‘I have in my life, but I haven’t recently.’

Mitt Romney to Newsweek magazine when asked if he personally had performed ‘posthumous baptisms’ on anyone.

Man, when the sh*t hits the fan, GOP Clown Car occupant Mittens is right there in the path of flying feces. He has studiously avoided speaking about his Mormon faith lest he bring on the wrath of the evangelicals (as we saw in SC, avoidance didn’t quell fundie suspicions about him), but the circus elephant is still in the room.

It’s in the news because now that the Florida primary is next — and it is a state that is home to a significant Jewish population; I don’t see how this story at Huffington Post is going to help Romney, since he’s on the record as a devout Mormon — and he admits that he has performed posthumous baptisms as part of his faith.

The religious rite is proxy baptism for the dead. According to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormon Church, these posthumous “blessings” are intended to “save” ancestors and others who weren’t baptized in life or were baptized “without proper authority.”

…In 2007, when Romney made his first run for the Republican nomination, NECN in Hartford, Conn., asked him about baptizing the dead. He said he is “not a cafeteria Mormon” and adheres to all tenets of his faith. But Romney, a former bishop and top church official in Boston, referred specific questions to religious leaders.

When Newsweek magazine asked Romney if he personally had performed posthumous baptisms on anyone, author Jonathan Darman wrote, “he looked slightly startled and answered, ‘I have in my life, but I haven’t recently.’ The awareness of how odd this will sound to many Americans is what makes Romney hesitant to elaborate on the Mormon question.”

There was no mention, and it is not known, whether the people that Romney personally baptized were Jewish.

Requests for comment by Romney campaign and the Mormon Church were not answered.

Complicating matters is that the practice has been the focus of negotiations between Mormon and Jewish leaders to stop the posthumous baptism of all Jews for some time, leading to an agreement in 1995. The problem is that the baptisms/Mormon conversions continued.

“Baptizing is a very dirty word to many Jews,” said Gary Mokotoff, a prominent Jewish genealogist who contacted church elders soon after the Israeli genealogist’s discovery. “It reminds us of the persecution Jews had in the past where churches told Jews they had a choice: either convert to Christianity or be murdered.”

“They tried to do something very difficult for Mormons to do, which was to stop the whole process of conversion,” said Abraham Foxman, who lost 14 relatives in the Holocaust. As national director of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, Foxman took part in the negotiations.

Still, Mokotoff told The Huffington Post, “overzealous Mormons” continued baptizing dead Jewish martyrs.

Given there are debates ahead, this uncomfortable topic surely will come up; who knows how Mittens will handle it.

From my POV, I don’t care what someone’s personal faith/religion is, as long as it doesn’t impede on my civil rights. The problem is that the GOP fundamentalist base has made religion — and loyalty faith oaths — part of the political process. As they say on Law & Order: “they opened the door to that line of questioning…

So, given the GOP’s predilection for using religious beliefs to foment discrimination and womb-controlling, it’s relevant to get candidates on record saying that they believe in church/state separation, including how they would govern in this manner (this would cause a fundie eruption, but it is a valid question).

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BONUS UPDATE: As if to prove my point, Mittens has no problem invoking religion for political purposes, as he practically fellates fundies on a Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition teleconference with this red meat, via People for the American Way’s Right Wing Watch:

Romney: I think he is detached from reality when he says that he wants to ‘reclaim American values.’ There has been in my view an assault on American values since the beginning of his administration. Clearly from the beginning the assault on life with his abandonment of the Mexico City Policy and with the Vice President being sent to China and saying we understand the one-child policy there and of course the abuses associated with that policy are alarming and disturbing, and then on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade just a couple of days ago he said that the wonderful thing about Roe v. Wade is that it provides an equal opportunity for girls to equal boys, meaning that they don’t have to have a child anymore, if they become pregnant they can get rid of the child and therefore have an equal opportunity. The disregard for the sanctity of human life is absolutely appalling.

Then of course there’s the assault on religion. I think a lot of people were surprised that he felt that the government should be able to determine who is and who is not a minister and fortunately the Supreme Court disagreed with him on that, but now he’s gone forward and said that religious institutions, universities, hospitals and so forth, religious institutions have to provide free contraceptives to all their employees, even if that religious institution is opposed to the use of contraception, as in the case of the Catholic Church. Even in that regard, fighting to eliminate the conscience clause for health care workers who wish not to provide abortion services or contraceptives in their workplace, in their hospital for instance. It’s an assault on religion unlike anything we have seen.

There’s been an assault on marriage. I think he is very aggressively trying to pave the path to same-sex marriage. I would unlike this president defend the Defense of Marriage Act. I would also propose and promote once again an amendment to the constitution to define marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman.