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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. ella

    Jews didn't die because of their faith – they died because of their race. Please correct.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Fortunate

      ella, you are correct. The Nazi laws were called Blood laws and not Religion Laws specifically, because Nazis were formally Socialists and had church and State separation. The religion did not play any important ri=ole i their doctrine. In fact a lot of Catholics who opposed Nazis were thrown in camps, though unlike Jews for a forced work and not for extermination. And among Jews murdered during Holocaust were not only Judaists, but also Christians of Jewish blood. In addition, Gypsies, who were all Christians in Germany and conquered lands, were exterminated as well, if captured, under the same Blood Laws.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  2. Rochelle

    We live in America! We are free to choose our religious beliefs! Doing proxy temple work for the deceased does not force them into anything. It simply gives them a choice to accept the work that has been done for them. If it is something that you feel strongly about, then educate yourself. All your questions about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) can be answered for you at http://www.mormon.org.
    Mormons are good :)

    March 9, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • Joseph Smith

      Educate yourself Rochelle: proxy baptism is a Satanic ritual...and you wonder why people don't think Mormons are Christians?

      March 9, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • J.W

      Joseph if you think the Mormon religion is bad then you should not have founded it.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  3. Kwesoe

    If baptism of the dead was an acceptable practice, Jesus would have baptized Lazarus. This is one of the reasons why some believe that Mormonism is not a Christian religion.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • Seriously

      Different situation.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • Warvet55

      Tells you that Mormons are a cult. Far removed from the truth.

      Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

      No one can repent for you but yourself. That is the first step to become born again, than be baptized is the second step.

      John 3:3In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."

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

      Yes, and if you repent in the afterlife or never had the opportunity to do so and be baptized in this life, then what? This doctrine is quite generous and recognizes our existence after death. The person being baptized in behalf of still has the opportunity to say "no thanks" but maybe they'll say "gee thanks". No one pretends to know their response but the offer is done so they have the choice to be considered baptized unto Christ. Sounds like a pretty Christian thing to do.

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

      umm, who knows whether Lazarus was baptized or not? That seems kind of a lame thing to base an entire philosophy on.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
  4. William Demuth

    The solution is simple

    Make this an OPT IN option.

    If the dead person dosen't opt in, then the baptisim is illegal and the family of the baptised can sue.

    All you need to do is ask the dead guy to sign. If he does your good, if not you get sued.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  5. Dennis

    I think this was a fair article. It presented the complexities inherent in a dispute between one religious belief and another cultural/religious sensitivity. Mormons are commanded to do proxy work, so that all, regardless of whether they heard of Christ in life, will have the opportunity in the afterlife to accept or reject baptism. Jews are offended at the thought that their ancestors who were killed for being Jewish could be forced into Christianity after death (even though these baptisms only provide the opportunity and do not force spirits in the spirit world to accept them).

    Honestly, it is the Mormon belief that EVERYONE who has ever lived will have this work performed for them by the time the Millennium (the final thousand years of peace) ends. By the time of the Millennium, it is their belief that every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ. At that point, this is a non-issue. Whether you believe in that or not, which I'm sure Jews do not, I think the Mormon Church has acted maturely and respectfully in "postponing" baptisms for deceased Holocaust victims until after Christ's Second Coming.

    Rabbi Greenebaum is clearly a very intelligent man who understands the issue and appreciates the Mormon church's response to such a difficult monitoring issue... Helen Radkey clearly just hates Mormons (who spends that much time during their life looking for ways to attack any religion?)... and the press, well, with Romney as the possible nominee, this is all just gold for them.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  6. Fortunate

    I am checking the comments here and waiting when finally some moron (pan is not intended) would mention that Mormons also eat flesh of their dead, Jews use blood of Christian children to prepare Passover matzo, Muslims dream of nothing but killing all non-Muslims, and Buddhists do not exterminate roaches because they may have souls of their ancestors. Only Christians are white and fuzzy. Though, Catholics would say that Protestants are bloody heretics, and protestants would say that Catholics are bloody Papists, and they both loathe Mormons. If I forgot anyone, please, accept my apologies. Whenever any belief related matter is touched in this free country with religion and state 'separation', all kinds of gloomy insects of any creed crowl out from crevices and start buzzing with hatered and venom aimed at every other creature not like them. Yes, there is a freedom of speech proclaimed by the First Amendment, but I have a feeling that Founding Fathers, being very farsighted people, added the Second Amendment to have a way of stopping some speeches quickly and effectively.
    How long all this idiocy should prevail every public discussions, related or not?
    This specific 'sensation' is apparently the last ditch assault by Santorum and Gingrich supporters on Romney. Their PAC teams are definitely infiltrated by Democratic saboteurs, because this internal struggle is going to cost Romney voices during the Presidential campaign. The GOP is the worst enemy of itself, no need to nod on Democrats. Obama's camp is elated.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • joe

      I totally agree. Why is this even in the public dialogue about who would make the best president of the United States? I knew that when the primaries moved south, it would be open season on everybody. It's unfortunate because in the privacy of their own homes, religious people find comfort and peace and moral grounding for their families. I don't know what happens to them in public!

      March 9, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  7. Dan64

    What's missing is a way for people of one religion to show respect and admiration for the deceased of a different faith.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • michael

      Yes, Dan. A nice thought. Mormon "proxy baptisms" definitely don't satisfy that agenda, sadly.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Tru2USA

      No it's not. Simply say "Rest In Peace". What more needs to be said?

      March 9, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  8. Jim S

    There is a glaring omission in this flurry of news articles. After the LDS Church proxy baptizes a deceased person, they then perform the endowment ceremony (another temple ritual and the principal one in which adult Mormons participate) for that person, using an adult member as a proxy. Vicarious baptisms are usually performed by LDS youth, often brought to a temple in groups and then repeatedly baptised as proxies for a list of deceased persons; most of the time, the proxy has never heard of the person they are representing.

    The endowment, on the other hand, is administered to LDS adults either before serving a mission or before a temple marriage (if one or both members of the couple did not serve a mission). The "standard" set by the church is that all active, worthy members (those with the Temple Recommend card required for entrance to a temple) should attend the endowment ceremony once a month. At these sessions, the member participates in the endowment ceremony on behalf of a deceased person. While this may be the name of an ancestor, multigenerational members oftne have no non-member ancestors and as a result they often stand as proxy in the ceremony for someone they never knew (name of the deceased is assigned at the temple).

    What I find less than candid is Romney's statement that "he used to perform proxy baptisms" but has not done so in many years. This statement would be true for most middle-aged Mormons: the youth perform the bulk of the proxy baptisms, because they require full immersion and some degree of physical vigor. But what Romney and the press ignore is that as active adult Mormons, the Romneys have participated in the endowment ceremony hundreds of times. The first time (pre-mission for Mitt, pre-wedding for Anne) was for themselves, but every subsequent temple endowment session they attended was a vicarious one in which they stood proxy for a deceased person.

    Additionally, the endowment ceremony until April 1990 included several elements that non-Mormon Americans might find upsetting. In addition to having to pantomime Masonic-style ritual slittings of their throats, chests, and abdomens (the "penalty" for revealing the ceremony to outsiders), the endowment ceremony also featured a portrayal of a Protestant minister as a hireling of Satan. During Romney's business time in Boston, the closest temple was in Washington, so he may not have been a monthly attendee, but suffice it to say that he must have participated dozens of times prior to the April 1990 changes, which eliminated the "penalty" signs and the Protestant minister as a hireling of Satan.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • Woo

      Boy...you sure have done your homework. Have you done this much homework about other religions and things they find sacred? What Romney does personally with his religion is his right.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  9. Jt_flyer

    I'm amazed that we actually think the God would be influenced by anything but soul of the person who died. We really exaggerate our poor power to add or detract.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  10. Jim Compton

    Lmao people are just hearing about this? It's been going on for years and years. You are seeing what they did to JFK saying that the catholic church pray to idols and practice paganism mixing with the old and new testament. Lol.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  11. Zoomie

    Let romney get in the white house and it wil be LDS owned.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • souptwins

      You should seek professional help for your paranoia problem. First, adjust your tin foil hat.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • joe

      Just like they own Harry Reid, the liberal, and Orrin Hatch the conservative?

      March 9, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  12. Don't get it

    I don't quite understand the firestorm:

    Either:

    1) The mormons are right and the baptism are needed to go to heaven or
    2) The mormons are wrong and baptising someone by proxy doesn't mean anything.

    Frankly if every religion wants to baptism me, I woudl be happy, got to cover the bases you know.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • michael

      Honestly, I suspect the practice (though potentially offensive in any context) only really became the subject of a firestorm because the church's baptism "projects" involved already sensitive territory, like the Holocaust.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • ...

      Not gonna lie, I love your response :P

      March 9, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Wrong.

      This is a cult of creepy automatons.

      Leave dead people alone

      March 9, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • joel

      it may not be about you, let's say your child dies. With all the grief, you find out that the mormon church, without your permission, decided to baptize your child and make them mormon, or at least, on paper make them mormon.

      My mother is baptist. I was shocked to go and visit her in the nursing home on ash wednesday to find out the nursing home rubbed ash – the sign of the cross – on her forehead – obviously without her consent and without notifying family first.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  13. Fuxus

    Jerrfey Dahmer is now a baptized Mormon, what a great group of pious religious minds!

    March 9, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
  14. Sly

    I hope most of you realize that their is very little difference between Muslim's who believe in 89 Virgins and Christians who think humans can walk on water and Mormons who toss water on dead people ...

    Quite amusing what fantasies the human mind can create ...

    March 9, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Somebody owes me some virgins.

      When I doed I only got 72

      March 9, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  15. AngieSi

    Ask a mormon what they would do if President Monson were to say "every LDS member needs to commit suicide tomorrow because the end of the world is coming"? The response I was told, "I will pray"...uh ok...

    March 9, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • Seriously

      Wow, that is a moronic statement

      March 9, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • pk

      This ridiculous statement is the best you can do.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  16. kdf

    OMG!! CNN is STILL discussing this?!?! This story is now so old and drug out that it was not even worth reading and only worth the comment of MOVE ON PEOPLE!! There are bigger issues in this world that need to be discussed and delt with. LIKE Joseph Kony... pass on the word!

    March 9, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • michael

      KDF, if you hadn't noticed – this isn't the Reuters-fed front page section of CNN. This is the Belief Blog. Visiting and revisiting a story like this one is perfectly appropriate for the magazine-like format employed here.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • kdf

      Michael... if you noticed... I got to this article from the font page headlines on cnn.com

      March 9, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  17. Willard Mittes

    Hurry, someone please baptize Jesus Christ, he was a jew!! somembody save him!!!

    March 9, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • kdf

      Um, Jesus Christ was baptized.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • William Demuth

      kdf

      But NOT as a Mormon.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • souptwins

      Actually, Mormon doctrine says the original church and its practices such as baptism by immersion (as Christ did) was lost during the dark ages which made a "restoration" necessary. They believe this is what J. Smith did– bring back the doctrines of Christ. So Mormons believe the baptism of Christ by John is, in fact, the same as their baptism. So Christ may not have been baptized Mormon, but Mormons are baptized as Christ was.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  18. Planetalker

    In 1823 joseph Smith's older brother Alvin died without having been baptised, this was apparently very distressing to Joseph. In 1849 Joseph had a revelation from God that a living person could be baptised for a dead person, it was then codified in the Mormon doctrine and covenants

    March 9, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Umm...

      Umm, Joseph Smith was killed in 1844.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  19. scieng1

    Mormonism is entirely anti-Christian, and always will be. Numerous other cults and pagan religions have practiced baptising the dead (Christians do not). It has little meaning other than disrespect for those who cannot argue with them.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • michael

      Mormonism is "anti-Christian?" How can that be, exactly? Mormonism is a Christian sect.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • pk

      Calling them Mormons makes it easier to say they are not Christian. The name of the church is actually "The Church Of JESUS CHRIST Of Latter Day Saints." Jesus Christ is at the center of the LDS faith. You may not agree with their beliefs but at the core they believe that Jesus is the Son of God. That he is the Savior of the world.

      March 9, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  20. Sly

    What is 'baptism' anyway? Is that where the religious people throw water on each other?

    We call them 'swimming pools' here in California ...

    Wow ... gotta love those 'Hari Krishna' religious types and their big books ...

    Seriously, it's fine for folks to believe in Santa Claus and Trolls and God and the Devil and Red Sox ... to each their own ... but keep your books and chanting to yourselves – some of us live in the real world.

    March 9, 2012 at 12:06 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.