Friday, May 09, 2008


Out of This World Marketing

Okay, as regular readers (all two of you) will know, I tend to be tolerant of and strive to be reasonably respectful to the more rational religious sects and their adherents.

But sometimes ...

According to the Associated Press, the Vatican has ordered Roman Catholic dioceses worldwide to withhold member registries – essentially, the records of baptisms and deaths -- from Mormons. Now here in the U.S., baptismal records are semi-official documents, usually good enough to establish age and birth within the U.S. for purposes of obtaining passports and the like. Such registries are also useful historical records and are essential in tracing genealogies. As such, they have generally been readily available for inspection. So, why the change?

The order, first reported by Catholic News Service, was issued by the Vatican Congregation for Clergy. Officials said the step was taken to prevent members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from baptizing by proxy their Catholic ancestors.

Say what?

Posthumous baptism is a rite practiced in Mormon church temples for the purpose of offering membership in the church to the deceased. Church members are encouraged to conduct family genealogy research and forward their ancestors' names for proxy baptism.

So, one side is trying to convince dead people to come join their religion –- honestly, I'd have thunk that all the uncertainty about which was the "right" religion would have been cleared up by that point -– and the other side is afraid that their mailing list is being stolen?

Can I have a show of hands as to which of them is acting sillier?

I do not know how #1 feels about it but vote for the Vaticanists. This sound like a prefect time for a Pascal's Wager. They must have little (ahem) faith in their eternal reward if it can be de-eternalizes so externally.

BTW, you misspelt "Chez Watt".
I was kind of leaning towards the Romanistas myself. I would have thought silent scorn would have better suited those aspiring to the Magesterium.
The Catholics are getting kind of soft these days. That's a pretty tepid response compared to what they did to the Anabaptists for essentially doing the same thing on the living a few centuries ago.

There's also an interesting story behind why Joseph Smith started the whole baptising for the dead thing. Maybe I'll post about it tomorrow.
Reader # 3 weighing in here. It's six of one and a half-dozen of the other. I can't decide. Although my sympathies are leaning toward the Catholics on a "respect for the dead" basis - speaking as an atheist who will one day be dead, I recoil from the idea that some religious freak will someday baptize my moldering bones and claim victory. I'd imagine devout Catholics would feel the same only more so.

Yeah. Yeah. I have to say the silliness is definitely on the Mormon side. But it's a close-run thing!
O/T, but I can't find an email address, so my shameless begging must be made public: some regulars and I are setting up a Carnival of the Elitist Bastards, and considering how much I enjoy your wisdom and insight, I'd be honored if you'd care to join.

Considering the wisdom and insight of your commenters, I think I'm glad I had to make this plea so public. Step riiiight up!
Well, if you want to brag about having the fastest-growing sect around, converting dead people can sure boost the numbers.
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