Media Misses Point on Mormonism: Baptism of the Dead

Media Misses Point on Mormonism: Baptism of the Dead

Everywhere you look these days are attacks on random aspects of Mormonism. Various blogs and news agencies are all trying to marginalize Mitt Romney by mocking and attacking bits and pieces of his religion to make it seem strange (though they leave Harry Reid alone). The New York Times admits to this plan Tuesday in Playing the Mormon Card.

For Romney’s religion to become a significant issue in the general election, the White House probably needs the media to play the Mormon card for them–not through overt attacks on Mormon theology and practice, though, which would be out of bounds for most mainstream outlets. Rather, the Obama campaign’s best-case scenario involves a wave of theoretically evenhanded coverage come August and September – newsmagazine cover stories on Mormon theology, “60 Minutes” specials on L.D.S. history, pieces about Romney’s own family tree, etc. – that end up reminding undecided voters of the things that they find strange and alien about the Republican nominee’s faith.

Wow! The NYT just admitted their liberal bias, admitting that Mormonism is worth marginalizing on behalf of our Democrat president. Their plan is to make Mormons seem so different that people wouldn’t feel comfortable voting for one. To this end, they will never focus on commonalities between Mormons and people of other faiths. This is yet another diversionary tactic ahead of the general election. I don’t know that their plan will work, but I hope to answer this media focus on peripheral aspects of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by focusing on the core of the LDS Church.

Case in point: mischaracterization of the Church’s work for the dead. Contrary to what you might have gathered from media reports, the LDS Church does not perform baptisms for the dead to force people to be Mormons after they die.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Mormons believe, as do many other Christians, that God will force nothing upon us — that we have a God-given right to choose for ourselves. Forcing obedience isn’t transformative, as any of us with children should know. To prepare for heaven we choose Him for ourselves, because only in that way can we have the determination to follow Christ and become like Him.

We believe that work for the dead allows those who die before hearing the gospel to choose whether they want to accept it. God loves all His children, including the ones who die never hearing so much as the name of Jesus Christ. He is a just and merciful God and grants that every one of His children have the same opportunity to accept to Him, even if that chance doesn’t come during mortality. 

The basis for baptisms for the dead is in the New Testament, 1 Corinthians 15:29. “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?” This idea of accepting the gospel after death is not new either. In 1 Peter 4:6 we read, “For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.”

Let me now explain how work for the dead fits in with the core of LDS beliefs. The overall objective of the Church is to help God’s children return to Him. Put simply, this is made possible through His Son, Jesus Christ, and obedience to God’s commandments. This is true for people already members of the Church, for those who haven’t yet learned of the Church, and even for those who have died without hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

If answering these claims brings more voters on board with the GOP because they’re not scared of Romney’s religion, the more hope I personally have that we can bring an end to this desperate economy with its accompanying bleak future should Obama remain in office. As a reminder, the LDS Church itself is politically neutral. Any reference to politics are my own and not representative of the Church.

The most fundamental part of the LDS Church is the biblical principle of following Jesus Christ. Everything else that is a part of the LDS faith is an appendage to that. However, a focus on the common principles of faith and good moral character valued by other religions wouldn’t suit the media’s template of distancing Mormons and Romney from the rest of America.