Ron Rosenbaum

Leadership and Moral Resonsibility: Obama vs. Romney

I got the following letter from a friend who’s been following the responses to my post below wondering what stand Mitt Romney took–if any–in the Church debate over whether to ban the objectionable practice of posthumous baptizing Holocaust victims, a legitimate question about whether he feels himself able to assert the moral leadership he’s always talking about:


The reaction to your post is astonishing. If that abhorrent practice — “soul molestation,” as you aptly called it — is acceptable to those readers and presumably many others, what can’t be rationalized?.

It’s so ironic, that the large number of comments I’ve gotten (mainly) from self-identified (but curiously anonymous–why not demonstrate pride in your faith rather than cower in the shadows?) Mormons are so repetitive and unfeeling. (I’m going through them slowly, but I’m getting bored of how repetitive they are, how unable to think or feel for fellow human beings who don’t share their belief so many are–the essence of tolerance, how many can’t seem even to read with minimal comprehension. I’m sure they’re not representative of the vast majority of warm generous and tolerant Mormons). Still it is astonishing to find that so many of them can’t seem to grasp the idea that a member of a community, especially someone who presents himself as a goody-two-shoes champion of morality, has a responsibility to challenge offensive practices of that community. Maybe he did, or at least argue against it within the church councils. I’m not ruling it out, just wondering if he did?

And so when I simply asked the question had Mitt Romney spoken out against the offensive practice tolerated until 1995 by the LDS Church of permitting the baptizing of murdered Holocaust victims, there was an astonishing failure to seek to understand why those of other faiths would might this profoundly offensive. There was a little quibbling over whether being “baptized” by a living stand-in represented conversion; no it only qualified you for Heaven (Mormon version), but was no guarantee you’d get in, the way the holocasut victim baptizers aparently wuld. One might suggest they Church objected at least to its ost offensive manifestation.

But this selfless offering of a ticket to the Big Lottery to Hitler and his victims (yes, recall, hitler needed babptism in order to have the chance for Forgiveness, acccoring to those who did it) was inevitably treated as some welcome gift, they could not conceive some might view it as a bothersome visit from a Bible saesman Yes they gave you a choice, too. To accept or reject. But what if you didn’t want to be asked at all? Too bad, no choice there, the Nazis murder them, the Mormons (some not all) pester them.

Even though the Church itself has renounced it and sought to discourage those who continue to practice this pestering of Holocaust victims, a flood of commenters, as you’ll see, rushed to defend it on the ground that the supposedly baptized souls who were murdered for their faith should welcome this opportunity, after all they had a choice! The didn’t have to convert to Mormonism! If they didn’t subscribe to the Mormon vision of the afterlife of course of which this baptism was an inextricable part, they would have little chance to escape eternal damnation or at least utter exclusion from (the Mormon version) of Heaven. Imagine the idea! Holocaust victims ungrateful for this fabulous opportunity they were being offered.

These commenters, so eager to defend themselves by saying those who baptize Nazi victims are only doing what the Church instructs them, ignoring the fact their Church has condemned the practice, presumably speaking for God’s displeasure. I wonder if God will fogive the disobedience of these commenters for defending this practice–despite the pronouncement of their Church. I’d say thumbs down.

By the way, some people don’t understand that their comments are not posted automatically and therefore they can’t spray any venom they wish on this site, however bigoted (and of course most often done in cowardly anonymity). But in any case since most of the comments are repetitve and I have a life outside the blog, and as I much as I’d love to devote all of it to an arcane discredited practice, I’ll have to just suggest that you read my comments on the comments (in bold). You’ll likely find my responses to your concerns.

Their are other commenters however who have raised an important issue when they ask, “do other candidates have responsibility to exercise moral leadership in their community?” I tend to believe they do and so–almost as if delivering an answer directly to those commenters comes word of Barack Obama’s Martin Luther King address at Ebeneezer Baptist Church in Atlanta in which he condemns xenophobia, homophobia and anti-semitism in the black community. You can find excerpts and a link to the full address here.

But for those too lazy to link to Pam’s Houseblend, here’s an excerpt of what she regards as a key moment in Obama’s words:

“For most of this country’s history, we in the African-American community have been at the receiving end of man’s inhumanity to man. And all of us understand intimately the insidious role that race still sometimes plays – on the job, in the schools, in our health care system, and in our criminal justice system.
And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that none of our hands are entirely clean. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King’s vision of a beloved community.

“We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them. The scourge of anti-Semitism has, at times, revealed itself in our community. For too long, some of us have seen immigrants as competitors for jobs instead of companions in the fight for opportunity.

“Every day, our politics fuels and exploits this kind of division across all races and regions; across gender and party. It is played out on television. It is sensationalized by the media. And last week, it even crept into the campaign for President, with charges and counter-charges that served to obscure the issues instead of illuminating the critical choices we face as a nation.”

Truly, none of our hands are clean. All the more reason to keep them off the souls of the murdered dead who gave their life for their faith. And to expect something more from a politican than silence. The moral leadership in Obama’s words. excerpt

Here’s the link to Obama’s remarks although I should warn you it crashed my browser, perhaps because of high traffic).

(By the way I’m going to take a break from commnents; it’s been too depressing lately and brings out the urge to anser in kind)