With the revelation that President Barack Obama's mama may now be a Mormon, the LDS practice of baptism for the dead is once again in the news.
Stanley Ann Dunham, who died in 1995, was baptized by proxy recently in an LDS temple. Mormons believe Dunham would need this ordinance when she got to the other side.
Obama hasn't commented on the matter. According to my double secret source inside the White House, he might have said, "If I didn't care what Mormons thought when I was running for president, why would I care now?"
Mormons tend to see baptism for the dead as a personal favor rather than spiritual conscription. It's not as if you have to accept it. This life or the next, you're perfectly within your right to shout obscenities at us and slam the door.
But baptism for the dead makes a whole lot more sense than the afterlife plan some faiths have, which is that you go straight to hell if you didn't see it their way before you died.
At least with Mormons there's a second chance. And if we end up being right, you just might be grateful for that baptism.
What's that? You'd sooner go to hell than become Mormon? OK, but hell isn't very pleasant. I've got a hundred bucks that says an eternity of sponge-bathing Hitler will change your mind.
This assumes, of course, that Mormons are in charge on the other side. Frankly, even though I'm Mormon, I don't think we will be. I believe God will be in charge -- and that we're all of us (you included) in for a big fat surprise.
On the other hand, it's easy to see how some people don't like the idea of Mormons giving their dearly departed an ecclesiastical makeover. In the wake of angry protests, the church has reiterated its stance that only the deceased relatives of living Mormons should be baptized by proxy.
But what about those baptisms for the dead we've already performed? After all, you can't simply unbaptize someone, right?
Actually, that's not exactly true. If you're upset that Grandpa may have become Mormon on the other side, I can help. It's called Excommunication for the Dead.
I thought it up several years ago but got into trademark trouble with the church.
They're not interested in it anymore, so I'm back in business. Here's how it works:
For an appropriate consideration, I can get your ancestor's baptism for the dead thrown out. It won't be free, though. There's serious effort involved.
For $250, I'm willing to commit some horrible proxy sin on behalf of your ancestor that will get him (or her) excommunicated from the LDS Church. For example, I specialize in lusting in my heart. It says right in the Bible that gazing upon a woman with lust in your heart is the same thing as committing the actual act. This is a huge ecclesiastical loophole, people.
NOTE: My wife and Jennifer Aniston don't think lusting in my heart is the same thing as the actual deed, but we're talking about what the Lord thinks.
Send me Grandpa's name, a certified check and the woman you want the proxy sin committed with, and I'll get right to work. I'm a professional, so it won't take longer than the average church meeting.
If it's Grandma, I can still help. I commit murder in my heart every time I drive to work. It's easy. By the time I get to The Tribune , she'll be a mass murderer and no longer a candidate for becoming Mormon.
For your money, you'll receive an attractive certificate of proxy excommunication worthy of framing. Simply present the certificate to whoever is in charge on the other side.
Unless it's the Mormons. If that's the case, then we're both in a lot of trouble.