http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/11/11/baptizing.dead.jews.ap/index.html is a delightful story about folks that are angry at Mormons for baptizing dead members of their faiths by proxy.
I just don’t understand. Do we consider someone for whom a baptism has been performed to actually be baptized? To now be a member of our church? No. We consider them to be a person for whom a baptism has been performed, one that they can, in the next life, accept or reject. "Here, we did a baptism for you. If you decide you want to be baptized as part of our faith, but you find yourself short a body, you can use this one."
Why is this offensive? Maybe it’s because they don’t believe us — that they think the late John Doe is now a Mormon in our book. But even in that case, I don’t get it. I’m trying to see this from their perspective. Let’s say the Church of People Who Are Going to Hell has taken to posthumously naming my deceased relatives as members of their church, and now, according to their belief, my ancestors are going to hell.
Um, no. No, they’re not.
"Yes they are!" says the CoPWAGtH. "We performed an ordinance. It’s official."
Well, sorry, but I don’t subscribe to your belief system. I don’t believe that your ordinance has any merit whatsoever.
"Ah, but… oh. Oh, I see."
I think that’s a pretty easy discussion to have, personally. What’s more, we’ve done a lot to satisfy people who don’t like the practice — as mentioned in the article — but still they have issue with it.
Maybe they think that God wants them to protect their dead from our ordinances, and that if they fail to act then they are guilty of some new sin. Now, I don’t know of any religion that has a tenet that says ANYTHING about posthumous ordinances performed by other churches, but maybe they’ll add it. The Eleventh Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Let Anybody Perform an Ordinance for Your Deceased Relatives.
(Worthy of note is that, from our perspective, you’re just upsetting your ancestors. We believe that many of them learn the truth in the next life, while waiting around for Judgment Day and the Resurrection. Then, they’ll want to have the baptism our members offer. When you die, you’ll enjoy explaining to them your rationale for making them wait. Lucky for you, though, if they’ve accepted the Gospel, they should be pretty forgiving.)
Whatever the case may be, we can back off. We can wait. Because you, who are asking us to stop, will eventually die, too. And then we’ll baptize your dead ancestors, and guess what? We’ll baptize you, too! (You’ll thank us later.)
Wait, what’s that? You say you’ll teach your kids to protect your name from the infamy of a Latter-day Saint baptism for the dead?
That’s fine. We can wait…