News Flash: Sacred to YOU does not mean universally sacred.
Does my not taking my shoes off inside my home offend my Shinto neighbors?
Does my talking about the LDS temple rites to my never-Mormon friends offend my Mormon friends?
Here’s the distinguishing factor… If you’ve had a religious experience and/or made a personal covenant to modify your behavior because of what you consider sacred, then that obligates only you to conform.
Personal revelation applies to an individual and only that individual. Even testimonies of personal religious commitments do nothing to obligate others to respect or conform to religious standards.
If God talked to you face to face and told you to wear ugly underwear… good for you! If God instructed you to drink Kool-Aid and hop on the next comet swinging past the earth…good for you! That doesn’t obligate anyone else to respect the craziness.
If you promised to never talk about the temple rites outside the temple, then don’t. If someone else feels that that covenant was broken and decides to talk, then don’t listen in.
What do deserve respect are personal territorial boundaries.
In other words, I do believe it is offensive to go to India, kill and eat one of their sacred cows.
It is offensive to not remove my shoes in the home or shrine of a Shinto neighbor.
It is offensive to go to Temple Square and mock the temple rites there.
My dear Mormon friends, that’s why your baptizing other folks’ dead relatives is offensive even if they don’t subscribe to the doctrine and even if those dead people still have the choice to accept it or not in the afterlife. You are crossing a personal territorial boundary. In essence, you are sprinkling ground beef all over your Hindi neighbor’s grave and that’s disrespectful even if that dead person doesn’t have the capacity to eat it, and even if the living relatives of that dead person don’t believe the ground beef has any effect on that person’s soul.
See, I ridicule and make fun of Mormon doctrine and culture in this blog. I do so because it is a big chunk of my life experience. But I would never knowingly do so in front of a current Mormon. I’d never go to a chapel or temple and do so. This blog isn’t marketed to Mormons and an unwitting Mormon visitor has every ability to click away. I don’t even vicariously include a Mormon in the stats on this page so that I feel like I’m doing service and making a difference.
I would eat beef in just about any place in the world, however, there are some places I wouldn’t. My eating beef at a friend’s backyard BBQ in Akron Ohio isn’t offensive. It probably would be disrespectful to eat beef “for and in behalf of my dead Hindi neighbor” at a friend’s backyard BBQ in Akron Ohio.
Yes, Mormon baptisms for the dead are done only in Mormon territory but they are using non-Mormons’ names…real people who lived and died “according to the dictates of their own consciences.” The belief and assumption that they need to be reached out to and made Mormon, just in case, crosses a boundary. At least the action does. Believe what you want.
Can you be disrespectful alone in a forest?
How about this compromise?
Mormons keep up their baptisms for the dead, but instead of names they just use numbers. There are no dead individuals or specific family members to offend. The actual physicality of baptizing is the only part that Mormons claim need to be done in this mortal state. The actual working out of which dead caveman’s baptism was which number can clearly be worked out in the afterlife or in the millennium.
For goodness sake, it’s not as if half the foreign names are written or even pronounced clearly by the geriatric temple officiators anyway. It all needs to be adjusted later.
Mormons would still be able to imagine the soul # 456,987,743 who’s watching and who has been waiting for his number crying on the other side in appreciation for the “service.” Mormons would even be able to streamline the process and accomplish much more this way. Think of it! On the other side, only the ones who ARE accepting it would be assigned a number. Therefore, no baptisms would be wasted! It offends no one specific person or family. Mormons keep it to themselves this way and still accomplish their internal mandate. I imagine the Mormons could remain busy for a long, long time and their Jewish neighbor can just run on the assumption that their relatives aren’t getting a number assigned to them on the other side.
Just like our elementary teachers constantly reminded us, “Let’s all keep our hands to ourselves and our eyes on our own paper.”