Thanks to Unequally Yoked, I’ve been made aware of the bizarre practice of Mormon posthumous baptism. Apparently those Mormons with ancestors who died in Nazi concentration camps are attempting to posthumously baptize these ancestors into the Mormon faith in order to unify their family. Jews, needless to say, are outraged.
The story is a perfect example of how absurd ideas can be deeply offensive. What right do Mormons have to trample over the religious identity of their Jewish ancestors? As prison camp inmates, these people must have been very proud, and very protective, of their Jewish identity. How deeply disrespectful it is, then, to try to take it away from them.
Sadly, conflict arises in this case even though the offending act has no real impact on anyone, including the Jewish ancestors (who are, it must be emphasized, dead). There is no evidence suggesting that proxy baptism (or any other baptism, for that matter) is anything more than a concept in the brains of its practitioners.
So, this story is a reminder that beliefs can be harmful no matter how far removed from reality they are. Indeed, the further from reality they are, the more potential they have to conflict with other far-fetched beliefs. Better, then, to base beliefs firmly on reality, where evidence is on hand to settle disputes.