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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. Ran

    The Mormons have spent millions of dollars of advertising-only to be undone by their own crazy beliefs.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Dave, CA

      Money can't cure stupid. Just ask Mitt, Santorum, and Rush.

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

    If these people don't believe in the mormon religion then why do they care if someone proxy baptizes their dead? This is being brought to light because of Mitt Romney running for president. This is a totally sacred practice for mormons and the media is making lite of it to get Obama re-elected.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • RavitzonRadkey

      Exactly, and leveraging the athiests and haters to do so. no surprises here.

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

      There is no such thing as a "sacred" practice that is done without the prior consent of the victims.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Dave, CA

      Because it is totally disrespectful to the dead, the wishes of their families, and those of other faiths. It's presumptuous and arrogant.

      Who cares when it came up- this year, next year, or last year. It is an obscene practice that is right up there with soldiers urinating on the dead.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  3. thoughts2u398

    Ridiculous! This is why I do not participate in any religion. I lost my family in the Holocaust and I don't need anyone to decide what is best for me or my family. My great grandfather committed suicide because his Catholic daughter married a Jew. What a bunch of secretive lunatics.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  4. joy

    So they promise now to stop it, just like they promised to stop it in 1995. So we find out that they NEVER did stop it. And they promise – again- to stop it. Does anyone have any reason to believe them now?

    March 9, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • Dave, CA

      No.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  5. John

    Everyone misses the fact that this belief has enabled the world to have the most complete genealogical records on the entire planet. It is used in medical research as well as giving millions of people access to their ancestral lines. They do not charge for it either. If was not for their belief we would not have any of it.

    They should be thanked instead of hassled about it.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • thoughts2u398

      They clearly charge for their online services.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Dave, CA

      Please stay on topic- this is about the obscene practice of molesting the dead not researching your roots.

      NO they don't deserve to be thanked for arrogantly ignoring the beliefs of others. This is no different than soldiers urinating on the dead.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • Albert

      Dave, maybe you miss the point. "Molesting the dead"? I think that proxy means that they don't actually dig up dead people. From what I understand it is the equivalent of saying a prayer for them. Why get all bent out of shape about something you don't even believe in? When one of my family members passed away, tons of people told me "you're in our prayers" or "we'll pray for you and your family." Did I get all bent out of shape? No, because I understood they genuinely believed they were doing something kind or of benefit to me... their display of love. I was actually grateful for the gesture. It wasn't arrogant or obscene. Seems more like you just have an ax to grind.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  6. Tano

    I find it pitiful that this article is purposefully placed to ridicule The LDS Church, just to add one more thing to the bag of things that Mr. Romney MAY have to defend in his bid for the Republican nomination. Liberals are happy to see this headline, why not? they say. Unfortunately, those southern evangelicals are also probably going to come to the conclusion that LDS members (aka Mormons) are weird. However, vicarious baptisms for the dead is part of the Gospel of Christ. If you believe in The Bible, as we do, being Christians, then this is true: http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Corinthians+15:28-30&version=NIV or you can read it here also: http://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/1-cor/15.29?lang=eng#28 So, even though CNN wants to ridicule a Gospel principle, for us, LDS member, we have nothing to hide, it's in the Bible and at the time of Christ that was a practice that was in place as part of the Gospel of Christ. The Law from the Old Testament was fulfilled when Christ came, from that time forward we have the Gospel of Christ, thus you read of no animal sacrifices in the New Testament, for example, just to give you an idea.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • Dave, CA

      I'm sure those who have had deceased loved ones who have been subjected to this disrespect feel differently. Fact is the LDS church DID do it after they promised NOT to do it and have been caught again LYING about it. What makes this a "liberal" issue? It's an obscene practice that was supposed to have stopped.

      But feel free to point as many fingers and post meaningless versus if it makes you feel better about these liars.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  7. Perdy

    Bottom line is, no one should be performing any religious rite "by proxy" for someone not related to them. They have no authority to involve someone else's deceased relative/ancestor/etc. in their religion, be it LDS or Catholicism or what have you. HIGHLY disrespectful to the living and the dead... though I can't say I'm not surprised Mormons are doing it, and some even try to justify it, as if they could.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • Albert

      "Bottom line" is that no one should be able to tell anyone else in this country what they can or can't believe it. Pretty sure this country was founded on religious freedom. Their practices may not make sense to me, but I'm definitely not ok with the systematic erosion of freedoms in this country because one group is intolerant of another. Diversity of people, thought, religion, and beliefs makes the country better as a whole.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  8. blaqb0x

    I'd love for someone to posthumously Baptize Christopher Hitchens. That might get him with in Hitch-Slapping distance of God.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  9. RavitzonRadkey

    Typical Jessica Ravitz article. Peppered with sarcasm, hate, nonsense, and just the smallest amount of "I Care" – just to keep her from falling off the left side of the planet. So..A bitter ex-Mormon admittedly (and validated by her family) grinds any axe she can with the church just to prove how much hatred she carries around in her teeny-tiny little heart for the LDS people. Former Catholic-Mormon-New ager-to who knows what's next. Who cares what the Mormons do If it's all BS? Breaking any laws? This is no different than the Pope blessing the dead (including Holocaust victims) or the Hindus burning incense for the dead. Clearly the underlying timing and front-page status of this so-called article is to discredit Mitt Romney as he emerges as the GOP leader. Let's revisit Obama & Jeremiah Wright – whack job deluxe – ...dead air from the leftist press.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  10. tony

    All the VERY BEST RELIGIONS HAVE A DEAD LEADER who of course, you can't then argue with. Nor vote out of that position. And of course no-one else can ever overhear the personal instructions passed down to the top dog living"representative". So he's never a liar, that anyone can prove.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  11. Ann

    I don't see the point. The person is dead. On the other hand, show some respect to other religions and stop this ridiculous practice.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  12. Susan

    I'm a Mormon and I've done temple baptisms many times. I think it's wonderful that God would provide a way for all people to be baptized whether or not they had the opportunity in this life. Since the deceased can accept for reject the vicarious baptism, it in no way forces anyone into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Here is a friendly invitation to learn more:
    http://mormon.org/

    March 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • tony

      As a Mormon, you have no idea what an un-wonderful life you areforcing your families, and especially the womenfolk into.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Joe

      'God' provided no such thing. You made it up. Stop making things up.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • dkinabq

      You forgot to say, "being baptized into the mormon church". The church uses baptism records from other christian churches to get names for proxy baptisms. You forgot to gloat about how the lds church is the only true church and how every other christian church's baptisms aren't valid and don't have proper authority after a person is dead. You also forgot to say the person will also be confirmed and endowed a mormon after they're dead too.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  13. zago

    A president baptizing the dead! America would officially become a VOODOO country. So weird

    March 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • John

      That is not very respectful or tolerant of his religion. I am sure he would not say the same about your beliefs, which I am sure he would see as very different from his own.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  14. BuckeyeJim

    How about proxy marriage, could be a way to compete with the 72 virgins that Islam offers, or is that 72 white raisins.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • blaqb0x

      I get dibs on Marilyn Monroe!

      March 9, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  15. jordan

    Stay Away from our People !!! Who the hell do you people think you are desecrating the dead of my Religion.We would not do it to you.
    My Father's side of the family lost a good 70 – 80% as they were gassed on Arrival at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  16. JT

    Superst-itious people are so funny....and scary. Superst-itious people doing some mumbo jumbo magic spell on other superst-itious people and they get all upset. Is this 2012 or 1012?

    March 9, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • X

      Crossing my fingers that your message gets through to them!

      March 9, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  17. Sean D

    I can't quite figure out what has people upset about this??? If you don't believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true, then I am guessing you probably don't believe that the ordinance of proxy baptism that has been done by member of that church actually means anything. And if it doesn't actually mean anything to you then why be so upset about it? If a voodoo princess makes a voodoo doll replica of me and pokes it with pins to cause pain to me am I going to feel it? I don't think so, so I'm not upset by it. (However, should any voodoo princesses by reading this please note this was just an example and I would prefer not to have pain inflicted on me in any way. Thank you for understanding.) : )
    The bottom line is this. When we die one of a few things will happen. 1. Nothing, we are all just dead. 2. We find out that the Proxy baptism thing meant nothing and life, whatever form that is at that point simply goes on. OR 3. Everyone finds out the Mormons were right and then they thank them for doing this and getting them past their own pride.
    What I'm saying is that if you don't believe that is fine. But quit getting upset about it. Just go be happy and do your own thing and let others do theirs. THIS HAS NO EFFECT ON YOU WHATSOEVER.

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

      I just proxy humped your mom. If you don't believe in it, don't let it bother you when I do it again 😉

      March 9, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Igen

      Well said good sir.
      If you believe it to be true, that it applies. If you dont believe it, then it doenst apply. How can it possibly be a bad thing that people are trying to do something they consider good and important for you (weather it is or not) that has no effect on you.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  18. 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 servants serves the Pharaoh of our time.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Dave, CA

      LOL- it's ALWAYS someone else's fault- and usually the guilty one's blame "the media" ROFL. It's always pathetic when oppressors try to play the victim.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • jane

      oh puhleez,,,so tired of morally judgmental religious people (and repubs et al) pooping on media and everything published that isn't in line with their specific beliefs. this is an OPINION piece on cnn. media expresses opinions – much like the Bible expressed one opinion of historical events.

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

      I totally agree with you Monica. They always want to dig up some type of controversy to stir people up. We always seem to fall right in line with what ever they publish and do exactly what they want us to do; make fun of some one else's religion and loose all tolerance for differing beliefs from our own. Those who have no beliefs are the least tolerant.

      Just look at the comments here in this blog. Does this look like a religiously tolerant understanding group?

      March 9, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  19. Walmart Monk

    They will say one thing and do another. It is the way. We say will stop this, but continue in secret. Also, do they make sure all of the people they baptize in proxy are not gay first? Seems to me that would be a priority within the church, since they hate gays so much. Gay=Excommunication, right? KJM1968 has a point IMHO (as my kids would put it)

    March 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • T-2

      That's not true, my best friends brother is openly gay and a faithful member of the church. Maybe you should check your facts and perhaps read the whole article. Mormons believe that no one is made to accept the baptism, it is their choice, so a deceased gay person could choose to accept the gospel or not. Beyond the fact that all must be baptized to gain salvation, we also hold it as a core belief that all have the right to choose baptism. As a church, we would never, and never have forced anyone to be baptized. God would not do that and neither would we. All people have free agency

      March 9, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  20. GodPot

    How many Muslims do Mormons posthumously baptize by the way, and have they baptized Bin Laden yet? And if not, why not? All the defenders seem to keep saying it doesn't matter if you don't believe, so whats the harm right? Or do you only invite those who YOU want in heaven since thats mankinds job right, picking who gets to go to heaven... right?

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

      well said!

      March 9, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • MeMelvin

      Great questions! Keep on firing at 'em.

      Old punch line: "And God said to the newly arrived soul...I'm whispering 'cause the (insert your favorite religious group) think they are the only ones here."

      March 9, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • T-2

      Mormons believe that no one is made to accept the baptism, it is their choice, so a deceased person could choose to accept the gospel or not. Beyond the fact that all must be baptized to gain salvation, we also hold it as a core belief that all have the right to choose baptism. As a church, we would never, and never have forced anyone to be baptized. God would not do that and neither would we. All people have free agency.
      As a matter of fact Hitler's was baptized by proxy by a extended descendant. He would have the right to choose to accept the gospel.
      As a matter of personal belief I also think he would have to face God's judgement for his crimes committed here on earth.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • GodPot

      @T-2 – You lost me at "so a deceased person could choose". Also when you say Hitler "would have the right to choose to accept the gospel." you forget that he was baptized as a Catholic in Austria, so you are really saying that you believe only YOUR baptism is officially sanctioned by God and it doesn't work if other religions perform it, so it's the Mormon faith that gets to CHOOSE who gets a chance to go to heaven. There are so many flaws in your logic that it's no wonder you can't even see them, it's like having so many holes in Swiss cheese that you are left with just air but want to still try to convince people it's cheese.

      March 9, 2012 at 3:32 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.