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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. Spam Eater

    More of the daily Mormon bashing from the Obama worshipping media with no other purpose than to attempt to drag Mitt Romney down.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • Steve

      The only reason you think this is a slam against Mitt is if YOU believe this practise is too weird. I find it very interesting but very non political and it doesn't affect me at all.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • sam stone

      gee,......spam....feeling a bit put upon? perhaps the media would not be able to report it if the magic underpants people didn't do it

      March 9, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • Pizzagirl1986

      Hmmm...,perhaps it's just the fact that baptizing dead people is WRONG. Did that ever occur to you?

      March 9, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • Spam Eater

      Mormon beliefs do not affect me in any way. i don't recall any of them strapping on bombs or spouting GD America from the pulpit. Maybe you could refresh my memory on those occurrences.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  2. Much More to the Story

    I find it ironic that criticism of the Mormon Church finds it sounding board on CNN. For those who truly do have questions about Mormon theology why not go to the source? The misconception of any theology is perpetuated by the ignorant or the shallow believer in slanted perception of any particular theology. This is applicable to Jew, Muslim, and Christian alike. For more information on the beliefs of Mormons, visit mormon. org

    March 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • Republican Class Warfare

      I don't know many people who are interested in hearing Scientology's side of the story because they're full of it, why would I want to hear any lies from the racist cult of mormonism?

      March 9, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • No More to the Story

      Nope. You are the magic underwear wearing, golden plates believing, Moroni Baloney eating, Jospeh Smith fluffing fluffers you appear to be, no more study of you is required (though I have actually studied the Mormon faith). It's easier to lump you into big generalized crazy because to reason and rationalize yourself into believing crazy is like putting the lobster in a pot of cold water and slowly turning up the heat, hardly a peep out of you and before you know it your brain is cooked.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  3. Monica

    An elephant can pass through the hole of a needle, rather a media these days give positive news and created a world for the better place. Why? Media and their sarvants serves the Pharaoh of our time.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  4. Republican Class Warfare

    I heard the Mormon church teaches that no black people will go to heaven and that they're evil. Sounds like a great way to think for the president of the united states.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • jeff

      Get your facts straight before you start saying things which are not true.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  5. Paulo

    Baptism without belief and repentance is just a bath. I don't care that the mormons want to practice this but it hardly guaranees salvation for anything I've ever read.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • Steve

      "A bath", thanks for the grin on a Friday.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • sam stone

      looking for a guarantee of salvation, are you?

      March 9, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  6. don

    It's a lie, they're doing it now just to help their Mormon presidential candidate Romney to get elected, they've been doing it forever and are always going to do it. Mormonism is extreme.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • Bhoss

      Extreme! like skating half pipe. MAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNNN! stop fear mongering

      March 9, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  7. kris in detroit

    Wow, CNN....you are so obvious it is scary. This is headline news why? Oh yeah, the liberal media is afraid that Romney will defeat the messiah Obumma. Way to be objective.........

    March 9, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • sam stone

      wow, kris....."liberal media", "obumma"....you sure are an intellect

      March 9, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  8. Cando

    No Jason: We dont.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  9. Albert

    Interesting how intolerant the left really is. And why is it ok to bash the mormons in the mainstream media, when to do so for Judaism, Islam, and other religions is off-limits and not politically correct? I’m pretty sure if you actually look into it a bit, all religions have some pretty weird customs, beliefs and traditions. If you ask me, parting the red sea seems a little far-fetched, but if people want to believe it, who am I to say they shouldn’t? I can doubt its veracity, but I don’t have any proof it didn’t happen. If someone wants to pray for me, I say go for it. I may not believe in it, but I don’t see how it really hurts me.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • Pizzagirl1986

      So Albert are you saying this practice is acceptable?? And to use kids as a stand-in for the dead people being baptized?? The whole thing is creepy and gross and the fact that you seem to be supporting this is disturbing.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Bhoss

      i don't think he said he supported it, i do believe he said it didn't matter to him because he didn't believe in it. However Mormons believe this is a way to provide salvation for those who are dead. if there is a way to save a person from purgatory and allow them to enter the kingdom of heaven, how could they not do it for everyone? and also you can start doing it at 12, but you are not required to be that young. you can do it at any age above 12.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  10. Carene

    Since the church has such an extensive database, only members of that family should be allowed to baptized another familty member by proxy. The church member should have to provide proof of ancestary prior to a proxy baptism. The idea that you put a name on a list and anyone can do it is absurd. This is why the church has the problem it does.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • Richard

      Yeah we lefties are intolerant. Mittens has been spewing lies about my president and now you rethugs can't take what you give. Guess what, come September time mittens is going to be bombarded with all kinds of things about his cult. I am intolerant of people who try to make themselves Christians and do the opposite of what Jesus said. Fighting fire with fire seems the way to go, and if you think President Obama is going to let mittens get away with lying about him, you have a rude awakening coming. Mittens is going into the toilet and we will never have to hear from him again.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  11. Debbie

    This practice of proxy baptism for the dead is evidence of three things: 1) LDS is not Christian, 2) LDS doesn't believe in free will choice to ask Jesus into your Heart. 3) LDS is placing themselves above God and his plan for our Redeemer.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • Doug

      Baptism for the dead is evidence that LDS are Christian. Most Christian sects believe that people who died not knowing Christ must be damned even if they were born in backwater China. That belief is about as un-Christian as it gets. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are carrying on a requirement that has always existed that every man, woman child can accept or reject baptism without prejudice.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • mugicha

      You are really misinformed. Is your comment based on your own investigation of the LDS church, or is it something somebody else told you? There's a lot of hearsay and misinformation floating around. Find out the truth first, then form your own opinion.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • All Religions are Dangerous

      Chris·tian (krschn) adj.
      1. Professing belief in Jesus as Christ or following the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.
      2. Relating to or derived from Jesus or Jesus's teachings.
      3. Manifesting the qualities or spirit of Jesus; Christlike.
      4. Relating to or characteristic of Christianity or its adherents.
      5. Showing a loving concern for others; humane.
      n.
      1. One who professes belief in Jesus as Christ or follows the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.
      2. One who lives according to the teachings of Jesus.

      According to the definition Mormons are christian. They believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior and that through him all men can be saved. Just becuase they are not your brand of Christian does not change that fact. Stop being intolerant and hateful because you interpret God differently...

      March 9, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  12. Rolling Eyes

    why does everyone on this comment bored have to make everyting political. Im against Rmoney...Im for Obama...but i found this piece to be very interesting and not once did...DONT VOTE FOR ROMNEY cross my mind bc of it. Your being just as bad as CNN is

    March 9, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • kris in detroit

      If it isn't obvious to you why CNN is making this headline news, then you have really drunk deep into the Obummer's koolaid

      March 9, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  13. rhall32

    This was reason #1 why I left the mormon church at age 15. Words fail to explain how weird it feels to be baptized for dead people. What a macabre ritual. I suppose there's a reason they use kids for these baptisms. Yuck, I'm so glad to be rid of that strange religion.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • mugicha

      So you left the Mormon church because they are the only Christian church who follows the Bible in doing baptisms for the dead? All Christian churches would be doing the same if they truly believed the Bible.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  14. tony

    All religions end up wanting 100% control of everyone. Violence is felt to be justified pretty early in the game.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Steven Capsuto

      No, not all religions want control over everyone. You don't see rampaging mobs of Unitarians, non-evangelical Quakers, Reconstructionist Jews, etc., etc. trying to impose their beliefs or practices on anyone else.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • Truth

      Also religion is a distraction that allows room to divide and control. I agree and think this is ridiculous and a waste of energy.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  15. Mark

    A "woe is us" Jewish story again. Written by a Jew. Wonder how level and fair this story is. Wonder if the tables are turned, Jews would say, "our religion is only for us" ... "please repect that" .... "if you don't, you're an anti-semite".

    March 9, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Sly

      I'm not religous ... but are Jews Mormons?

      Actually, what are the differences between Muslims and Christians and Mormons and Jews? They all sound quite similar to me.

      Why is everyone getting so worked up about it? Aren't there virgins waiting for us in Heaven no matter what religion we are?

      Oh well, as I said, this religion stuff is kinda new to me ... just trying to learn you know!

      March 9, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  16. Jim in Florida

    Would CNN had run this hit piece if Obama were Mormon?

    March 9, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Republican Class Warfare

      Muslim, Mormon, radical liberation theological Christian...what's the difference?

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

      Yes

      March 9, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • All Religions are Dangerous

      No stupid... the media accused Obama of being much worse... a closet Muslim...

      Seriously the people of the country are becoming absolutely ridiculous when it comes to religion.... I don't care what you believe. Worship giant space monkey-zebra hybrids who are coming to take you away on their spaceship for all I care. As long as you are not harming other living beings then go ahead and howl at the moon in your birthday suits, but stop acting like everyone else has to subscribe to your BS.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • c

      CNN, Fox, MSNBC, PBS, ABC, NBC CBs etc all ran relentless stories on Obama's crazy "black racist' preacher Rev wright. They all claimed they had the right to question/disagree with his black liberation theology. and they were right. So why should Romney and the Mormans be spared the vitriol and constant scrutiny. Funny how this seems not to apply to white dominated "religions". Frankly, I want to hear Romney explain to how and why he believes in a religion where the companion book of mornans was dug up in Palmyra , New York and somehow got meshed with the KJ Bible.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Richard

      Yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      March 9, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  17. Republican Class Warfare

    Tonight I will sacrifice a chicken upon a pentagram altar and baptize Mitt Romney in blood so that he may serve my dark master Satan in the afterlife (he's already doing pretty good in his current life).

    March 9, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • mugicha

      It won't work, but knock yourself out. 🙂

      March 9, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
  18. KJM1968

    Sick cult.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • BHS2PSU

      What do you even know about the LDS church. What do you know about Christianity? I would be willing to be not much.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • LostinSLC

      Look, I left the LDS church over 10 years ago due to personal reasons but a cult they are not. Every religion has their own practices and some would say Southern Baptists are just as crazy as any Christian. What about the Evangelicals who all of a sudden "heal" all with a touch and a "God heals ya"!?
      No matter if you agree with it or not (I don't) it doesn't make it a cult.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  19. No Offense Taken

    I guess I am far more laid back than most, but I choose to look at it this way...

    If the Mormons are correct in their theolgy then they are performing soul saving rituals on behalf of these people (assuming they accept their help in the afterlife). If the Mormons are wrong then they did a whole lot of swimming for nothing and it doesn't mean a thing.

    People need to focus less on being offended by what someone else believes (especially when it really does no harm except causing some offense) and be more secure in their own beliefs. Just because a Mormon says they baptized a person after they died does not make that person a Mormon. I am pretty sure that if God exists he will judge you based on the decisions you made and not based on decisions made by others.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Republican Class Warfare

      Yes, because those jews won't go to heaven unless they're baptized in the Mormon tradition. All this time they've been focusing on the wrong jerusalem–they should be fighting over Nebraska, not Israel!

      March 9, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • Stew

      I agree.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • DrRayE

      Good point. Mormon beliefs shouldn't affect a non-Mormon in any way, shape or form. And mature individuals shouldn't be all that put out when missionaries knock on their door. How hard is it to invite them in for a cold glass of water on a hot day, and politely say you're not interested in their message?

      March 9, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Richard

      So if baptizing them does not make them a mormon they why waste the time. My relatives are catholics, I don't want some cult follower baptizing my relatives. They have no right to try and change someones' religion. Especially to such strange beliefs. That by far is not the only staragne belief they have. They are a CULT pure and simple.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • c

      To a point -you are correct- religious tolerance and freedom is important. But when any religion claims that it has the authority to conduct such rituals in God's name and disregards the wishes of other religions is disruptive and insensitive at best to people who might disagree with certain doctrinal practices. Religious freedom does not mean you can't question a particular belief or practice. We all would like to feel that no religious minded President or government official would not use his/her faith in an inappropriate manner.
      We dealt with this with Kennedy's Catholic issue. Romney unlike Kennedy was and remains a high official in the Morman Church (he was presiding Bishop 1981 in the Boston stake when he was Gov. of Mass. Romney still has considerable influence in the church.
      Romney has several well publisized religious conflicts and social issues in which the Morman church pours million into lobbying and political issues. One of them concerned allegations of physical abuse against women in the Morman church and Morman women who supported the Equal Rights Amendment. Romney classified these descenters as a "bunch of bored housewives". Some of the womnen were diciplined and or excommunicated by the Morman Church. Romnney has never explained his role in this affair.
      I want to hear what he has to say.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  20. Jason

    Want to learn more about Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints? Go to: www .lds.org/church/temples

    March 9, 2012 at 12:52 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.