In the Crossfire of the Theology Wars | Buzz Blog

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

In the Crossfire of the Theology Wars

Posted By on August 26, 2009, 4:25 PM

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Today, I was contacted by the producer of a Christian TV show in Chicago who was wondering about the LDS ordinance of "Baptism for the Dead." (Yep, Brandon's Big Gay Blog has, apparently, become the go-to-guy for Midwestern born-agains! How 'bout that?) ---

The producer is an affable fellow with a terrific, deep, resonant broadcasting voice. At one point, he asked if I knew who James Dobson is. It always takes me a few seconds--my initial reaction is a knot in my stomach to alert me that Dobson is on the list of evil, old-timey anti-gay crusaders, along with Pat Robertson and Anita Bryant--but it always comes: James Dobson is the guy who started Focus on the Family, one of those so-called "ministries" that seems to be a church, a TV show and a reactionary PAC, all rolled up into a tricky system of tax-exempt shell organizations.

I was trying to explain the process and theology behind proxy baptism to the best of my memory (I got proxy-dunked a couple times myself when I was a teenager), and the producer was duly astounded by the whole thing. Along the lines of: Wow, that's really bizarre!

And, of course, it is. But I'm too polite to point out that anybody who believes Jesus was literally born of a virgin and, 33 years later, was killed but came back to life and flew up to heaven (and not only that, but we should all feel guilty about it) shouldn't be too quick to judge which beliefs are and are not "bizarre."

But I was surprised he had never heard of it, especially considering the uproar that ensues every time some famous dead person gets baptized into the Mormon church. I jokingly said, "They're probably getting ready to baptize Ted Kennedy as we speak!"

Ah, yes. Jokingly. Later on, I was talking to Helen Radkey (writer and indomitable researcher), who said, "Oh, guess what?" and showed me some printouts showing that, yes indeed, Edward M. Kennedy (1932-2009), as of 11 a.m., had already been entered into the church computer system--the first step in the proxy baptism process.

Frankly, before the born-again right wingers get too cozy with the Mormon right-wingers, bringing their combined tax-free might to bear against the hapless gays, I think it's a good idea that the born-agains have the opportunity to learn about all these little, erm, LDS peculiarities--don't you?

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