I have learned recently that Mormons can actually baptize people who are already dead. This stunning revelation first came to me in the form of a blurb about some enterprising Mormons taking it upon themselves to baptize Anne Frank - yes, she of the holocaust diary - and thus ensuring that her gentle soul could indeed gain entry into the heaven that she deserves. Though one wonders what her soul has been doing in the meantime, short of sitting in her living room in purgatory waiting for some Mormons to knock on the door and actually intending to let them in.
Now don't get me wrong, the purpose of this particular screed isn't (solely) to pick on a curious religious practices of a curious religion. Although, I certainly won't pass on the opportunity. No, the purpose of this screed is to pick on someone who believes in this practice - and has in fact practiced it - and is simultaneously running for the highest office in the land.
As it happens, Mitt Romney allegedly baptized his dead, atheist father in law. When pressed recently about the practice of "proxy baptism," Mitt's reply essentially amounted to "Sure, but not recently." Comforting. However, the real outcry, and reason Romney now has to face it, involves the proxy baptism and conversion of Frank and deceased members of the Wiesenthal family. This has led Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel to declare that Mitt's co-religionists should, well, stop it.
So in an effort to suss out the nature of the hullabaloo, I began to research the whole concept. Being the intrepid and responsible inquiring mind that I am, I looked it up on Wikipedia. However, within seconds of reading the article, I was so struck by the sheer bullshit of the notion that I stopped. I don't need to know the details. Look, it is utter nonsense, no matter how you slice it. It is no more important or valid a practice than stoning one's disrespectful son or painting your door frame with lamb's blood. It strikes me that to think that baptizing anyone, dead or alive, for any reason other than that person being in need of a quick rinse is nothing more than the persistence of superstitious beliefs that is bogging our nation down in ridiculous cultural conflicts while real problems continue to loom.
Look, people are allowed to believe what they want. If it comforts you to believe in talking snakes, or magic stones that decipher golden tablets, have at it. However, if you choose to run for arguably the most important job in the world, expect some derision, if not flat out ridicule. But perhaps more importantly, I want to say to those who are offended by proxy baptism, the people like Wiesel. I beg you, don't allow yourself to be offended by this utter tripe, this fantasy built upon fairy tale. It is as many historians have done regarding Holocaust denial. Scholars who have spent careers studying the subject will often decide simply not to engage in debate with the deniers, because to do so would give the appearance of legitimating views which, for legitimate historians are farcical at best, venal and hateful at worst.
Then again, I suppose its quite possible that Wiesel is invested in his own fantasies, and really does believe that the souls of these posthumously converted Jews are in point of fact, subject to contention. Heaven help us all . . .