Civility’s Ordeal

Print More

I confess that I’m always a little bit embarrassed by the propensity of the American leadership of my people (the Jews) to try to get Christians to grant us admission in the, ah, club. The president of the Southern Baptist Convention opines that God doesn’t hear our prayers…well, why should we give a shit? Sorry.

So my feelings are mixed about the agreement announced this week between the LDS Church and the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants, making Jewish victims of the Holocaust the only group exempt from the Mormon doctrine permitting the baptism of the dead, thereby enabling them to win a place in heaven. Unless, I guess, you’re a Mormon with a forebear who was a Jewish victim of the Holocaust, in which case you’re entitled to request the baptism. In Mormonism, Family trumps just about everything.

Over at Religion Dispatches, the estimable Joanna Brooks thinks this is a good thing. She’s a Mormon woman married to a Jewish man, and she takes the occasion to wish us all a happy new year. L’shana tova to you too, Joanna. The hard question has to do with how far and under what circumstances one religious group should alter or suppress a teaching or practice or right in deference to the feelings or doctrines of another group–or to the norms or greater good of society at large–be it in Salt Lake or in lower Manhattan. And let’s not pretend this is not a hard question.