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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. History Buff

    The LDS church needs to take a different approach. I know many Mormons and am not against their church, but this has been going on for a long time and their church keeps saying "we're sorry, we need better controls." The concern today is that their blocking access to these records will block outsiders from learning of these baptisms as much or more than it blocks the baptisms taking place.

    We should insist that the LDS church Stop All Unwanted Baptisms – if you are a religious Catholic, Protestant or Jew do you want someone you don't know to "correct" your deceased loved one's religious "mistakes?" The only ethical policy is to require consent of a deceased person's relatives – anything else is just covering up to look good to the public.

    March 9, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Ungodly Discipline

      THEY ARE DEAD

      March 9, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • McJesus

      The deceased, or the Mormons? I'd say both are dead. The dead are.... well. Dead. The Mormons. Brain dead.

      March 9, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  2. Mary

    Shame on you CNN for writing such an article,don't you have any respect for people and religions!!

    March 9, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • iamdeadlyserious

      Is writing an article about a religious practice more disrespectful than claiming people of other faiths as converts after they're dead?

      March 9, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • NJH

      You have been brainwashed to never question the ridiculous, which means you could be persuaded to do take part in atrocities.

      March 9, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • sam

      You hush up, young lady, and get back to catechism!

      March 9, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  3. NJH

    This just shows how ridiculous all religions are. Everyone is an Atheist when it comes to other religions.
    Atheists just take it one religion further.

    March 9, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Ex Atheist

      Hello stalin

      March 9, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • J.W

      That saying is really overused.

      March 9, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  4. Ex Atheist

    Reasons why Atheism is TERRIBLE and unhealthy for our children and living things...

    † Atheism makes you stupid, ignorant & blind.
    † Atheism is a disease that needs to be treated.
    † Atheism makes you post stupid things.
    † Atheist are satanic and have gothic lifestyle.
    † Atheists causes problem in our religious society.
    † Atheists are mentally ill, that's why they have no faith.
    † Atheism won't take you to kingdom of heaven and paradise.
    † Atheism making you agree with Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot & other terrible mass murder leaders.
    † No traditional family lifestyle, no holidays, no culture, boring and feeling 'outsider'
    † Atheists are angry, drug additcted and committ the most crime.
    † Atheist try to convert people over internet because they feel "safer" behind closet.
    † Atheists do not really exist, they just pretend that they don't believe in God and argue with religious people.
    † Atheists have had terrible life experience, bad childhood and not being loved.
    † Most Atheists are uneducated... No Atheists could run for presidency.
    † Atheism brought upon the French Revolution, one of the most evil events of all of history.
    † Atheism cannot explain the origins of the universe, therefore God exists.
    † All atheists believe in evolution, which means they don't believe in morality and think we should all act like animals.
    † The Bible says atheism is wrong, and the Bible is always right (see: Genesis 1:1, Psalms 14:1, Psalms 19:1, Romans 1:19-20)
    † Countries where Atheism is prevalent has the highest Suicide rate!

    †† Our Prayers goes to Atheists to be mentally healthy and seek their creator ††

    March 9, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • NJH

      LOL. Stupid ding dong know nothing.

      March 9, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • athesguy

      religion makes you post silly things on posting boards, and no one cares about your BS

      March 9, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • armyofone

      please, please, seek psychiatric help before you hurt yourself or others! i pray to the little baby that you cant have children.

      March 9, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • McJesus

      Snakes can talk, people can fly, and a magic man named Jesus lives in the sky!

      March 9, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      This is fun I like the little crosses

      March 9, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • pete

      this is the funniest, most illogical rant i have ever seen. thank you for the humor.

      March 9, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      You prayers go to atheists ? Really. So you're praying to atheists. Very interesting. Well, keep praying then. Maybe one will answer your prayers.

      March 9, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  5. UtahNative

    I wonder if Satan has been baptized by a Mormon? According to Mormon theology, Jesus and Satan are brothers. So, wouldn't the Mormons want Jesus to have his brother back to spend all eternity with?

    March 9, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Tano

      ...and here I thought you actually knew something... 😦 Satan will never be able to be saved because he did not get a body, does not have a body, and will not get a body in the resurrection. See, God's Plan of Salvation is perfect. You can try to find holes in it, but there are none. We do not know everything, but that's what faith is all about, huh? .

      March 9, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Tano

      ...there are consequences for everything we do, some good, some bad, but consequences nonetheless... and Satan really messed up his opportunity. Again, this is not a Mormon specific belief, it's in the Bible, you just need to read it.

      March 9, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • GodPot

      @Tano – "Satan will never be able to be saved because he did not get a body, does not have a body, and will not get a body in the resurrection." I see, so to get an invisible spirit or "soul" that can go to heaven or heII you need to first have a physical body, then die, then have your "soul" leave that body, but you can't first be the invisible spirit thingie and then expect to get in. It feels like debating why Voldemort couldn't kill Harry Potter... The bible belongs next to it in the fiction section, as do evey book written since attempting to mold the bible around whatever current beliefs were popular by the religious elite.

      March 9, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  6. Samuelsdotter

    It would seem that with the condition of this country, there are important events to discuss. I am not a Mormon but appreciate genealogy information provided. People–get a life. I do not care if Mitt Romney is a Mormon or a member of the Church Of Scientology.

    March 9, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  7. WhiteSpatula

    Religion: Giving New Meaning to Meaninglessness

    March 9, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  8. Johnny 5

    What a quack religion is. They'll come up with anything to sell and not pay taxes on. People soak it up like lemurs.

    March 9, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  9. moonie

    You cannot Baptise someone after they are already dead.

    March 9, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Leave a Reply

      They will try. Always will try.

      It's the nature of being religious in that you have to be stupid.

      March 9, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • JoeS

      Yes you do, but the Proxy Baptism is not sure salvation for the dead. The person who passed away still have the agency to choose. There are nothing harmfull doing baptism for the dead.

      March 9, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Pete

      But you can ridicule living Mormons. I do it every chance I get. Few things are as effective as ridicule, expecially when you can back it up with facts and logic.

      March 9, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  10. alientech

    There will be fist going towards the mormons' face next time they come to my door.

    March 9, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  11. Leave a Reply

    I wonder if in a hundred or so years from now that this new religion will utterly supplant christianity as the mainstream religion. That would be a thing to see. 🙂

    All the nuts converted to mormonism – even the muslims. I wonder how much resentment they will all feel?

    March 9, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  12. Charlie

    Pretend an airplane is on the way to emergency land on middle of the cold ocean.... what would atheists do? LOL no prayers hahhaah losers

    March 9, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Leave a Reply

      You poor thing. Still unsure if that hell is for you or not. Well let me tell you for sure – you are going to your own hell.

      We atheists are satisfied that you christians will be the ones burning. Being rejected by logic and your own mind must really hurt.

      March 9, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Shaun

      Die like everyone else LOSER..and NO you won't go to heaven (your make believe disneyland in the sky) I can't believe the stupidity you nut bars display

      March 9, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • McJesus

      I believe in fairies too, and I going to fly up into the sky and live in a perfect place called heaven where all is provided for me? Food, housing, entertainment? It sounds like a socialist's dream!

      March 9, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  13. NJ

    I have found that if you put an atheist in a bunker
    and start getting shot by a hostile force that they
    all start to pray and ask God to get them out.
    What is up with that?

    March 9, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Evangelicide

      A lot of front-line experience there, NJ?

      March 9, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      >I have found that if you put an atheist in a bunker
      and start getting shot by a hostile force that they

      So the person getting shot is the one who put an Atheist in the bunker?

      March 9, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Charlie

      LOOOL I love it NJ !!

      March 9, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Pete

      assume much?

      March 9, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • NJH

      Rubbish.

      March 9, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Ungodly Discipline

      I have found that if you put a believer in shoe box they do not fit.

      March 9, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • McJesus

      Wrong. The atheist would shoot back and kill the person shooting at him rather than kissing his behind goodbye like a sap and asking an invisible magic sky daddy for assistance with magic spells.

      March 9, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  14. Pete

    Posthumous baptism is an enormous lack of respect. But what else would you expect from a religion invented by a conman?

    March 9, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  15. Elmeaux

    I'm going to eat a pound of chocolate a day in the name of Demi Moore until she gains ten pounds.

    March 9, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Joe T.

      Hallelujah!

      March 9, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  16. Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
    Prayer has been shown to have no discernible effect towards what was prayed for.
    Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
    Prayer makes you fat.
    Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
    Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
    Prayer fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
    Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
    Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.
    Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.
    Prayer makes you think doilies are exciting.
    Prayer makes you secretively flatulent and embarrassed about it.
    Prayer makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
    Prayer gives you knobbly knees.
    Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out.
    Prayer dulls your senses.
    Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
    Prayer makes you hoard cats.
    Prayer makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
    Prayer wastes time.

    March 9, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Mark

      You're an idiot. I really don't understand people like you. DId you actually write that? Half of it is nonsense and spelling mistakes. It's grammatically a mess and it's not even funny at all. It sounds like it was written by a retarded 8 year old. Then you have the nerve to write "Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world." when in fact this is one of the stupidest things I've ever read in my life.
      Why don't you just mind your own business and come to the realisation that there is an overabundance of things in this world you don't (and probably can't) understand. Especially considering that you are undoubtedly well below average in the intelligence department.
      And also, please leave the comedic punditry up to actual comedians. Don't quit your day job (if you ever get one).

      March 9, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • salma

      I am not Mormon, but I am a Chirstian. CNN, Why would you attack the Mormon religion when you defend eslam and always praising moslems. Is this because Met Romney is a Mormon!! At least Mormons do not kill in the name of religion. Why don't we just respect different religions and beleave in what suits us endevidually.

      March 9, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • JoeS

      The devil will tell you not to pray and that will lead you to hell.

      March 9, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Shaun

      LOVE it! You forgot about prayer lowering your IQ by 50 points!

      March 9, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • UtahNative

      @Salma "Mormons do not kill in the name of religion." Have you not heard of the Mountain Meadow Massacre?

      March 9, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  17. Holy Envy

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69DkoG-m8Ag&w=640&h=360]

    March 9, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  18. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 9, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
      Prayer has been shown to have no discernible effect towards what was prayed for.
      Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
      Prayer makes you fat.
      Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
      Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
      Prayer fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
      Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
      Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.
      Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.
      Prayer makes you think doilies are exciting.
      Prayer makes you secretively flatulent and embarrassed about it.
      Prayer makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
      Prayer gives you knobbly knees.
      Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out.
      Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
      Prayer makes you hoard cats.
      Prayer makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
      Prayer wastes time.

      March 9, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Ungodly Discipline

      It's Groundhog Day!

      March 9, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  19. Erik

    It's all hocus-pocus anyhow. Let the Mormons play their silly games. No sillier than other religions claiming to turn bread and wine to body and blood, i.e., transubstantiation.

    March 9, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • Bob

      Bingo, Erik. We have a winner.

      March 9, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • Pete

      The practice should be stopped and reversed. I would hate someone in the future to see my name on a list of Mormons from the past. It would be a total dishonor to be associated with such ridiculous, insane, and irrational ideas.

      March 9, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • iamdeadlyserious

      Agreed, with one crucial difference. This is the only religious ritual I can think of that can actually affect someone else against their will. People who weren't Mormon in life are claimed as converts by the church after death. That's a permanent record, and without anyone to dispute it, these people's actual histories are lost.

      March 9, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  20. CSMadison

    Mormons, just a bunch of red neck Munsterites

    March 9, 2012 at 3:48 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.