Belfast Telegraph

Obama, Mormons and the battle for America's soul

By Eamonn McCann

It is not widely enough known that Barack Obama's mother is a Mormon. In fact, it wasn't even known to Barack Obama until the liberal outlet Americablog revealed that Stanley Ann Dunham had been baptised into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints back in the spring of 2009, four years after she'd died.

It was the fact that she'd been named Stanley which caused her to embrace Marxism. We have the word of Ms Sarah Palin for this. She's the woman whose selection as vice-presidential candidate made John McCain a dead cert for the White House back in 2008. We have the word of Eoghan Harris for this.

It has been pointed out to Eoghan since that that prediction could have worked out a bit better, but the celebrated Sunday Indo man will have none of it. It was the facts which turned out wrong, apparently. You have to admire him.

Stanley Ann's dad had always wanted a son. Thus the name. And thus her decision "to take revenge on her white, American, Christian soldier father for the humiliation she endured in being named a boy" by becoming a communist and having a baby with an African adherent of Islam.

What Stanley Ann now makes of having been made into a Mormon we cannot say, her having obviously been dead at the time of transition.

The Mormon practice of baptising the dead has occasionally attracted controversy.

Jewish leaders in the US were apoplectic with anger when it was revealed five years ago that the elders of a Mormon Temple in New York had baptised Hitler into the faith. I cannot imagine why.

I can recall being urged by my mother as I left the house on All Souls' Day not to forget to offer a special prayer each for Hitler and Stalin.

Recite the requisite words on that appointed day and you could earn the recipient of your orisons an immediate transfer to heaven or at least a significantly reduced sentence in purgatory.

The way my mother saw it, Hitler and Stalin needed the prayers more than most.

How on earth, or even in heaven, could anyone object to in that?

As the Mormon commentator Krista Cook says: "As a Mormon, I've tried to determine how I might feel if the situation were reversed.

"How would I feel if someone obtained an indulgence for me or otherwise did something religiously important to them on my behalf? I think I would be touched by their kindness ...

"Our actions stem from love for billions of people who have died.

"Our performing this vicarious baptism allows them the choice to accept/reject it in the next life.

"We do not evaluate their lives, deaths, opportunities, choices etc. We do not presume to know if they had the choice here in this life or what they would choose to do if they did.

"I am astonished that people can confidently say they KNOW what the person in question would want or would not want.

"I am astonished to read all these people evaluating religious beliefs/practices and passing judgment on them."

Is this not among the most benign and reasonable statements to have come from a religiously motivated person in many a year? Somewhat more sensible and caring, I'd have thought, than, for example, the bigoted belligerence of Benedict XVI or the rabid ranting of Zionist racists. (Fill in other mainstream religions here according to choice: this is a non-sectarian column).

If we assume for the sake of argument and fun that the souls of the dead linger on in conscious afterlife, we can assume, too, that Barack's mum, evidently a feisty woman of independent spirit, will not have rejected the offer of Mormon salvation out of hand. She will have wanted to think about it.

In which case, it may be that the November election is set to become the ultimate terror of Tea Party types - a straight fight for the soul of America between a Mormon and the Muslim son of a Mormon. Confirmation that the man from Massachusetts will be in the field came on Tuesday when he hit the hapless ProtestantRick Santorum with a triple whammy in Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington DC.

"There's no stopping us now," enthused Mitt the Mormon as he handed out hamburgers and turkey baps at a close-of-poll celebration in an Italian sandwich shop in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Will Obama now challenge Mitt for the Mormon vote?

Has he thought of signing up Joyce McKinney?

Joyce McKinney? Who she?

Stay tuned.

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