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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. Correct123

    Just wait till pictures of Bishop Romney surface. Kaboom for Mitten's candidacy. Hopefully they surface after the Repugnican convention, when it is too late to nominate another Repugnican.

    March 9, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  2. Eman de Riuqer

    I don't see what the big deal is. I have done it with TV & film actresses Mila Kunis and Olivia Wilde... by proxy. (The proxies are helping me type this, incidentally.) No one seemed upset about that... and no one should be. It's harmless. The Mormons dunked SOMEONE ELSE... who cares what they think or whom they BELIEVE they "baptized". Such baptism, even if the teachings Judaism, etc., are true, DO NOT MATTER. If the teachings of the Church of LSD or whatever are right, then you should be thanking them. Either way, you're covered.

    Every religion is essentially a cult, so who cares? Oh no... a cult decided I am a member of it even though I am already dead, woe is me!!! Haha, what a joke.

    March 9, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  3. Ungodly Discipline

    Come on over and knock on our door,
    it's open whatchu waitin' for?
    We might be sprawled out on the floor,
    but we still make lovely company.
    Pull up a chair, I'll pour some tea,
    We'll shoot the s.h.i.t, 'bout everything,
    till you get sick of politics and religion.

    March 9, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  4. The Pope

    Today's Special: Catholic Baptisms $100.00, Protestant Baptisms $100.00, Mormon Baptisms $10,000.00 + 10% of your income for life.

    March 9, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • Ungodly Discipline

      Muslim babtism's free. They just spit on you.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Ungodly Discipline

      It is a little more pricey if you go with the acid bath, what with the reconstructive facial surgery and so forth.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • BEINGHISOWN

      ...lol...and what they pay for the babtism is ONLY a downpayment toward all that will be DEMANDED to pay for after the babtism which is followed by...First Communion, confirmation, getting married, ALL-Souls day, 3kings day, easter, Christmas...and so on and on...until the bound to their churches as the deceived and ROBBED die...

      ...then if the dead are being prayed for the living keep paying for that too...then those who are left behind will continue this vicious cicle of the churches all over again...with the next generation ... because those who are left behind are obligated to teach the next generation into opening up their billfold ... and that is why the people without knowiledge go under!!!!

      March 9, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  5. The Pope

    SPECIAL, TODAY ONLY: Catholic Baptisms $100.00, Protestant Baptisms $100.00, Mormon Baptisms $10,000.00 + 10% of your income for life.

    March 9, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • Don't understand

      Or you could befriend a Mormon, kill yourself and get it done for free.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • nown

      "Mormon Baptisms $10,000.00 + 10% of your income for life."
      Children under 0: FREE
      expired Senior Citizen's: FREE

      March 9, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • John Smith

      You should tell them to hang on to the recript.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  6. Correct123

    The local Mormon just baptized my dog without my dog's consent! My dog is a practicing Canine and this Mormon assault must stop. Enough already...!!

    March 9, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  7. Calvin Bonner

    This is very interesting? It was recorded in the history of Jesus life where he question the meaning of baptism and was told why they were doing it. So he said to John will you baptize me. If Jesus didn't understand it, why is there such a big deal about it. All souls are property of GOD, so no man can do what GOD has already done.

    March 9, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
  8. Paul

    Religion is already for brain dead people, but those who baptize dead people against their will or belief is not only disrespectful, but clear not very bright. ... and the GOP wants for President a guy who will ask his church to baptize my son after he is dead.

    FU religious people ... at least do others the factor of not bothering them with your beliefs ..

    March 9, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • John Smith

      When your ready to reframe from sharing your believe will you still be able to tell others who you feel about their believes. DA

      March 9, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Joe T.

      Let me ask you something, if they did baptise your son after he died, and they never told you about it, would the baptism make a difference? Your son is dead. He wouldn't know. You would be none-the-wiser. It clearly has no power so nothing would really change except now your son would be in a Mormon database as having been baptised. That's the only real thing it does... put your son in a database.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  9. NorCalMojo

    I think all religions should do this. If heaven exists, it'll increase all of our odds of getting in.

    March 9, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  10. Adam M

    What does it matter really? It is all hogwash anyway.

    March 9, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • oneSTARman

      Even if you are an ATHEIST there are Social Implications. We have a Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney, who has been Taught that because he Performed all the Temple rituals – he will be a GOD in Heaven. The REST of the 99% can ONLY at BEST because they have been given the Blessing by Proxy become 'minister angels' of the 1% GODS.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Guest

      Yeah, Social Implications. Just like JFK, right?

      March 9, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • John Smith

      onestarman just another man who thinks he knows but really does not. But God bless he won't let that stop him.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • Joe T.

      I don't know oneStarman. He was governon of MA and never really let any kind of Mormon agenda shine through.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  11. TJeff1776

    1st Corinth 15:29(New Testiment)- "Else what shall they do do that are baptized for the dead- if the dead rise not at all, why are they then baptized for the dead."...............SO Mormons do just that. SO WHAT ??? This is their religion. There is always something about other peoples religion that offends someone, especially IF it doesn't agree with theirs. BUT they don't stop just because some idiot is offended and complains. BUT don't forget, the majority of the population don't like your religion either but doubt they waste their time complaining about it. And thats some of yours cases also- a waste of time.

    March 9, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • oneofthe2000

      agreed!

      March 9, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  12. Itsacult

    its a cult

    March 9, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • JT

      Are are all religions.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Correct123

      It's a cookbook!

      March 9, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  13. Jeff P

    Ms. Ravitz:

    Congratulations on an excellent and fair piece of journalism! I have read many stories that don't describe this practice accurately, or that aren't balanced in presenting the views of Mormons and their detractors, and also in explaining why the objection coming from Jews is so heartfelt and strong. Excellent work.

    To the commentators in these posts who engage in so much name-calling, I would tell you that I am a practicing Mormon with a Harvard law degree and a non-Mormon spouse. I am not crazy, rabid, or a participant in a cult. Unless you are prepared to mock every religion in the world (and some of you clearly are), please accept that others' beliefs are often legitimate, even when you do not understand them or disagree with them.

    Mormons have always dealt with the hostility of bigoted individuals, whether they be conservative religionists who try to tell us we are not Christians (though we are), or secular liberals who criticize the very concept of faith. The Church has grown from 8 million members in the mid-1990s to 14 million members today because its message rings true in the hearts of those who are willing to listen. The Church is successful because adhering to the principles of the Gospel brings happiness and comfort to Church members. Criticize that all you want, but those who are reaping the benefits know the value of the Church's teachings.

    March 9, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • oneofthe2000

      well said! If you dont like the religion avoid like the plague, but if you interested in being happier and more united as a family do some honest research.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • MK

      Why do religions insist that we can't possibly be "happier and more united as a family" without it?

      March 9, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Paul

      see, there u clearly show u are not very bright or are dishonest .. u cannot argue about a belief .. and u don't understand that belief must be respected. U have no right to assign to other people ur belief, but see this is the issue with religious people, they preach respect and do exactly the opposite. I don't have a problem with people believing in funny stories .. it's your freedom.
      If u think God exists .. so be it. I respect that, even though it is clear that God id just a story and nothing more, I let yiu live your life.
      Now when you start baptizing me after my death then u are no longer in the freedom of religion realm and anyway .. don't tell me u baptize every human being after their death .. so which ones do u chose to baptize .. oh I see .. only the good one gets to go to the mormon heaven .. see if that is not crap,. then what is it?

      The reality is that religion is politics .. but u cannot admit it.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  14. LuisWu

    Mormonism = Cult.

    March 9, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Don't understand

      All religions are cults. There are even atheist cults. I love how people use this word like it's inherently bad.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • JT

      Atheist cults? Name one please. Or is this the hobby of not collecting stamps that I've heard of?

      March 9, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Don't understand

      The Cult of Reason is just one historical example, with the name Cult actually built in. But please, do look up the definition and take 5 seconds to use that organ in your skull and maybe I won't have to do all your work for you in the future.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Joe T.

      There are different levels of cults. Mormonism is a mind-control cult. Read the Steve Hassan book "Combating Cult Mind Control". It discusses a lot of the tactics that cults like the Mormons utilize to keep them in a mental prison.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  15. Harry

    A real fear of evangelicals is that having a Mormon U.S. President would be a great advertisement for Mormon missionaries, particularly in the Third World, where they compete with evangelicals for souls to convert. I think that presents a great danger to evangelicals.

    March 9, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Jason

      Agreed.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  16. Don't understand

    I don't get what the fuss is all about. If you aren't Mormon then you don't believe these rituals do anything. It's not like they're digging up grandma and throwing her in a pool. And if Mormonism took itself seriously it wouldn't care what the public thinks because they're saving the souls of the dead. I, for one, couldn't care less what anyone presumes they can do for me after I die. Besides, if there was a God and They did care about (or love) everyone, then something like this would be necessary to save the billions who died without a chance to accept Their doctrines.

    March 9, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  17. Pablo

    Mormon baptisms don't mean anything anyways. That faith believes that Jesus Christ's true church did not emerge until 1800 years after he lived on earth, completely foreign from all previous Christians, and that the true church is actually headquarterd in the pacific northwest of the United States. Joseph Smith was a crazed man (who died a "martyr" while returning fire). I know many very intelectual Christians, I actually love to study Christian history myself. But to believe even in the basic origins of this faith baffles me.

    March 9, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Rick

      You got it all wrong Pablo. Go do some better research before you make statements that aren't true

      March 9, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • MB

      I agree with Pablo. After reading about the origins of this "faith," I'm amazed that anyone subscribes to it. A man, convicted of fraud, received messages from his hat to translate elusive golden tablets. Once he talked all the money out of his friends, he started getting messages from God which included saying that multiple wives were A-OK! So this greedy, lustful man started this empire of crazies. And proxy baptism, holy underwear, golden tablets are fine. Whatever. But don't call it Christianity.

      March 9, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
  18. Jarod

    Religion is makebelieve anyway, so if mormons want to waste their time on meaningless rituals, they are just .., well, wasting their time. I just baptised the pope, joseph smith and zarathustra by spilling my cup of coffee. Alakazam !

    March 9, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  19. The Book of Mormon

    The Book of Mormon claims a separate history before the arrival of the Spanish to the Americas:

    1) The Horses: Horses are mentioned eleven times in the Book of Mormon.
    There is no evidence that horses existed on the American continent during the 2500-3000 year history of the Book of Mormon.

    2) Cattle: There is no evidence that Eurasian Old World cattle inhabited the New World prior to European contact.

    3) Sheep are mentioned in the Book of Mormon… yet domestic sheep are known to have been first introduced to the Americas during the second voyage of Columbus from Spain in 1493.

    4) Goats: Goats are mentioned three times in the Book of Mormon… The aggressive mountain goat is indigenous to North America, and there is no evidence that it was ever domesticated during the 2500-3000 year history of the Book of Mormon.

    5) Swine: The Book of Mormon suggests that swine existed and were domesticated among the Jaredites. There have not been any remains, references, artwork, tools, or any other evidence suggesting that swine were ever present in the New World.

    6) Chariots and Wheels: The Book of Mormon contains two accounts of chariots being used in the New World. There is no archaeological evidence to support the use of wheeled vehicles in Mesoamerica during the 2500-3000 year history of the Book of Mormon.

    7) Iron and steel: Steel and iron are mentioned several times in the Book of Mormon. There is no archaeological evidence in North, Central, or South America of iron being hardened to make steel.

    The Book of Mormon appears to be written by one man in the early 1800s by Joseph Smith who "martyred" while shooting back at his attackers in prison.

    March 9, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • oneofthe2000

      Have you ever visited Mexico? Nope probably not. How come you omitted Christ in the Americas? The Mormons are the only religion who claims to believe this, and when you visit Mexico, or Central America, the Aztecs, Incas, and Mayans all believed Christ had come the Americas. They built temples to white bearded God. Or how about the pyramids to the sun, the moon, and the stars, the three kingdoms of heaven, oh and by the way the same belief the mormons have. Hmm. For the questions you ask, the Book of Mormon will ask you to explain how a kid in the 1830's could of written and known so much about central american history.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • NorCalMojo

      If you want to nitpick silly myths.....

      You can't live inside a whale, people don't return from the dead, and daughters don't get fathers drunk to molest them.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      8. Joseph Smith claimed, (now proven false), to have been able to translate Egyptian hieroglyphs in the 19th Century, BEFORE the Rosetta Stone was discovered and translated by the French. 🙄

      March 9, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Rick

      Sorry your wrong. Go to the National archaeological museum in Mexico City you will see such evidences there. Just letting you know. be careful what you claim without researching.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • But But But...

      But the horses could have been flying horses and just left before the spanish arrived...

      The cattle and other domestic animals were not meant to be literal but figurative of the animals the natives must have domesticated...

      The chariots and wheels again are to be seen as figurative of the fast moving pace at which change was coming to the America's...

      The iron and steel must have disolved or we just havn't dug deep enough...

      Hey, wait, I sound like a biblical apologist as well!! Arrghhh!!

      If your teachings don't make sense to your audience, then find yourself a non-sensical audience.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • GodPot

      @Rick – "Go to the National archaeological museum in Mexico City you will see such evidences there."

      Nice comeback there Rick, the old "Your wrong but to prove it you need to drive several thousand miles to another country to see why" defense. There are no unbiased archeologists who would disagree with the statements made above, and anyone trying to make the pieces fit for their own religious agenda and beliefs is a disgusting liar.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Bizarre

      "how a kid in the 1830's could of [sic] written and known so much about central american history."

      He was no kid when he wrote, i.e. dictated, it. He was in his mid-to-late 20s and had been exposed to all sorts of religious road shows in his travels around the area where he lived.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Thinkformyself

      The Book of Mormon horses were Unicorns who flew over from Europe.

      Stupid c ult!

      March 9, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  20. oneSTARman

    Mitt Romney was Taught by his Mormon Faith that he will be EXALTED to be 'Just like GOD' in Highest Heaven. This is the SIN that caused SATAN and his Demon Angels to be cast into the PIT. The Dead who are Baptized – like Holocaust Jews – can only be 'ministering angels' or the SERVANTS of GODS like Mitt Romney. Kind of like the School Lunchroom Children of the 99% being the SERVANTS of the 1%.

    March 9, 2012 at 2:16 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.