Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

January 16, 2008

Question for Mitt Romney: Did You Take a Stand Against the LDS Practice of Baptizing Holocaust Victims–and Adolf Hitler

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 10:19 am

I wouldn’t have bothered to bring up this issue–disturbing as it is–when it looked like the Romney campaign was cratering. But now that it looks like he has as good a chance as any of the GOP candidates I think it’s worth knowing. It has to do with moral leadership which Mitt seems to be proclaiming every time he opens his mouth.

I’m surprised at how many people were unaware of this Mormon practice which was only–officially–curbed in 1995, although according to this article from the Salt Lake Tribune the practice continued beyond the curb on its “inappropriate” use.

The practice, sometimes known as “Temple work” involves a Mormon “standing in” for a dead person to allow said dead one to be baptized as a Mormon and enter Mormon heaven. It became an issue when it turned out that many Mormons were retrospectively baptizing Holocaust victims such as Anne Frank and other dead Jews including Einstein and Freud as Mormons in this way. Not only that, some Mormons had baptized less savory figures in history including Stalin, Mao, Ivan the Terrible–and even Hitler himself (along with Eva Braun so they could share Mormon heaven together).

While the Church did not encourage the baptism of Nazis, the doctrine was not changed until 1995 by which time Eichman, Himmler and Heydrich joined the Furher among the baptized. I know: this sounds too strange and offensive to be true, but Mormons are big on conversions and it’s a lot easier to convert the compliant dead than the living.

As I mentioned, in 1995, after protest from Holocaust survivor groups, the Church sought to end the practice of baptizing “inappropriate” dead people, and it deserves credit for this action however belated, but the practice continued for at least some years thereafter.

We know that Mitt Romney didn’t speak up publicly against his church’s second class citizenship for people of color, although he claimed to have wept with joy in 1978 (when he was 31) and this doctrine was discarded. Did he speak up at all against the shameful posthumous baptism of Holocaust victims? Of Hitler? How does he feel about it now? Why has no one raised the issue during the campaign?
Not the issue of the practice which was ludicrous and lamentable, but the issue of whether Mitt Romney felt any responsibility to dissociate himself from, or protest the practice. It’s what they call a character question. It has to do with “moral leadership”.

Does anyone have an answer? Doesn’t anyone care?



  1. As late as 2006 the controversy over retroactive baptism of Jews and other non-Mormons (Armenians too) was still on-going.

    You may wish to read an exhaustive but instructive collection of news and editorial stories here:

    Comment by Debra MacLaughlan-Dumes — January 16, 2008 @ 12:45 pm | Reply

  2. I am a practicing Mormon (born about the time the doctrine on African Americans changed). There are no easy answers. All I can say is that I (and many of my LDS friends and family members) really struggle deeply with these questions and concerns. You would think that that would override any kind of allegiance that we had towards the church. What you may not know all that I consider great and wonderful about Mormonism and its people. I love being LDS – I love the teachings. I believe that they accurately reflect the truth about our lives and God.

    I admit that I can’t possibly reconcile every aspect of my faith with the very valid concerns raised by this post (and others not raised by this post). I know Mitt struggles with these many issues regarding the church – this is his faith and church, and though he struggles, I disagree that he should have to explain and reconcile everything away.

    Comment by jmf — January 16, 2008 @ 1:54 pm | Reply

  3. Ron, I question your motives. Of course Mitt will not disassociate himself from his church. He believes in it. You don’t, obviously. If the Mormons are wrong about vicarious works, what does it matter to you? Are your ancestors victimized?
    On the other hand, if they are right, then they are doing altruistic acts for people who actually are continuing to learn and develop in the eternity beyond the grave.
    Consider this. You just want to hurt my chances of having a successful, intelligent man to lead this country. Would you be offended by someone who sends you a sympathy card when you have a loss?
    Let us address your motive. Are you trying to hurt or help with this item?

    I’m surprized you can’t understand why i wouldn’t sincerely find this offensive. Yes, my ancestors are being victimized. Murdered for their religion and then without their “consent” forcibly having it stolen away from them symbolicially by people who have no business meddling with their tragic memory. I’m not saying all Mormons display or participate in this monstrous insensitivity. But the inability to understandits offensivenes is a mystery to me. What if I posthuously pronounced (out of pure motives of course) your ancestors to be Jews? That would make you one, right? By your logic you should be grateful to me. Welcome to the family.

    Comment by OldTimer — January 16, 2008 @ 2:45 pm | Reply

  4. I am a Catholic and I fail to see the problem here. I am not diminishing in any way the Holocaust or the evil of the Nazis; I just don’t see why having someone baptize one by proxy should matter. If the Mormons want to baptize me, have at it. I don’t believe much of anything the Mormon church espouses so their impact on my spirituality is about the same if a Zoroastrian or Scientologist “prayed” for me. I couldn’t care less.

    Judaism is to me “the older brother of our faith” and I have a lot of respect for it. I assume that Jews believe in the primacy of their faith, which is their right. So again, why should a Jew, or a member of any other faith, care if some Mormon participates in a ritual without the consent of the faith or spirit of the person in question?

    I hate to reeat myself, but the Jews in question were murdered for their faith and it adds isult to injury, to say the least for someone to in effect (spritually, symbolically) murder them all over again. They are not being “prayed for”–they are being robbed of their identity an identity they died for. I’m surprized you fail to see the difference

    Comment by GT — January 16, 2008 @ 2:53 pm | Reply

  5. I don’t see why Mitt has to answer that question. People can go to the Mormon’s website to find the anwers. This religion topic is getting bored especially on the negative part. We can surely dig up a lot about different faiths of these presidential candidates. The candidates should concentrate on on what they should do to help this country, not about their faiths.

    Comment by Savea7 — January 16, 2008 @ 8:17 pm | Reply

  6. I know you write for “Slate”, which is not sympathetic to Romney (to say the least), but really I expected more from you than this. I’m tempted to hash this issue out but I sense it would be wasted effort unless you considered this article first.

    Since you seem to think my views are dictated by (which of course is not true), you’re right, it would be a waste of both our time to”hash it out”, but I’ll post the link for others.

    Comment by R.W. Rasband — January 17, 2008 @ 5:19 am | Reply

  7. Alex Shoumatoff’s 1985 book “Mountain of Names” is an amazing read about Mormon genealogical practices and the retrieving of names to reconstruct the Mormon family, which apparently includes just about everyone.

    Comment by charlie finch — January 17, 2008 @ 10:52 am | Reply

  8. Some Mormons are doing silly and offensive (but ultimately well-meaning and harmless) things to people that have long left this world. Moreover, they are doing so totally independently from the doctrines of the LDS church. Why should Romney apologize for them?

    Should I dig up some weird sect of (whatever religion hold) and ask you for apologies?

    The question was not should Mitt apologize, the question (see title of post) was did he take a stand agasint the practice.Did he questio it. Even the LDS Church now reudiates it, belatedly, but good for them. I don’t view it as harmless, i view it as a vile insult to the mmeory of the dead to rob them of their faith and dignity. If someone spit on the grave of your ancestors, how would you feel?

    Comment by Rowsdower — January 17, 2008 @ 1:12 pm | Reply

  9. Ron, You as a Jew should know what the definition of religious bigotry is. This article is something I’d expect from an ignorant Southern Baptist. If you understood the structure of the LDS Church (which you obviously don’t at this point) you would know that Romney like the rest of the lay members don’t make official statements on behalf of the Church. this matter was explained and addressed by the Church’s General Authorities in 1995. The axe is buried, why are you pulling it out for another sharpening?

    My personal take on it is; if you don’t believe in Mormon doctrines, what are you concerned about anyway?

    If you want to stir the pot go make some soup. Most every Jewish person I have known has a very positive view of Mormons and I think you are certainly an exception.

    here’s a link to the rest of the story…

    So you’re saying individuals in the LDS church had no responsibility as moroal human beings to protest its racist policies when they were in effect, just because “that’s the structure”. I wasn’t suggesting an “official statement”– your evasion and distortion of my post is glaring. I was asking why an individual wouldn’t speak up (or is there no free speech in the LDS?) against such a patently offensive assault on the souls of another religon. Did you, or Mitt have to wait for the Church to decide to tell you to mind your own business and keep your hands (figuratively) off others’ relgions when they are not in aposition to defend themselves from posthumous depradation. Posthumous conversion is not only bigoted in its disrespect for others religion and ancestors it’s cowardly! You couldn’t convert them when they were alive, but rush in once the Nazis have murdered them. If you don’t understand how offensive this is, I feel sorry for you. And for such a self-righteous name caller why are you afraid to use your name? Most people would call that cowardice.

    I’m only making an exception to my policy (see post just below this) of not posting anonymous and/or bigoted comments to explain to other anonymous and/or bigoted posters why I feel no obligation to publish your venom. I would feel it a further insult tothe dead.

    Comment by BMOC2001 — January 17, 2008 @ 3:04 pm | Reply

  10. The baptism of these “inappropriate” historical figures was never policy of the LDS church. Though the church is hierarchal, since there is no payed clergy, responsibility is spread among a great number of people and there is an incredible amount of local control.

    It was never church policy to seek out famous historical figures and do the temple work for them… I suspect that it was individual members who did this. A command never came from salt lake city to seek out and baptize famous historical figures – people just did it, until salt lake put a stop to it.

    It is ridiculous to hold Romney accountable for actions of individual members of the church.

    1)What is most objectionable is not the famous historical figures, but the thousands of unknown Holocaust the memory of whom has been subjected to spritual descrecration.

    2)It’s fascinating that so many posts disclaim individual moral responsiblity for a loathsome practice they knew of but stood by and tolerted. This means they either aproved of the practice or did not have the moral courage (something we’d want in a President) to object to. Do these people really want to say that they have abandonned their individual moral resonsiblity to the church. I find tht hard to beleive esecially since, at some point, some brave and resonsible souls within the LDS hierarchy must have stood up and
    and said “Enough!”. You’re doing your own church leaders a disservice by not applauding them whoever they were. But whoever they were they had to begin by sdissenting from the orthodoxy that permitted this offensive practice.

    Comment by lds — January 17, 2008 @ 3:06 pm | Reply

  11. Let me straighten something out for you. LDS Temple work includes baptism on-behalf of those who were unable to be baptized in this life. It is an answer to the question – what happens to those who did not have an opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ here on Earth? It does not guarantee entrance to “mormon heaven” as the author put it. It does not excuse that person of the acts they committed in this lifetime. It does allow for that individual to be taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the hereafter and make a decision as to wether they follow Christ or not. Now – out of respect for Holocaust victims, the church discontinued the practice on their behalf. But this does not apply to Mitt Romney as he would not have been involved in the decision to Baptize a Holocaust victim, nor would he have done the research (geneological research) to come up with a name for that individual. The scriptural reference for this ordinance is found in 1 Corinthians 15:29 which reads : “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?”

    Love the thuggish language:let me straighten somethng out for you. So Sopranos! From a guy who doesn’t have the courage to use his name! Brave fellow.

    But yet another evasion of responsibility. “Romney would not have been invovled.” Duh. He’s a member of a church wherein certain people are commiting acts which can only be called soul-molestation. and he and this commenter and the scores of other commenters deny they have any responsibility to evaluate the morality of it. Or to imagine how other human being might feel about it. The failure to see how offensive this is and to let it go on in front onf your eyes until the Church, to its credit, says cease, is the issue. Does Mitt Romney believe one has no resonsibility to stop the commision of an offensive act while he watches? Is that his attitude toward moral responsibility? If so, as this sort of commenter suggests, it bears upon his fitness to be President.

    Comment by Jay — January 17, 2008 @ 3:07 pm | Reply

  12. This is a non-issue. Mormons believe that those who did not get a chance to accept the Gospel in this life have a chance in the next. However, they cannot skip out on the required physical ordinances. So, when Mormons baptize the dead, as they say, they’re not converting anyone, nor are they trying to say that said deceased persons were especially desired as Mormons; rather, they are simply fulfilling one part of the process whereby deceased persons (who are believed to live on as spirits between death and the resurrection) can choose, ON THEIR OWN, to convert. If your ancestor does not want to convert, he or she will not do so. And Hitler can convert in the afterlife all he wants. Those who don’t believe Mormon doctrine should leave it alone. If you don’t believe it, why worry?

    I’m puzzled why you think you have the right to bother dead Jews in the afterlife, even more to presume to think you’d be welcome. It’s not only offensive, it’s just bad manners as well. Did it occur to you they might not want people barging into their afterlives without an invitation? Are you familiar with the Federal “Do Not Call List”? Where do we sign up or a “Do Not Try to Convert After Death List”?

    Comment by Deseretian — January 17, 2008 @ 3:08 pm | Reply

  13. Sir. This is just a stupid column. Having had family that died in the Holocaust it upsets me that someone like you would try to use it as political slander of a man that has never had any thing negative to say about the Jewish faith. Number 1 if you don’t believe Mormon teachings than what does it matter that they are baptized for dead people if it doesn’t make any difference. They would just be wasting thier own time. So why should you care. Do you have any evidence to show that Romney himself was baptized for some of the above named people. No you don’t. Obviously when the Mormon church found out that it was a problem they had it stopped. Who cares. Mormons just like Jews are grossly misunderstood and maligned. The only difference is that for some reason it’s ok to attack a man for his bliefs as a Mormon but not for a Jew, Catholic or Baptist. If you wrote something of this tone about Joe Lieberman you would be a anti-semite. So whats the difference with a Mormon.

    It always makes me happy when critics of my views demonstrate their cowardiced by refusing to reveal their name while hurling childish insults. Easy to say you have a family that died in the Hoocaust, but how can we know if you cower behind anonymity? You shame your ancestors if in fact it’s true, they died because they were unafraid to reveal and risk death with their real names and you’re too timid to make blog comment without hiding!

    If you read the post you would see it has nothing to do with whther Romney himself participated in the offensive practice, but whether he approved or spoke out against it. I gather you are conceding he knowingly did not. Profile in courage!

    Another failure of reading comrehension: I didn’t attack him for his faith but for his failure to show senstivity to other people’s faiths, something the LDS Curch now concedes. For someone who throws around the word “stupid” you’re not showing much evidence of intelligence.

    Finally the Jewish religion makes it a practice not to seek converts and has never indulged in the ugly practice of hijacking dead souls.

    Comment by Jackson — January 17, 2008 @ 3:18 pm | Reply

  14. This article is very misleading. I would suggest checking with for the truth about baptisms for those who are dead. LDS doctrine does not claim of these recipients as members of the LDS faith. There were some over-zealous LDS who were not as sentitive as they should have been about who received this service. According to your article the situation has been rectified for over 12 years.

    Yes, offically, and my question was, while a public figure, and a high profile member of the church, did Mitt Romney speak out or aprove the practice. the silence on the issue–or the attemt to change the subject–from many commenters speaks volumes.

    Comment by sreid — January 17, 2008 @ 3:18 pm | Reply

  15. So now a political candidate is required to explain every statement made and every action every done by any religion or organization to which they belong? Are we now going to hang Guiliani for the Pope’s recent statements saying Galileo was treated correctly by the Catholic church? What about Obama and his congregation’s current beliefs?
    As far as I’m concerned, let the Baptists sing gospel music for my ancestors, let the Hari Krishnas dance for my ancestors, let the Catholics can burn candles for my ancestors, and let the Mormons do their symbolic baptism for them. If any of those things are recognized by the Almighty–more power to them. If not, what difference does it make and why should anyone care? The author says that the practice in question was discontined decades ago. Doesn’t it makes more sense to try to elect individuals on the basis of their policies and past achievements than to dig up extraneous information and try to blame them for it?

    I respect your right not to take offense a thte ractice. Please respect my–and many, many others’ right ot take a offense and want to knwo what the man who wants to be our President did durin gthe time (not decades but 13 years ago) when the practice was encouraged. Romney made religion an issue with his speech that cast non beleivers into the outer darkness, arrogating to himself the ability to condemn them as lesser beings. I think that allows us lesser beings to question what kind of moral leader he is when faced with a usurpation of others beliefs by means of a atently abhorrent practice.

    Comment by SolomonT — January 17, 2008 @ 3:20 pm | Reply

  16. The answer on this one is, “Who cares?”

    Here’s why:

    Baptisms for the dead are NOT in any way “binding” – and not a single Mormon alive (except for perhaps a few nutjobs, since there are some in any religion) talks about baptizing the dead “into the Mormon Church” or “into the Mormon heaven”. Instead, Mormons believe in the Biblical teaching that baptism is necessary for *anyone* to enter the kingdom of heaven – and that millions of God’s children died without that opportunity. Baptizing by proxy for someone who is dead simply is the Mormon way of getting the ceremony done so that each person can make the choice whether to accept it or reject it. It also is an expression of an attempt to turn the hearts of the children to the fathers, as written in Malachi. There is no stealing of souls against their will – or anything else nefarious. It truly is a “so what” issue.

    This is a “controversy” only when it is misunderstood or misrepresented. I don’t know a single Mormon who believes that Hitler will be in Heaven – just that the ceremony needed to be done, since Jesus is the judge who will send Hitler where he deserves to be. To say that Eva Braun’s baptism was performed so that she could be in Mormon heaven with Hitler is insulting and patently false – again, simply a misconception about a simple thing.

    The practice of performing baptisms for those killed in the Holocaust was stopped when relatives complained about it. That’s all.

    That’s all! Hitler had to be baptized?! Are you saying Mitt Romney believes this?! Then I think its’s important the public ought to know a candidate for President thinks this way and factor into their assessment of his judgment.

    But thank you for telling me, I will try to spread the word. Indeed I hope at the next debate someone asks Mitt whether he believes Osama deserves baptism too. I know some firemen who would want to know this. I think it would help voters decide whether they want to trust our nation to him.

    And “relatives [of Hoolcaust victims] comlained”. Can you not understand why they might complain about this deeply offensive abuse of their ancester’s souls?

    Comment by Ray — January 17, 2008 @ 3:21 pm | Reply

  17. I suggest you start with 1 Timothy 1:15

    Comment by Six — January 17, 2008 @ 3:23 pm | Reply

  18. Sir,

    Perhaps some further understanding of the subject is in order. (Note: I am a member of the LDS church, but I am not an official representative. Nevertheless, the following is–to the best of my knowledge–accurate.)

    1) The doctrine on the subject of posthumous ordinance work is simply that is must be done, at some time, for every living human being (who did not receive the ordinances while living). Thus the posthumous baptisms of monsters, such as Hitler, does not imply that any Mormon thinks he or Eva will “share Mormon heaven together.” LDS people are content to let all judgment regarding an individual’s standing in the afterlife rest in other hands.

    2) These posthumous baptisms are not considered “conversions.” Such ordinances are not proof of salvation. They are simply–in LDS doctrine–a means of extending opportunities to the dead, and hope to the living. As a result, they are offered as broadly as possible, and without judgment. Sometimes this liberality conflicts with good taste, as in the case of Nazis.

    3) There is no universal oversight of this process on a name by name basis. Genealogical records are researched by average John/Jane Doe church members. The names are then submitted. The volume of records (literally billions) prevents any detailed scrutiny by a church-wide source. Thus the individual members are trusted to submit only names considered appropriate (usually family) as outlined by LDS officials. Sometimes the member/researchers do otherwise. (For instance, Mickey Mouse has been baptized posthumously.)

    When there are inappropriate names for whom the ordinance work has been done, they are deleted from the records, but there is simply no way to go back and un-perform the ordinances.

    Comment by LdG — January 17, 2008 @ 3:25 pm | Reply

  19. I would be flattered if the Mormons baptized me in their temples. What’s the big deal? It’s like the Pope praying for the welfare of humanity only the Mormons pray for people one person at a time rather than collectively. If someone doesn’t believe Mormonism, why should he or she care who Mormons pray for/baptize in their temples. The non-Mormon ought to view it as a gesture of goodwill.

    The inability to udnerstand why descendants of people murdered for their faith might find it objectionable to be “baptised” into another faith (along withtheir murderer) is astounding.

    Comment by Harold — January 17, 2008 @ 3:31 pm | Reply

  20. I would think that he, like most of the other millions of mormons, didn’t know it was going on. I’d never heard it until it hit the media. We are encouraged to stay within our own family tree when performing these ordinances, so maybe someone with Jewish heritage started it. Who knows?

    Just to clarify, the reason for this practice is a bit skewed in your article. We believe just as Jesus said: that it was necessary to be baptised by water and by fire (which means the Holy Ghost) to go to heaven. So where does that leave all those that didn’t get the opportunity to hear of the gospel in its completeness on earth? Are they doomed? No. This is why the practice of baptising in proxy is in place (just as it was in ancient times). This practice does not “baptize people into conversion”, and it does not mean they are mormon. This simply means these ordinances that Jesus said were necessary, are now taken care of for these people. It is still up to them to accept the gospel or not. We all get the chance to hear the fulness of the gospel and have the opportunity to accept it or not (Heavenly Father is a just God). If they decide to accept it, then their ordinances are taken care of. If they choose not to accept it, then so be it, it’s their choice. But it is our job to perform the ordinances for them in case they choose to accept it. Then they can progress in their journey to return to our Heavenly Father. This was a brief explanation, but I hope it helped.

    What about the idea that, just out of respect, people who died for their faith have the right not to be badgered after they die and allowed to rest in peace? Doesn’t it occur to anyone that this practice might be insulting to their chosen faith?

    Comment by Chris — January 17, 2008 @ 3:37 pm | Reply

  21. The question I would ask you is why are you only asking Mitt Romney to defend/explain/denounce actions of his church. Why do you consider it morally reprehensible for him to not to denounce doctrines which you find “offensive”.

    Why are you not asking the other candidates to denounce “offensive” doctrines their sects espouse. There is plenty of ammunition in every denomination of every religion on this planet. No religion is perfect. And each, try as they might not to, has something in their past which is “offensive” to someone somewhere like yourself.

    I have no problem with you picking on Mitt and his religion as long as your are an equal opportunist.

    It’s a legitimate question and I would hope other candidates are sensitive to aspects of their religion that are as offensive as this one, to other religions. But I bring up the targeting of Jews, for obvious reasons: though I’m not observant, they are my people, my ancestors, millions of whom were murdered for their faith whose faith and memory are being targeted and insulted by these tactics. The LDS eventually recongized how grossly insensitive this was.

    Comment by Kristian — January 17, 2008 @ 3:38 pm | Reply

  22. I’m consistently surprised at the amount of vitriol generated by the LDS practice of vicarious baptism (“baptism for the dead”). Nevertheless, not everyone is getting worked up about this. Eugene Volokh and Erik Jaffe, both of The Volokh Conspiracy, don’t see anything objectionable out it:

    Volokh: If you’re Mormon, then presumably you’d want your relatives baptized. If you’re not Mormon, then presumably you would think that some Mormon in some temple somewhere going through some ritual while mentioning people’s names would be spiritually pointless. It would have no effect on the people, on their afterlives (if you think they have afterlives), on God, or on anything else. So what’s the problem?

    The Mormons aren’t forcing anything on any living person. They’re not exhuming anyone’s body. They aren’t insulting anyone, except insofar as they’re suggesting that their religion is the right one, and that people ought to want to convert to it — and if that itself qualifies as an insult, then it seems to me that people are too easily insulted.

    Jaffe: I actually find it somewhat endearing that Mormons are concerned enough about my erstwhile soul to try and protect it in a non-intrusive manner after my death. Other religious groups are not so considerate and instead seek to intimidate the @#%$ out of you or otherwise confront and demean you while you are alive in a supposed effort to save your soul. I have my doubts about the true motives of the hell-and-brimstone types, but the Mormons seem perfectly genuine to me. At worst it is no-harm, no-foul; at best they do me a great service.

    Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is similarly unimpressed with the hullabaloo over this issue:

    I could not care less if the Mormons baptize me after I’m dead. It won’t affect me. I’ll always be a Jew – in this life and the next. If this is part of Mormon practice and belief, and they do it in the privacy of their own ritual, and it doesn’t affect me in the slightest, why should I care? People’s beliefs are their own business. It’s how they treat others that is everyone’s business. What I care about is how much the Mormons support Israel today, not what they do with Jewish souls in what they regard as the afterlife.

    The Mormons are our brothers, the Christians are our kin. So long as they support and defend the Jewish people through their current persecution, that will always be so, whatever their beliefs, and we owe them our gratitude.

    Perhaps the Jewish community should focus more on how other groups treat us than what they believe about us. Let’s stop with the silly insecurities that have us looking to scratch the skin of a friend and find underneath a closet anti-Semite.

    So is this really a big deal?

    Or is this an objection borne of politicking in an election?



    It may not be offensive to some, it’s offensive to me, it’s was offensive to enough Holocaust survivors and their relatives to cause them to protest. and if there was nothing offensive about it, why did the LDS Church order it to be discontinued?

    Comment by Spencer — January 17, 2008 @ 3:41 pm | Reply

  23. OK, so you think that baptism for the dead sounds crazy. Most people would agree, even though it is an ancient Christian ritual (see 1 Corinthians 15:29). When it comes to other people’s religious practices, it’s easy to find something that strikes non-adherents as odd (Catholics praying to Mary, Jewish kosher practices etc.). But that you should this Mormon practice offensive is groundless. If you don’t believe in the Mormon faith anyway, what does it matter?

    Mormons perform these baptisms in good faith for the benefit of the dead. Latter-day Saints do not believe that everyone they are baptized for become Mormons in the afterlife. However, they do believe that the dead have the opportunity to accept the baptism if they so choose. The ordinance only has any effect if the deceased accepts it.

    To answer your question about whether anyone cares, the answer is no. Nor should they. To try to tie this decade old “controversy” to Mitt Romney’s moral leadership is really a stretch. Please, find something substantive to get worked up over.

    What if I were to tell you that your getting offended by my post is “groundless” and that “nobody should care” about what you feel; your feelings have no legitimacy? Isn’t that what you just did? Sure it doesn’t offend you, big surprize. I disagree and find the practice arrogant, intrusive and vile and find your callousness toward others’ feelings something you should look into.

    Comment by Read Lawrence in Chicago — January 17, 2008 @ 3:42 pm | Reply

  24. As a practicing Mormon of over 19 years, I find this article is quite misleading. The writer of this article assumes that those who are baptised post-mortally by proxy are automatically converted. Wrong. The doctrine of Baptism for the dead is this: Baptism is a Christian Gospel Ordinance that must be performed by one having authority of God for it to be considered valid in God’s eyes (John the Baptist had this authority thus Christ was Baptized by him). Mormons consider Baptism essential to enter heaven as the Bible states that a we must be born again of water to enter the kingom of heaven. (“Mormon heaven”, huh? Clever.) Billions of people have lived and died without having received an authoritative baptism. Mormons believe this authority was restored to the earth to Joseph Smith in the 1800’s. Thus, as part of their obligation to carry the Gospel to the world, they must also become “saviors on mount Zion” as Isaiah put it and perform these earthly ordinances for the deceased (All of them.. even evil people) and allow them the opportunity to accept or reject the baptism. We do not know the decision they make while waiting for their resurrection before their final judgment that takes place after the millenial reign of Christ after his 2nd coming. We don’t believe this forces anyone into any decision but only opens the door of salvation to those who never got the chance to receive an authoritative baptism.

    I have an old Catholic Biblical Dictionary that talks about Baptism for the Dead but only says it appears to be an authentic practice of early Christians but we do not know enough about it to practice it. The Mormons claim to have received the practice directly from God so they know what it’s for and how to do it.

    But feel free to disagree.

    You express your pposition with clarity. I’m sure your beliefs are sincere. But why is it not possible to understand how those of other faiths might not want ANY part of yours, whether it be baptism or conversion, because it would violate their own sincerely held beliefs. It’s just sheer arrogance to think anyone wants to be part of your theology when they have their own, and esecially the poor dead souls who have no choice but to suffer this posthumous violation of their most sacred feelings.

    Comment by Mark Petrie — January 17, 2008 @ 3:43 pm | Reply

  25. Ron,

    I have three comments and one question:

    1) No I don’t care. Mormons can believe whatever they want.

    2) Mitt Romney can believe what ever he wants.

    3) You can believe what ever you want.

    4) Why don’t you “take a stand” on something other than trying to slam Mitt Romney and his religion?

    Mormons can believe whtever they want. That doesn’t make it right to violate the souls of those who believe differently.

    In answer to #4: why don’t you read the blog–you’ll find I take stands on a wide range of issues.

    Comment by Baseline — January 17, 2008 @ 4:00 pm | Reply

  26. Your generalizations are laughable. Following your logic I can make any Christian doctrine unbelievable. A few facts: 1 Corinthians 15:29 (New Testament) talks about baptism for the dead. Much of Christianity is centered on what one soul can do for another. Christ’s Atonement is the greatest proxy work ever done for mankind. If we seek forgiveness of sins now, we won’t be responsible later; for the punishment has already been meted out. The Savior took our punishment upon Himself in His great Atonement in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross on Calvary. Baptism is an essential ordinance that the Lord requires. It symbolizes His birth, death, and resurrection. Proxy baptisms give dead souls the opportunity to accept baptism. It is not forced on them. Baptism isn’t an automatic entrance into Heaven, but it is a requirement after one accepts and follows the Savior.

    Again, using your logic even Christ’s sacrifice can be made to sound like a fairy tale. But it isn’t. And neither is the practice of baptism for the dead.

    Thank you for providing a perfect example of hostile intolerance of others’ beliefs. I doubt the LDS would want to be associated with such a venomous attack on other religions. Does the LDS church encourage believers to call others’ faiths “laughable”. Some–billions of non Mormons for instance–might find your beliefs “laughable” but out of common decency would not mock them. Or wait til your dead to try to hijack your soul.

    Comment by Tony Finau — January 17, 2008 @ 4:10 pm | Reply

  27. Lets curb the sensationalism a little bit and examine what it is that Mormons actually believe and why it is that we perform baptisms by proxy for the dead.

    I hope that once the theology is explained in brief, that Rosenbaum’s overtly sensationalistic approach to this issue can be seen for just what it is.

    Mormons believe that:

    a) One has to be baptised into the Church of Jesus Christ in order to be saved.

    b) The vast majority of people who have lived never received the opportunity to be taught the fulness of Christ’s gospel and accept Him.

    c) We believe that after death and prior to the resurrection, people retain the opinions, beliefs etc that they held when they died and will act accordingly. Thus someone who would have refused Christ in this life given the chance and adequate knowledge/experiences is very likely to refuse Christ in the next.

    d) We do not judge who would have and who would not have accepted Christ’s gospel. We simply baptise everyone who has ever lived.

    e) Thus even though we perform baptisms for everyone, we do not then consider these people to be “the compliant dead”. Quite the opposite in fact. We do not consder them to be members of our church – or posthumous Mormons. We simply believe that having had an equal opportunity to be taught about and to accept Christ we perform a physical baptism on their behalf which they are free to accept OR REJECT as they choose.

    f) Baptism does not guarantee salvation – each will be judged according to their works as Christ taught.

    g) Generally, members of the church perofrm baptisms by proxy first and foremost for their own dead ancestors and only secondarily for other names held on temple rolls. These names come firstly from members who submit the names of their own ancestors and secondly from the genealogical work that Mormons are well-known for.

    Without an understanding of the theology behind it, I can quite understand how a sensationalistic representation of this religious practice could seem rather “disturbing” particularly when you throw in the names of some of the most wicked people of the twentieth century as well as a group of people who died expressly because of their religious beliefs.

    As Mr Rosenbaum notes, the church now does everything it can to prevent baptisms by proxy for Holocaust victims, with the exception I believe, of direct ancestors of church members.

    However, the call for Romney to have stood up to this practise is what is truly “ludicrous and lamentable”.

    Firstly, there is nothing remotely immoral about it when one considers the real theology behind the practice and not the cynical reasoning proposed by Mr Rosenbaum.

    Mormons certainly don’t consider Holocaust victims, baptised by proxy in this way, as posthumous converts to Mormonism. The same applies to Nazis.

    From a Mormon perspective, performing proxy baptisms for those that have lived before is an expression of unconditional love and charity – a long way from the shamelessness suggested in the article. The practice is essentially a harmless one whatever your beliefs. It is spiritual in nature and the rights and freedoms of each individual are respected in the accompanying theology.

    Other Christian theologies dictate the same hell for both the Holocaust victims and the Nazi perpetrators of that unspeakable crime. The very element of Mormon theology being criticised in this article, repudiates that unjust idea.

    Which is really the more offensive to the memory of Holocaust victims?

    Any unasked for interference in the spiritual life of the dead of other faiths is offensive. if it’s so noble why does the LDS now condemn it? Why do you defend a practice condemned by your church?

    Comment by Tom Southall — January 17, 2008 @ 4:11 pm | Reply

  28. Ron, just wanted to make sure you were aware of this:

    Thanks, yes, I applaud the Church for trying to end the practice. Which makes it all the more puzzling that so many self-proclaimed faithful post on this site to defend it with such insensitivity.

    Comment by FairGuy — January 17, 2008 @ 4:13 pm | Reply

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