All Your Dead Mormons Are Belong To Us

My favorite new website is All Dead Mormons Are Now Gay. It’s a simple game: enter the name of a dead Mormon, or the site will choose one for you, and with the click of a mouse, the deceased LDS member is instantly converted to homosexuality.

Of course, this makes no sense, and is somewhat offensive. But then, so are the views of some (though not all) Mormons that the dead can be posthumously baptized – or at least given the offer of baptism (which, since they now can evaluate their options with better facts handy, they will presumably accept). In the Jewish community, this practice has long provoked outrage, now peaking again with news that some Mormons are trying to “convert” Anne Frank, who is close to a saint for contemporary Jews. (Before we knew of this practice, by the way, many Jews loved going to Mormon “genealogy” centers to research their family histories. I did so in Salt Lake City 25 years ago. Now I know I was providing the names of family members to be posthumously baptized.

If my Jewish community is outraged about posthumous baptism, my LGBT community is equally outraged about the Mormons—the folks who once brought us polygamy and the doctrine that black people are cursed by God—suddenly becoming the defenders of family values at the expense of gay people. It’s still LDS doctrine that homosexuality is a choice, and, of course, the church has bankrolled anti-same-sex-marriage campaigns in California and other states. Most analysts agree that without the infusion of Mormon cash, Prop 8 wouldn’t have passed.

So, as a queer Jew, brings together many of my interests.

I’m also, of course, into how clearly it highlights the absurdity of this whole situation. First, there’s the weird belief that dead people can be baptized, or that disembodied souls can be offered the chance by well-meaning Mormons here on Earth. That strikes many as weird, and it’s one of many such doctrines that make some Americans uncomfortable around Mormons, including the rich one who governed Massachusetts. 

Second, there’s the whole offense thing. Presumably, a pious Mormon would be horrified to see their dead grandmother’s name pop-up on this website, and then have her “converted” posthumously to lesbianism. Could that same Mormon not see how scandalously offensive it is to a Jewish person to see Anne Frank’s name on a similar list—only, this time, one meant to be taken seriously? 

Finally, though, there’s the weird fact that we Jews are offended by Baptism of the Dead even though we don’t believe in it. I assume none of my fellow Israelites really believe that because someone puts a dead person’s name in a jar, that person is really converted to another religion. In other words, we’re offended by something that we don’t think even exists.

Of course, what we’re really offended by is that some living person somewhere thinks that this is okay to do, using the names of our deceased and our historic heroes. It’s not offensive because their belief is efficacious; it’s offensive because of what it reveals about their intentions and attitudes toward people we hold dear.

Come to think of it, that’s true whether the people in question are dead Jews or living gays.