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March 9th, 2012
07:50 AM ET

Mormons crack down on proxy baptisms; whistleblower’s access blocked

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

(CNN) - In response to recent media reports that well-known Jewish Holocaust victims and slain Jewish journalist Daniel Pearl were baptized by proxy, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is renewing and revamping efforts to crack down on the practice and, some believe, stop the attention.

The church said this week it had implemented a “new technological barrier” to prevent abuse of its massive genealogical database, parts of which have been used to carry out – as well as expose - proxy baptisms.

"The church is committed to preventing the misguided practice of submitting the names of Holocaust victims and prominent individuals for proxy baptism,” spokesman Michael Purdy said in a written statement.

“Anyone trying to access names that have been restricted will have their account suspended and be required to contact [the church] to establish their family relationship in order to have their access reinstated. Abuse of the system will result in the permanent loss of database access."

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Whistle-blowing ex-Mormon researcher Helen Radkey, who uncovered the proxy baptism records that made headlines recently, says an account she was surreptitiously using to gain access to the database has been blocked.

“I have been effectively stopped,” Radkey told The Salt Lake Tribune. She said the church was “of course” targeting her.

The church, though, says Radkey’s blocked account was part of its effort to stop inappropriate proxy baptisms and not about Radkey.

“It is ironic for someone to claim they are being targeted by the measures we have taken to prevent unauthorized submissions for baptism,” Purdy said. “We are doing exactly what we have been asked to do and what we said we would do - denying access to names that should not be submitted because they are against our policy.”

Purdy said no one by the name of Helen Radkey has an account with the church’s database, known as New FamilySearch.

“If she, or anyone else, is misusing a church member’s identity to search for Holocaust names, then the system is set up to block those kinds of activities. There have been a handful of accounts blocked so far.

“We have said before that no system is foolproof but that we were committed to improving our ability to prevent unauthorized names from being submitted for baptism,” he continued. “To complain about us doing just that is baseless."

Explainer: How and why do Mormons baptize the dead?

Word of the new measures and blocked accounts comes on the heels of a statement from top church officials that was read to congregations across the globe last weekend clarifying what is and isn't acceptable when it comes to proxy baptisms.

The statement said Mormons’ “pre-eminent obligation is to seek out and identify our own ancestors.”

“Without exception, church members must not submit for proxy temple ordinances [rituals] any names from unauthorized groups, such as celebrities and Jewish Holocaust victims,” the statement read. It warned that members who violate the rules could lose access to the system and added, “other corrective action may also be taken.”

Efforts to deal with proxy baptisms are nothing new. Instructions on how to use and contribute to the database grew out of a 1995 agreement with Jewish groups that were horrified to find that people who died because of their faith were being baptized by proxy in Mormon ceremonies.

After the recent flood of stories, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel appeared on CNN and called on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to reprimand his church.

Romney, meantime, has been asked if he has ever partaken in proxy baptisms. He says that he has, but so have most Mormons who are eligible to participate in temple ordinances. Also referred to as temple work, ordinances are the sacred ceremonies performed within LDS temples for the living and the dead.

Explain it to me: Mormonism

Proxy baptisms are part of that work, and Romney's participation was likely decades ago. The baptisms are generally completed by younger Latter-day Saints, between the ages of 12 and 20, with males and females being vicariously submerged for deceased persons of the same gender, explains senior religion writer Peggy Fletcher Stack of The Salt Lake Tribune.

“A white-clothed young man or woman, standing in a font of water about waist-high, represents the dead person,” she writes. “He or she is then immersed after the adult male baptizer (also wearing white) says these words: “Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you for and in behalf of [name of the deceased] in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”

Mormons, usually ages 12 to 20, are baptized for the dead in LDS temples.

To be sure, for the Jewish people, who have experienced their fair share of forced conversions over the centuries (think the Spanish Inquisition), the suggestion that victims like Holocaust victim Anne Frank or Pearl might be baptized after death can be horribly offensive.

Others might view the practice of proxy baptism as simply strange or utterly meaningless. If you don't subscribe to the Mormon belief system, some might say, why does the practice matter to you?

Still others view the practice as nothing short of laughable and have made a mockery of what Latter-day Saints view as sacrosanct. The website “All Dead Mormons Are Now Gay” lets users enter the name of a dead Mormon and click the "Convert!" button to make them gay. Comedian Stephen Colbert responded on his show by slicing off the tips of hot dogs, thereby proxy-circumcising dead Mormons to make them Jewish.

A special invitation, attendance optional

This isn’t a laughing matter to Mormons, not least of all church officials, who say they wish 100% of its members would abide by their instructions. Putting a definitive stop to inappropriate proxy baptisms, however, is complicated, if not impossible.

“With more than 14 million members around the globe, the church is no more able to guarantee compliance of every member with its policies than other worldwide faiths are able to guarantee theirs,” Michael Otterson, who heads up LDS Church public affairs, wrote in a piece for the Washington Post.

The practice of performing proxy baptisms isn't one that's going away.

Believing as Jesus taught that baptism is essential to “enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5), Mormons believe they are extending a loving invitation to those who died without having the opportunity for this rite. They point to 1 Cornthians 15:29, in which Paul spoke of baptizing the dead, a message LDS Church founder Joseph Smith took to heart.

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In doing proxy baptisms, Mormons do not claim to make anyone Mormon. They believe spirits in the afterlife are being exposed to the gospel, and a proxy baptism provides an opportunity to the dead to either accept or turn down the invitation to believe and find salvation.

Central to LDS Church teachings is the belief that families across generations can be united for eternity. Performing proxy baptisms for the dead is what makes eternal togetherness in heaven possible. Family history research for Mormons, as a result, is of sacred importance.

Members have been in the business of family research since the 1840s, writes Stack of The Salt Lake Tribune. So it’s no coincidence, then, that the LDS Church boasts the most comprehensive genealogical records available.

The church has compiled more than 2.64 billion searchable names in its online historic records collection, and more than 250 million names are added to the database each year, LDS Church officials say. Every year, FamilySearch produces more than 160 million digital images from source documents.

The database is accessible to the public online or at more than 4,850 LDS Church family history centers and libraries in 126 countries.

LDS Church members are given special accounts that allow them, in a separate process, to submit names for temple rites by proxy, as well as see other names that have been submitted and baptized. Such details are off-limits in the public version of the database.

“Our doctrine is for members of the church to submit names of their own relatives for temple work,” church spokesman Purdy wrote in an e-mail to CNN. “Over the years the church has provided eligible names to take to the temple [for ordinances], but it is the primary responsibility of members to submit family names.”

In baptismal fonts in the 136 LDS Church temples that span the globe, temple ordinances for the dead take place every day but Sunday. So an overzealous or troublemaking Mormon in Sydney, Australia, for instance, might ignore instructions and enter a slew of names of people he’s not related to into the system. And then, sometime later at the temple in, say, Accra, Ghana, the people on that list might get baptized by proxy.

Because officials back at LDS Church headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, can’t monitor what each member does, whether with good intentions or not, names slip through – names like Daniel Pearl, Mickey Mouse and Stanley Ann Dunham, Barack Obama’s mother.

Understanding 'the messenger’

Often at the center of breaking proxy baptism stories is Helen Radkey. Touted as a whistleblower, the 69-year-old researcher has shamed the LDS Church time and again for objectionable or embarrassing baptisms.

An ex-Mormon who was excommunicated from the church, she is often seen by some observers as an obsessive agitator. Others praise her for her dogged commitment.

Radkey says she was active in the church for less than five years in the 1970s. In a 2009 profile in The Salt Lake Tribune, it was reported that this “Catholic-turned-Mormon-turned-New-Ager” left her first husband and children to join the church because she wanted in so badly.

A grown son from a later marriage was quoted as saying, “She was on a crusade … to single-handedly take down the Mormon religion. She was so consumed by that, we had a hard time relating to it.”

But the Australian-born Radkey, who lives in Salt Lake City, points out that it’s often others who come to her looking for names, because she has found ways to get access to records and knows how to navigate the system. She suggests journalists, hungry for anything Mormon-related during this election season, have brought her down.

She says someone from a British newspaper asked her to look up Princess Diana, who was baptized in 1999. A wire service reporter called, she adds, wanting to check to see if there’d been a proxy baptism for Gandhi; there had in 1996. And it was a reporter from The Boston Globe, at the prodding of his editor who had once worked with Pearl, who reached out seeking info on his status, the results of which created the latest hubbub.

Helen Radkey is often at the center of proxy baptism stories.

Though Radkey says the church blocked the account she most recently had been using, she hints that she has other accounts available, though she won't divulge details or confirm anything. She also says, “I’m not looking up any more names.” This, however, is a claim she's made before, as she did in the 2009 Salt Lake Tribune profile.

Over the years, she says she’s heard people accuse her of trying to get rich off her efforts. “I don’t make a living,” she says. “I have to do other work, and I get Social Security.”

At one point, about 10 years ago, the head of a Holocaust survivors group paid for her time to accumulate a list of 1,000 Holocaust victims who had been baptized, after the LDS Church claimed the Jewish community was “overreacting to the problem,” says Gary Mokotoff, a Jewish genealogist in New Jersey who has been following the issue for 22 years, long before it made headlines.

Besides being compensated by the same group for her time and expenses in appearing at a news conference in New York a few years ago, “that is the only time [she] received compensation for her effort,” Mokotoff wrote in an e-mail. “Helen puts in hundreds of hours per year on the matter without compensation (and she complains to me about it).”

Others, Radkey says, have speculated that she’s entered the names of those she later finds in LDS records, a charge she denies, calling it “out of date and out of line.”

“The inference that I enter names into the Mormon system, which I never have, usually comes from a Utah mindset that would ‘kill the messenger’ rather than deal with the results of my work,” she wrote in an e-mail to CNN. “Not only have I never done this, I should not have to explain away this false charge because there is not one shred of evidence that I have ever done such a thing.”

The upside for others, including Jews

For Mokotoff, a professional genealogist, there’s an irony to this issue that isn’t lost on him.

The past president of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies and co-owner of Avotaynu, which publishes resources for Jewish genealogists, Mokotoff is beyond grateful to the LDS Church. He leads trips to Salt Lake City, ground zero for family research. He has benefited directly from the care Mormons take in gathering, preserving and sharing records.

“They have 2.5 million microfilm rolls that represent billions of names,” he says. “I traced back my ancestry to 1727 in Poland because they had made copies of birth, marriage and death records in Warka, Poland, the ancestral town of the Mokotoff family.”

But even so, he remains firm in his belief that the LDS Church must stop baptizing Holocaust victims, and preferably deceased Jews in general, by proxy.

Granted, he respects the caveat that the church has always maintained, that if a Mormon is descended from Jews or Holocaust victims, those names are fair game.

Mokotoff says he recently got an e-mail from someone who was concerned that a niece was marrying a Mormon, would likely convert and would then potentially baptize others in the family.

“She has that right,” Mokotoff answered. “It’s her religion.”

But just as she has that right, the Jewish community has a right to remain concerned about what's happening in a Mormon-only system it can't access.

Blocking a whistleblower like Radkey may slow the ability to keep tabs on proxy baptisms, but it's not insurmountable, Mokotoff says.

“The Mormon church thinks they have found a way to end the controversy between the church and the Jewish community: stop Helen Radkey,” Mokotoff wrote late Thursday in an e-mail. “Ten years ago, their religious database, then called the International Genealogical Index, was accessible to the public. Now it is a secret database that can be used only by password. Helen Radkey has found ways of getting around the church's barriers in the past. She is a resourceful woman. I am sure she will find ways in the future.”

‘It’ll never be perfect’

There are outsiders who wish the LDS Church would just stop the proxy baptisms altogether. But that’s both unrealistic and disrespectful, says Rabbi Gary Greenebaum of Los Angeles.

Greenebaum is intimately involved in the issue as a liaison between the LDS Church and the Jewish community.

“I can work with [the church], and I can suggest strongly what kind of actions they can take,” he says. “But when it comes to their own theology, I don’t have much of a place to tell them what they should believe.”

What the former American Jewish Committee director of interreligious and intergroup affairs can do is take his cues from Holocaust survivors.

“The issue is their relatives lived as Jews and were murdered because they were Jews,” he says. “The whole Jewish sense of never forgetting means remembering who died and why they died.”

To that end, he has worked with LDS Church insiders to alleviate concerns.

He also has seen up close the frustration within the church. He feels for the officials. He applauds them for the statement they issued to members on Sunday and the reminders of guidelines that appear on FamilySearch. He sees how they have made tweaks to the system, established safeguards and how entries are flagged for review, for example, if deaths were during World War II and in places bearing names of Nazi death camps like Auschwitz or Treblinka.

He has observed the new hires, the additional hours and money spent. With several million submissions of names in FamilySearch each month, he says he persuaded the church to do computer runs more frequently to help prevent inappropriate proxy baptism requests from seeping through. When violations appear, someone phones the submitter for a discussion.

When the church first worked out an agreement on the proxy baptism of Holocaust victims back in 1995, there were 8.5 million LDS Church members, Greenebaum says. Now that number is 14 million, and between Internet access and computer advances, the system is enormous and not easy to control.

As a result and despite the hard work, mistakes are bound to happen.

“It’s moving closer to being figured out,” Greenebaum says. “But it’ll never be perfect because it’s just too vast. And it’s important to appreciate the problem they’re dealing with.”

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • Holocaust • Judaism • Mitt Romney • Mormonism • Utah

soundoff (1,493 Responses)
  1. Michael

    This should really be a non-issue. I was baptized in the Episcopal Church. If some moron, I mean Mormon, wants to baptize me in their faith or any other, they're just wasting their time. It will not have any effect on my beliefs.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • bfin

      My point exactly, I am a Mormon not a Moron, I have never said anything bad about you or your religion, But you made a great point. thanks

      March 9, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  2. cincolb

    I am both appaled and amused at the reaction to Romney' s Mormon background. The Mormon church grew out of a strong American desire for a religion that fit into the American mind set. I grew up Mormon and while I am no longer a practicing member I learned how to be a compassionate neighbor, how to appreciate my neighbors strengths and to care if they overcame their weaknesses, I learned to overlook personal issues and applaude accomplishments. I have often been told what a unique neighbor I am- I give full credit to my Mormon/Western upbringing. There is nothing about Mormonism that should make even the most devout of other religions nervous. Read a history book, try to figure out what our ancestors wanted when they left their homes and came to America, try to understand the sense of community that was so important to so many and you will understand the appeal of Mormonism and realize that Mormons are not all that different from Protestants, Catholics, Baptists, Jews..... religion is about community and caring overlook the odd tenants here and there and appreciate the fact that men with a strong sense of faith- be it democrate or republician want to lead. Honestly...........

    March 9, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  3. JJ

    I wonder if Saddam Hussein has been baptized yet?

    March 9, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  4. RichardSRussell

    This is so ridiculous. What a complete waste of time on the part of all concerned. Dead is dead. Who cares what some looney tune says or does about someone after they're gone? Makes no difference whatsoever to the dead person.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  5. George Marshall

    What a greater world it would be if all the bickering religions and their adherents would disappear.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  6. NorCalMojo

    Some of us believe that welcoming a child to the world by mutilating his private parts is barbaric, but we tolerate the practice because it's relatively harmless and "cracking down" would be more damaging than the practice itself.

    Something to think about.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  7. Wanaumba

    The reason its called Religious Tolerance is because we sometimes have to tolerate it when religions do things we don't like, or that offend our religious sense of right and wrong. The Mormons aren't hurting anyone. If you aren't a Mormon, then all this is just mumbo-jumbo that matters not to the dead – so it should mean nothing to you.

    Every religion offends other religions. Let's show some tolerance and not look to manufacture outrage.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Dude

      Exactly. So when my heavy metal / death rock band performs rituals binding the souls of dead Mormons to the eternal service of our dark Lord, tolerate us.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
  8. Bart

    The Mormon arrogance is appalling. They believe that they can make up the rules as they go along and it wouldn’t be the first time.

    The unfortunate historical trend with religious Mythologies.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  9. Bruce

    Buddists worship their ancestors, but what if their ancestors were not Buddists?
    If one of my children becomes Buddist and decides to worship me after I die even if I wasn't a Buddist I wouldn't be offended. My children should be able to have the freedom to believe what they want about me, even if I didn't share the same belief.
    Taoists might believe their ancestors are reincarnated as animals after this life, but what if their ancestors were not Taoist?
    What if one of my children believes I become an animal after I die, even if I was not a Taoist? Again, the idea doesn't offend me as I believe in the freedom of each individual to believe what they want.
    Some that may consider themselves Christian might believe that if their ancestors didn't accept Jesus during their life, then they are in hell.
    Some that may consider themselves Christian might believe that if I don't believe in Jesus the same way they do, that I will go to hell. Again, that doesn't offend me.
    If it's OK for Buddists, Taoists and some Christians to believe that certain things happen to me after I die that I don't believe in, why do people throw stones at Mormons for believing that their ancestors can accept baptism after this life?
    I say let everyone worship and believe how they want (even if it means somebody believes I turn into a pig after I die) as long as they are not trying to kill those who believe differently.
    Jesus taught that with the same judgement we judge others we too will be judged. (Matthew 7)

    March 9, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Bruce: clarification on what Jesus taught: "...but whoever does not believe stands condemned already..." (Jn.3:18)

      March 9, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
  10. Josef F

    What do I care what practice some crazy death-cult engages in. So they're "baptizing" people post-mortem. Who cares? It's *all* make-believe.
    I'll just take this practice into consideration the next time some wacky Mormon says "blah blah there's 14 million mormons blah blah". Yeah, but how many of those did you magically convert after they died?

    March 9, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  11. Separation Of Church & State

    If my name appears on a Mormon Baptism against my own free will while I am alive, then I ought to be able to search at no cost and remove my name from their list. If my name appears on a Mormon Baptism after my death, what gives anyone the right including the Mormon Church to claim a false adoption to my "status" after my death? Religion is a complicated subject. The causes of Disease and Religion are the most prolific killers of people on this planet both past and present. Does anyone believe in the Biblical tower of Babel? The result of the tower of Babel's destruction was the end of people working together and the birth and the spread of different religions around the Middle East and later around the world. On a basic level religion keeps us apart. Separation of Church and State is a profound idea. Before soldiers go into battle each side prays to their God for protection that they might be able to kill their enemy more efficiently. Who really wins? Are we ready for a Mormon President?

    March 9, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • LinSea

      The "adoption" is not an automatic thing. The baptism is performed. The person for whom it was performed decides if he or she wishes to accept it. It is their choice.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Guest

      Mormon's don't do this for people that are living, only the dead relatives of members of their church. Stop your whining.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  12. Slow-your-roll

    Mormons believe that all mankind may be saved thru Christ with baptism..... AND the proxy baptisms are a done so that those who have passed on without baptism may choose to accept the ordinance.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • chief

      and the difference between this and last rites are?

      March 9, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • Rinsewind

      Right. We've got that. It has been explained ad nauseum. What we don't get is why Mormons would still choose to do so when it is profoundly insulting to some non-Morman groups? Why not respect their wishes? I am not anti-Mormon, I fully accept that Mormons are Christians, I don't think the LDS church is some kind of a cult, but rather a legitimate religion. I appreciate a lot of LDS practices and values. I understand why individuals would want to offer proxy baptisms to family members. However, I still don't get why some LDS members can't understand why some people find it offensive, and refrain from undertaking it for groups who have clearly made their displeasure known.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Slow-your-roll

      The point was, That they are free to CHOOSE weather or not they want to accept the ordinance.

      March 9, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  13. DPCA

    Thank you Rabbi Greenebaum for your honest answers and support of the LDS church. Indeed they will make every effort to uphold the wishes of the Jewish community. They are people who keep their word and are very dedicated in their efforts to ensure that they do not cross any lines that would be considered offensive to the general public and other religions.

    People of the LDS church are some of the kindest and genuine people you will ever meet. They are not out to offend anyone and I can honestly say that errors have been made and will probably be made in the future but great efforts have been taken to assure that errors are grealty reduced and or impossible to occur.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  14. Anna

    uhh in a cult you are tricked to join, being a member of the lds church is your own choice. your own free will. every member in the church chooses to be in it, if they don't they obviously aren't a member. we teach goodness. we strive to be good people. we are happy... the end. the baptisms aren't doing any harm to any individual. so much hatred...it's sad.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  15. Chris

    Who gives a flying dung heap? Why is this news? Are these dead people suddenly Mormons? Are these baptisms so powerful as to reach backwards in time and convert the Jew into something more "acceptable" prior to thier death? If so, I got news for you Jewish people, the Mormon God is bigger and better than yours.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  16. K Ols

    Why are just people of the Jewish faith exempt from proxy baptisms by Mormons? I've already been baptized in my own faith so don't need baptisms into a faith I don't believe in. Why do they think it's acceptable to baptize non-Mormons or anyone who is not a Mormon while they are living? It just plain makes no sense to be baptizing anyone who is not a Mormon who would not give their consent while living?

    I find this practice disrespectful of all other religions. They have no right to baptize someone even by proxy if they weren't Mormons before their death regardless whether they were related by blood to any Mormon. Disgusting.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  17. Jack

    Hey, the Catholics have Exorcism, the Fundatmentaliist Christians have Talking in Tongues, the Scientologists have Benevolent Aliens the Jews are waiting for the Messiah, the Hindus have a–wait a minute, wait a minute. I'm getting confused. Wait. Tell me again - which religion is the one true religion?

    March 9, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  18. Nina

    This baptism by proxy seems fairly presumptuous on the part of Mormons. If this procedure is so precious to them, why not obtain permission from the families whose relatives the Mormons wish to baptize? Then it would be a procedure done with informed consent.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Peng

      They do (or at least should) receive permission. Members of the LDS church are instructed to only perform baptisms for family members.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • Bruce

      So should we ask the Buddists to get the informed consent of ALL descendents of an individual before they start to worship that individual after he/she has died? Should we ask Taoists to get the informed consent of ALL descendents of an individual before they start believing that individual has reincarnated as a dog after he/she has died? Should some self professed Christians get the informed consent of ALL descendents of an individual before believing he/she went to hell because he/she didn't believe the same way they do? Should Mormons have to get the informed consent of ALL descendents of an individual before believing he/she has an opportunity to accept baptism after this life?

      March 9, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  19. John

    Society says:

    1) Performing proxy baptisms for deceased persons in the belief that failing to do so will keep them out of Heaven if they so desire to go there is BAD, BAD, BAD!!!

    2) Having intercourse with a bunch of people, getting knocked up, then killing the fetus because it's inconvenient and would bother you or crap your lifestyle is GOOD, GOOD, GOOD.

    Am I the only one who thinks society it completely NUTSO!?

    March 9, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Emperor Vadik, CA

      When people look upon the Heaven streets, only two things are certain...

      1. The Heaven is guarded by U.S. Marines

      2. There are no Mormons there what so ever

      March 9, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • Guest

      One More Truth. Emperor was never a Marine.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  20. Sara Urry

    So sad that the people who comment on this article have no base because of the lack of understanding for another persons religion. Ms. Radkey has a bone to pick with the LDS Church in general. I am a Mormon and very proud of it. It is not a cult religion nor are our practices any more different than other people of faith. Why mock what you don't understand and have no idea what you are talking about? Have any of you people that have commented investigated the Mormon Religion at length? I highly doubt it. I have the utmost respect for other people who are not of my faith and I believe that people of the Mormon faith should be treated with the same respect. If a religion is bringing you closer to God, helping you to show more compassion and understanding of all people, it can't be bad. Once again, what none of you seem to understand and have knowledge of, you are sure quick to judge and condemn.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Thinkformyself

      Not so fast Sara Urry!

      Did you know that your church recylces names and one person can be dead dunked several times at different mormon temples? The reason: To keep the masses brainwashed!!!!!

      I grew up in your church so I know.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • Joseph Smith

      Sara, you have been brainwashed...tell me why your god changed his mind about polygamy, why the BOM was is so perfect, BUT it has had literally thousands of revisions since Joseph Smith wrote it, why there is NO evidence of the Nephites in the Americas. Intelligent people don't tolerate brainwashing.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • BHS2PSU

      Did God ever change his mind? Do we still offer animal sacrifices? Is it still and eye for an eye? Sorry, but there have been no major changes to the Book of Mormon. Some grammar changes and printing error fixed from the pre-SpellCheck era of 1830. And as far as the Nephites ever heard of the ancient Americans like the Mayans? Intelligent people are those that can take in the doubt abd recognize the falacious arguments against the truth.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • bfin

      @thinkformyself, That is the job for my generation, so many names have been put in more than once, so I go through my Ancestors and try to combine records, it's a process, If you think you are shedding light on something new, think again, we are all trying to do the best We can.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.