Dear Madame L,
I hear what you're saying about freedom of religion, but why does the Mormon church keep performing baptisms for the dead for people who probably wouldn't have been interested in the Mormon church when they were alive?
And the church keeps doing this even though Jewish Holocaust survivors, including Elie Wiesel, have asked the church to stop doing it.
Not Everyone Is A Believer
Dear Not Everyone,
Madame L does not represent the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ("Mormon church") so she cannot speak for the church.
However, Madame L has done a little research into this issue, including watching MSNBC's "The Last Word" on Wed., Feb. 15, where Lawrence O'Donnell addressed the issue with an interview with 1986 Nobel Peace Laureate Elie Wiesel.
Madame L notes also that the L.D.S. Church does NOT sanction or authorize the submitting of names of Jewish Holocaust survivors or any Jews whose descendants are living to its program of temple work for the dead.
Even the "former Mormon researcher" Helen Radkey, who brought to the attention of Elie Wiesel that temple work had been performed for his ancestors and former concentration camp inmates, admitted on that show that the Church does not authorize that kind of "genealogical research."
However, even though Ms. Radkey said the church had "reprimanded" the church member(s) who submitted names that shouldn't have been submitted for temple work, she claimed that the church was doing so only as a result of publicity and admitted that "she could not find evidence that" the church had reprimanded people who did this in the past.
Madame L does not claim to know everything about how the LDS church works, but she knows that the church has reprimanded people in the past for submitting names of people who are not their ancestors. Madame L says this because she knows some LDS church members who tried to submit names of people who were not their ancestors for temple work to be done, and who were indeed reprimanded.
Madame L thinks that the reason such a fuss is being made now is not because the church was somehow forced into making a fuss about it but because Ms. Radkey and Mr. O'Donnell and Elie Wiesel made such a fuss about it. Madame L suspects that Ms. Radkey is obsessed with and still gnawing over some bone that the church has long left behind.
(Here's what one of her sons said about her obsession with the church's genealogical and temple work, according to the Salt Lake Tribune: "She sends us e-mails all the time, I feel bad because we can't read it all. I couldn't care less what Mormons do behind closed doors in their temples. I don't see the impact that [proxy baptism] has. It's all based on a belief system, and, if you don't buy into it, it's not going to move you.")
Madame L thinks that Lawrence O'Donnell and Elie Wiesel have their own reasons for making such a big fuss over the issue.
Though she declines to speculate on this blog about what those reasons may be, she notes with irony that one of Elie Wiesel's expressed reasons is his distaste over the fact that temple work has been done for Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin; Wiesel added, "I respect their right to practice their religion, but doing work for them?!?" Madame L sympathizes Wiesel's desire not to be lumped in the same post-mortal bin with monsters, but notes, again (with irony, again), that the Jewish religion, like the Christian religion, preaches love and forgiveness for all, and that if Wiesel really respects Mormons' rights to practice their religion and if he really doesn't believe in their doctrines of post-mortal life and temple work, he probably wouldn't care about which dead people the church is or is not performing baptisms for.
But Madame L knows that not every non-Mormon can have the live-and-let-live attitude of Ms. Radkey's son, which is, to repeat from above:
"I couldn't care less what Mormons do behind closed doors in their temples ... It's all based on a belief system, and, if you don't buy into it, it's not going to move you."