I know nothing about theology. I am a secular Jew who hasn't gone to a synagogue in years. I am also proudly Jewish. Until a few weeks ago, I was barely aware of some Mormons habit of baptizing the dead, including those of other religions. Though the LDS has officially ban the practice, it has continued by individual Mormons. In the past, one target had been those Jews that died in the Holocaust. As I said, I was barely aware of the practice until a few weeks ago, when Historiann run two posts about the practice. I suggest that you read the posts in order: this is the first one, and this is the one that came later. The comments section was fascinating. I learned a lot about where the practice come from and different readers opinions about it. Some found it deeply offensive, others just a "harmless, well-intentioned" practice. Thanks to those comments, I learned why the practice is offensive to Jews from a theological point of view.
I am not religious, and I still found the practice offensive. I only left one comment, on the second post. I will plagiarize myself and transcribe it here.
As a secular Jew, with the history of forced conversions we’ve had in the past (and I am not equaling both practices), I found the Mormon practice highly offensive. And from one of the links in a comment above, I found out that they posthumously baptized slain journalist Daniel Pearl, who was forced to say in a video made by his executioners before being murdered “My father’s Jewish. My mother’s Jewish. I’m Jewish.”
I find the LDS church posthumous baptism of Pearl abominable (yes, less abominable than the murder in itself, but what the LDS church did still makes me want to puke).
My comment is very simple. While the debate was going on, Meshalim, another blogger, published her own post on the subject of the posthumous baptism of Daniel Pearl. Yesterday, she wrote on the subject again, in what promises to be the first post in a series. Her deep academic knowledge of the subject, combined with a beautiful prose, touched me like few posts ever have. I just want to appropriate the last sentence of her first post:
But for now, please, just leave my dead alone.Exactly.
To be clear, I am not aiming my own post at the Mormon Church as a whole or to individual Mormons per se. It is definitely not a post against Mitt Romney (though I could write one about it, I feel uncomfortable questioning a candidate's religion, so I doubt I will). I don't expect everybody to agree with my position or my feelings. I understand that others might not see what the big deal is. I just want those who do not see why passions can run so high on this issue to respect (instead of dismissing as an innocuous practice) those who feel offended. I hope it is not that much to ask.