Friday, 27 August 2010

Baptisms for the Dead - bad for your back

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You really do learn something every day in this job. When I first came across this story, entitled "LDS Church sued for baptism for the dead injury", about a man suing the Church of Latter-day Saints (AKA the Mormons) for injuring his back while performing around 200 "baptisms for the dead", my first thought was, had this man been baptising corpses?

Sadly it turns out the circumstances weren't quite so bizarre, although depends how you view the practice, which I now know involves baptising the living as proxies for those that have died without first being baptised.

I can honestly say that, when I woke up this morning, I had absolutely no idea that such a thing existed. But now I do. It turns out Mormons are big fans of baptisms for the dead, and the poor fellow that put his back out, Daniel Dastrup of Las Vegas, was performing them en masse in the summer 2007. Now, these baptisms are the kind that involve fully immersing the subjects in water, so ploughing through 200 of those in one day is bound to put some strain on you. Throw in the fact that some of the baptees (if it isn't a word, it should be) weighed close to 250 pounds, and you've got the perfect recipe for a bout of holy lumbago.

Which is precisely what Dastrup says he got – and it doesn't seem as like it was a price he was willing to pay for the souls of the dead. He is, says the Salt Lake Tribune, "suing the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for, among other things, medical expenses, future loss of earning capacity and loss of household services."

It remains to be seen whether he'll win, but either way we all learned a valuable lesson. Didn't we?
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