that the people really getting upset over the practice are somehow giving credit to the the aim of the process – “They baptized my Mom!”

    No. They. Did. Not. They dunked some poor kid in the water 20 times and said your mother’s name once when they did it.

    If you are religious and not Mormon, then you obviously believe that the practice is ridiculous because the Mormon’s are misguided – do you really believe that your all powerful god’s favor can be taken away from your Mom because some pimply teenager got dunked in a fancy bathtub?

    If you aren’t religious then the ritual is even sillier. Nothing the afore-mentioned teenager does can possible affect your Mom after her death. She is gone, she is not offended, and taking offense on her behalf because “my Mom didn’t believe that nonsense” grants the nonsense to much credit. Anger bestows on the ritual and the church too much power that is not deserved. Laughter and derision is a more appropriate response. Ignoring the whole thing, perhaps the best.

  61. #62 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    May 6, 2009

    It should be actionable. A person’s name and identity is a possession.

    I’m curious which law, specifically, you think this should be “actionable” under. It’s not libel. It’s not even hate speech. Nobody is hurt, and the LDS doesn’t even make a big show of doing it, so most people don’t even know anything happened.

    If “hurt feelings” are actionable, then we’re all fucked.

  62. #63 Moggie
    May 6, 2009

    #48:

    It’s similar to when creationists claim the authority of Isaac Newton or Albert Einstein

    See, the Lady Hope story is wrong. Charles Darwin didn’t convert on his deathbed: he waited until afterwards!

  63. #64 yrif
    May 6, 2009

    This is all a lot of todo over nothing, it turns out.

    See my update:

    http://yrif.org/2009/05/06/mormons-grave-robbing-and-baptism/

  64. #65 Erp
    May 6, 2009

    As #33 Sigmund pointed out, everyone is related (which the Mormons agree with), so their words don’t mean anything.

    Personally I wonder how many times Charles Darwin has been baptized?

  65. #66 Matt Heath
    May 6, 2009

    The idea that this ought to be illegal is laughable. The whole thing may be dickish in it’s way, but they aren’t messing with the bodies; they are doing a weird-ass thing in their clubhouse which declare corpses to be mormons. Except in their imaginations, it’s an entirely meaningless act. If it were a crime it would be a thoughtcrime.

  66. #67 Lynna
    May 6, 2009

    Here is a link to page on exmormon.org where former Mormons discuss the practice of baptizing the dead: http://www.exmormon.org/mormon/mormon306.htm

  67. #68 James Sweet
    May 6, 2009

    From #52: “Finally, I always love the claim that Mormon doctrines are self-evidently wacky compared to other religions. Really?”

    Yes, because of the Lucy Harris story. Basically, the (non-stupid) wife of the guy who was taking dictation as Joseph Smith “translated” the Book of Mormon from Golden Plates stole the first few hundred pages, and told Martin Harris to say he lost them. The idea was, if Joseph Smith was really translating, then he’d be able to reproduce the originals verbatim.

    After storming off to go think, Joseph Smith came back and said that God was very angry and would never allow the Book of Lehi (as it was known) to be read again on Earth, but that, conveniently, Lehi’s son Nephi had recorded largely the same story — but of course with different wording — and proceeded to “translate” that book.

    In other words, before the religion got off the ground, Smith was exposed as a fraud. This is not even some historical footnote that Mormons try to ignore; I heard this story in Sunday School and it was somehow taught as some kind of lesson in faith, because the thinking is that Lucy Harris’ lack of faith “ruined it for the rest of us” so to speak by barring terrestrial access to the Book of Lehi.

    The really screwed-up thing is that this backwards take on the Lucy Harris story was taught to me from such a young age that even after I had been an atheist for several years, the true nature of the story — that it unequivocally proved Smith was a fraud — didn’t even occur to me until it was pointed out by South Park. That’s how ingrained it was in my head. By that point, I of course thought the idea of a God who expected people to believe in him for No Reason Whatsoever was absurd — but I still had some sort of weird cognitive block in my brain that prevented me from understanding the ramifications of the Lucy Harris story. Scary, huh?

    Anyway, my point is, the historicity of the Bible is something that is an active area of debate, and Christian churches don’t typically go around teaching their children in Sunday school about the evidence that the Gospels were written years after the events were purported to occurred. On the other hand, Mormons actively preach an anecdote that essentially invalidates any possible claim of the historicity of the Book of Mormon.

    Hence, even the most ignorant non-thinking person is forced to accept the dominance of faith over evidence starting from day one. In the case of other religions, ignorance and a lack of curiosity could lead one to believe there is no evidence contradicting their teachings. With Mormonism, they don’t take any chances: they give the contradictory evidence right up front, so you can’t possibly miss it, and that way your faith is secure.

  68. #69 James Sweet
    May 6, 2009

    From #52: “Finally, I always love the claim that Mormon doctrines are self-evidently wacky compared to other religions. Really?”

    Yes, because of the Lucy Harris story. Basically, the (non-stupid) wife of the guy who was taking dictation as Joseph Smith “translated” the Book of Mormon from Golden Plates stole the first few hundred pages, and told Martin Harris to say he lost them. The idea was, if Joseph Smith was really translating, then he’d be able to reproduce the originals verbatim.

    After storming off to go think, Joseph Smith came back and said that God was very angry and would never allow the Book of Lehi (as it was known) to be read again on Earth, but that, conveniently, Lehi’s son Nephi had recorded largely the same story — but of course with different wording — and proceeded to “translate” that book.

    In other words, before the religion got off the ground, Smith was exposed as a fraud. This is not even some historical footnote that Mormons try to ignore; I heard this story in Sunday School and it was somehow taught as some kind of lesson in faith, because the thinking is that Lucy Harris’ lack of faith “ruined it for the rest of us” so to speak by barring terrestrial access to the Book of Lehi.

    The really screwed-up thing is that this backwards take on the Lucy Harris story was taught to me from such a young age that even after I had been an atheist for several years, the true nature of the story — that it unequivocally proved Smith was a fraud — didn’t even occur to me until it was pointed out by South Park. That’s how ingrained it was in my head. By that point, I of course thought the idea of a God who expected people to believe in him for No Reason Whatsoever was absurd — but I still had some sort of weird cognitive block in my brain that prevented me from understanding the ramifications of the Lucy Harris story. Scary, huh?

    Anyway, my point is, the historicity of the Bible is something that is an active area of debate, and Christian churches don’t typically go around teaching their children in Sunday school about the evidence that the Gospels were written years after the events were purported to occurred. On the other hand, Mormons actively preach an anecdote that essentially invalidates any possible claim of the historicity of the Book of Mormon.

    Hence, even the most ignorant non-thinking person is forced to accept the dominance of faith over evidence starting from day one. In the case of other religions, ignorance and a lack of curiosity could lead one to believe there is no evidence contradicting their teachings. With Mormonism, they don’t take any chances: they give the contradictory evidence right up front, so you can’t possibly miss it, and that way your faith is secure.

  69. #70 Douchey France
    May 6, 2009

    I for one want to hear about mhogan’s previous worldview. Gets better with every telling.

  70. #71 Spook
    May 6, 2009

    I wonder how long it’ll be before the Moron Troll Squad hits this thread. It seems that any time there’s been a negative post about that particular cult, they just rush in and flood the comments like goons.

  71. #72 Gorogh
    May 6, 2009

    @#48, it really disgusts me, as well – and yet, regarding the original topic, it is of course irrelevant, since the Mormons supposedly do not utilize these baptisms for any other purpose than baptism itself. I hardly believe, by the way, the resulting record to be in any way instrumentalized (e.g., for political influence) any more than any other list of dead (or even imaginary) people. At least, there is no way the baptism of anyone on that list would further the amount to which such a list would be convincing to anyone.

  72. #73 Brownian, OM
    May 6, 2009

    So what? I’ve been having sex with dead Mormons for years.

    Hmm, a little too far?

  73. #74 James Sweet
    May 6, 2009

    Re #61, I was simplifying for the sake of brevity (and given the verbosity of my posts already, I think that’s a good thing ;D ). #61′s clarifications also match my recollection.

  74. #75 ihedenius
    May 6, 2009

    “Unfortunately, Mormonism is growing really rapidly.”

    Thats fascinating on some level. Mormonism is very recent and well documented, Mormonism makes absurd claims that are trivial to dispute. And that doesn’t matter at all.

  75. #76 Gorogh
    May 6, 2009

    So what? I’ve been having sex with dead Mormons for years.

    Hmm, a little too far?
    As long as it’s consensual sex…

  76. #77 Stogoe
    May 6, 2009

    If you don’t see why posthumous baptism is bad, then explain to me why Charles Darwin’s ‘conversion’ to christianity by Lady Hope is so bad. He’s dead, it don’t matter to him, and it’s a lie, so why does it matter to you?

    It’s the same reason that it’s so damned hard to get off the Official Catholic Record of Believers – number of followers means clout, means power. And Mormons, well, Mormons claim everyone who’s already dead, you see. Billions upon billions of Mormons, so that means they should have the most power in society. Obviously.

  77. #78 Edward Lark
    May 6, 2009

    The really screwed-up thing is that this backwards take on the Lucy Harris story was taught to me from such a young age that even after I had been an atheist for several years, the true nature of the story — that it unequivocally proved Smith was a fraud — didn’t even occur to me until it was pointed out by South Park. That’s how ingrained it was in my head. By that point, I of course thought the idea of a God who expected people to believe in him for No Reason Whatsoever was absurd — but I still had some sort of weird cognitive block in my brain that prevented me from understanding the ramifications of the Lucy Harris story. Scary, huh?

    I had the exact same experience. Truly wild.

  78. #79 Janine, OMnivore
    May 6, 2009

    I declare that all followers of all religion, living and dead, are free of their dogmas. I further declare that all followers of all forms of woo, living and dead, are free of their delusions.

    Dammit, if only it were so easy.

  79. #80 Queue33
    May 6, 2009

    I can understand why some people think this is of little consequence, but it makes me furious. I am proudly atheist but it has caused some strife with my Catholic family. Far worse was the fate of my beloved, who was raised a Jehovah’s witness and has been completely shunned by her family when she left that insane cult. We have both suffered for our decisions to leave the religions of our parents and I am appalled at the idea that after I am dead and gone the Mormons will baptize me. How dare they belittle my choices.

    Also they posthumous baptismal records are a big part of their genealogy record services which are mostly used by non-Mormons to look up family histories. The Mormons charge for that service and its a big part of their funding.

  80. #81 Lynna
    May 6, 2009

    James Sweet @#69: Mormons don’t tell the flock all the history up front. The fact that Joseph Smith recorded three different, and contradictory, versions of the vision in the forest is glossed over. Ditto for the fake “Reformed Egyptian” of the Book of Abraham. Ditto for Helen Mar Kimball being talked into marrying J.S. by her own father, and this when she was 14 years old. Ditto for the true history of the bitch slap aimed at J.S.’s wife Emma in the Doctrine and Covenants. Ditto for a whole lot of other stuff.

    When they do bring up history, they have a twisted version concocted by FARMS or other Mormon “research” organizations. I know lots of Mormons whose faith has been shaken by looking at primary sources instead of Church-approved sources.

  81. #82 hje
    May 6, 2009

    It makes me imagine some sentient computer in a cave in Utah demanding data from its cowering Mormon attendants.

    [robotic voice] MUST HAVE MORE DATA! BRING ME MORE DATA OR YOU WILL DIE HORRIBLY!

    Yes, Master, but …

    NO MORE EXCUSES!

  82. #83 Gorogh
    May 6, 2009

    @#77:

    If you don’t see why posthumous baptism is bad, then explain to me why Charles Darwin’s ‘conversion’ to christianity by Lady Hope is so bad. He’s dead, it don’t matter to him, and it’s a lie, so why does it matter to you?

    I assume it is wrong to compare these two statements. Claiming Charles Darwin’s conversion is a (fallacious, but nevertheless potentially effective) argument against evolution/science/whatever Darwin stands for. The fact that Richard Dawkins might be posthumously baptized does not hold the same argumentational value: If the story was true, Darwin consented to his conversion, while (even) a dead Dawkins cannot. Because he’s dead at that time.

    Awkward reasoning, but my point is made.

  83. #84 Matt Heath
    May 6, 2009

    James Sweet @69: Well OK but the Catholic Church teaches that because there is no record of Mary’s death, it follows logically that she was lifted to heaven with a tractor beam.

    And the Scientolgists think the lord of the universe travels around in a spaceship that looks exactly like a DC 8 with the engines removed.

    There is plenty of competition for craziest.

  84. #85 Edward Lark
    May 6, 2009

    That is me at #61 as well. Type Pad issues.

  85. #86 Brownian, OM
    May 6, 2009

    @James and Edward:

    You’re not alone; the whole concept of ‘faith’ is a fail-safe against skepticism and Doubting Thomases. “You dare question the Word of God?”

    Of course, to get around the problem that faith can be applied to any bugfuck nuts belief, believers are encouraged not to “leave their brains at the door” (a phrase I’ve heard from both Mormons and Catholics). And thus theology was invented as a make-work project for their brains.

    So, you must believe unquestioningly, but don’t be a total unquestioning believer about it.

  86. #87 Tulse
    May 6, 2009

    Wait, James — perhaps I’m misunderstanding you, but you’re saying that Mormonism might be, well, false?

    Wow, good thing I was raised Catholic, since there is nothing that they believe that is demonstrably untrue.

  87. #88 TedInSaltLake
    May 6, 2009

    I was Mormon until my mid-twenties and am embarrassed to admit I participated in vicarious temple work for the dead. Indeed, the rituals are corny and pointless and have no effect on those living (or having lived) in the real world. But to take a ‘who cares?’ stance deprives us of a golden opportunity to point out the hypocrisy inherent in the Mormon religion. Perhaps some well deserved ridicule of such things will help one of my friends or a family member let go of their faith and embrace reason?

    Brigham Young, Mormon’s second prophet who ruled the Utah territory before statehood with an iron fist, taught that interracial marriage is to be punishable by death on the spot (not idle words – go here for further clarification: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_atonement). Obama’s late mother would have been guilty of that “crime” in Young’s eyes. To vicariously baptize her into a church that has such a despicable history of racism is not just impolite, but downright insulting to her memory – an injustice not just reserved for competing faithheads, but for nonbelievers as well.

  88. #89 --E
    May 6, 2009

    The offense is the Zeroth Deadly Sin: taking oneself too seriously.

    Recall that the point of the original Seven Deadlies is that they lead to the commission of other sins. I call “taking oneself too seriously” the Zeroth sin, because it causes the seven.

    (Yes, I’m an atheist, but philosophically, this whole business is very interesting. Everyone commits the Zeroth sin sometime, and nobody likes when anyone else commits it.)

    Does it change anything if a bunch of superstitious people perform a ceremony with the names of dead people? No, not here in the real world.

    However, here in the real world we have this thing called “respect” for others. It is part of regulating the interactions between people, and its purpose is to make it easier for humans to get along and progress.

    By imposing their superstitions on people who have not requested it–and in some cases, specifically asked not to imposed upon–the Mormon church is saying, “Our beliefs are more important than yours.”

    Yes, they can say whatever they want and it doesn’t magically make it true. But the subtext is that they are saying, “You don’t matter. We know better than you, and your wishes are unimportant to us.” People who think like that are scary.

    That sort of thinking doesn’t always lead to totalitarianism and murder, but it does so often enough that smart people should keep an eye on it, and oppose it when they find it.

    It is also hypocrisy (which is just a variation of the zeroth law). If a bunch of atheists started keeping a list of “all the people we have posthumously declared atheist,” I suspect more than a few Mormons would be really annoyed to find their dearly departed on that list.

  89. #90 TedInSaltLake
    May 6, 2009

    I was Mormon until my mid-twenties and am embarrassed to admit I participated in vicarious temple work for the dead. Indeed, the rituals are corny and pointless and have no effect on those living (or having lived) in the real world. But to take a ‘who cares?’ stance deprives us of a golden opportunity to point out the hypocrisy inherent in the Mormon religion. Perhaps some well deserved ridicule of such things will help convince one of my friends or a family member to let go of their faith and embrace reason?

    Brigham Young, Mormon’s second prophet who ruled the Utah territory before statehood with an iron fist, taught that interracial marriage is to be punishable by death on the spot (not idle words – go here for further clarification: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_atonement). Obama’s late mother would have been guilty of that “crime” in Young’s eyes. To vicariously baptize her into a church that has such a despicable history of racism is not just impolite, but downright insulting to her memory – an injustice not just reserved for competing faithheads, but for nonbelievers as well.

  90. #91 James Sweet
    May 6, 2009

    @Matt Heath #84: Don’t get me started on Scientology. Since I have a major problem with both MLM and proselytizing religions, you can imagine how I feel about them.

    But anyway, it is my understanding that they don’t tell the members about the DC-8 thing until they’ve already invested a lot of money, and therefore have a (literally) vested interest in continuing to believe?

    Lynna #81 makes some good points that weakens my argument. I still think that putting so much absurdity front and center is a strength of the Mormon church, but your anecdotal reports of Mormons having their faith shaken by evidence certainly contradicts my point. That has not been my experience, but who knows…

    As a side note, aren’t the annotated etchings from the Book of Abraham, including a bogus symbolic interpretation, included in the back of the Pearl of Great Price? I know I had definitely seen those as a young child before I rediscovered them as an adult when trying to fill in the missing gaps in what I knew about Mormonism…

  91. #92 TedInSaltLake
    May 6, 2009

    I was Mormon until my mid-twenties and am embarrassed to admit I participated in vicarious temple work for the dead. Indeed, the rituals are corny and pointless and have no effect on those living (or having lived) in the real world. But to take a ‘who cares?’ stance deprives us of a golden opportunity to point out the hypocrisy inherent in the Mormon religion. Perhaps some well deserved ridicule of such things will help convince one of my friends or a family member to let go of their faith and embrace reason?

    Brigham Young, Mormon’s second prophet who ruled the Utah territory before statehood with an iron fist, taught that interracial marriage is to be punishable by death on the spot (not idle words – go here for further clarification: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_atonement). Obama’s late mother would have been guilty of that “crime” in Young’s eyes. To vicariously baptize her into a church that has such a despicable history of racism is not just impolite, but downright insulting to her memory – an injustice not only reserved for competing faithheads, but for nonbelievers as well.

  92. #93 Gorogh
    May 6, 2009

    @#89: Isn’t that, quite simply, the essence of “pride”? I just thought about writing something on this regard. Again, the devil is in the details: The problematic word in your phrasing of pride is the “too”.

  93. #94 Lynna
    May 6, 2009

    Obama’s mother can be a “ministering angel” (read “Slave”) in the Mormon’s Celestial Kingdom.

    For a full accounting of the requirements to attain the highest level in the C.K., and for the reduction to slave level of those not meeting the requirements (even after proxy baptism), see this link: http://www.exmormon.org/boards/w-agora/view.php?bn=exmobb_recovery&key=1240712685&modified=1240712685

    Even single women who are good Mormons, but who marry men outside the Church, or marry apostates are given as brood mares to men in the C.K. who are worthy. Doctrine changes with the passing revelations of the Prophet, Seer and Revelator, so I’m not sure what is currently taught. My tentative conclusion is that polygamy was simply pushed to the after-life.

  94. #95 Edward Lark
    May 6, 2009

    However, here in the real world we have this thing called “respect” for others. It is part of regulating the interactions between people, and its purpose is to make it easier for humans to get along and progress.

    Respect as a general thing is great, which often breaks down in the specifics. I refuse to “respect” anyone’s irrational beliefs and believe that people should not be forced to do so. Why then should I demand that Mormons be required to respect the irrational beliefs of others any more than I should be required to respect the Mormons’ own irrational beliefs.

    The upshot is that there is no harm here beyond “hurt feelings.” If you credit that Mormon baptisms for the dead have some actual effect – i.e., they are actually “converting” people dead and gone – that is itself an irrational belief and reaction to what is an irrational practice. My lack of respect extends both ways.

  95. #96 James Sweet
    May 6, 2009

    @TedinSLC #90: Speaking of the Mormon church’s history of racism, last year I was making plans to see my parents and they said they were busy that night because they were going to see the stake president or somebody give a talk “celebrating” the 30th anniversary of non-whites being allowed to be members of the priesthood.

    My jaw kindof dropped… the idea that these people are actually patting themselves on the back because they decided black people probably weren’t actually evil… in 1978?!?!? The fact that it took them so long is a cause for shame, not celebration.

    Anyway, everybody’s talking about the philosophical reasons why baptism for the dead is all evil, and while I suppose I agree, there is a much more clear and present danger posed by the Mormon church: They are well-funded and have no shame in forming front organizations to influence political causes — and the previous paragraph above should give you an idea of the progressiveness of their political agenda.

    I do not think it would be overstating the case to say that gay marriage is illegal in California now because of the actions of the Mormon church. This is not some idle philosophizing about whether it’s “insulting” for some quack to mutter your dead relatives’ names in a sham ceremony — this is about real living people being denied equal recognition under the law. That’s what makes the Mormon bureaucracy evil.

  96. #97 ZK
    May 6, 2009

    Why resist the urge?

  97. #98 Nancy
    May 6, 2009

    As a mormon who stumbled upon this site i find the comments of the author and the commentators both laughable and a little sad. First, some corrections. Which if any of you bothered you could find at lds.org. Here is what baptism for the dead actually is:

    Jesus Christ taught that baptism is essential to the salvation of all who have lived on earth (see John 3:5). Many people, however, have died without being baptized. Others were baptized without proper authority. Because God is merciful, He has prepared a way for all people to receive the blessings of baptism. By performing proxy baptisms in behalf of those who have died, Church members offer these blessings to deceased ancestors. Individuals can THEN CHOOSE to accept or reject what has been done in their behalf.

    So those who die HAVE A CHOICE. If the bible is correct (if your an athiest and think all religions are whack I can respect that) and you must be baptized to be in the lords presence, tell me, would a merciful god offer no solution to those who have never heard His word? If you come from a Buddist or Islamic Country and have not been baptized are you damned to hell? Most Christians think so, Mormons do not. 1 Peter Vs 4 states that “For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

    The church tries as best as they can to make sure that names submitted are actual ancestors, and once again, those who are baptized by proxy HAVE A CHOICE. It is not forced upon them. The malicious things I have read on this website shows a complete lack of understanding of mormons themselves and the ritual. By the way to the person so darn upset about the gay marriage thing, we are not the reason you lost in California, if every Mormon stayed home it still would have lost. We are just easy targets for your anger because it is easier to go after our church because we are not well understood. By the way I would gladly compare the history of my church, despite the mistakes, to the history of any other church any day of the week.

  98. #99 Lynna
    May 6, 2009

    Just as some Mormons continued the practice of polygamy after it was officially removed from Church dogma, so Mormons continued the practice of racism.

    James Sweet @#96, check out Steve Benson’s documentation of Ezra Taft Benson’s racist attitudes at this link:
    http://www.exmormon.org/mormon/mormon409.htm

    BTW, if you want documentation from ex-mo’s who left the Church after researching evidence in primary sources, there’s lots of it at exmormon.or. No need to rely on my personal experience.

  99. #100 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    May 6, 2009

    it’s a lie, so why does it matter to you?

    Because it’s a lie repeated ad nauseum to push a specific political agenda by clouding the issue.

    Anyway, the LDS isn’t claiming that Obama’s mom became a Mormon before she died, they’re filling out paperwork and doing a nonsensical ceremony on their own time and property, so I don’t know where you ever see an equivalence.

  100. #101 James Sweet
    May 6, 2009

    Ooooo, hear come the apologists.

    Just three quick things Nancy: 1) Several ex-Mormons (including me) have already clarified that Mormons believe the acceptance of the posthumous baptism is a choice — that doesn’t make it any less insulting to many of us. 2) Quoting Bible verses will get you nowhere here. 3) “If all the Mormons stayed home” Prop 8 would have still passed, yes obviously. My beef is that the Mormon church funneled millions of dollars (yes there is a paper trail for this) into deceptive pro-Prop 8 advertising. That’s the whole point: Instead of just voting on their own conscience, the Church used boatloads of tithing money to campaign for a hate cause, and total screwed up another state’s politics where there aren’t even that many Mormons. Look it up.

  101. #102 agoraphobic kleptomaniac
    May 6, 2009

    1. They claim you can’t submit a name unless you are related, therefore, can’t they just claim that they are related through Noah (or Adam) or Able or Cain (for AAs).

    2. On how accurate the geneology stuff is: I have a friend whose parents claim they can track their geneology back 600 Generations(!) to ADAM, making human history about 12,000 years.

  102. #103 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    May 6, 2009

    How dare they belittle my choices.

    Says the person who calls Jehovah’s Witnesses “insane” in the same paragraph. The fact that you happen to be correct about that doesn’t excuse your hypocrisy.

  103. #104 Matt Heath
    May 6, 2009

    But anyway, it is my understanding that they don’t tell the members about the DC-8 thing until they’ve already invested a lot of money, and therefore have a (literally) vested interest in continuing to believe?

    Indeed, and yet we are discussing it here. I actually don’t think the Scientology have much of a future. They are structured as mystery religion and there is no way of them keeping their higher-level doctrines secret in the internet age. They can give there members that clam-nanny software to stop them finding it out, but I suspect even people likely to be suckered into their scam will read a bit about them on Wikipedia before signing up.

  104. #105 waldteufel
    May 6, 2009

    Nancy, Nancy, Nancy . . . .

    The Mormons funneled huge amounts of money into their hate cause in California.

    Bible verses are meaningless drivel from tattered books of nonsense.

    Comparing your church to any other church is like having a beauty contest among swine.

    Your ritual is, of course, meaningless and a waste of time, but it is an insult to the living relatives of those whose memories you besmirch with your breathtaking arrogance and stupidity.

  105. #106 Irritated
    May 6, 2009

    This absurd, silly little ritual isn’t about the deceased at all:

    1. It is a mechanism of faith-affirmation: “I belong to the one true church and it is my duty to bring all humanity into the fold.”

    2. It is an unseemly expression of pride and arrogance: “We are the only legitimate church, all other baptisms are defective, hence we substitute our superior baptism posthumously, for all humanity.

    —————–

    Now I ask you boys and girls, are we talking about a belief system, or a syndrome?

    And hell no, I don’t want the names of my ancestors mixed up in what can only be described as a complete insult to the intelligence of mankind.

  106. #107 Lynna
    May 6, 2009

    Re my post @94 about the slaves in the Mormon Celestial Kingdom, here is the reference:

    “They who will be exalted cannot perform all the labor, they must have servants, and you can be servants to them.” (Journal of Discourses Vol. 16, p.166)

    See the anonymous post @61 for some of the criteria for being among the exalted.

  107. #108 Tulse
    May 6, 2009

    I refuse to “respect” anyone’s irrational beliefs and believe that people should not be forced to do so. Why then should I demand that Mormons be required to respect the irrational beliefs of others any more than I should be required to respect the Mormons’ own irrational beliefs.

    Exactly. I disturbs me a bit that atheists here are upset about this. It’s just some ooga-booga that one group is doing to some other groups who have different ooga-booga — what is so problematic about that? Why should either group get respect?

  108. #109 Matt Heath
    May 6, 2009

    Says the person who calls Jehovah’s Witnesses “insane” in the same paragraph. The fact that you happen to be correct about that doesn’t excuse your hypocrisy.

    Calling The Jehovah’s Witnesses (collectively) an insane cult =! calling individual JWs insane.

  109. #110 raven
    May 6, 2009

    I have a friend whose parents claim they can track their geneology back 600 Generations(!) to ADAM, making human history about 12,000 years.

    That can’t possibly be right. The earth is only 6,000 years old. :>).

  110. #111 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    May 6, 2009

    Calling The Jehovah’s Witnesses (collectively) an insane cult =! calling individual JWs insane.

    Ah, of course. So there’s absolutely no judgment being passed on those individuals who have joined the “insane cult”. *rolls eyes*

  111. #112 Shyster
    May 6, 2009

    As a pastafarian I just put the Salt Lake City phone book into a large pasta pot and baptized all of the names in it with a nice clam sauce. Welcome to the fold all of you former LDS members. Can I get a ramen?

  112. #113 Sonic Screwdriver
    May 6, 2009

    Hah! The Mormons are running out of people gullible enough to join their cult so they started converting those whom can not refuse. I’d be watching out for those Catholics if I were you folks, their numbers are really hurting…

  113. #114 kevin
    May 6, 2009

    this is a great way to get rid of mormons bothering you at home “sorry, i’ll just wait ’til one of my ancestors prays me into heaven. In the meantime i’ll keep sinning away!” Even better than catholic confession, ’cause you have to be alive to get that.

  114. #115 Lynna
    May 6, 2009

    If you wait for the Mormons to pray you into the Celestial Kingdom, then you don’t have to pay the 10 percent every year on earth. Pretty good deal. No “callings” to clean the church, harass your neighbors, and spend at three hours in mind-numbing dullness on Sundays.

    However, you do have to willing to enter the “servant” class when you do get prayed in.

  115. #116 T_U_T
    May 6, 2009

    one question Nancy.
    what happens to people between their death and their posthumous baptism, ?Where do they wait and for how long. Are there still some cro-mangons waiting that someone baptizes them posthumously ? Or is there a deadline ? like if you don’t get baptized till 1601 years after you death, you go to hell ?
    How can you tell whether the baptized person accepted it ? What happens to people who die without relatives or die with all their relatives ? Bad luck and sure ticket to hell ? Is this just, or plain evil ?

  116. #117 Matt Heath
    May 6, 2009

    Ah, of course. So there’s absolutely no judgment being passed on those individuals who have joined the “insane cult”. *rolls eyes*

    Didn’t say that, and I’m not particularly interested in defending Queue33, who can can speak for herself if she cares. What I did say is true. Sane people can form insane collectives. Argubly this doesn’t affect your point but it struck me as a potentially relevant difference.

  117. #118 Cactus Wren
    May 6, 2009

    @#77: Agreed. Also, I suspect that much of the ?He?s dead so he doesn?t care, and it?s not true, so what does it matter?? chorus is coming from individuals whose ancestors have not historically been subjected to forced or involuntary conversions.

  118. #119 Lynna
    May 6, 2009

    I agree with Matt @#117. Sane, and very good people can belong to insane religious organizations. Case in point, one of my best friends who was raised in the LDS Church is still Mormon, and she has a picture of J.S. in her living room. Outside of, or in spite of, all the indoctrination, she’s a great individual. I learned all I could about the Mormon faith in order to understand where she’s coming from.

  119. #120 wow
    May 6, 2009

    In a slightly violent mood when you wrote this?

    Now I’m hungry…

  120. #121 Buffy
    May 6, 2009

    Nancy,

    How about I posthumously gay-marry some of your dead ancestors? It’s harmless, right, since if they don’t *want* to be married to someone of the same gender they can refuse.

  121. #122 Jadehawk
    May 6, 2009

    The issue that I have with this shit is that it basically amounts to historical revisionism. it’s a lie, and it might be a lie that will grow through the ages simply because the Mormons are such pedantic record keepers and if other genealogical data becomes more and more rare, their lie will be the official version of history.

  122. #123 Edward Lark
    May 6, 2009

    By the way to the person so darn upset about the gay marriage thing, we are not the reason you lost in California, if every Mormon stayed home it still would have lost. We are just easy targets for your anger because it is easier to go after our church because we are not well understood. By the way I would gladly compare the history of my church, despite the mistakes, to the history of any other church any day of the week.

    Enough with the persecution complex on Prop 8. People are not angry at the Mormon church because it is an “easy target.” If you are upset that the LDS church is getting so much bad press over Prop 8, perhaps you should be upset at the LDS leadership that decided to deliberately and aggressively insert the church into the controversy by leading the charge for Prop 8 and providing extensive funding and organizational support to the Prop 8 backers.

    The backlash against the church is a harvest of its own making. Not only has it put LDS beliefs and practices under a spotlight that the church apparently didn’t want and (stupidly) didn’t anticipate, but it has galvanized a lot of us ex-Mormons who were “live and let live” about the church to speak out publicly against the church and the relative silliness of the faith. (Because yes, even though all the other god cults are silly and irrational as well, Mormonism is pretty high up on the irrationality scale.) On one positive note, the Prop 8 crap made me so angry that I have finally gotten up off my ass and begun the process of having my name formally removed from the membership roles. I will not let my name be listed in support of an organization that actively supports the arbitrary discrimination and repression of another set of human beings.

    Finally, instead of comparing your church to other churches, how about you compare it to reality and actual evidence – scientific and historical – which makes it pretty clear that all the god cults are nothing more than an assemblage of the deluded. No matter what flavor, it is still shit pie in the end.

  123. #124 James Sweet
    May 6, 2009

    Re: Edward Lark #123:

    but it has galvanized a lot of us ex-Mormons who were “live and let live” about the church to speak out publicly against the church and the relative silliness of the faith

    Wow, once again you and I share a remarkably similar experience. Yep, up until the Prop 8 debacle, I would occasionally slip into Mormon apologist mode, e.g. “Well, they’ve got some redeeming qualities, and anyway they are no worse than any other Christians.” Now, though, I kinda feel like the extreme-conservative moral values you’d associate with a typical Evangelical church, combined with a highly organized centralized bureaucracy with access to all of the tithing funds from all Mormons the world over… that’s dangerous, in a very real and present manner.

  124. #125 Notagod
    May 6, 2009

    Irritated@106 is getting at the essence of the problem. And because the mor[m]on church is accepted as legitimate within the United States it is incorrect to not care simply because the mor[m]on practices are moronic in reality. In reality it isn’t about the dead at all, it is about the effect it has on; those that are performing the superstitious ritual, the living that are outcasts within mor[m]on dominated communities, those of other superstitious persuasions, the living relatives of the dead named in the rituals and, society in general.

    Consider what the purpose of the ritual would be to the strengthening of power for those that made up the ritual in the first place. Then you can consider the consequences of the mor[m]ons enlisting the names of your dead ancestors to strengthen the disgusting mor[m]on habit.

  125. #126 Lynna
    May 6, 2009

    There’s a great summary and take-down of Mormonism in Christopher Hitchens’s book. Slate published the excerpt. It covers the baptizing the dead issue in the last paragraph. LOL coverage of the Lucy Harris escapade as well.

    http://www.slate.com/id/2165033/entry/2165039/

  126. #127 Brownian, OM
    May 6, 2009

    By the way I would gladly compare the history of my church, despite the mistakes, to the history of any other church any day of the week.

    Except on Sunday, of course.

    Considering the stellar reputation you’ve earned yourselves in the mere 180 years you’ve been around, I haven’t the foggiest idea why, unless it’s because you understand the word ‘compare’ even less than you do your own church’s history. I can’t even imagine the horrors you corn-fed baby factories will have unleashed upon the Earth when you’ve been around as long as the Catholics.

    And as for being ‘misunderstood’; cry us a river. Poor, poor, misunderstood child-fucking racists. Oops, I forgot that you’re not like that anymore, since God keeps changing his mind about stuff ten years on average behind the rest of the US. What, was MLK’s “I have a Dream” speech so fucking powerful that even God stopped to consider that the coloreds might not be so bad after all?

    The only thing hard to understand about your church is why any of you keep drinking the kool-aid when your bishops are even more cynically calculating than any Vatican City wafer-wolfer.

  127. #128 JohnJay60
    May 6, 2009

    Time to make Mohammed a Mormon – maybe this will help reduce the Taliban’s influence in Pakistan? :-)

  128. #129 Edward Lark
    May 6, 2009

    @ James #124

    A fellow exile, indeed. It has been interesting – and disheartening – to be an outsider looking in at the way the church that “never changes” has changed in the last couple of decades. Evangelicalism has influenced and infected the church quite sharply and in no way for the better.

    That is not to say that the church was all sweetness and light before, of course. But the church that I grew up in was not actively hostile to science. For example, I don’t ever remember hearing anyone claim that the creation story(ies) of Genesis were to be taken literally when I was growing up, but a new, or perhaps renewed, fundamentalism has definitely taken over the mainstream church that carries with it all the nastiness and irrationality of any fundamentalist belief system.

  129. #130 James Sweet
    May 6, 2009

    Ah, the Hitchens account… I think a few of the details are bit speculative, but the tone of story he paints is spot-on. I love it!

    Re: The “Burned-Over” district. Yeah, so I live pretty close to there. In fact, I drove through Palmyra, within two miles of the Hill Cumorah, just last weekend on my way to our CSA’s farm.

    Palmyra is your typical one-stoplight town (I think it actually has two or three stoplights, but the metaphor is still applicable), and yet there is an intersection on main street where all four corners have a church. And if you go a little further east of Palmyra, into real hick territory, and wander off onto the side streets, you will most certainly see barns and houses adorned with things like “Jesus Saves” or “Unbeliever burn in hell” or such nonsense.

    There’s not a lot of Mormons there anymore, but it seems they retain their “Burned-Over” roots. heh…

  130. #131 Keanus
    May 6, 2009

    About a decade ago I dug into my wife’s and my family history to see what retrogrades we had in our ancestry and to learn a bit about the past. It’s interesting stuff and taught me a lot about history that wasn’t in my history texts or classes. (Reading many estate inventories and wills from the 18th century gives one a sense of life at the time.) In that pursuit I ran across this Mormon practice of baptizing the dead, including many of my ancestors, my parents (even my father who was an avowed atheist), and other relations, whom I personally knew, of other faiths who regarded the Mormons as nuts. I’ve always dismissed the practice as utter nonsense, and still do, but I’ll bet the baptism of Obama’s mother was a deliberate political act which would make it both nonsense and an attempt at posthumous insult.

  131. #132 Tulse
    May 6, 2009

    what happens to people between their death and their posthumous baptism, ?Where do they wait and for how long. Are there still some cro-mangons waiting that someone baptizes them posthumously ? Or is there a deadline ? like if you don’t get baptized till 1601 years after you death, you go to hell ?
    How can you tell whether the baptized person accepted it ? What happens to people who die without relatives or die with all their relatives ?

    You might ask the Catholics the same question, except their answer will essentially be “They’re fucked.” As I said above, the Mormon practice may be silly, but it is in some sense less silly theologically than presuming that anyone unlucky enough to not be baptized while alive is going to some perpetual waiting room.

    I suspect that much of the ?He?s dead so he doesn?t care, and it?s not true, so what does it matter?? chorus is coming from individuals whose ancestors have not historically been subjected to forced or involuntary conversions.

    But here your ancestors aren’t being subjected to forced conversions, ‘cuz their, like, dead. Really, this to me seems more a cause for amusement at the absurdity of it than cause for outrage. Do you really think that whatever the Mormons say about the religious beliefs of those who are dead matters? Would you be outraged if a voodoo priest tried to curse you, or if a fundamentalist said an imprecatory prayer about you? How is this any different?

    I’m astounded that atheists are upset that one religion is claiming other religion’s dead as their own. It’s like being outraged that a group had declared some people to be posthumous Klingons.

  132. #133 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 6, 2009

    @ Nancy #98

    I’m not sure you could miss the point any farther than you did even if you were talking about Chevy Trucks.

  133. #134 Lynna
    May 6, 2009

    James @#130: interesting details regarding the Burned-Over district and present-day Palmyra. Sheesh. What…is there something in the soil, or the water?

    In the western U.S. I’ve noticed a disturbing increase in “Jesus Saves” and “Are You Rapture Ready?” signs on Indian Reservations.

  134. #135 Randomfactor
    May 6, 2009

    I’m sure the Mormons won’t have any quibbles about the online effort to make Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and other Mormon founders retroactively gay, either. I’m sure they’re much happier now on their home planets, finally able to express their true sexuality.

  135. #136 James Sweet
    May 6, 2009

    Re: Edward Lark… I do actually remember a bit of literal YEC from when I was growing up, but the opinion was always expressed by an individual and usually with the caveat that it was not official church position.

    One thing that has bugged me is how my parents have gotten sucked into the whole “Christmas controversy”, i.e. where people act like somehow “Happy Holidays” is offensive to them (?!?). It’s particularly frustrating for me, because my wife was raised Jewish, we are both currently atheists, and we choose to celebrate both Christmas and Channukah… so when my parents complain about “Happy Holidays”, it’s not just intellectually repugnant to me, it’s personally hurtful for multiple reasons. I remember a little but of “Keep the Christ in Christmas” rhetoric when I was growing up, but the idea that “Happy Holidays” would be offensive kinda blindsided me…

  136. #137 --E
    May 6, 2009

    @93: In many lists of the 7, “Pride” is considered the most serious and the root of the other six, yes. But it tends to be defined as hubris or vanity, whereas there are times a person can take herself too seriously but not be particularly vain or hubristic.

    I’ll agree with you that this particular situation (Mormon baptism of the dead) can just as easily be called an example of pride, yes.

  137. #138 Linda
    May 6, 2009

    I agree that it doesn’t really matter if my dead relatives are “baptized” as Mormons. But it sure is fun to confront a Mormon about it:

    A couple of years ago at a county fair, a very nice woman stopped at our booth to tell us about geneological services she offered. Her business card revealed that she’s a Mormon. I then let her have it–politely.

    I said, “This is what I dislike about Mormonism. I can appreciate the family-centered focus they have, but the idea that you can baptize my dead Jewish grandmother is incredibly insulting to her, her choices, and her committment to her religion. It’s the one thing the Mormon Church should be ashamed of.” She really had no response. It was a sight to see!

  138. #139 phantomreader42
    May 6, 2009

    Ah, a mor[m]on apologist! Hey, Nancy, let me show you something!

    *grabs Nancy by the hair*
    *pours a bottle of cheap beer over her forehead*
    *burns something that smells like week-old rotten fruit and shit*
    Azerath Metrion Zinthos!
    Velta Aium Quifa Quifa, Asp Asp Ran.

    There, you’ve just been simultaneously baptised into Islam, Wicca, Hare Krishna and Scientology! I’ll pass your personal info on to the cults in question so they can use your name and likeness for fundraising and propaganda. You can refuse this baptism, but no one will listen to you or believe you, you’ll be hounded as an apostate, and you’ll never hear the end of it as long as you live. Sound like fun?

    If you don’t like the idea of your identity being stolen and used for propaganda by an insane cult, maybe you could think for one second about why YOUR insane cult does shit like this.

    Oh, yeah, thinking is against your religion. Your conman founder wouldn’t like it.

  139. #140 Edward Lark
    May 6, 2009

    but the idea that you can baptize my dead Jewish grandmother is incredibly insulting to her, her choices, and her committment to her religion.

    But of course it isn’t insulting to your dead Jewish grandmother. I am sure she was a lovely lady, but . . . she’s dead. It is insulting to you. As I said above, however, while you may have a right (if no recourse) to your hurt feelings, you have no right to demand that Mormons “respect” any irrational belief on your part that the irrational practice by the Mormons has some real world significance.

    Your grandmother is not being baptized. You are not being forced to take part in the ritual. It hurts your feelings? It hurts my sense of rationality! We both have to learn to lump it. We can point and laugh, but — as long as it causes no actual harm to others — Mormons have just as much right to engage in irrational, pointless rituals as much as any other religion

  140. #141 MosesZD
    May 6, 2009

    Posted by: James Sweet | May 6, 2009 9:08 AM

    Unfortunately, Mormonism is growing really rapidly. I have two theories as to why this is so: First, the aggressive proselytizing. I mean, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon (or even an evo-devo biologist) to figure out that an organization that actively recruits is going to grow faster than one that doesn’t.

    Actually not. The Mormons keep on their roles anyone who was ever on them, until they die or request to be taken off. Of the 12 million members of the Mormon Church, it is believed that at least 8 million of them no longer practice Mormonism or associate with the Mormon Church.

    Also, the Mormons lie about their membership increase numbers. It’s about 241K, world-wide, per year. But just over 50% of those leave within the first year and most of the people that stay were born and raised into the faith. It’s actually very difficult for them to bring in outsiders and keep them in the church, it’s just too weird and cult-like.

    Take Mexico as an example. The Mormon Church claims over 1 million members. Yet the 2000 census found just 205K. Or Brazil. Mormon roles had almost 800K. By census, it was under 200K.

  141. #142 Irritated
    May 6, 2009

    #140
    “Mormons have just as much right to engage in irrational, pointless rituals as much as any other religion.”

    Of course; but they do not have a _right_ to impose on others while doing so. My ancestors would role over in their grave if they knew that mormons were using their names in _any_ kind of ceremony: Mr. Smith and his pseudo-church were absolutely repugnant to them. They wouldn’t have allowed Smith on the premises, much less listen to his spiel.

  142. #143 Horace Fudpucker
    May 6, 2009

    Not only do they baptize the dead, the Church of JC of LDS will also, in a temple ceremony, marry a live bachelor or spinster to a baptized dead person. This is done in order that they may become gods of their own universe.

  143. #144 Mu
    May 6, 2009

    This is an interesting thread, a bunch of people who claim rationality as their main reason to reject faith-based superstition gets worked up about some lunatics with odd believes invoke magical ceremonies in the name of the dead. By claiming the long rotten corpses are somehow affected by the magical ceremony. What’s next, getting worked up about Dobson voodoo dolling PZ?

  144. #145 Phrogge
    May 6, 2009

    A few years back, a cousin who succumbed to the wand’ring missionaries at her door proudly wrote to my mother that she’d had Gran (raised Baptist, eventual Methodist by the commuting necessities of her day [she was born in 1878]) posthumously baptized. While this brings a great deal of comfort to the cousin, I pity the mor[m]on doorkeepers on duty when Gran shows up and gives them a tart slice of what for. She had no use for them in real life, and would have less in the hereafter!

    While their preposterous beliefs and rites matter naught on an intellectual level and I have no belief in an afterlife, I would still be furious to learn that any of my husband’s Jewish relatives who were murdered in the Holocaust have been oh-so-piously granted the opportunity to be dazzled by THE TRUTH and switch-hit for eternity.

  145. #146 BJN
    May 6, 2009

    What do I care if Mormons engage in an ineffectual, superstitious ritual? I don’t think something can be “ghoulish” unless you have some kind of belief in life after death. Baptize me all you want to, live or dead ? just keep the missionaries away from my front door.

    I recall my Mormon junior high school girlfriend telling me about her temple work as a proxy during baptism for the dead. This nubile lass wore a temple garment and nothing more while some old guy ensured she got the full immersion wet t-shirt treatment in the baptismal font.

  146. #147 llewelly
    May 6, 2009

    In Mormon theology, a posthumous baptism is the result of the baptized individual converting to Mormonism during the afterlife, which causes the Holy Ghost to inspire Mormons alive on Earth to perform the ceremony. Mormons believe posthumous conversion is possible for nearly all individuals, even extremely evil individuals. Hitler, Stalin, and now even Barack Obama’s mother have posthumously converted to Mormonism. A central feature of the Mormon afterlife is that those who did not convert during life will be preached to throughout the afterlife until they are converted.

    Now … I’ve always wondered – in the Mormon afterlife, do Oskar Schindler – who also converted posthumously – and Adolf Hitler attend the same ward house for services?

  147. #148 T_U_T
    May 6, 2009

    posthumous baptism is soooo inefficient.
    What about preventive pre-conception baptism ?
    Lets baptize all future mor(m)ons to pastafarianism even before the sperm that carries their future genes is produced in someone’s mormonic testicle.

  148. #149 Edward Lark
    May 6, 2009

    [T]hey do not have a _right_ to impose on others while doing so.

    True enough, but they are not doing that. The people they are supposedly “imposing” on are dead.

    My ancestors would role over in their grave if they knew that mormons were using their names in _any_ kind of ceremony

    No. They would not because . . . they are dead!

    Way to completely miss the point of my post. The Mormons are not telling you that you must acknowledge the baptism of your ancestors. They are not making you participate in the baptism of your ancestors. They aren’t even making you watch. (In fact, unless you are a full member of the church and have access to the temple ceremonies, you would not be allowed to watch.)

    The Mormon’s temple rituals are irrational, silly, and perhaps even arrogant and presumptuous, but they don’t effect you or your ancestors any more than if some voodoo priest told you he had cast a spell and made your ancestor his personal servant in the afterlife.

    The rituals may be irrational, but anger over the rituals is equally irrational.

  149. #150 James Sweet
    May 6, 2009

    @MosesZD #141: Interesting and enlightening! Thank you!

    Hmmm, I oughta make sure my name is off the roles. It would make my wife mighty happy anyway.

    @Edward Lark: So… you’re doing this, right? Where do you start? I am pretty sure I told them to “take me off the list” the last time they contacted me, but now I’m guessing that was not sufficient…?

  150. #151 RF
    May 6, 2009

    There is an eerie message with these ‘babtisms”, should we be offended that the Jewish victims fo the Holicaust were baptsised? Was that harmless? Or does it speak to a mentality that should have us all worried?

  151. #152 James Sweet
    May 6, 2009

    Indeed, this is nothing to get worked up about — especially when there are other things the Mormons do that are worth getting worked up about, like the Prop 8 debacle, the proselytizing, the brainwashing of children, the brainwashing of adults (once a month, members fast for 24 hours and then after their minds are all supple from the lack of food, they take turns getting up in front of the whole group and saying how much they believe in the Church..), the latent racism, their heavy involvement in the abusive and sometimes deadly ex-gay movement… these are things that cause real problems for living people.

    The baptism for the dead thing, meh… it’s distasteful, sure, but it’s ultimately not that important. I put the offensiveness of the act on the level of cutting a ripe fart in a fancy restaurant. Yeah, that’s a real dick move, but I’m not gonna go waving a placard because of it.

    Please: Direct your outrage towards all the other horrible shit the Mormon church does. God knows there’s no shortage of it…

  152. #153 Lynna
    May 6, 2009

    My mother may be dead, but my memory of her is not. The proxy baptism ritual feels kinda like someone is snooping in the closet where I keep the old pictures and taking whatever they want. It’s creepy. And they write her name down and record her as saved. It’s a lie like so many other religiously-motivated lies, but it’s a uniquely personal lie.

    Of course, they can continue with the temple rituals since the dead people are not actually affected. But the live people who have to perform the rituals are affected. It may do them some good to be exposed to the distaste this evokes in all non-mormons.

  153. #154 Paul Lundgren
    May 6, 2009

    I blogged about it this morning. My take:

    Did you notice the qualifier, “…to whom they are not related”? I have little doubt that if kinship (between Obama’s mother and a real Mormon) could be proven, everything about this would be just fine and dandy.

    Full rant here.

  154. #155 Irritated
    May 6, 2009

    # 149: “Way to completely miss the point of my post”

    To yourself as well: the imposition is on the living, not the dead. My ancestry is part of my personal tradition, not fodder for someone else’s religious flimflammery.

    re: “rolling over …” the point being that if someone were inimical to mormonism in their lifetime, it is disrespectful to their memory to behave otherwise.

    “anger over the rituals is equally irrational.”

    The anger is over the imposition, and the disregard for boundaries – all in service of an organization that I frankly find repulsive.

    Yes, my ancestors are dead (how insightful of you), but I choose to honor them for the lives they led and the high character which they displayed.

    That doesn’t strike _me_ as a novel concept …

  155. #156 Tulse
    May 6, 2009

    My mother may be dead, but my memory of her is not. The proxy baptism ritual feels kinda like someone is snooping in the closet where I keep the old pictures and taking whatever they want. It’s creepy.

    But a lot of people don’t even know that this has been done to their ancestors. Is it that they’re doing it, or that they’ve told people? If I perform a private black rite in my garage to bind your mother’s soul to my will and become my personal ghost, is that OK as long as you don’t find out?

    I continue to be flabbergasted at the response here. Honest, their ooga-booga doesn’t do anything. It’s absurd, and kinda sad, and not a little bit funny, but it certainly isn’t worth getting angry about.

  156. #157 William Mattsson
    May 6, 2009

    Couple a things: the parrot is dead, expired, done for, finished, kaput, etc. etc. He doesn’t CARE. And re the political election in California that was outspent by the “Yes”people, largely at LDS expense: it is time to get churches OFF the tax-exempt rolls.

    While the proposition as written was a muddle between a religious and a secular matter, the fact that it WAS a political event should clearly indicate that LDS religious money interfered in a political matter. For years churches have been getting away with this clear interference in politics in advocating political positions from the pulpit, by using contributions to support their causes, by selling goods and services, by conducting tax-free gambling enterprises, by proselytizing religious opinions over the public airwaves, etc.

    Remove the tax exempt status of ALL these religious institutions. Level the playing field and lets see how much the parishioners are willing to put out for a pet cause.

  157. #158 raven
    May 6, 2009

    I think we need an arms race here. If Mormons can baptize the dead into their faith by proxy, and “accidently” baptize the living by proxy as well, what is to stop the other xian religions from doing the same thing?

    Catholics will start baptizing LDS and Protestants, Protestants will baptize everyone else and so on. They will all see how many of the rest of the world’s faiths and atheists they can baptize long distance.. Rather pointless but with religions what else is new. And if there is an afterlife and it is as boring as the sects say it is, it will make things interesting for the post living.

    Nancy the Mormon apologist didn’t quite get it right. The LDS church is not the most malevolent sect around but it is in the running. After the xians massacred the Mormons, they got back by massacring xians at Mountain Meadows. And in Mormon dominated areas such as Utah, nonMormons are second class citizens and subtly and not so subtly discriminated against. Utah didn’t get cable TV for a long time because the LDS church, I mean the legislature, was afraid that outsider TV would corrupt the faithful. The pagans among them were already corrupted so they didn’t matter. We don’t need to mention the vicious Mormon Gulag where they send their gay and apostate teen agers to be abused, I mean reconverted.

  158. #159 phantomreader42
    May 6, 2009

    The fact remains that the mor[m]ons are lying, and using the identities of dead people for propaganda without their consent.

    The rampant and shameless dishonesty of it all is objectionable enough.

  159. #160 Art
    May 6, 2009

    I wonder what would happen if a bunch a satanists decided to dedicate the souls of long dead Mormons to the service of Satan. I’m sure a suitably moving setting and ceremony could be manufactured and, unlike the Mormons who skulk around in the dark, the Satanic procedure could be posted on the net for all to see.

    Sounds like fair play to me.

    Let the games begin.

  160. #161 Jadehawk
    May 6, 2009

    Honest, their ooga-booga doesn’t do anything.

    yest it does. it permanently alters one set of records of our time. maybe this isn’t much of a concern to most people, but I find the falsification of history to be one of the most disgusting acts of lying one can perform.

  161. #162 Edward Lark
    May 6, 2009

    @ James #150

    Start here: http://www.mormonnomore.com/. I did not really follow the site exactly, but sent the local ward, local stake, and headquarters a letter specifically stating that I did not adhere to or believe in the tenants of the faith, that I specifically rejected my faith, and that I demanded to be either removed from the roles or excommunicated. (If they want to say I’m evil and formally excommunicate me, fine. As long as they take my name off the roles.)

    I made sure when I did this that it was clear I was an attorney and was willing to take legal action to force the church to comply with my request. I asked for written confirmation that my request had been completed, but as of yet have not received any reply.

    My understanding is that it is hella hard to get them to actually take you name off the rolls, especially if you are “born under the covenant,” as I was.

    We shall see.

  162. #163 Lynna
    May 6, 2009

    Tulse @#156: Good point. Part of the problem here is that we know about it when the Mormons do it, and we don’t know about it when you do it in your garage.

    This makes the issue partly one of scale, and partly one of the Mormons being outted. The Mormon slime factor is larger than yours, and is known.

  163. #164 Tulse
    May 6, 2009

    it permanently alters one set of records of our time

    It alters Mormon records, and anyone who would take what a church says is its membership at face value is an idiot.

    I find the falsification of history to be one of the most disgusting acts of lying one can perform.

    But they’re not “falsifying” anything, because all they are claiming is that they have performed a ritual that gives the dead the opportunity to become Mormon, and that is “factual” (at least, the performance of the ritual is). They don’t actually claim that the dead are now definitely Mormon.

    Honest, folks, they don’t actually do anything. It’s the equivalent of a Satanist saying they made your great grandmother a minion of the Dark Prince, or a Star Trek fan claiming they have turned your dead aunt into a Vulcan. It’s laughable, that’s all.

  164. #165 James Sweet
    May 6, 2009

    Thanks Edward!!! I’ll check into it.

  165. #166 Irritated
    May 6, 2009

    #162

    “My understanding is that it is hella hard to get them to actually take you name off the rolls, especially if you are “born under the covenant,” as I was.”

    The experience of others (many others) suggests a certain capriciousness, possibly relating to the intransigence of the local bishop (whom the church _insists_ on involving).

    Some resigning members have a relatively painless experience, others less so; a few become involved in a major fracas.

    You probably already know, or suspect, that you can’t really get your name “removed” from the church databases. Your record is flagged to indicate your resigned status – but it isn’t expunged. (This is by deduction, but the proof is in the fact that “resigned” members can be readily reinstated, with the original member number, – assuming ecclesiastical requirements are met.)

  166. #167 Lynna
    May 6, 2009

    Tulse has a point in that the best response is laughter.

    We don’t need to get our panties in a bunch over all the Obama Mamas, including our own, being posthumously inducted into the LDS Church. (Still creeps me out, but I’m willing to classify that as an emotional response, and not a really powerful one at that.)

    However, when I consider that the Mormons field about 60,000 missionaries per year, and that even younger kids are roped into baptizing the dead, I have to think that this negatively affects the world in which I live. More importantly, perhaps, it negatively affects all the young Mormons involved. Baptizing the mormons in black humor is a good thing. Many wake-up calls are called for.

  167. #168 Lynna
    May 6, 2009

    My grandmother was like a giant black widow spider before she died. I doubt she had to change much to become a minion of Whatever after she died.

  168. #169 James Sweet
    May 6, 2009

    Eh, so, this question is probably better asked at exmormon.org, but a scary thought just occurred to me. I was also “born under the covenant”, since my parents were sealed about a year before I was born. My wife and I have obviously not been sealed, hahaha, I don’t know which is more unlikely, that I’d want to, that she’d want to, or that the church would let us, all three are about as likely as Pat Robertson finding a middle ground, but anyway, moving on…

    I just recently had a son. Does this whole “born under the convenant” crap extend down through generations? i.e. since my parents got sealed, and I was born after that, does that mean my son is part of it? And if they get their hands on his name, will they add him to the roles???

    Now that would make me angry…

  169. #170 The Tim Channel
    May 6, 2009

    I feel like the issue of who they’re praying for is pointless and have said so over at AmericaBlog. We all know it’s a bunch of nonsense. This is the Mormon version of the Catholic crackers. Inventing and projecting piety onto inanimate (in the Mormon case-dead) objects. Nobody but a member of that particular sect is gonna believe such nonsense. We all know that. Still, it’s considered impolite to rub their noses in it, as PZ has shown. Big fan of PZ here, but I try not to over-attack or focus on making heretical remarks or actions aimed at any one religion since they’re all equally bunk.

    For the record, this is why John Aravosis is making the Mormon practices a big deal (from his blog comments):

    Why does this matter? Because the Mormons are “the” bankers of the religious right. Last fall, the Mormons dropped $20 million into California and singlehandedly turned a losing battle into the successful repeal of marriage rights for gay couples in that state. The Mormons have bankrolled hate initiatives in Alaska and Hawaii and across the northwest and midwest for the past decade. They are not some fringe “religion” to be shrugged off. The new anti-gay marriage coalition, National Organization for Marriage, keeps finding, seemingly out of nowhere, $1.5m for this ad campaign, then another $1.5m for that ad campaign. Where are they finding this sudden infusion of cash? Inquiring minds want to know.

    The homosexuals are trying to build Catholic (public) backlash against the Mormons because the Mormons have been shown as extreme homophobes with deep pockets. As an aside, there are/were a bunch of Mormon politicos involved with torture. They have that in common with the Catholics and other Christians, a love for torture.

    Enjoy.

  170. #171 Irritated
    May 6, 2009

    #162 : addendum

    “…I demanded to be either removed from the roles or excommunicated”

    (chuckle) there are mormon bishops who thrill to the idea of putting on the judicial robe, judging the miscreant, and levying the earth-shaking pronouncement of “excommunicated.”

    You are an attorney(?) – that may dissuade some of them, but imagine that your interlocutor is himself an attorney, one empowered by the ‘lord’ himself.
    ————-

    The process is non-deterministic – but having “Esq.” appended to your name, and the readiness to apply the associated skills, certainly can’t hurt.

  171. #172 Lynna
    May 6, 2009

    James Sweet @169: There’s some discussion of the consequences of being Born in the Covenant here:
    http://www.exmormon.org/mormon/mormon359.htm

  172. #173 Anonymous
    May 6, 2009

    Nancy@98 sadly wrote:

    As a mormon who stumbled upon this site i find the comments of the author and the commentators both laughable and a little sad. First, some corrections. Which if any of you bothered you could find at lds.org. Here is what baptism for the dead actually is:

    Ah, I think you have solved the problem of backlog within the courts! We can simply take the defendants statements as godspell and have no need for finding the truth.

    Jesus Christ taught that baptism is essential to the salvation of all who have lived on earth (see John 3:5). Many people, however, have died without being baptized. Others were baptized without proper authority. Because God is merciful, He has prepared a way for all people to receive the blessings of baptism. By performing proxy baptisms in behalf of those who have died, Church members offer these blessings to deceased ancestors. Individuals can THEN CHOOSE to accept or reject what has been done in their behalf.

    Isn’t it odd that your god-idea, I assume, could create a universe but be unable to find a way for someone to resolve their business without the interference and charity of someone they couldn’t even know. You, Nancy, are making so many ungrounded statements that it is difficult to even communicate with you. Perhaps the founders of your god-idea belief saw a benefit in the phrase; baffle ‘em with bullshit.

    So those who die HAVE A CHOICE. If the bible is correct (if your an athiest and think all religions are whack I can respect that) and you must be baptized to be in the lords presence, tell me, would a merciful god offer no solution to those who have never heard His word? If you come from a Buddist or Islamic Country and have not been baptized are you damned to hell? Most Christians think so, Mormons do not. 1 Peter Vs 4 states that “For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

    Again with your baffle ‘em with bullshit but, the mistake there is with the rules enacted by your god-idea. Its like a childs game of make up the rules as they go along, not of the design of something with the intelligence to create a universe. The universe is fascinating when seen as a continual natural process but, if viewed as a designed creation it is a disaster. If you are unaware of that fact you owe yourself the “blessings” of some diligent study of the facts of life and the processes that can be seen with your own eyes, if you were willing to put forth some minimal effort.

    The church tries as best as they can to make sure that names submitted are actual ancestors, and once again, those who are baptized by proxy HAVE A CHOICE. It is not forced upon them. The malicious things I have read on this website shows a complete lack of understanding of mormons themselves and the ritual.

    Well now isn’t it convenient that the mor[m]onic religion believes that all people are brothers and sisters, I suppose that helps out the “best as they can” with regard to ancestors. I believe it is malicious of those practicing your superstition to involve the memories and names of outsiders to strengthen your selfish desires.

    By the way to the person so darn upset about the gay marriage thing, we are not the reason you lost in California, if every Mormon stayed home it still would have lost. We are just easy targets for your anger because it is easier to go after our church because we are not well understood.

    Personally, I’m not concerned with what the outcome was in relation to the mor[m]on efforts. My concern is what it was that the mor[m]ons were attempting to do. Surely, your god-idea inspired leaders didn’t use the precious mormon resources knowing that it wouldn’t make any difference to the outcome.

    By the way I would gladly compare the history of my church, despite the mistakes, to the history of any other church any day of the week.

    Good! Lets start with the mor[m]on god-idea inspired massacre at Mountain Meadows in Utah, in which mormons faked an Indian raid to brutally murder ALL men, women and, children old enough to, in any way, remember the brutality of the mormon soldiers. As most mor[m]ons aren’t fully apprised of history regarding their “chosen” belief, might I suggest a reading of “Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows”. However, the murder of the innocents by mormons at Mountain Meadows is only one in a long line of malicious faith inspired mormon acts before and after that disgusting event. It does though, expose the tactics common to the missions of mormons, of hiding cowardly behind deception both before and after the commission of their crimes. The tactics seem very similar to the disgusting policies of the Bush regime. How could that be? Oh, wait, where did Karl Rove “Bush’s Brain” receive his training? You probably can’t wait for your prophesied mormon to become President of the United States, can you, then mormons will be able to practice their blood lust with immunity and in complete secrecy.

    Nancy want a cracker?

  173. #174 Notagod
    May 6, 2009

    173 is mine, sorry for not identifying.

  174. #175 Lynna
    May 6, 2009

    Anonymous @#173: “baffle them with bullshit” is exactly what J.S. did when he came up with the endowment rituals for the temple. He needed some way to convince the 33 women he eventually married that this was a legit idea. He co-opted the Masonic rituals and added a dash of “God made me do it by threatening me with a sword” and voila, many women with one man.

    Now Mormon apologists are busy with another layer of baffling them with bullshit. Too many people know about the 33 wives, so they’ve come up the explanation that Joe never had sex with anyone but Emma, the original wife. Primary sources, including testimony from the women themselves, proves that Joe did have sex with them. But never mind, that’s all a matter of interpretation, right?

    The baptism-of-the-dead scam is actually kinda brilliant, in a nasty way. Solves a big problem for a new religion. Note Nancy’s rote use of the phrase “proper authority” in relation to baptism. The General Authority of the LDS Church must go around humming, “I’ve got you under my thumb.”

  175. #176 Anonymous
    May 6, 2009

    Posted by: Nancy | May 6, 2009 1:36 PM

    As a mormon who stumbled upon this site i find the comments of the author and the commentators both laughable and a little sad. First, some corrections. Which if any of you bothered you could find at lds.org. Here is what baptism for the dead actually is:

    Jesus Christ taught that baptism is essential to the salvation of all who have lived on earth (see John 3:5). Many people, however, have died without being baptized. Others were baptized without proper authority. Because God is merciful, He has prepared a way for all people to receive the blessings of baptism. By performing proxy baptisms in behalf of those who have died, Church members offer these blessings to deceased ancestors. Individuals can THEN CHOOSE to accept or reject what has been done in their behalf.

    Nancy is a brainwashed fool who, somehow, thinks the critical comments made on this blog about Mormonism are false and hateful lies… The truth is, ex-Mormon’s will tell you they don’t go far enough.

    A lot of points to make. I’ll be brief and do some skipping.

    For example, notice how she talks about “authority” to baptize in the above paragraph. The Mormons believe that the gospel of Jesus departed the earth. And that they are, in fact, the restored church of Jesus Christ.

    The section PRIESTHOOD RESTORED found in the pamphlet THE PROPHET JOSEPH SMITH’S TESTIMONY. (Pages 16 & 17, 1984 edition) states:

    John the Baptist, as a messenger from heaven, descended and conferred the Priesthood of Aaron on Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and then commanded them “to go and be baptized” and gave them directions that Joseph Smith should baptize Oliver Cowdery, and that afterwards Oliver Cowdery should baptize Joseph Smith.

    In short, all other faiths are false (and have been for most of modern history) despite, of course, the Bible says that the Priesthood of Jesus will never leave this planet. So, in short, the Mormon claim is demonstrably false if considered in context of the Bible.

    Because they are the “one true way” they further teach that only their Priesthood has the right of baptism. They have two levels, the Aaronic Priesthood (basically Deacons) and the Melchizedek. Those who hold the lesser priesthood, the Aaronic Priesthood: “have authority to administer the outward ordinances of faith, repentance, and baptism…” (Gospel Principles, page 79).

    In layman’s terms, they are the priests of John the Baptist. Of that level of authority. Not of the level of the Apostles of Jesus. That level of authority is Melchizedek priesthood and is the level needed to perform various rights in the Temples and so forth that the lower level Aaronic Priesthood may not.

    The Mormons believe the call to baptizing the dead comes from 1 Cor. 15-29. However, this was not a practice of the early church under Paul or this three main disciples. To the extent it did happen, it was considered by the early Christian Church to be a heresy and was discontinued somewhere around 400AD.

    So, within the Baptism for the Dead issue, the Mormon’s have points of hubris —

    1. All other faiths are false and they, and only they, are True Christians with the right to Baptize (having been given this right through the divine instruction of John the Baptist.

    2. Only they understand the Bible, plus they have extra-special gospel woo, more so than actual, biblical apostles. SO, take that Paul, you beotch!!! We’ve got golden plates!!!

    So those who die HAVE A CHOICE. If the bible is correct (if your an athiest and think all religions are whack I can respect that) and you must be baptized to be in the lords presence, tell me, would a merciful god offer no solution to those who have never heard His word? If you come from a Buddist or Islamic Country and have not been baptized are you damned to hell? Most Christians think so, Mormons do not. 1 Peter Vs 4 states that “For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

    Now, first, she talks “bible” but the Bible is not emphasized in the Mormon church and has not been for decades. But she knows better than to use the book of Mormon and other Mormon writings to make her point.

    But you can be sure, all the Mormon’s do, and have done, comes from that idiotic Book of Mormon. A half-assed cobbled up tale by a con-man. Or, as Isaac Hale, the first stenographer for Joseph Smith says:

    “Joseph Smith Jr. resided near me for some time after this, and I had a good opportunity of becoming acquainted with him, and somewhat acquainted with his associates, and I conscientiously believe from the facts I have detailed, and from many other circumstances, which I do not deem it necessary to relate, that the whole “Book of Mormon” (so called) is a silly fabrication of falsehood and wickedness, got up for speculation, and with a design to dupe the credulous and unwary?and in order that its fabricators may live upon the spoils of those who swallow the deception.”

    “ISAAC HALE.
    Affirmed to and subscribed before me, March 20th, 1834.
    CHARLES DIMON, J. Peace.
    State of Pennsylvania, Susquehana County, ss.”

    For those who don’t know the story, the first 116 pages of the Book of Mormon were lost. Smith, being the conman, gave some religious woo about why he could never replace them (really because he didn’t remember the crap he made up and in case the pages resurfaced, he’d have some serious explaining to do…).

    The church tries as best as they can to make sure that names submitted are actual ancestors, and once again, those who are baptized by proxy HAVE A CHOICE. It is not forced upon them. The malicious things I have read on this website shows a complete lack of understanding of mormons themselves and the ritual. By the way to the person so darn upset about the gay marriage thing, we are not the reason you lost in California, if every Mormon stayed home it still would have lost. We are just easy targets for your anger because it is easier to go after our church because we are not well understood. By the way I would gladly compare the history of my church, despite the mistakes, to the history of any other church any day of the week.

    No, Mormons don’t. Because it is cult-like in its control, Mormons have a very deluded and false view of their church and religion. More so than any other nominally Christian group.

    If you want to learn more about Mormons and their idiotic cult, go to Exmormon. Lots of Mormons have managed to get out of it and some of the (very true) things will make you shake your head in wonder. The absolute load of bullshit you have to believe as a Mormon “goes to 11.”

  176. #177 MosesZD
    May 6, 2009

    Posted by: Edward Lark | May 6, 2009 3:04 PM

    By the way to the person so darn upset about the gay marriage thing, we are not the reason you lost in California, if every Mormon stayed home it still would have lost. We are just easy targets for your anger because it is easier to go after our church because we are not well understood. By the way I would gladly compare the history of my church, despite the mistakes, to the history of any other church any day of the week.
    Enough with the persecution complex on Prop 8. People are not angry at the Mormon church because it is an “easy target.” If you are upset that the LDS church is getting so much bad press over Prop 8, perhaps you should be upset at the LDS leadership that decided to deliberately and aggressively insert the church into the controversy by leading the charge for Prop 8 and providing extensive funding and organizational support to the Prop 8 backers.

    The backlash against the church is a harvest of its own making.

    There’s another backlash coming. They put billions into this Salt Lake City mall and billions into all these temples all over the world.

    Now the economy is in the shitter and the “faithful” need help. Well, how about a big “fuck you” for Nancy and her friends for all their faithful tithing and with plenty of “compassion” in the time of their troubles:

    Dallin Oaks, Mormon Apostle, tells members at the Easter Midwest conference, via satellite broadcast, that the church will not help them during these difficult economic times. Members who paid tithing all of their lives will find that the church will refuse to assist or, at best, grant minimal assistance with heavy guilt placed on the member for asking.

    But, hey, at least they had the money for gay bashing, right? Something obviously more important than taking care of their own…

  177. #178 Nobody Important
    May 6, 2009

    I am very well acquainted somebody who was seeing a psychologist who is a Mormon. That psychologist converted her to Mormonism and she brought her family in. They have since left Mormonism, having figured out that it is a sham. But I certainly think this psychologist’s actions are unethical.

  178. #179 Tulse
    May 6, 2009

    the Mormon’s have points of hubris –

    1. All other faiths are false and they, and only they, are True Christians with the right to Baptize

    2. Only they understand the Bible

    And this is different than other Christian fundamentalists how?

    Really, the Mormon woo is no worse than any other religious woo — it just isn’t “hallowed” with time. You think that believing a cracker literally becomes a Jewish zombie’s body makes more sense than this?

  179. #180 Lynna
    May 6, 2009

    Anonymous @#176: I see you also picked up on Nancy’s use of “authority.” This is a foundational tenet of Mormonism. Recognizing authority underlies all the dogma. “When the Bishop speaks, the thinking is done.”

  180. #181 MosesZD
    May 6, 2009

    What the hell is going on with this blog? If you preview it signs you out and your post is “anon.” 176, as it is, is mine.

  181. #182 Edward Lark
    May 6, 2009

    Mormons have a very deluded and false view of their church and religion. More so than any other nominally Christian group.

    Gotta call bullshit on this. Mormons are certainly just as deluded about their own faith, but I can’t see that it is much more of a delusion than any other fundamentalist christian faith. How many Catholics know that they are supposed to believe that the wafer and wine actually turns into the physical body and blood of christ? (Or, even more deluded, how many actually believe that it does?) There is plenty of christian delusion to go around.

  182. #183 UnIrritated
    May 6, 2009

    #179
    “Really, the Mormon woo is no worse than any other religious woo — it just isn’t “hallowed” with time.”

    The temporal circumstance has another implication:

    The extra-biblical evidence of say, Moses, is pretty thin. But Messrs. Smith, Young, and co-conspirators have an extensive paper trail, much of it available right on the Web. The benefits of the “mists of time” are unavailable to them.

    Anyone who wants to investigate mormonism can find an abundance of sites, pro and con at their disposal.

  183. #184 ginckgo
    May 6, 2009

    This makes me worry a bit about giving information about my relatives to one of my wife’s uncles, who married into the Mormon Church. They seem so obsessed about family trees, but it seemed a harmless hobby. Now I wonder if they’ve been doing this so they can baptise my whole family – after all, we are related, so it would be relatives putting up the names.

    One of these days I’ll loose my restraint and confront them about their BS religion.

  184. #185 Notagod
    May 6, 2009

    Tulse,

    The mormons believe in the zombie eating but, they just use bread torn into little pieces, much cheaper that way.

    The mor[m]on woo creates a more obedient sheep, they will literally murder (and anything else) if instructed to do so in obeisance of their prophet who they believe has two-way communication with their actual god-idea, they believe therefore that the instruction is actually from the god-idea itself. The mor[m]onics are similar but more dangerous than the other god-idea delusions.

  185. #186 Lynna
    May 6, 2009

    Nancy, you can present “HAVE A CHOICE” in all caps forever and it won’t make it true. It’s like the thin veneer of “FREE AGENCY” that turns out not to be so free when it comes to daily life for true believing mormons. All the LDS actions in baptizing the dead give no choice to the living relatives, and you only pretend that the fantasy dead person has a choice in the afterlife.

    Here’s an excerpt from Journal of Discourses, Volume 16 that illustrates the point. Brigham Young is speaking and you will note that the “Sister” is ignored when she expresses her wish to be left alone in the afterlife. In fact, J.S. had Brigham seal (marry) the woman to him right then and there. Not also the threat in the last sentences. Yes, you have a choice, but… It’s always the “but” with the threat that removes free agency:

    I recollect a sister conversing with Joseph Smith on this subject. She told him: “Now, don’t talk to me; when I get into the celestial kingdom, if I ever do get there, I shall request the privilege of being a ministering angel; that is the labor that I wish to perform. I don’t want any companion in that world; and if the Lord will make me a ministering angel, it is all I want.” Joseph said, “Sister, you talk very foolishly, you do not know what you will want.” He then said to me: “Here, brother Brigham, you seal this lady to me.” I sealed her to him. This was my own sister according to the flesh. Now, sister, do not say, “I do not want a husband when I get up in the resurrection.” You do not know what you will want. I tell this so that you can get the idea. If in the resurrection you really want to be single and alone, and live so for ever and ever, and be made servants, while others receive the highest order of intelligence and are bringing worlds into existence, you can have the privilege. They who will be exalted cannot perform all the labor, they must have servants and you can be servants to them.”

    Doesn’t sound like choice or free agency to me. Sounds instead like coercion and emotional blackmail.

    http://journalofdiscourses.org/Vol_16/JD16-160.html

  186. #187 David
    May 6, 2009

    I’m thinking of eating a bowl of rice pudding for everyone who died and didn’t like rice pudding.

  187. #188 Lynna
    May 6, 2009

    @184: Mormon families are truly interested in history, so that’s a laudable trait. But at the same time, you can bet than any “family tree” information you have given your relatives will also be used for posthumous baptisms.

    That’s the quandary of mormonism in a nutshell: good on one side, bad on the other. Reasonable on one side, Crazy and sneaky on the other.

    It can be a toss up as to what the balance is between good and bad. For gay Mormons the answer is obvious. Ditto for most women.

  188. #189 Etienne Woolridge
    May 6, 2009

    The point of baptism for the dead is to give the deceased the chance to accept the Mormon gospel. In the Mormon doctrine you are not forcing this person into the religion after they are dead it is the giving of the chance to accept the gospel. As far as your remarks about the church being slack about the names that are allowed I would like you to site your source instead of just spreading your bias. The names are supposed to be summitted by the deceased family as a way for them so sleep at night knowing that they gave their loved one the chance of joining their religion. The entire idea is that the person will have the choice whether or not to accept the gospel. The picture that you paint is one in which they are forcing the dead into their denomination. This is completely untrue, I was a Mormon for a number of years and even though I do not agree with the practice that they live by I understand the point of such practices. This is the only way to actually have an opinion that isn’t flawed in some respect. I invite you to contact an LDS bishop and ask him the actual truth about this particular practice. This way your opinion is more factually structured and not a result of ignorance.

  189. #190 Patricia, OM
    May 6, 2009

    I’ve been to the family history library in Salt Lake three times to do research, it’s an amazing place, and a goldmine for the mormons. I can’t imagine how much they make on a daily basis there.

    My mother became outraged when we found out our quaker, reformed dutch, baptist, etc. ancestor’s had all been re-baptized as mormons.

    There is a book called No Man Knows My History , I think by Fawn Brody that is a rather shocking expose’ on what an utter fraud and con man Joseph Smith was.

  190. #191 Bystander (was Irritated)
    May 6, 2009

    “I’ve been to the family history library in Salt Lake three times to do research, it’s an amazing place, and a goldmine for the mormons. I can’t imagine how much they make on a daily basis there.”

    I did not know that fees were involved – how large are they?

  191. #192 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 6, 2009

    The point of baptism for the dead is to give the deceased the chance to accept the Mormon gospel.

    Think about that statement for all of two seconds, and one must just laugh at the stupidity. If one is dead, one cannot accept anything. Stupidity of the highest level. So time to close your mouth before you appear even stupider.

  192. #193 Patricia, OM
    May 6, 2009

    #189 – Oh bullshit. Some weird off shoot branch that married into my family did the dirty deed to my ancestor’s. I know, I did contact them. We demanded that they retract the whole thing and they refuse. Because they are church members and we aren’t we have no say in the matter. There’s no free choice for dead people you moron.

    This pisses people off, you freaks are wrong to do it and you need to stop.

  193. #194 Bystander
    May 6, 2009

    #189

    “The point of baptism for the dead is to give the deceased the chance to accept the Mormon gospel.”

    Rubbish: the point of baptism of the dead is to reinforce the faith of the living membership.

    If ‘life’ persists beyond death, non-mormons are certainly not going to change their view of the faith (or lack) with which they died.
    —————

    Mormon baptism for the dead is nothing but a thinly-disguised mechanism of faith affirmation.

  194. #195 Lynna
    May 6, 2009

    Etienne @#189: As far as Mormons being slack about the names provided for baptism, I did provide some documentation up-thread. Perhaps you didn’t read all the comments before posting? If you need more info, start here:
    http://www.exmormon.org/mormon/mormon306.htm
    and then scroll to the bottom of that page for links to yet more info on baptism, where the names come from, President Hinckley upset about the names of the dead not being up to par, etc.

    As an aside, I think it’s up to the Mormons to provide transparency for the ritual of baptizing the dead. They are the ones that restrict access to the temple, shroud the ritual in secrecy, and so forth. Are you asking the commenters here to somehow gain access to the temples and do original research?

  195. #196 Lynna
    May 6, 2009

    The LDS Church is so good at brainwashing the faithful that I’m inclined to cut them, and even the ex-mo’s, some slack. Even if they’ve figured the whole thing out and left the Church, they still post “help me” stories about the damned underwear. The first trip to the store to buy normal underwear can be traumatic. And then there’s the feel-up from others to see if the tell-tale garment lines are there or not. Irrational fears abound — maybe one will be subject to anvils dropping out the sky if one isn’t wearing the underwear (all right, I made that fear up, but it’s as reasonable as any of the others I’ve read).

    Up-thread several ex-mo’s noted how brainwashed they were (see Lucy Harris references). And Etienne sounds like she might be running on auto-pilot with her defense of “the chance to accept the gospel.”

  196. #197 Patricia, OM
    May 6, 2009

    Bystander – They have (had when I was there) photo copy machines with dime slots in them for you to pay 10 cents per page to copy the microfilm pages. It looks like the slot machines in Reno. They have genealogy forms for sale, and books and such. It’s free to go in, and I will say they are friendly and helpful. It would be interesting to know how many dimes they get every day.

  197. #198 Northernskeptic
    May 6, 2009

    I like a couple other commenters here also saw the Prop 8 campaign as the final straw, though I stopped attending years ago in December I sent in my resignation to the church. That started a harrowing experience as my family tried to come to grips with my eternal soul. After the crap that I went through getting myself out (it took several months) I would see posthumous baptism a slap in the face to me. I don’t care that they think I’ll get a chance to turn it down since I made myself clear in this life (which is the only one I believe in). I am now an unapologetic atheist, and I refuse to let my name be used to support such an organization whether it is in life or death.

    @Brownian #127, just a small addendum to your comment.

    “What, was MLK’s “I have a Dream” speech so fucking powerful that even God stopped to consider that the coloreds might not be so bad after all?”

    The church actively opposed the Equal Rights amendment, they didn’t give equal rights to blacks until about 15 years after the the “I have a Dream” speech. They are even bigger douches than you might have thought.

  198. #199 Lloyd Miller
    May 6, 2009

    I completely thought this through, tried hard to imagine what my real reaction is. I was baptised LDS as a child, ” Held the Priesthood ” as it were. Find the entire religion ridiculous and I truly believe that the whole discussion is about nothing. No one has the right to not be offended. I actually hope they continue to do exactly as they want to the dead. Keeps ‘em out of the front doorway and the dead are, in fact, no longer human, just biological waste. The impact, the importance, of the person’s life is in no way affected, period.

  199. #200 Alan Kellogg
    May 6, 2009

    PZ, by getting upset by this postmortem baptism crap aren’t you admitting to a belief in life after death?

  200. #201 Patricia, OM
    May 6, 2009

    This baptism of the dead burns me up (no pun intended) just as bad as the damned christians hanging my ancestors as witches.

    And guess what #189 freak, that shit sure got noted in the sainted mormon records.

    Why don’t you go look up the records on Joseph Smiths land dealings? How about his jail time for fraud? Moron.

  201. #202 Anonymous
    May 6, 2009

    @Alan Kellogg #200

    No, got any other stretches of the imagination?

  202. #203 Patricia, OM
    May 6, 2009

    Lloyd Miller, while you are right about baptism of my ancestors that died in the 1700′s not meaning a damn thing to them, they have long since decomposed, it does mean something to me. I do not want something done to their memory that they would have found distasteful in life.

    If I could lay a bet to be paid after my death, I would bet that the same damn mormon idiots that baptized my ancestors will do the same to my family.

  203. #204 Anonymous
    May 6, 2009

    Etienne @ 189. You want me to go talk to a Bishop?

    Here’s a Bishop I’d like to talk to:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tS58S-xPdzI

    As for the other Bishops…you want me to go talk to one of these guys?
    http://www.exmormon.org/mormon/mormon223.htm

  204. #205 Bystander
    May 6, 2009

    #203, Patricia:

    “I do not want something done to their memory that they would have found distasteful in life.”

    That’s it for me in a nutshell. My ancestors would have seen a vulgar, unemployable con-man in Smith – they wouldn’t have given him or his minions the time of day.

  205. #206 george.w
    May 6, 2009

    You know, I read somewhere that Joseph Smith had a deathbed conversion to atheism. I don’t remember where I read it, but it was probably a reliable source.

  206. #207 Monado
    May 6, 2009

    James Sweet, may I quote you on my blog? I love the succinctness of your post 13.

  207. #208 Notagod
    May 6, 2009

    Etienne Woolridge,

    Perhaps you missed Lynna’s comment:

    As an aside, I think it’s up to the Mormons to provide transparency for the ritual of baptizing the dead. They are the ones that restrict access to the temple, shroud the ritual in secrecy, and so forth. Are you asking the commenters here to somehow gain access to the temples and do original research?

    Us mortals have far fewer resources to come up with true transparency than a god-idea supported religion has. And yet you seem fine with the secrecy and hidden agendas of the mor[m]onic faithful and religion. Are you currently at the mor[m]onic blogs asking them to actually be truthful, open and, honest without being deceptive and ducking the actual issues? What the mormons are doing is equivalent to forcing dead people to answer to their god-idea. Sure it isn’t actually possible but, it is real within the superstition that is the moronic religion and therefore gives support to those that practice that superstition, which may well be contrary to the desires expressed by the dead victims when they were alive and able to express their desires. To use a religious expression; why can’t the mormons just let the dead rest in peace? Surely, if there were a real creator of the universe it wouldn’t need to wait for some young girl to get a wet shirt in order to talk to a dead person.

  208. #209 Patricia, OM
    May 6, 2009

    george w. – Joseph Smith was shot in a jail cell, then he jumped out a window. You’d better go look at your sources again.

  209. #210 Bystander
    May 6, 2009

    #13, James Sweet

    “Unfortunately, Mormonism is growing really rapidly. I have two theories as to why this is so: First, the aggressive proselytizing. I mean, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon (or even an evo-devo biologist) to figure out that an organization that actively recruits is going to grow faster than one that doesn’t.”

    James, we would both agree, I think, that mormonism is an aggressively expansionist sect – but you are inadvertently promoting LDS puffery and hyperbole. (This was discussed by a previous poster.)

    Google “Law of the Harvest”, by Dr. David Stewart, LDS member, former missionary, a man who studies LDS missionary efforts. To summarize his findings:

    Wildly over-optimistic reports of church growth have been the rule for quite some time. Rates of conversion & retention, member birth-rates, per-missionary efficiency, etc have been falling for almost two decades.

    That completely contradicts opinion in the press, in electronic media, in personal/electronic conversations with members, because they are basically tossing around faith-affirming hyperbole, on the assumption that it must be true. The buzz may have momentum, but it has no factual basis.

    Dr. Stewart is to be commended for his courage in insisting that honesty, rather than uncritical faith-affirmation, is the best policy.

  210. #211 Patricia, OM
    May 6, 2009

    Bystander – Thank you, we agree. I would have only a laughing relationship with the mormons IF they didn’t rob my ancestor’s of their dignity hundreds of years after their deaths.

    The other thing that I hold against mormons is the same thing I begrudge the catholics and muslims with – child molesting. A 50 year old man having sex with a 9 year old child is wrong. I don’t care if he is a priest, a prophet or a saint, it’s still wrong.

  211. #212 Bystander
    May 6, 2009

    Patricia:

    “The other thing that I hold against mormons is the same thing I begrudge the catholics and muslims with – child molesting. A 50 year old man having sex with a 9 year old child is wrong. I don’t care if he is a priest, a prophet or a saint, it’s still wrong.”

    I can’t discuss this topic without going ballistic, so I’ll beg off. Child sexual abuse is an unimaginable abomination …

  212. #213 Edward Lark
    May 6, 2009

    I would have only a laughing relationship with the mormons IF they didn’t rob my ancestor’s of their dignity hundreds of years after their deaths.

    But again, they are not robbing your ancestors of anything because – yep, you guessed it – your ancestors are dead.

    You apparently do not like that this particular god cult does something that you find offensive. This is apparently even more offensive because they evoke the name of your long gone grand-mama in some meaningless ritual. I can understand – really I can – being bothered by this. It is a natural reaction – natural, but irrational.

    If all you are saying is that you reserve the right to tell every mormon that you meet that you find the practice offensive, then more power to you. If you – or the other posters who are getting really worked up about this practice – want to be able to tell the mormons that they are not allowed to conduct their silly rituals, then you are demanding that your own irrational beliefs and feelings be given pride of place above someone else’s irrational beliefs, feelings and practices. You do you understand the problem with such a position, right? Take a moment, think through the implications, and I think you will see you do not want to go down that road.

    As me and the other ex-mormons on this thread have been saying – there are real, rational reasons to be pissed at the LDS church. For avowed atheists, the practice of baptism for the dead really should not be one of them.

  213. #214 Tulse
    May 6, 2009

    The mor[m]on woo creates a more obedient sheep, they will literally murder (and anything else) if instructed to do so in obeisance of their prophet who they believe has two-way communication with their actual god-idea, they believe therefore that the instruction is actually from the god-idea itself.

    Are you sure you aren’t describing Catholics?

    This baptism of the dead burns me up (no pun intended) just as bad as the damned christians hanging my ancestors as witches.

    Patricia, you usually rock the house, but this comment strikes me as silly in the extreme — a silly nonsense ritual as bad as murder?

  214. #215 wrpd
    May 7, 2009

    How can anyone dislike a church that asks potential converts to have a burning in their bazooms?

  215. #216 Patricia, OM
    May 7, 2009

    Tulse – The hanging of my ancestors as witches is horrible, and if I were there at the time it would be unthinkably horrific. You can find the transcripts of the Salem witch trials on line and see how stoopid the charges against my ancestor’s were.

    As to the baptism of my ancestor’s by the mormons – they would not have seen this as

    a silly nonsense ritual

    this is dealing with their immortal soul. Yes, it is as bad as murder, it is eternal.

  216. #217 doug l
    May 7, 2009

    I guess when I think about it, this Mormon practice is repugnant, but then again I rarely think about it because it’s pretty meaningless in the long run. When I do think of mormonism and in particular its founding I am struck by the similarities it has to Scientology, and in some ways to Islam. It’s not so much the fact that these prophets as they called themselves might have had what would probably be identified as epileptic siezures to specific parts of the brain that we know nowadays as being the source of these convictions that they interpreted as visionary messages from an other worldly sources which in all cases tell them that they were the fullfillment of a divine plan and that no others would be following, but that they were then able to convince so many others that the visions were somehow true. When it comes to being gullible we are strange monkeys indeed.

  217. #218 Patricia, OM
    May 7, 2009

    Oh bullshit Edward. What gives you or anyone else the right to use my dead ancestors?

    I know it isn’t going to stop. The mormons are a huge steam roller. My ancestors believed they had an immortal soul, their church took care of it. None of them were mormons. Leave them alone.

  218. #219 doug l
    May 7, 2009

    Another interesting thing about Smith’s visions is that the began to occur to him, and to quite a few others in that region, who interpreted them as millenial visions of important times in the past and the future…and quite a few new religions came out of this part of upstate New York and the surrounding region (anyone familiar with the Chataqua movement?). It’s been called the “burt ground” revival, I think and the burning has been attributed to the sensation of righteous yearning, but it’s curious, and worth noting I think, that upstate New York and other parts of New England at the time were being de-forested in a major way, which involved girdling the trees, cutting them down and hauling the dead wood into vast windrows across the land for miles and miles. These caught fire when conditions were right, as you might imagine, and so the burnt ground referred would have also applied to the landscape in a literal as well as figurative sense. Following this time period, or during it, there was the green winter of the early 1800s when, following the eruption of Krakatoa, and maybe some other as yet unidentified volcanic event, the summers were cool and damp, crops failed, and people actually were pretty hungry…eating food that they would have collected int he woods, like wild ramps (leeks)and mushrooms, and what grain they could have harvested and stored imperfectly would have been prime for supporting ergot mold and perhaps other psychogenic fungi which would have been abundant considering all that burnt wood and disturbed landscape. The combination of those climatic conditions, the realization that a civilization more sophisticated than the presumably retiring indigenous Americans must have been here long ago, actual burial mounds were found frequently enough, and a new form of fiction a la Edgar Alan Poe and the his short stories, like the “gold bug” seem to have congealed in the mind of Smith. I have to wonder if he didn’t actually believe it himself.

  219. #220 Edward Lark
    May 7, 2009

    What gives you or anyone else the right to use my dead ancestors? . . . My ancestors believed they had an immortal soul, their church took care of it. None of them were mormons. Leave them alone.

    I’m not doing anything to your ancestors – note the “ex” in ex-mormon. But then again, the non-ex-mormons aren’t doing anything to your ancestors either, because . . . (oh, never mind).

  220. #221 'Tis Himself
    May 7, 2009

    Mormons have a very deluded and false view of their church and religion. More so than any other nominally Christian group.

    Mormons believe that not one but two groups of Jews (or whatever other name is appropriate) emigrated from the Middle East to the Americas. Despite the fact that there is no anthropologic, linguistic, genetic or any other evidence of Middle Easterners living in either North or South America, the Book of Mormon says it happened and so Mormons believe it. I think that’s more deluded than the zombie Jebus cracker.

  221. #222 Cthulance
    May 7, 2009

    “They’re also chronic liars about it all.”

    In their defense, the lying starts rather early. As an ex-Mormon, I recall sitting in many a Mormon worship meeting where parents dragged their toddlers up in front of the congregation, held them in front of microphones, and whispered in their ears what to say.

    “Say, ‘I know the Church is true.’”

    The confused and nervous kid whispers into the microphone, “I know da chooch is twoo.”

    Many oohs and aaahs ensue from the congregation (they think it’s cute), the kid gives a goofy smile of relief (the congregation laughs) and so another chronic liar is born.

  222. #223 Alan Kellogg
    May 7, 2009

    Anonymous, May 6, 2009 9:24 PM

    How did you learn to read minds? Can you teach others?

    Myers wants to disagree with what I said he is capable of doing so himself. He doesn’t need you. You are doing nothing on his behalf, only expressing your own outrage. You are nothing but a busybody and an outrage troll.

  223. #224 JamesBrown
    May 7, 2009

    I was one of those 14 year old kids that was ‘dead dunked’ so I know firsthand how they select the names. This is funny.
    I went under twenty times each time after a name was read from a 3 X 5 card. Then came the 21st and the guy read my own name (he pick up the wrong card I guess) and before I could say anything – down I went.
    So I hold the distinction of being the only person that has baptized himself.
    I feel God like.

  224. #225 James Sweet
    May 7, 2009

    @Monado #207: Well, what part did you want to quote? A couple of other posters have since pointed out that I may be quite incorrect about the rapid growth of the LDS church. I stand by my point that it helps member retention to have a story so absurd that the giant leap of faith has to come on day one. But I may be wrong about the magnitude of that impact.

    I guess you can quote me as long as there is a caveat that I am probably wrong about the rapid growth :)

  225. #226 James Sweet
    May 7, 2009

    From Cthulance #222:
    “””
    As an ex-Mormon, I recall sitting in many a Mormon worship meeting where parents dragged their toddlers up in front of the congregation, held them in front of microphones, and whispered in their ears what to say.
    “Say, ‘I know the Church is true.’”
    The confused and nervous kid whispers into the microphone, “I know da chooch is twoo.”
    Many oohs and aaahs ensue from the congregation (they think it’s cute), the kid gives a goofy smile of relief (the congregation laughs) and so another chronic liar is born.
    “””

    I literally went cold reading the last sentence. I have told my friends about the “I know da chooch is twoo” crap before (even pronouncing it like you did here, hah, how universal this experience seems to be…). Your phrasing after that is poetic and chilling.

    I have to say, I am really glad this thread came up. Even though I think the baptism for the dead thing is much ado about nothing (PLEASE take the Mormons to task for all the other shit they do that I listed in #152 above), the experience of hearing from a number of other ex-mormon nontheists, and hearing experiences that are so remarkably similar to my own… I dunno, I mean, I feel as though I had pretty much gotten over the anguish I experienced after leaving the church, but it is still somehow immensely comforting to hear from Edward, Cthulance, and others..

    A couple more stories:

    I mentioned anguish after leaving the church, even though I left pretty early (mostly stopped believing around 15 or 16, stopped going by 18). For actually a lot of my early 20s, I referred to myself as a “non-practicing agnostic” — I thought it was unknowable as to whether God exists, I figured he probably didn’t, and yet deep in my heart I felt certain he was an asshole and hated me. Hence the non-practicing, heh. I don’t remember exactly when it was, but sometime in my mid-20s I quite suddenly felt comfortable referring to myself as a full-blown atheist, and I gotta say, it was a pretty good feeling.

    Heh, when I was probably 19 or 20, I uh took mushrooms for the first time, and for at least a few months I was quite convinced that that must be what the secret temple ritual was. Why else would people keep it so secret and yet speak of it so glowingly? hahaha… I was a little disappointed when I found out on the internet that it’s basically just half-naked Sunday school, followed by a quiz. WTF?!

    My first, “Woah, this cannot be for me” moment was in priesthood meeting when I was 14, I think, and the bishop was sitting in on the Teacher’s meeting. I can’t remember how the topic came up, but I pointed out that since the fulfillment of the law of Moses, most specific commandments had been replaced by non-specific ones, e.g. instead of “If you steal your neighbors cow, you have to pay him fifty sheckels and a slave” or whatever, it would be “treat thy neighbor as you would be treated”, etc. — except for the one about the Sabbath. It could have changed to “Set aside one day a week for God”, but it was still “That day MUST be Sunday”. I thought this was interesting, as did a friend of mine in the class, and we were just kind of discussing it, speculating that maybe it was for pragmatic reasons (obviously it wouldn’t work if everybody picked a different day!), etc.

    Even though that’s rather juvenile and trivial theology, I thought (and still think) it was somewhat astute for a 14-year-old, and at the very least was a relatively neutral discussion. I wasn’t questioning the commandments in the least, just exploring the nature of them.

    Well, after some discussion, the bishop pronounced, “Well, you guys like to joke around, but I know you know in your hearts what is true and I hope you will remember that.” WTF?!? I remember being incredibly disillusioned. I wasn’t even questioning doctrine, I was asking questions about the nature of doctrine, and somehow this was too much thinking?! That was the first time I said to myself, maybe I really don’t belong here at all…

    I remember when I was 16, in YM/YW meeting, I made some point, can’t even remember what it was, and this True Believer girl turned around and basically said (I paraphrase of course!) “Thinking about or questioning anything is bad.” It was such a simple small thing, but this wave of anguish and unhappiness and a feeling of being imprisoned just swept over me, and I stood up and said, “I don’t belong here!” and ran out of the church and sat crying on the sidewalk for awhile. I’m still not sure quite exactly why I reacted so strongly. The people in the class were baffled, heh… :)

    I guess just last year I had a really powerful realization that came out when talking to my therapist about how Mormonism had effected me. I remember when I was somewhere in my teens, some other True Believer girl said to me that I was just going through a rebellious phase. I must have been 17, because by that point I was sure I was not going to be a member of the church all my life. I thought for a moment, and replied quite confidently, “No. No, I think you are wrong. I think this is me.” I remember the moment vividly.

    Anyway, this had an unfortunate and long-lasting side effect. I was quite right that my rejection of Mormon teachings was no phase — but of course the teen angst I was experiencing at the time probably was. So in my mind, the two got conflated, and I internalized my teenage angst as a fundamental part of my identity. I’m 30 now and I would say I just started to let go of that in the last couple of years. heh…

    Well, I’m rambling way too much about something that’s totally off-topic. Maybe I should check out exmormon.org or something. I dunno, I didn’t really expect this to happen when I started commenting on this thread. I’m not quite sure what I feel right now… hah, oh well, nevermind.

  226. #227 Trevor
    May 7, 2009

    As a family historian/genealogist I have an interest in this. Mormons as a group do these prayers, etc. out of a sense of concern and respect for their ancestors. Some individual Mormons have done and probably continue to do stupid and inconsiderate things out of zeal or ignorance for people they shouldn’t have. The Mormon Church has never sanctioned this. Likewise it has never said it would guarantee to prevent any member anywhere, anytime ever doing ceremonies for non-relatives. They have said they would remind members of the guidelines and remove any records that look suspicious or about which complaints have been made. This they have done. No lies and no need to tar all with the same brush nor to overreact. No more “ghoulish” than Catholics, Jews or Chinese saying prayers for the dead or me and many others wanting to learn about and preserve the memory of our decesed forebears.

    Mormons are responsible for:
    * Preservation of countless vital statistics records which would otherwise have perished because the holders of those records lacked facilities, money or prority to preserve them.
    * Publishing of records on microfilm and in digital form to make data available to as many people as possible – Mormon and non-Mormon – to further research on family history.
    * Making web sites, databases and software available to everyone either free at cost to foster family history.
    * Operating Family History Centres out of their local church buildings free of charge to everyone to come in and access records and facilities. Nominal fees are charged for ordering in microfilmed records.
    * Mobilizing volunteers for projects to digitize, transcribe and index public historical records at no cost to the public purse.

    As a result there has been explosion in the amount of information available to the millions of amateur amateur genealogists like me who get pleasure from discovering their roots.

    Since this is a science blog it is worth noting that Mormon records have been used in more than one study looking at genetics and disease.

  227. #228 Trevor
    May 7, 2009

    Oh, by the way, I should add that Mormons don’t believe that they are converting these people. They are simply making the ceremony available for them should they have already decided in the afterlife to convert to Mormonism anyway. If you don’t think there is any chance that your Jewish/Baptist/Methodist/atheist ancestor would ever have converted to Mormonsism then they are probably still the way they were when they were alive. Unless of course, South Park-style, they get to heaven and find out that Mormons were right after all in which case they are probably grateful for the “get-out-of-hell-free card” that the Mormons doing all this proxy baptising are offering. You never know! Personally I lose no sleep over it and as I said in my previous post this delusion has all sorts of benefits for all teh rest of us. Just think what life would be like if the Mormon Church poured the millions it spends on genealogy into more door-to-door canvassing and TV ads!

  228. #229 Rorschach
    May 7, 2009

    Trevor @ 227,

    a little less enthusiasm for the fabulous Mormon family record keeping and a little more sensitivity for the girls/women on whose backs these records came to be,and also the countless minds stifled,brainwashed and cut short in their development,would be in order.

    Some individual Mormons have done and probably continue to do stupid and inconsiderate things out of zeal or ignorance for people they shouldn’t have. The Mormon Church has never sanctioned this

    Let me guess,they werent True Mormons then…..right?

  229. #230 Edward Lark
    May 7, 2009

    I was a little disappointed when I found out on the internet that it’s basically just half-naked Sunday school, followed by a quiz. WTF?!

    Having been through the temple ceremony several times, I must say I have no idea what you are talking about. Definitely a quiz at the end, but everybody was fully clothed at the time – albeit in some funny hats. I must have been going to the squares’ temple.

    Thanks for sharing your story James. I think you will find that a lot of us “exers” share similar experiences. At the risk of rambling on as well, my own journey away from the church happened in fits and starts. I believed everything growing up. Bought the whole thing hook, line and sinker. And I loved both the gospel stories and the stories of the early church. I loved those stories so much that I always wanted to know more about them – and that was my downfall.

    Curiosity is definitely not encouraged in the LDS faith. I know this is true for many faiths, but I think perhaps the Mormon version of the godbot syndrome is particularly egregious. Any questions about doctrine are met with suspicion at best and often with hostility. I also had the advantage of a family that valued education, science and intellectual curiosity. My father had been a frustrated engineer and scientist, having left college to take over the family ranch when his father died. Our house was filled with science books and magazines – the Church News sitting right next to the most recent edition of Scientific American on our coffee table. I had grown up believing that science and my faith were compatible, but it quickly became apparent that not everyone at church believed the same way and as I learned more about both the faith and science I began to question whether they could live happily side by side as well.

    It really soured for me in about my mid-teens as well. My questions shifted from those designed to elicit more information about the doctrine and gospel stories to questions challenging the same. They were not appreciated. By the end of high school I was just going through the motions to keep peace at home, and once I was out on my own I stopped attending church altogether.

    Now here is the twist – I went back in my early 20s. I knew it was hokum, but after meeting a nice mormon girl that mom and dad just loved, I managed to convince myself for awhile that I was a believer again. I really did fall in love with the girl, but part of the attraction had to be that marrying her really did solve a lot of “problems.” Our marriage in the temple and my reconversion to the church made everyone happy, and allowed me to stop being the black sheep for awhile and be the prodigal son. It never would have lasted long-term, but other issues in my now ex-wife’s life – tied to the church at least indirectly – precipitated an angry exit from the church again a mere two years later.

    I did not really get my act together (personally, academically, career-wise) until my early 30s. And while the church cannot take the full blame for my own “wandering years,” it certainly was a large part of the problem. It is also interesting to note that out of the 7 kids in my family, only the two ex-mormons – myself and one older sister – are professionals (she a doctor, me an attorney), and we are both atheists.

  230. #231 Edward Lark
    May 7, 2009

    I should add that Mormons don’t believe that they are converting these people. They are simply making the ceremony available for them should they have already decided in the afterlife to convert to Mormonism anyway.

    Did you ever ask yourself, if baptism and confirmation are such extremely, absolutely, no-exceptions-ever important rituals for one’s immortal soul, why then does god allow the failure to go though this ritual in life to be resolved as if it were a mere technicality? And if it really is a mere technicality, why would god hinge a soul’s eternal dispensation on such a trivial matter?

    The temple work for the dead can seem so grand in the midst of indoctrination, but it doesn’t take that much of a step back to see that it is nonsensical and laughably silly. (I was actually warned by my bishop before I went through the endowment ceremony for the first time that the ritual “might seem silly on the surface.” Indeed.

    As someone above already pointed out, temple work is not really about the salvation of souls, it is a faith-reinforcing mechanism for the church membership. A pretty brilliant one as well – provides a sense of grand purpose on a universal scale, trumpeted as “the most important work” a member can do, but only available to those who are “members in good standing” (meaning, primarily, full tithing members).

  231. #232 Tulse
    May 7, 2009

    As to the baptism of my ancestor’s by the mormons – they would not have seen this as
    a silly nonsense ritual
    this is dealing with their immortal soul. Yes, it is as bad as murder, it is eternal.

    Yes, but you don’t believe that, do you? So why does this impact you (since your ancestors are dead, they presumably are past caring)?

  232. #233 Brownian, OM
    May 7, 2009

    Mormons as a group do these prayers, etc. out of a sense of concern and respect for their ancestors.

    Yeah? Just how many Mormon spawn did Anne Frank beget?

    You might believe the Church’s bullshit, but please don’t assume all of us here have been similarly lobotomised.

  233. #234 Lynna
    May 7, 2009

    Trevor @#227: You use the explanation that some Mormons have done some things they shouldn’t have done, but that the Church itself never condoned these actions.

    Not so fast. As far as baptizing Jews is concerned, here is a summary of events, with a quote from the actual agreement:

    May 3,1995 – agreement between LDS church and American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors “over the issue of posthumous baptisms of Jewish Holocaust victims.” First Presidency agrees to “remove from next issue of International Genealogical Index [public-acess record only] names of all known posthumously baptized Jewish holocaust victims,”and “to discontinue any further baptisms of deceased Jews, including all lists of Jewish Holocaust victims who are know Jews, except if they were direct ancestors of living members of the Church.”

    Please note that the Jewish Holocaust names were removed from the public-access record only. Note also that there’s plenty of wiggle room in the phrase “except if they were direct ancestors of living members of the Church.” So that pretty much tells you how it works and what they will continue to do.

    Wilford Woodruff, the fourth president of the Mormon Church, claimed that he had saved (by doing their temple work) John Wesley Powell, Columbus, all the Presidents of the United States except three, and the signers of The Declaration of Independence, who he said gathered around him in the spirit and wanted to know why they had not been redeemed. (Journal of Discourses, vol. 19, p. 229)

  234. #235 Lynna
    May 7, 2009

    Brownian @#233 provided a link. Here’s more from the same source:

    More indications that Mormons are baptizing Jews:
    http://nowscape.com/mormon/hitler_temple_3.htm
    “But since 2005, ongoing monitoring of the database by an independent Salt Lake City-based researcher shows both resubmissions and new entries of names of Dutch, Greek, Polish and Italian Jews.”

    Time to inject a lighter note into this thread. Mormons are big on anti-masturbation propaganda. I saw an anti-masturbation video on local TV. WTF?

    Printed material that was distributed at BYU can be read at:
    http://nowscape.com/mormon/mormast.htm

    The link at nowscape also provides links to sex toys.

  235. #236 Monado
    May 7, 2009

    James, I liked the “giant leap of faith” part best.

  236. #237 James Sweet
    May 7, 2009

    Re Lynna #235 and the whole masturbation thing: hahahaha that is too funny. Luckily, I had the good sense to lie to the bishop when he asked about that stuff, even when I was still mostly a believer. (even though I felt incredibly guilty… stupid child abusers)

  237. #238 Notagod
    May 7, 2009

    Edward Lark and Tulse,

    It isn’t about what is actually happening to the dead that is the issue. It is about how the superstition affects the living. That is what Patricia, OM, myself and others are trying to express to you.

    Edward Lark, you wrote this:

    As someone above already pointed out, temple work is not really about the salvation of souls, it is a faith-reinforcing mechanism for the church membership. A pretty brilliant one as well – provides a sense of grand purpose on a universal scale, trumpeted as “the most important work” a member can do, but only available to those who are “members in good standing” (meaning, primarily, full tithing members).

    Which shows that you should be able to grasp the idea of what the problem really is. I know absolutely that even if there were a mormon god I would not want to have anything to do with it. As it is described in the mormon texts it is an abusive arrogant disgusting thing. I would prefer anything to bowing to such a creature. To think that after I die, the mormons will use my name as a part of strengthening their brainwashing of some innocent young girl is simply an unforgivable act to me. We also know that some of our ancestors would feel the same way. The mormons are only thinking of themselves by continuing this stupid superstition, they have no regard or empathy for what they are doing do others. The topping on the shit is they claim they are doing a great service. Mormons are rude arrogant asses. People are the creators of the disgusting baptism for the dead ritual, they did it to resolve a flaw that was weakening their ability to keep their sheep from questioning the foundation of their power. The morons are being very disrespectful and inconsiderate when they perform this stupid ritual.

    That is where you need to direct your support for the mormon practice, if you have any, not at what the mormons perceive to be happening to dead people, we already know nothing actually happens to the dead when the mor[m]ons get wet.

  238. #239 Tulse
    May 7, 2009

    It isn’t about what is actually happening to the dead that is the issue. It is about how the superstition affects the living. That is what Patricia, OM, myself and others are trying to express to you.

    I get that — what I don’t understand is why atheists are personally upset and offended about someone else’s superstition.

  239. #240 Brownian, OM
    May 7, 2009

    Lynna:

    Time to inject a lighter note into this thread. Mormons are big on anti-masturbation propaganda. I saw an anti-masturbation video on local TV. WTF?

    They should be cautious about that. I had a teacher (whom I very much liked and respected) at the Catholic junior high school I went to claim that masturbation was a sin because sex is meant to be enjoyed as love between two people in the eyes of God, or some such bullshit.

    Unfortunately, the take-away message I got was that I had to choose between God and spankin’ it. Guess which lost out?

    There’s an old lawyer saying regarding courtroom examinations and cross-examinations: Never ask a question you don’t already know the answer to.

    Likewise, don’t ask a 13-year-old to make a choice unless you’re absolutely certain he’s going to make the ‘right’ one.

  240. #241 Notagod
    May 7, 2009

    Tulse,

    Well, that is what I was attempting to explain in the parts of my comment that you didn’t quote.

  241. #242 justanotherjones
    May 7, 2009

    I’m on the side of finding it reprehensible. Do they in any way use these “members” to claim higher membership numbers or to bolster their “legitimacy”?

  242. #243 Krista Cook
    May 7, 2009

    As a Mormon, I’ve tried to determine how I might feel if the situation were reversed. How would I feel if someone obtained an indulgence for me or otherwise did something religiously important to them on my behalf? I think I would be touched by their kindness. They are acting out of love.

    Our actions stem from love for billions of people who have died. Our performing this vicarious baptism allows them the choice to accept/reject it in the next life. We do not evaluate their lives, deaths, opportunities, choices etc. We do not presume to know if they had the choice here in this life or what they would choose to do if they did. I am astonished that people can confidently say they KNOW what the person in question would want or would not want.

    I am astonished to read all these people evaluating religious beliefs/practices and passing judgment on them. This is inconsistent with modern notions of ?tolerance.?

    There was an opinion piece by Eamonn McCann in the August 28, 2008 Belfast Telegraph that also addresses this issue well. It is entitled, “What if Mormons are right and Catholics and Protestants wrong?” He makes some good points. http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opinion/columnists/eamon-mccann/eamonn-mccann-what-if-mormons-are-right-and-catholics-and-protestants-wrong-13955402.html

  243. #244 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 7, 2009

    I am astonished to read all these people evaluating religious beliefs/practices and passing judgment on them. This is inconsistent with modern notions of ?tolerance.?

    Um, no. I can tolerate people with silly beliefs, but that doesn’t mean I have to respect those silly beliefs.

  244. #245 James Sweet
    May 7, 2009

    While I think Sam Harris is a kook on many subjects, I really dig his notion of “conversational intolerance”.

  245. #246 Anonymous
    May 7, 2009

    I am astonished to read all these people evaluating religious beliefs/practices and passing judgment on them.

    So you think that Zoroastrianism is just as valid as Mormonism? Surely you wouldn’t pass judgement on those beliefs and practices, right?

  246. #247 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 7, 2009

    “What if Mormons are right and Catholics and Protestants wrong?”

    Yeah what if?

    What if you are pissing off Odin by “offering” baptism posthumously to people?

    What if?

    What if as being a member of the Mormon church which practices this posthumous “offering” of baptism angers Allah?

    What if it’s just some made up bull shit from a known con man and fraud that started the religion?

    What if?

  247. #248 James Sweet
    May 7, 2009

    Yeah, good point Rev BDC, the Telegraph article is just Pascal’s Wager rehashed.

    I have my own wager: If you give me a dollar and it turns out that’s what was necessary to get into the kingdom of heaven, then you win! If you give me a dollar and it turns out that had nothing whatsoever to do with an afterlife, so what? You’re only out a freaking dollar.

    Therefore, everyone in the world should give me a dollar.
    And if you don’t, then you hate Jebus.

  248. #249 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 7, 2009

    Better yet James Sweet, get written permission of all direct living descendants for any ceremony is held. Anything less is immoral. But then, you religious asshats are almost always immoral about such legal niceties if it doesn’t go with your religious idiocy.

  249. #250 Notagod
    May 7, 2009

    Krista Cook,

    It seems to me that you have a skewed idea of love and tolerance and of self absorption in thinking that you addressed the issue well.

    To me love is to respect another persons wishes even if those wishes conflict with mine own. Your idea of love seems to be pushing your wishes onto others even if they don’t want it. My idea of tolerance is allowing others to act as they wish, even if I don’t like it personally, as long a their actions don’t involve me or cause harm to others. Your idea of tolerance is to allow your actions to infringe on others personal space seemingly because you think you know better than the person you are infringing on. If a person doesn’t have the right to express outrage with reference to their own name being used inappropriately then we have no freedom at all.

    You’ve done a poor job of determining what it would be like if the positions were reversed. I know that the mormon doctrine is false it can be shown that the foundation of the religion is based on false information. I know that I don’t want my name used in any way to support or further the harm that is done by the mormons and I know others that feel the same way. If you want to do something useful for your religion, campaign for respect of the right of outsiders to forgo involvement in the superstitious rituals occurring within the mormon religion.

  250. #251 James Sweet
    May 7, 2009

    Once again commenting on the Telegraph article, I find it equally plausible that there is actually an angry vengeful god whose arbitrary “justice” is such that if someone got posthumously baptized by a Mormon, even against their will, that person would get sent to Hell.

    I see no reason to believe that, and mountains evidence that contradicts it, but…. seems equally likely to the premise in the article.

  251. #252 Lynna
    May 7, 2009

    James Sweet @#251 is right. Each premise, no matter how farfetched, is equally likely. Useless, then, to even consider.

    The issue of control hasn’t been addressed. Control of all the dead and living.

    Still, it’s mostly about numbers, right? Various Stake Presidents and Bishops move up the organization’s ladder based on their numbers. You need good numbers to become a General Authority. The baptisms are also about numbers.

    Richard E. Turley, Jr., the (former?) managing director of the Family and Church History Department in Salt Lake City, said as many as two hundred million dead people have been baptized as Mormons, (no permission was needed) including Buddha and all the Catholic popes, Shakespeare, Einstein, and Elvis Presley. Peck. (This paragraph was excerpted from an online posting by someone else, but I checked the figures against another source and they seem to be in the ballpark).

  252. #253 Lynna
    May 7, 2009

    James Sweet @#237: Glad you can laugh about it. It is hilarious in a Monty Python kinda way. I read about a Missionary who was having prostrate trouble because he was trying so hard to keep himself from masturbating.

    But what was the Bishop doing asking you such a question? Are there Bishops all over the Mormon world asking boys if they masturbate? And then they make you feel guilty no matter what you reply. Is this part of your temple worthiness interview?

    Brownian can set his priorities. Admirable. See #240.

  253. #254 Lynna
    May 7, 2009

    Krista @#243: If you love me, leave me and mine alone.

    You seem to think that tolerance means never questioning someone else’s religious views. That’s not tolerance, it’s willful blindness. As for respect, it is the ultimate respect to read almost all of the Church’s founding documents and decide for myself.

    As I said up-thread, no doubt there are good people who are Mormons, and good things the Church does — but they do so much more that is bad, that negatively affects others, that they either need to redress the balance or get off the playing field.

    All the sculptures of men in Temple Square are named. Women, not so much. Only one sculpture of a woman is named (Emma, if I remember correctly). How do you feel going through life nameless. A “cow” in Brigham Young’s terminology.

  254. #255 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 7, 2009

    James Sweet, doing any baptism without the permission of all direct descendants is immoral. Period. Any argument to the contrary is self serving sophistry, which religions like yours are very good at. I know my grandparents would be insulted if they were baptized against their will by an inferior religion, as they considered yours.

  255. #256 Lynna
    May 7, 2009

    More thoughts on the issue of control. Keeping boys from masturbating is about control. Baptizing the dead is about control (though more about controlling the time and the brains of current members than about dead folks).

    “My duty as a member of the Council of the Twelve is to protect what is most unique about the LDS church, namely the authority of priesthood, testimony regarding the restoration of the gospel, and the divine mission of the Savior. Everything may be sacrificed in order to maintain the integrity of those essential facts. Thus, if Mormon Enigma reveals information that is detrimental to the reputation of Joseph Smith, then it is necessary to try to limit its influence and that of its authors.”
    - Apostle Dallin Oaks, footnote 28, Inside the Mind of Joseph Smith: Psychobiography and the Book of Mormon, Introduction p. xliii

    Controlling the information to which the faithful have access is also about control.

    The Church lies about baptizing Jews. They have official, public information — and then there is what is really going on. Ditto for the “growing by leaps and bounds” propaganda. It’s a systemic problem.

  256. #257 Lynna
    May 7, 2009

    “Controlling the information to which the faithful have access is also about control.” Well, that was stupid, Lynna!

    ?God damn a potato!? Washakie, leader of the Lemhi Shoshoni, 1866.

  257. #258 James Sweet
    May 7, 2009

    @Lynna #253: Yeah, the temple worthiness interview. I think also maybe for advancement to the next level of the priesthood, if I recall (it’s been many years, and I only had three of those interviews, obviously).

    I am pretty sure they say something like, “Are you abusing your body in any way?”, but that is Mormon code for “Are you wanking it?”, and both he and I were well aware of that.

    @Nerd of Redhead #255: I’m really confused… Are you being sarcastic, or did you misread something I said? I’m an ex-mo, and while I have said in this thread that I think baptism for the dead is one of the Mormons’ lesser evils, I think I’ve made it clear that I still think it’s wrong.

    Now, everybody giving me a dollar on the other hand…

  258. #259 Notagod
    May 7, 2009

    You may think that part of your comment wasn’t very insightful Lynna, but it is something that the typical mormon wouldn’t realize unless you point it out to them, and they still might not understand.

  259. #260 Sparky
    May 7, 2009

    Don’t you fucking nerds have anything more important to discuss?

  260. #261 Lynna
    May 7, 2009

    James Sweet @#258: I think Nerd of Redhead may have confused you with Krista, Nancy and Etienne. You are now an amalgam. Maybe you can get more dollars that way. :-)

    The Mormon obsession with masturbation is really weird. I don’t know why the interviewees don’t just stand up and walk out.

  261. #262 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    May 7, 2009

    James Sweet, if you are against it, stop defending or explaining it, which is what it looks like your are doing. Otherwise, you appear to be just muddying the waters. Especially with all the talk about Pascal’s wager and the like. You aren’t helping to clarify anything.

    What can we do to clarify your thinking? If nothing, quit trying to clarify ours. You are failing miserably.

  262. #263 James Sweet
    May 7, 2009

    Lynna sed: “I don’t know why the interviewees don’t just stand up and walk out.”

    You answered your own question a few posts up: Control. For those born into the church, some of the brainwashing techniques are so powerful that specific mental blocks can remain for years after the person has moved on rationally…

  263. #264 Lynna
    May 7, 2009

    James @#263: Yes, of course. The control and the brainwashing. Scary.

  264. #265 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 7, 2009

    Don’t you fucking nerds have anything more important to discuss?

    Yeah we could talking about half wits such as yourself.

    Actually, that’s not too important.

    What would you like to discuss sparky?

    Smashing mailboxes with a baseball bat?

    Burning ants with a lighter?

    Picking your nose?

  265. #266 James Sweet
    May 7, 2009

    Nerd of Redhead, please go back and read my posts, you have completely missed the point. I was saying that the Telegraph article posted by Krista was essentially a rehashing of Pascal’s Wager, an argument which is known to be fallacious.

    I’m not sure where you get the idea that I am defending or rationalizing it. You are clearly confused. Let me say this unequivocally:

    Baptism for the dead is absolutely tasteless, and I understand completely why people find it offensive. For me personally, it’s so absurd that I have trouble taking much offense, but I don’t fault others for taking offense.

    Is that clear enough?

    The only way I can see you might have gotten confused is that I said that the Mormons’ political agitation and involvement in the ex-gay movement is far, far, far more damaging than this silly baptism for the dead bullshit. But it’s still wrong. Okay?

  266. #267 James Sweet
    May 7, 2009

    You know, Nerd of Redhead, kiss my ass. I can’t believe the things you are accusing me of. Learn to fucking read. I didn’t muddy any waters, I didn’t defend baptism for the dead, and the only “explaining” of posthumous baptism that I did was way back in post #10 when I ridiculed it.

    I’ve opened up in this thread and shared some painful experiences I had growing up Mormon. That wasn’t easy. Also, I have been nothing but critical of Mormonism in every single post in this thread. How the fuck is that “muddying the waters”?

    Your abrasiveness and insensitivity is only rivaled by your stupidity. You apparently either completely misread my posts or have me confused with someone else, and when this was pointed out to you, you just insulted me more, accusing me of being in cahoots with the exact people who victimized me as a child. You should be ashamed of yourself.

  267. #268 The Tim Channel
    May 7, 2009

    I feel like the issue of who they’re praying for is pointless and have said so over at AmericaBlog. We all know it’s a bunch of nonsense. This is the Mormon version of the Catholic crackers. Inventing and projecting piety onto inanimate (in the Mormon case dead) objects. Nobody but a member of that particular sect is gonna believe such nonsense. We all know that. Still, it’s considered impolite to rub their noses in it, as PZ has shown. Big fan of PZ here, but I try not to over-attack or focus on making heretical remarks or actions aimed at any one religion since they’re all equally bunk.

    For the record, this is why John Aravosis is making the Mormon practices a big deal (from his blog comments):

    Why does this matter? Because the Mormons are “the” bankers of the religious right. Last fall, the Mormons dropped $20 million into California and singlehandedly turned a losing battle into the successful repeal of marriage rights for gay couples in that state. The Mormons have bankrolled hate initiatives in Alaska and Hawaii and across the northwest and midwest for the past decade. They are not some fringe “religion” to be shrugged off. The new anti-gay marriage coalition, National Organization for Marriage, keeps finding, seemingly out of nowhere, $1.5m for this ad campaign, then another $1.5m for that ad campaign. Where are they finding this sudden infusion of cash? Inquiring minds want to know.

    The homosexuals are trying to build Catholic (public) backlash against the Mormons because the Mormons have been shown as extreme homophobes with deep pockets. As an aside, there are/were a bunch of Mormon politicos involved with torture. They have that in common with the Catholics and other Christians, a love for torture.

    Enjoy.

  268. #269 Edward Lark
    May 7, 2009

    Nerd, I don’t get your attack on James, either. He, I and the other ex-mo’s who have posted here have been pretty clear that we don’t support the practice. I have said, unequivocally, that I can understand why people are offended by the practice.

    What I have said, and here I think I differ from James, is that, as an atheist, I do not get why people who say they are atheists are getting so bent out of shape over this issue, when it seems trivial compared to many other aspects of the faith that cause actual harm versus mere offense or hurt feelings. The mormons are not “baptizing people against their will,” they are saying the name of a dead person as they plop a hapless teenager under the water for a couple of seconds.

    If you want to be angry at the mormons – which I fully support, I’m angry at the mormons – then be angry about the things they do that cause actual harm: financial and organizational support for Prop 8, continued discrimination and oppression of female members, teaching a warped and demoralizing attitude toward sex and sexuality, raising children to fervently believe in a demonstrably and ridiculously false view of reality, history and human nature, . . . etc.

    Those arguing that mormonism is a corroding and dangerous philosophy – absolutely! It is a religion after all, and ‘ol Hitch wasn’t lying when he said that religion poisons everything. On the religious scale I would say that it is no better than most, worse than some, and just as fucked up as the whole lot. But the baptism for the dead thing is more silly than villainous. In response the atheists should point and laugh. As for the offended religious, they can go jump right along with the mormons.

  269. #270 Larry
    May 7, 2009

    Robert Kirby a columnist for the Salt Lake Tribune has a solution!

    http://www.sltrib.com/faith/ci_12317033

  270. #271 Edward Lark
    May 7, 2009

    @ 270

    Condescendingly funny in the way that only the dominant and self-righteous Salt Lake mormon super-majority can manage.

    This made me chuckle though:

    Obama hasn’t commented on the matter. According to my double secret source inside the White House, he might have said, “If I didn’t care what Mormons thought when I was running for president, why would I care now?”

    That seems believable and entirely appropriate.

  271. #272 Etienne Woolridge
    May 7, 2009

    To clear up a few misconceptions I am actually a guy (I didn’t ask for the name). Also I am a seventeen year old ex-Mormon. I think that statement is good enough to show that I am not a “self-piloting” idiot. I just feel that an accurate account of what the Mormons believe should be given and at that point you wolverines can tear the IDEA apart instead of attacking the person. If you don’t believe in life after death you have nothing to worry about and if you don’t believe that the Mormon faith is true you also have nothing to worry about.

    Also as far as looking up the records of the church I have done sufficient research and I know exactly what disillusioned me from the church. It’s just as what was posted somewhere above (yes I am that lazy) they seem to be proud that they finally accepted non-whites as priesthood holders. If they were truly guided by a man who spoke with God wouldn’t this little problem of rascism be taken care of from the beginning? And as an aside the Catholic church has been at the head of some pretty dastardly practices as well. So if you think it is justified to bash Mormons (okay with me but please provide adequate support) for their lack of foresight just remember that most Christian denominatios have their skeletons in their closets as well.

    And one thing that I would love to reiterate to you people is that being an intelligent group of people you attack ideas instead of people especially the ones that have given a statement that they no longer follow the Mormon faith. You could be making great points but if your comments are filled with vulgarity and misunderstandings they are just ineffectual points.

    By the by last week I attended my last fast and testimony meeting and I saw many of the children go up unaided to say that they have a testimony of the church. Take that as you may, but I chose to interpret it as brain washing as the rest of you obviously did. And yes I am one of the ones laughing at the child but I laugh for a different reason. I find it very humorus that these children have a testimoony of something that they don’t even understand. I stopped believing that the “chooch is twoo” when I was ten years old. I simply stayed because at that age you have very little power over where, when, and how you worship.

  272. #273 Cthulance
    May 7, 2009

    Etienne Woolridge wrote (#272):

    “I find it very humorus that these children have a testimoony of something that they don’t even understand.”

    No need to involve the Moonies, we’re talking about the Mormons here.

    I don’t think it’s funny, I think it’s sad. All those little kids indoctrinated into claiming to “know” things they obviously don’t even begin to understand.

    And the adults do it too. They get up regularly in Mormon fast and testimony meetings and say “I know the Church is true,” and, “I know Joseph Smith is a prophet of God,” etc. etc. The common thread is the claim of knowledge. How do they know? If they know, where is there any room for faith?

    In LDS fast and testimony meetings, how often do you hear Mormons stand up and say, “I believe the the Church is true” or “I have faith that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God”? They never do. They all stand up and claim to know. That’s pretty amazing when you think about it.

    Mormons regularly do this (confuse belief with knowledge) and they’re trained to do it from a very early age (if they’re unfortunate enough to be born into this nonsense).

    I do find it funny that you’re a self-described “seventeen year old ex-Mormon” who just attended his last LDS fast and testimony meeting last week. You either became an ex-Mormon since attending that meeting or you’ve been attending as an ex-Mormon. If the former, well… that was fast! And if the latter, well… I guess you’re an unbelieving observer of the faithful. Up until last week’s fast and testimony meeting that is. Which as you say is your last.

  273. #274 James Sweet
    May 8, 2009

    @Cthulance #273: I was well on my way to being an atheist, and certainly not what I would call a Mormon, when I attended my last fast and testimony meeting. Not so coincidentally, I was also 17 at the time.

    Most of us, including me, were still living at home at that age. Do you really think it is that strange that a non-believing minor would attend the church of his parents, even if he doesn’t believe a whit of it? Sad to say, that’s just how it works a lot of the time.

    Actually, come to think of it, I went once or twice while visiting my sister in Utah even after I was pretty serious about my loathing for the church. All the family was together, they were all going to church, and I knew it would make them happy to come along. Only did that a few times, though… It would typically be once a year, and as the years went by and the brainwashing gradually wore off, the talks and lessons started to become so repugnant to me that I couldn’t take it.

    But you gotta understand, in the LDS culture, getting someone to come to church is almost more important than what they say they believe. Mormons kind of assume that anybody who has ever been a member of the church is perennially a TBM, no matter what the words coming out of their mouth, and the church leadership knows the brainwashing techniques are highly effective… so even if you’ve made it clear that you are not a believer, family will still pressure you to attend sacrament meeting.

    I suppose you could criticize Etienne for not standing up for his beliefs — though I think that would be rather draconian and unfeeling to say that a 17-year-old living at home is somehow morally weak because he caved into parental pressure to go to church — but don’t act like it’s hard to understand what’s going on here.

    @Etienne: Best of luck to you! Apparently a lot of commenters on this blog are total assholes, as I just found out, so don’t worry about it too much. In their defense, atheists like us have a pretty legitimate reason to be pissed off (after all, survey after survey confirms we are the least trusted demographic in America…), and sometimes I guess we get pissed off at the wrong people, heh.

    I want to say, I can definitely relate to that feeling of being upset about people getting confused on Mormon beliefs, even when you don’t share them. For over ten years after I left the church, I still occasionally slipped into Mormon apologist mode — it’s the years of conditioning… Anyway, most likely in a few years, when people make unfair criticisms of Mormonism, you’ll probably more easily shrug it off (since there’s plenty of fair criticisms anyway, hahaha)

    Anyway, I hope all works out for you! And congratulations on deciding not to go anymore!

  274. #275 Notagod
    May 8, 2009

    If you don’t believe in life after death you have nothing to worry about and if you don’t believe that the Mormon faith is true you also have nothing to worry about.

    You are avoiding the reality of the purpose of the disgusting mor[m]onic practice of baptism for the dead (seriously even when you ex-mormons were mor[m]ons, did you actually believe that your god-idea was incapable of handling its own affairs), that is as a tool used to further the corruption that is mormonism. It is damaging to the minds of the children that are tricked into participation and told that it is very important that they do it. It is disrespectful for mormons to involve those that wouldn’t want their names used to support this or any other mormon superstition. The mormons use the names of those that can’t possibly defend themselves as a tool to prop up the disgusting mor[m]onic superstition.

    It has nothing to do with worrying about being contact by mor[m]on missionaries even after we are dead (although that thought is certainly revolting), everyone knows that it is just cover for what the mor[m]onic authorities actually want to get from the ritual.

    Come on mor[m]ons and ex-mormons, please stop avoiding reality and the real issues.

  275. #276 Rorschach
    May 8, 2009

    and if you don’t believe that the Mormon faith is true you also have nothing to worry about.

    Gee,thats a relief.

  276. #277 Edward Lark
    May 8, 2009

    Come on mor[m]ons and ex-mormons, please stop avoiding reality and the real issues.

    None of the ex-mo posting here are “avoiding reality and the real issues,” you arrogant, reading-comprehension challenged prick. If you would pull your head out of your ass for a few moments and stop being such an pompous, grandstanding turd, you would see that we agree with you as to the offensiveness of the practice. I and some of the other ex-mos are just saying that, in the grand scheme of things, there are more egregious issues with the church than this ultimately silly and pointless ritual.

    I understand your point as to why you find the practice offensive. I agree with you that the worst part of the ritual is the faith-reinforcing aspect, see my post at #231. I don’t agree with you that this is so far beyond the pale that we should get apoplectic about it, or, as other posters have suggested “pass a law” or “make them stop.” If there is any actual harm here it is to the membership itself. Those objecting to it because “they baptized my dead grandma!!” are being irrational. No they didn’t, your sainted grandmother is worm food.

    Dawkins and Harris make a compelling (if somewhat hyperbolic) case for viewing the religious indoctrination of children as child abuse. Having teenagers participate in the baptism for the dead ritual certainly falls under the opprobrium of this argument. Is such action offensive and wrong-headed? Fuck yeah! What do you expect, it’s a religion fucknut! It pisses me off, especially since I have nieces and nephews that are currently being subjected to this shit by their still-mormon parents.

    Because of the proximity of the problem to my own person, I even find this slightly more offensive than the situation of kids being raised as non-mormon christians who are taught that everyone not a member of their particular god cult are going to burn in hell for eternity while they get to watch gleefully from heaven.

    Since we agree that this is offensive, the question becomes what is the best and most appropriate response. For my part, I think that laughter and derision is the best for these things. Anger gives the believer the impression that you are crediting their argument – “see, they are only so angry because they know we are right.” Pointing and laughing, however, deflates the self-importance and self-righteousness of the believer and plants the fatal seed of doubt.

    You don’t agree, fine. You want to tell me I am “avoiding reality” because I disagree with your choice of tactic. Fuck you.

  277. #278 James Sweet
    May 8, 2009

    Yeah, you know, I’m starting to think there is nothing that we as ex-mos can say that will make some of these folks happy. We have the Taint or something.

    Well, anyway, I was pretty pissed off yesterday, but I’ve decided not to get worked up about it. Not to pull a One True Scotsman here, but it’s become apparent to me over the last couple of days of participating in this blog that a number of the commenters are atheists in name only. Many of them seem to have their own dogmatic creed, and if one deviates from the doctrine, that person must be evil.

    I don’t mean to imply that we all have to be pure relativists, no… some things are wrong, and we should point that out in no uncertain terms. (Just as ”all” of the ex-mos have pointed out that baptism for the dead is wrong, already, yeesh…) But it seems that some people here just have no capability for nuanced discussion. I think the positions that “baptism for the dead is wrong and we need to shout it from the mountaintops” and “baptism for the dead is wrong but it’s so ridiculous that it’s hard to care” are both valid positions. I happen to hold the latter opinion, but if someone else holds the former opinion, I’m not going to accuse them of “avoiding..the real issues” or “making excuses”. Why? Because I actually am an atheist, and I have no dogma beyond rationality (and even then, selective irrationality is quite valuable, e.g. the way I feel about my wife and son.. so I guess I have no dogma at all!)

    So whatever. When a dogma-pusher decides to masquerade as an atheist, I shouldn’t take it any more seriously than when one of the Xian apologists drops by to shame us all. Notagod’s demand that we “stop avoiding reality” means as much to me as if he said “I will pray for you.” :p

  278. #279 Edward Lark
    May 8, 2009

    An entirely reasonable post, James. Maybe I’ll get there tomorrow. We all have our breaking point – you hit yours yesterday, mine was this morning. Cheers.

  279. #280 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    May 8, 2009

    For what it’s worth James, I was following you.

    I’m in the camp of how ridiculous the act is but also in the camp of not feeling bad about pounding said ridiculousness of the idea into the heads of people like Krista Cook above.

    Yes it’s ridiculous and frankly if I found out that the church had Posthumously “offered” baptism to my Atheist grandfather, I doubt I’d care too much (and for what it is worth, I doubt he would either if he were actually able to receive said offer). But if someone like Krista came and explained it in the way she attempted, I’m sure as hell going to lay into them.

    But beyond that, I also understand why people are all fired up about. I’m just not.

    I find it more mildly amusing than anything.

  280. #281 James Sweet
    May 8, 2009

    Rev BDC, you already impressed me as someone eminently reasonably in the short time I’ve been following this blog, and Edward, I don’t need to say how much I’ve appreciated your comments here. You are both True Scotsmen. ;) Thanks.

    I think I’m gonna take the rest of the day off from the ‘puter (including both this silly blog and actually work) and do some badly-overdue yardwork. I’ll just leave you with this:

    Dogmatheist: ZOMG, the Mormon church is trying to baptize my dead grandpa without his permission! We must put a stop to this!

    Ex-mo: Yeah, that baptism for the dead thing is pretty shitty. But meh, who cares? More importantly, are you aware that the Mormon church is hoarding billions of dollars that they use to further a racist and homophobic political agenda, brainwashing children with an effectiveness that makes most Xian sects look amateurish, and regularly driving gay teens to suicide?

    Dogmatheist: Stop trying to make the Mormon church look good!!!!

    heh… I guess one of the Ten Commandments of Atheist is “Every stupid thing that religion doeth is exactly as evil as every other stupid thing that religion doeth.” Right?

  281. #282 Lynna
    May 8, 2009

    Etienne, I am sorry if I was one of the commenters who offended you, but I’m only sorry a little tiny bit. To post here, one has to have a thick skin, and be ready to take some blows. It’s usually worth it.

    I re-read my posts and I think the only spot where I may have offended was when I recognized mormon-speak and called you on it. Unfair perhaps, as the phrases were pounded into your brain through repetition. Of course, they’ll pop up again.

    Anytime you examine your own suppositions, it’s a good thing. I include myself in this, of course. James Sweet and others pointed out that they were out of the LDS Church several years before they realized that the Lucy Harris story was not what they’d been taught in Sunday School.

    You have good source material. You could come up with some great jokes about baptism of the dead, bishops asking about masturbation, and so forth.

    I, for one, was really pleased to see ex-mo’s taking part in this discussion. I’m always looking in from the outside, so one can really learn from those with an inside view.

  282. #283 Lynna
    May 8, 2009

    Etienne: I see one other post where I accidentally insulted you. I lumped you in with Nancy, Krista, et. al. Careless of me. Apologies.

    Carry on.

  283. #284 Bystander
    May 8, 2009

    Mormonism is a shamelessly appropriative sect, attempting to lay claim to the entirety of the Christian tradition, adopting Masonic traditions, and frequently presenting itself as the fountain from which our Republic derived its democratic ideals and principles. How is that possible? By retroactively claiming the Founding Fathers as mormons, via the mechanism of posthumous baptism:

    http://www.sltrib.com/News/ci_12310500

    The LDS Bright Light who concocted the tradition, a president of the church, is discussed at length here:

    http://www.ldsces.org/inst_manuals/pres-sm/pres-ch-04-06.htm#4-18

  284. #285 Notagod
    May 8, 2009

    Edward Lark,

    –E@89 gave an example of part of the problem. Your response @95 was to dismiss the claim with:

    The upshot is that there is no harm here beyond “hurt feelings.”

    And you had this rather rude comment there:

    Why then should I demand that Mormons be required to respect the irrational beliefs of others any more than I should be required to respect the Mormons’ own irrational beliefs.

    Linda@138 wrote:

    I agree that it doesn’t really matter if my dead relatives are “baptized” as Mormons. But it sure is fun to confront a Mormon about it:

    A couple of years ago at a county fair, a very nice woman stopped at our booth to tell us about geneological services she offered. Her business card revealed that she’s a Mormon. I then let her have it–politely.

    I said, “This is what I dislike about Mormonism. I can appreciate the family-centered focus they have, but the idea that you can baptize my dead Jewish grandmother is incredibly insulting to her, her choices, and her committment to her religion. It’s the one thing the Mormon Church should be ashamed of.” She really had no response. It was a sight to see!

    So Linda was basically poking fun at the stupid mor[m]on but, you would have none of the jocularity, as you responded @140 with:

    Your grandmother is not being baptized. You are not being forced to take part in the ritual.

    And other similar dribble.

    Irritated@142 responed to your dribble at 140 with:

    Of course; but they do not have a _right_ to impose on others while doing so. My ancestors would role over in their grave if they knew that mormons were using their names in _any_ kind of ceremony: Mr. Smith and his pseudo-church were absolutely repugnant to them. They wouldn’t have allowed Smith on the premises, much less listen to his spiel.

    To which you responded @149 with:

    No. They would not because . . . they are dead!

    Well duh! Smartass.

    Anonymous@176 gave a nice comment in response to the mormon@98. The comment was informative and even provided a link to a resource that should be useful to ex-mormons. Included was this short statement:

    No, Mormons don’t. Because it is cult-like in its control, Mormons have a very deluded and false view of their church and religion. More so than any other nominally Christian group.

    I’ve been in mor[m]on dominated communities enough to know that statement isn’t far off the mark if not completely correct.

    So you felt, in your comment@182, it necessary to target that one small statement with:

    Gotta call bullshit on this.

    Going on to suggest the mormons aren’t any more deluded about mormonic belief than others (ha!) and suggesting that catholics don’t know about their cracker:

    How many Catholics know that they are supposed to believe that the wafer and wine actually turns into the physical body and blood of christ?

    Apparently you’ve never hear of crackergate.

    @213 you build a commplete strawman out of the comment by Patricia, OM@211 then go on to attack the strawman that you built! Ending with this:

    As me and the other ex-mormons on this thread have been saying – there are real, rational reasons to be pissed at the LDS church. For avowed atheists, the practice of baptism for the dead really should not be one of them.

    @218 Pacticia,OM responsed to your asshole remark @213 to which you make another asinine comment @220.

    James Sweet makes an obvious joke @220 and you go off on another rant @230 about how it isn’t so. Oh no!

    Which leads up to my explanatory comment @238

    Then @269 you come along with this (which is part of your response to Nerd of Redhead, OM):

    If you want to be angry at the mormons – which I fully support, I’m angry at the mormons – then be angry about the things they do that cause actual harm: financial and organizational support for Prop 8, continued discrimination and oppression of female members, teaching a warped and demoralizing attitude toward sex and sexuality, raising children to fervently believe in a demonstrably and ridiculously false view of reality, history and human nature, . . . etc.

    And baptism for the dead is part of that dumbass.

    So now your rant @277 as a reply to my comment @275 in which I quoted Etienne Woolridge who supposed that the atheists concern might be mormons having the ability to talk to dead people (ha!). Which you state no one is doing.

    For me personally, I wouldn’t care either. Just like Prop 8, it doesn’t affect me personally so according to some of the recent comments I shouldn’t care about that either. Well I do care because I can understand how it is an intrusion on other peoples personal lives. Many people care about the memory of their dead relatives and they know what the mormons are doing would be insulting to the person if they were alive. But, even more important are the children that are being used by the mormons to ingrain the insanity.

    Why don’t you just laugh off the mormon involvement in prop 8 the same way you laugh off the abuse of children being used in baptism for the dead. Selfish ass. The mormon baptism for the dead does do actual harm moron, it just isn’t being done to you.

  285. #286 James Sweet
    May 8, 2009

    Re the dialog between Edward and I in #220 and #230, I didn’t think he was “going off” about how “it isn’t so”. He’s been to one of these weird Masonic-inspired ceremonies; I have not. He was correcting me on some details that may be incorrect in my impression.

    I think if you ask Edward what he thinks of the endowment ceremonies, you’re not likely to get a very generous answer…

  286. #287 James Sweet
    May 8, 2009

    Also, Notagod, you need to be clear about whether your primary problem with BftD is the effect on the dunkees or the disrespect it shows to the posthumously baptized. I don’t think Edward ever disputed that the former was a problem. He did mildly ridicule the idea of getting upset over the latter.

    You take him to task for not caring about the effect of BftD on the kids being dunked because it “doesn’t affect him”, and draw an analogy to Prop 8. But Edward did say that BftD was part of a whole continuum of brainwashing techniques practiced on LDS youth — so this is a bit of a straw man. If you are going to criticize Edward’s position, you need to focus on how he feels in regards to the lack of respect it shows to the dead, because that’s the only thing he said was “ooga booga” and not something atheists out to be troubling themselves about too much.

    Re the exchange in #218 and #220, Patricia was the one out of line here. Actually, both people with usernames ending in OM (Nerd from Redhead, and Patricia) have referred to ex-mos as if we were still practicing members. I can’t really explain to you how hurtful and offensive that is. I know I can’t explain it to you, because I haven’t even been able to get my own wife to fully understand what it’s like coming from this background.

    I could go on. It seems clear to me that certain people here have some sort of problem with ex-mormons. That’s the only way I can explain the hostility here, when we have all been saying how much the Mormon church sucks, and then you criticize us for.. .defending it???

    I’m going to have to recycle an earlier post of mine, because it’s the only way I can describe how I am perceiving this exchange:

    Notagod: “ZOMG, the Mormon church is trying to baptize my dead grandpa without his permission! We must put a stop to this!”

    Ex-mormons: “Yeah, that baptism for the dead thing is pretty shitty. But meh, not really our problem. More importantly, are you aware that the Mormon church is hoarding billions of dollars that they use to further a racist and homophobic political agenda, brainwashing children with an effectiveness that makes most Xian sects look amateurish, and regularly driving gay teens to suicide?”

    Notagod: “Stop trying to defend the Mormon church!!!!”

  287. #288 Notagod
    May 8, 2009

    James Sweet makes an obvious joke @220 and you go off on another rant @230 about how it isn’t so. Oh no!

    Should be @226 not @220

  288. #289 Notagod
    May 8, 2009

    James Sweet,

    Oh shit! I had no idea you were serious about that. Not having been to the ceremony, but having had much discussion with those who have, I knew that you weren’t correct but I just figured it was a joke. As an ex-mormon I just assumed that you should know.

    Sorry, you have had tough love from some of the others. If you say you are an ex-mormon and believe it, I’m more than happy to accept you as such.

    I’ve read the comments over again and I think you should as well because they aren’t as you describe them. However, if you have specific references showing where I have misquoted, please do show.

    I don’t think Patricia, OM was out of line at all. If you think so you need to be more specific, not just wave your hand.

    Perhaps you still have some defensiveness regarding the mormon religion that you are expressing, that others don’t feel inclined to respect? I know I don’t have any “sort of problem” with ex-mormons but, don’t expect me to respect any defense you have of that religion. I’ve been through its “message” several times at the request of friends, and there isn’t much there that deserves my respect.

    Your recycled claim doesn’t even apply, not even close. However, it seems from that part of your comment, that you might only have eyes for the issue involving homosexuality, while disregarding other issues that aren’t directly affecting you. That doesn’t impress me because I could simply dismiss the homosexual issue in the same way, if I could just get myself to be as selfish. Which does surprise me, of all the gay friends I have had, only one that I can think of was selfish. All the others were very understanding of others.

  289. #290 Alan Kellogg
    May 8, 2009

    Patricia OM,

    Like it’s gonna kill you.

    Your grandma has nothing to do with, you’re pissed at the Mormons for being such rude shit. They hurt you by saying Grandma needed baptism according to their rites. They called Grandma a liar, and that’s what you’re really pissed about.

    Yes, this postmortem baptism crap is rude, but it can’t hurt the dead. Life after death or no, the actions of a posse of self-deluded busy-bodies can’t affect the deceased. The worst it can do is affect how you think of that person.

    And how do you know the Mormons are right? How do you know what they say about your grandmother has any validity whatsoever. Live your life, cherish your memories of the old lady, and rest assured that all Mormons and thoughtless dweebs like them are doing is demonstrating their imbecility.

    God and Satan are lazing about Heaven one day, watching yet another iteration of the priest, preacher, and rabbi discussing how do divy up the spoils from a fundraiser story. As you’d expect each of the mortals comes up with the proper -by their lights- solution.

    Finally Satan, a curiosity thousands of years old finally piqued to the point of expression just has to know, “Which of the three answers do you prefer?”

    God replies, “The rabbi’s, for the honesty alone.”

  290. #291 Lynna
    May 8, 2009

    Re #289: It’s instructive that Notagod couldn’t tell that James Sweet was *not* joking in comments about temple endowment ceremonies. This backs up my point that, up until now at least, the Mormon church has been quite successful at keeping its own members in the dark. See my post @256

    BTW, James, you should read through some of the comments about endowment ceremonies, temple weddings, etc. posted on exmormon.org. The humiliation and disappointment chronicled by brides who expected a lot from temple weddings is particularly telling. You can see the green aprons, bakers hats and whatnot by following links posted within the various related threads. Check the “Short Topics” list, or scroll to the bottom of the home page and use the search function. Other Masonic rituals are also well-documented.

  291. #292 Edward Lark
    May 8, 2009

    Perhaps you still have some defensiveness regarding the mormon religion that you are expressing, that others don’t feel inclined to respect?

    I continue to be amazed by how our disagreeing with you on tactics somehow in your mind equates with being defensive toward the church. If anyone here has reason to hate and excoriate the LDS church it is those of us grew up in it, but managed to get out.

    I know I don’t have any “sort of problem” with ex-mormons . . .

    Your prior postings would appear to be clear evidence to the contrary.

    . . . but, don’t expect me to respect any defense you have of that religion. I’ve been through its “message” several times at the request of friends, and there isn’t much there that deserves my respect.

    Try to read this slowly so that it will sink in: None of the ex-mos are defending the religion. We agree with you that it does not deserve your any anyone else’s respect.

    However, it seems from that part of your comment, that you might only have eyes for the issue involving homosexuality, while disregarding other issues that aren’t directly affecting you. That doesn’t impress me because I could simply dismiss the homosexual issue in the same way, if I could just get myself to be as selfish.

    First, anyone looking above should be able to see that the Prop 8 “issue” is only one of many problems that the ex-mos, including James, have put forward. I’m sure that the others who brought it up were thinking much along the same lines that I was when I did: The Prop 8 issue is a graphic illustration of the truly heinous worldview of the church toward minorities, sexuality, and sexual orientation. It also has the advantage of having been recent and widely reported so that it is likely that others on the board will know what we are talking about. (As opposed to something like the Mountain Meadows Massacre mentioned above, which, while vile, is not recent at all – therefore open to being challenged as an example on issues of timeliness – and generally unknown – therefore not carrying much of an impact.)

    Second, on what basis do you think that James or anyone else who has put forth objections to Prop 8, are objecting to it because it directly affects us? I can’t speak for James, but I am only directly affected by Prop 8 in that I would prefer not to live in a society that condones active and legalized discrimination against a minority out-group. That you would make this accusation is indicative of your apparent desire to cast all the postings of the ex-mos above in a way that lets you mischaracterize their arguments and cast doubt on their clearly stated motives.

    For example:

    If you say you are an ex-mormon and believe it, I’m more than happy to accept you as such.

    WTF!? If he says he’s an ex-mormon and you deign to believe him? I’m sure James is heartened by your willingness to accept that he may not be deluding himself and is just moments away from running off to a testimony meeting the moment you turn your back.

    Which does surprise me, of all the gay friends I have had, only one that I can think of was selfish. All the others were very understanding of others.

    I’m sure that “all the gay friends” you “have had” were all incredibly understanding of others. Except for that one selfish queer, of course.

    I am done engaging with you, Notagod. Frankly, you’re just being a dick, and are obviously going to hold to your unfounded assumptions no matter what. Fuck you, and goodnight.

  292. #293 aliunde
    May 8, 2009

    My only regret in trying to follow comments regarding PZM’s comments are that they are not threaded. I might participate more, given time limitations, otherwise. But I assume he must get immense pleasure from seeing how such short blogs can create such a corpus magnum of replies. My guess is that it’s the feeling of yes-man (caution: generic use employed) power over others, along with the confirmation of his own bigotry, that gives him more than enough motivation to keep going.

    But more on point, I find it quite ironic to find atheists bitterly arguing among themselves as to who’s atheogma must be adhered to in order to be saved in athevana. Directed at any other minority group, hate speech would barely cover the description atheists would attach to it. Makes disagreements on theological dogma look downright tame.

  293. #294 Cthulance
    May 8, 2009

    I remember being baptized for the dead in the Washington, D.C. temple when I was about 14 years old. A bunch of us Mormon youth were on a “temple trip” across country. I remember going to all that trouble, making that long drive in an overcrowded van with other smelly teens and our chaperones, only to arrive at the End of our Quest–our Holy Grail–

    –getting dunked repeatedly in a baptismal font for dead people whose names I mostly couldn’t hear because I quickly became so waterlogged that I was barely able to keep my feet.

    I just remember getting dunked, struggling to hold my breath, then getting yanked back to the surface while the guy repeatedly baptizing me mumbled another incantation for another dead person and dunked me again. Every time I was dragged to the surface though, I’d try to open my water-soaked eyes and see the spirits of the dead people I was being baptized for. I’d heard stories that people getting repeatedly dunked for the dead have visions sometimes of the grateful spirits who’ve been eagerly awaiting their vicarious baptism. I wanted to see some of those eager, grateful dead spirits in their white robes and sandals, looking at me with thankful, weepy eyes.

    After all, I was practically being waterboarded on their behalf so they could get into heaven. The least they could do was show up and wave.

    No such luck though. All I saw were the other pimply teens I came with, waiting their turn in the font.

    All this vicarious dunking for the dead does make me wonder… why should it be necessary? If Jesus could suffer and die for everyone’s sins, why couldn’t his baptism count for everyone else as well?

  294. #295 Brownian, OM
    May 8, 2009

    Makes disagreements on theological dogma look downright tame.

    Except for all the holy wars, of course.

    I’m willing to bet those killed in the name of religion would gladly trade places with those insulted in the name of religion any day.

  295. #296 Rey Fox
    May 9, 2009

    “along with the confirmation of his own bigotry”

    What bigotry?

  296. #297 aliunde
    May 9, 2009

    #296

    What bigotry?

    The kind that combines opinion with visceral and vitriolic animus.

  297. #298 Anonymous
    May 9, 2009

    Visceral and vitriolic animus, well earned, is not bigotry.

  298. #299 Lynna
    May 9, 2009

    @294: enjoyed your description of the repeated dunkings as being almost like water-boarding. Getting through the names quickly was the goal, apparently. Reminds me of descriptions of temple weddings where the women checking the bride’s dresses for modesty shove them through like cattle.

  299. #300 Lynna
    May 9, 2009

    This online source describes temple ceremonies, including baptism of the dead:
    http://packham.n4m.org/temples.htm

    This source details the questions participants are asked before they can enter the temple:
    http://www.lds-mormon.com/veilworker/recommend.shtml

  300. #301 Lynna
    May 9, 2009

    This is an excerpt from the http://packham.n4m.org/temples.htm website:

    Duplication. Apparently the posthumous work for some deceased persons has been done again and again. The well-known Protestant apologist and scholar C. S. Lewis, for example, has been baptized into the Mormon church posthumously five times, has been endowed four times, has been sealed to his parents six times, and sealed to his wife four times (twice under two different names – the Mormons seem to think that Lewis was married to two different women). This is apparently not a unique example.

  301. #302 TedInSaltLake
    May 9, 2009

    Going to a fast and testimony meeting as a nonbeliever? That’s nothing. I served out the last 9 months of a two-year Mormon mission with zero belief. Grueling, yes, but by doing so I avoided the shameful stigma attached to those who, as the saying goes in the Mormon community, “Had to come home.”

    True believing Mormons are incapable of accepting apostasy as a simple matter of disbelief. They would rather attribute to the defector insulting and slanderous motivations. The pressure is thick, but not exclusive to Mormonism (think defrocking in Catholicism, for instance). Sometimes exmos can border on being – I don’t know, boastful? – about what they’ve been through (see above paragraph).

    You know the old joke that ends with, “Well, are you a Catholic atheist or Protestant atheist?” – I guess I’m a Mormon atheist. Try as I may to shed what is ingrained in me, it’s still there in bits and pieces. For that I make no apology.

    To those who think that criticizing a silly ritual deprives us of the opportunity to protest “more serious matters” like Prop 8, what makes you think we can’t do both? I, for one, am excited that the spotlight is on Mormon hypocrisy again with the dead baptism flap. It doesn’t hinder causes like gay marriage rights. On the contrary, it helps discredit the Mormon institution that stands in opposition to it.

    PS, Sorry about the duplicates posts – #s 88, 90 and 92. I kept getting “try again” prompts.

  302. #303 Lynna
    May 9, 2009

    Excellent point made by TedInSaltLake @#302: Yes, we can. We can make fun of a silly ritual and take serious note of Mormon funding for Prop 8 propaganda. In fact, PZ did blog about Prop 8. Check the archives. We’re not dwelling on silly stuff at the expense of more serious matters. We’re dwelling on silly stuff because humor is … good.

    Besides, as Ted also notes, the flap over Obama’s mama brought attention to the Prop 8 debate again.

  303. #304 Rey Fox
    May 9, 2009

    “The kind that combines opinion with visceral and vitriolic animus.”

    Word salad.

  304. #305 Lynna
    May 9, 2009

    Just in case anyone missed it, this was posted the “Death by religious ignorance” thread today:

    Posted by: wheatdogg | May 9, 2009 12:41 PM
    These folks are not exactly Christian wackaloons, just a variety of Mormon-New Agey wackaloons. They’re part of a wannabe Native American group that will give you full “tribal” membership for a donation of $90 and monthly dues of $5. By pretending to be native Americans, the Nemenhah can claim native religious protection under federal law.
    Real Native Americans are not pleased, judging from this article in a Native newspaper.
    The Book of Mormon (you know, that “other book of God”) mentions a people called the Nemenhah who were native to North America. So the founders of this little group have appropriated not only Native culture but Mormon mythology. Talk about holding two contradictory thoughts simultaneously in your head …

  305. #306 aliunde
    May 10, 2009

    Visceral and vitriolic animus, well earned, is not bigotry.

    Differences of opinion are not bigotry. It is the visceral and vitriolic animus, in addition to it, that specifically defines having crossed the bigotry threshold — unless, of course, you want to change the dictionary.

  306. #307 Bystander
    May 10, 2009

    Re: #306

    Where systemic pathology is concerned, is it bigotry to oppose it?

    Should psychiatrists apologize to the psychopathy they attempt to expunge?

    When an expansionist, narcissistic enterprise cloaks itself in the mantle of religion, does that designation place it beyond reproach?

    Perhaps we could query David Koresh, Jim Jones, Marshal Applewhite, etc and get their thoughts on the matter …

  307. #308 Edward Lark
    May 10, 2009

    @ aliunde ## 297/306

    Bigotry is not defined by the intensity of reaction against the thing opposed. Bigotry is rather irrational opposition.

    While one might argue the strategic value of strong emotional responses in opposition to the excesses of religion, such reactions to the vile, corrupt and anti-human tendencies of religious practice and belief are hardly irrational.

    In even the mildest of expressions, religious belief is a cancer for reason and rational, evidence-based thought, and the mormon church is certainly not one of religion’s mildest expressions.

  308. #309 Lynna
    May 10, 2009

    Edward Lark @308: “Bigotry is rather irrational opposition.” Well said. Excellent distinction.

    That religious belief of the Mormon variety breeds irrationality even outside the main sect is nicely documented in the “Death by religious ignorance” thread.

  309. #310 aliunde
    May 11, 2009

    Edward Lark @308: “Bigotry is rather irrational opposition.” Well said. Excellent distinction.

    Opposition, and the strength of that opposition, to an idea or practice is not what’s at issue. Nor is “rationality”–rationality does not get personally vindictive or hostile.

    It’s the wedding of the animus, which is betrayed by the vitriol, that turns opinion into bigotry. It’s the irrational argumentum ad hominem that sets it apart. If you can’t see that in the original blog and the many screeds that followed, there’s nothing here worth persuing.

    The bigot always finds his opinions and concomitant aniumus to be rational–he wouldn’t hold them otherwise.

  310. #311 James Sweet
    May 11, 2009

    I just want to confirm what Edward Lark was guessing in his reply to Notagod about our recent focus on the Prop 8 issue. No, I am not gay. So it’s sort of funny you say I am being selfish because I only care about the Mormon’s issues with homosexuality. Like Edward says, I only harp on it because it is timely, concrete, and obvious. It is much more abstract and subtle to talk about the harm done to children by indoctrinating them with the idea that they must be separate from the rest of the world, for example… Prop 8, on the other hand, is an evil done by the Mormon church that any thinking person should be able to quickly grasp and understand the seriousness of.

    @Cthulance: It was interesting to read your disillusionment. I was definitely TBM on my first temple trip, and I really expected to “feel the spirit”.. I was really trying hard to, in fact! But didn’t really feel much of anything… I don’t remember being disillusioned, but certainly this must have contributed to a growing sense of “I don’t belong here”.

    @TedInSLC: I agree, excellent point about being able to oppose both. I think I (and others) have found ourselves taking a stronger position than we actually hold, because of criticism from the “other side”. Offhand comments about how it’s hard to care about the BftD issue because of the sheer absurdity of it all are met with accusations of being a Mormon sympathizer — and the next thing I know, I’m saying something I don’t really mean.

    Yes, you are right. We can be vocal in our opposition to all the bad things the Mormons do. As long as I don’t get accused of being a Mormon apologist just because I don’t display the requisite rage at posthumous baptism mandated by the Pharyngulan Orthodoxy. :p

  311. #312 James Sweet
    May 11, 2009

    Another story to help you understand why I might be so focused on the homosexuality issue even though it “doesn’t affect me”:

    Many years after I left the church, I heard this kid I used to know had committed suicide. Now, I hadn’t spoken to this guy in probably a decade or more, and even then I only knew him as the younger brother of a guy I sorta knew because he was the same age as me… But I gotta say, he was a young guy, the 2nd youngest of four brothers, he killed himself mere weeks before he was scheduled to get married, and “nobody has any idea why”… I dunno, maybe I am being overly presumptuous, but you do the math.

    And don’t think for a second this was an isolated incident. :/

  312. #313 Rey Fox
    May 11, 2009

    So, aliunde. Mormon baptism-by-proxy of dead people: good thing or not?

  313. #314 James Sweet
    May 11, 2009

    “””So the founders of this little group have appropriated not only Native culture but Mormon mythology. Talk about holding two contradictory thoughts simultaneously in your head …”””

    Historically, not so contradictory. Check this out:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_dance#Role_in_Wounded_Knee_Massacre

  314. #315 Edward Lark
    May 11, 2009

    @ James # 312 – Not an unreasonable assumption. And unfortunately, not isolated at all.

    @ aliunde # 310 – You are confusing a rational response with an unemotional one. Hostility toward evil is entirely rational. Indeed, a nonemotional response may be ineffective and counterproductive, depending on the circumstances. Moreover, it is actually you who are guilty of what you are accusing us “vitriolic” atheists of doing, attacking the messenger rather than the message. Instead of engaging on the problems that PZ and the poster have raised, you just take the common apologist line that we are being “big meanies” and “irrational.” I can understand, you do not want to put yourself into the position of having to defend the indefensible, so instead you just pout and ask us to play nice. Well, politics ain’t bean bag, engage the actual arguments or take your whiny little butt home.

  315. #316 Lynna
    May 13, 2009

    ” Even if “that Negro is faithful all his days…[and] enter[s] the celestial kingdom…[h]e will go there as a servant.” (Mark E. Petersen in a speech given at Brigham Young University on August 27, 1954)

    Even if Obama’s mama is happy in Mormon heaven, Obama himself can only join her there as a servant.

The site is undergoing maintenance presently. Commenting has been disabled. Please check back later!