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February 16th, 2012
01:36 PM ET

Explainer: How and why do Mormons baptize the dead?

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

The recent disclosure that Mormons baptized the dead parents of Jewish Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal by proxy has sparked outrage in the Jewish world. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has apologized for the baptism, which it says resulted from the actions of a church member acting in violation of church policy. The LDS church vowed to stop baptizing Jewish Holocaust victims in 1995.

But proxy baptism for the dead is a proud Mormon tradition. Here are the basics about how it works and why Mormons do it.

Why do Mormons practice proxy baptism for the dead?

For Mormons, baptizing the dead solves a big theological problem: How do billions of people who never had the opportunity to accept Jesus Christ – including those who lived before Jesus walked the earth – receive salvation? By baptizing the dead, a practice known as posthumous proxy baptism, Mormons believe they are giving every person who ever lived the chance at everlasting life. That includes Muslims, Hindus, atheists, pagans, whoever.

“Mormons believe that there is a place the dead go where they are in ‘spirit prison’ and where they have the chance to accept the Christian baptism,” says Richard Bushman, a Mormon scholar at Columbia University. “But it’s a duty to actually perform Christian ordinance of baptism, so Mormons seek out every last person who ever lived and baptize them.”

Many Mormons are proud of the fact that they attempt to make their faith universal through baptizing the dead. “Historically, Christians have been exclusive,” says Terryl Givens, an expert on Mormonism at the University of Richmond. “Catholics have taught that only Catholics are saved, and evangelicals say only if you confess according to their tradition. Mormons say, ‘No, salvation is open to all people.’”

“In that sense Mormonism is the most nonexclusive religion in the Christian world,” Givens says.

So are all those who are baptized after death considered Mormon?

No. Mormons believe that baptism provides the deceased with the opportunity to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but not the obligation. They don't know if the dead actually accept Jesus. “This is about putting names on the guest list,” says Givens. “They might not go the party, but they are given the chance.’

How does the church decide who is baptized?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encourages its members to baptize the dead in their families going back at least four generations.

The church also has teams at headquarters in Salt Lake City and that travel around the world to identify as many people as possible to baptize, whether or not they’re in the lineage of present-day Mormons. “The church is constantly going through parish records, wills, deeds and every other genealogical source so they can extract names and put these people through the temple process,” says Bushman.

The LDS says it does not know how many deceased have been baptized. Experts say the number is in the millions.

There is no way for a person to prevent himself or herself from being baptized by the LDS church after death.

After Jews complained about baptisms of Jewish Holocaust victims, saying such baptisms deny the Jewish identity of those who died because of their faith, the LDS church worked with Jewish groups to stop the practice. But the system of preventing the baptism of Holocaust victims, initiated in 1995, has not been foolproof, as was shown this week with the disclosure about Wiesenthal’s parents.

What are Mormon baptism ceremonies like?

Baptisms for the dead happen inside Mormon temples. Members of the LDS church volunteer to undergo full immersion baptism while the names of the dead are read. An LDS member might participate in 10 or so posthumous proxy baptisms at a time. Young Mormons especially are encouraged to participate, as a way to participate in temple life.

How old is the practice of baptizing the dead?

Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, introduced baptism for the dead in the 1840s. Mormons cite Paul’s letter to the Corinthians as precedent to the practice. “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead not rise at all?” reads Corinthians 15:29. “Why are they then baptized for the dead?”

For Mormons, baptizing the dead is not seen as a new Mormon tradition but as a practice that ancient Christians practiced and that the LDS Church has reintroduced.

What other questions do you have about the practice? Let us know in the comments below.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Judaism • Mormonism

soundoff (2,301 Responses)
  1. JAB62

    Uh...because they're idiots? Screw Grandma!

    February 17, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  2. John

    Joseph Smith made a prophesy in the name of God that Ohio was to be the promised land. He was killed and Brigham Young took the Mormans to Utah. Anyone who makes a prophesy in God's name and it is false then that person is a false prophet.

    Now lets talk about multi marriages by proxy for when you get to heaven.

    February 17, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Mike

      The entire United States is the Promised Land, the New Jerusalem, if you knew anything about LDS doctrine. Jackson County, MO, is the center place. I've seen much better arguments against Joseph Smith than that, but they were just as false and misguided.

      February 17, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Bruce

      True prophets have always had many critics claiming they were false for one reason or another. Even the Savior Jesus Christ had many claim he was false and blasphemous, many of His harshest critics were supposed "experts" on scriptures and prophets. Only God himself ultimately determines which prophets are true and false. The question as to whether Jesus Christ is really the Savior of the world is a vital question in life, but as for me, I'm not going to rely on public opinion for that answer. Similarly I'm not going to rely on the opinions of people as to whether Joseph Smith was a true prophet – only God can ultimately answer that. Jesus taught: "for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." (Matt 16:17) and "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. (Luke 11:9)"

      February 17, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  3. Here in TX

    Funny how the only comments against proxy baptism are all at the same time hate-filled, biased, and logically flawed, all based on a few short quotes from the Bible taken out of context. The more I read them, the more reasonable proxy baptism sounds in comparison.

    February 17, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Commonsense

      Two wrongs don't make a right...

      February 17, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Here in TX

      Nor does a load of blind bias

      February 17, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  4. Ohio Trevor

    I was diappointed in the incomplete and misleading explanation provided in this article for what Mormons actually bellieve, and so for those who are really intersted, I decided to re-write the first two paragraphs of the article:

    For members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often referred to by people outside of the church as "Mormons"), baptizing the dead solves a big theological problem: How do billions of people who have never heard of or accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior – including those who lived before Jesus walked the earth – receive salvation? By baptizing the dead, a practice known as posthumous proxy baptism, Mormons believe they are giving every person who ever lived the opportunity to be baptized. By no means do Mormons believe that a vicariously performed baptism automatically "saves" that person or makes them a Mormon. Nor do they believe that they are somehow atoning for the sins of another – something Jesus has already done. They are simply making it possible for that person to accept or reject the ordinance and all that it stands for – an ordinance lovingly performed in their memory and on their behalf by someone else. This practice is obviously predicated on the belief that missionary work continues "beyond the veil" so to speak, or in the "spirit world" after a person has died. Just as in this world, believers in Christ attempt to share the gospel with non-believers, Mormons believe that such work continues in the spirit world. Mormons cite various scriptures from the Bible as well as the Book of Mormon that teach that such work was performed anciently and that missionary work was organized after the Savior's crucifixion and prior to his resurrection and ascension into Heaven. And yes, Mormons believe that if Muslims, Hindus, atheists, and even pagans, have received a testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the hereafter, that a way has been prepared for the essential ordinance of baptism to be performed on their behalf. They believe that this practice (performed anciently and restored in these Latter-days) is yet another example of the love of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ for all mankind. While other Christian denominations have a more limited view of where people go after they die (heaven or hell), Mormons believe that the invitation to "come follow Christ" extends well beyond the very limited notion most people have of time and space. Like other Christians, however, Mormons also believe that for those who have the opportunity, this life offers the best chance for men and women to come unto Christ and to be truly happy. Thoughtful, prayerful consideration of His Plan of Salvation should not be postponed.
    Mormons believe that there is a place the dead go where they are in either ‘spirit prison’ or 'spirit paradise' and where they have the chance to accept Christian baptism. The destination of ones spirit is not so much a matter of whether or not a person is a Mormon when he or she dies as it is a matter of where Jesus Christ judges their heart to be. Both are, in a sense, "Heaven" compared to mortality and one should not place too much emphasis on the label itself. Spirits in both places continue to have the opportunity to progress. My sense is that "spirit prison" and "paradise" are more a state of "being" beyond the veil of mortality, versus what the human mind might conjure up as a country club and a place with striped suits and barred windows. Yes, baptisms for the dead is a "duty" for Mormons and an important one, but no more so than being honest and keeping other commandments. Albeit ambitious, Mormons do indeed "seek out every last person who ever lived with the hope of baptizing them.” Christ himself taught believers to leave the ninety and nine in search of the one. In that same spirit, Mormons and true Christians of any strip will never be content until every sheep that is willing to listen an to pray, can, if they want to return to the fold.

    Quite the opposite of what has been portrayed here, the practice of proxy baptism is magnificent in what it suggests about the expanssive reach of God's love for His children. For better information on the subject: See http://www.mormon.org.

    February 17, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Former 4th Generation Mormon

      You fail to mention that those who reject the Mormon Gospel in this life have no second chance in the next life. They are barred from the Celestial kingdom for eternity, according to Mormon dogma.

      February 17, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Mike

      Cite your reference, please, Mr. "Former", because it's only those who gain a sure knowledge of the truth and then reject it afterward (which only God can judge) or who possess the same rebellious spirit after death. Good Christians who reject the fullness offered now by the LDS Church will still make it to heaven.

      February 17, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Melody

      So, I am confused and question your idea. So, what happens to the soul that you missed doing a baptism for? Are they not given the opportunity to gain Heaven because the Mormons failed to call their name in a baptism? Quite frankly, the whole idea makes no sense because the Bible is clear that this life is it! When Christ returns, the world will be destroyed and each soul will be called into judgement for the things they did here on earth..whether they accepted or rejected Christ. There will not be a 1000 year reign or any other such opportunity given. Today is the day of salvation!!!! Accept Christ while there is yet time!! Please, everyone, read your Bible with much prayer that the Spirit of God can guide you into ALL truth!! Take each verse you read or hear, and study it in the context of what the WHOLE Bible says! Oh, and why are we worried about the people that lived and died before Christ came and sacrificed Himself for all mankind? God judged them by the law...a completely different standard... and they recieve a reward accordingly. Those after Christ's sacrifice, are judged according to the new law that God put in place through Christ. I also believe that ALL men will have an opportunity to know and accept right. I have heard of far too many stories of people in foreign lands who had never been taught of Christ or read a Bible, and yet God was able to deal with their hearts and show them the way to Himself. We serve a mighty, loving, and merciful God who wants all men to be saved! He will find a way to be true to their souls while they are yet alive. Read your Bible, and you will find all these things to be abundantly clear. God bless us all as we seek to know and understand God and what He would have us to know and do in this life!

      May 18, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  5. WARNING!

    -All atheists believe in evolution, which means they don't believe in morality and think we should all act like animals.

    -Atheists try to shift the burden of proof unfairly upon theists (ie, atheists make the wild and unprovable claim that God does not exist, and then unfairly expect us Christians to prove that He DOES exist)

    -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)

    -Some famous atheists have shown they occasionally have doubts about their disbelief, which proves that all atheists really do believe in God. Of course, no Christian has ever doubted the existence of God.

    -Everybody who has ever been in the army will tell you that there are no atheists in foxholes. That is, once they are in danger of death, the atheist will strip himself of his irrational disbelief in God, and come to admit he believed in God all along. Only liberal slimebags like MSNBC report otherwise.

    -Communism, which is inherently evil, is founded by atheism, and all atheists are probably secret communists.

    -Because we can think of the existence of God, God must obviously exists, and therefore atheists are illogical.

    -Everything in the universe shows obvious and undeniable signs that it was created by a mind far superior to our own.

    – A lot of mass murderers were atheists, and all atheists, having no morality to guide them, are only a bad day away from going on a genocide spree. There have no exactly zero cases on Christian mass murderers throughout all of history.

    – No atheists contribute to charitable causes, and all Christians do. This is because of atheist's beliefs in Darwinism.

    -Atheists don't believe in miracles, although many Christian philosophers disagree.

    -atheism cannot explain the origins of the universe, therefore God exists.

    -Atheists have more mental and physical health problems than Christians. This is attributed to theists having something more to life for. Therefore, God exists.

    -Friedrich Nietzsche went crazy and was an atheist, therefore atheism drove him insane (although there is an ongoing debate on the matter...)

    -Countries with large numbers of atheists have higher suicide rates, therefore atheism makes you want to kill yourself. Of course they would take the easy way out, not realizing like normal people that God sends suicide cases to hell. Also, developed nations also tend to have higher rates of both atheism and suicide, so we must conclude that technology and wealth are evil.

    -Sigmund Freud said religious belief was unhealthy, but many doctors think Freud is wrong, therefore atheism is evil.

    -Many famous atheists tell lies, therefore atheists are deceptive.

    -Notable atheists have converted to Christianity. The reverse never happens.

    -atheists make bad arguments on the internet, says Christian apologist.

    -atheists try to convert young people to atheism over the internet. Christians, of course, never stop to such behavior.

    -Nearly a quarter or a third of philosophy professors are theists, therefore, I quote: "God is not 'dead' in academia; he returned to life in the 1960's and is now alive and well in his last academic stronghold, philosophy departments."

    -atheists do not really exist, they just pretend that they don't believe in God.

    -atheism brought upon the French Revolution, one of the most evil events of all of history.

    -atheists make up a small percentage of the world population, therefore it is wrong.

    -a lot of famous people said bad stuff about atheists

    February 17, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Ed

      You're either over the top sarcastic or over the edge hopelessly brain-washed. I can't figure out which on the first read.

      February 17, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Commonsense

      This cracked me up. Well played.

      February 17, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • GodPot

      "atheists make the wild and unprovable claim that God does not exist, and then unfairly expect us Christians to prove that He DOES exist" That gave me a laugh 🙂

      Sounds a lot like a child "My mom makes the wild and unprovable claim that I didn't do my homework, and then unfairly expects me to prove that I DID do my homework. Jeez, wheres the faith I ask you, where is the faith..."

      February 17, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • The River

      @WARNING!

      I'll see your copy/paste and raise you one:

      "-All atheists believe in evolution, which means they don't believe in morality and think we should all act like animals.

      WRONG – one does not have to be a Christian to have high morals. My moral standards are probably higher than yours; as evidenced by your question
      ======================================…

      -Atheists try to shift the burden of proof unfairly upon theists (ie, atheists make the wild and unprovable claim that God does not exist, and then unfairly expect us Christians to prove that He DOES exist.

      WRONG – I have sought ought proof of your God. There isn't any. Sorry. And all you have done is deflect the question --– DO YOU HAVE ANY PROOF ? ?
      ======================================…

      -Some famous atheists have shown they occasionally have doubts about their disbelief, which proves that all atheists really do believe in God. Of course, no Christian has ever doubted the existence of God.

      While that may have been true at some point in my past; it no longer applies.
      ======================================…

      -Everybody who has ever been in the army will tell you that there are no atheists in foxholes. That is, once they are in danger of death, the atheist will strip himself of his irrational disbelief in God, and come to admit he believed in God all along. Only liberal sli.mebags like MSNBC report otherwise.

      URBAN MYTH and a very catchy saying. I have 5 Uncles who served in Korea and they would beg to differ with you on that point.
      ======================================…

      -Communism, which is inherently evil, is founded by atheism, and all atheists are probably secret communists.

      PURE COMMUNISM is not evil and has been practised by humans since the beginning of time. It's the ba.stardized versions where only those at the top benefit that are evil.
      ======================================…
      -Everything in the universe shows obvious and undeniable signs that it was created by a mind far superior to our own.

      That is your opinion and ignores every scientific fact known to present man
      ======================================…
      -a lot of mass murderers were atheists, and all atheists, having no morality to guide them, are only a bad day away from going on a genocide spree. (for example Hitler, Stalin etc)

      – Histories Popes have probably been the instrument of more deaths than the above two people combined
      ======================================…

      -No atheists contribute to charitable causes, and all Christians do. T

      That is an ignorant and arrogant statement. Atheist contribute their money to the people that most need it, not the Church. I set aside 5% of my modest income for charity.
      ======================================…

      -atheists don't believe in miracles, .

      I believe in the miracle of life, free thinking and free will. And I seriously believe that it is a miracle that you have not suffocated with your head buried so far up your rear end
      ======================================…

      -Atheists have more mental and physical health problems than Christians. This is attributed to theists having something more to life for. and not being concerned whether they will be punished after death

      In my humble opinion a belief in a Sky Faerie is, in itself, a form of mental illness and a cry for help. As is ranting to the World about it.
      ======================================…
      -Countries with large numbers of atheists have higher suicide rates, therefore atheism makes you want to kill yourself. Of course they would take the easy way out, not realizing like normal people that God sends suicide cases to hell..

      Can't honestly say that I've actually ever researched that point; but on the other hand you have been 100% incorrect up to this point and you offer only rhetoric and no evidence to support your claim.
      ======================================…
      -many famous atheists tell lies, therefore atheists are deceptive.

      The Holy Church in Rome has been lying to us for centuries. The current Pope himself was recently caught in a lie about his knowledge of systemic child abuse by his underlings.
      ======================================…

      -Non-Christians are more likely to believe in silly superst.itions, like palm reading and astronomy (note: Non-Christian = atheist). Christians believe only in the cold, hard logical of the world around them.

      Most Atheists believe in none of that claptrap. Like religion, it's all smoke and mirrors intended to sway and influence the ignorant masses.
      ======================================…

      -Causes of atheism (I quote): moral depravity, rebellion, superficiality, error, state churches, poor relationship with father, division in religion, learned times, peace, and prosperity, negative experiences with theists, scientism.

      Who are you quoting? No one sane; I can assure you of that. The primary cause of Atheism is that there is no place for Religion if mankind is to move on to it's true destiny and potential.
      ======================================…

      -atheists question why evil exists since God is good, but don't ask why good exists if God isn't real.

      WRONG AGAIN; the good exists in the minds of man and it WILL prevail if man is given free choice. Another arrogant as.sumption that denies humanity is essentially good.
      ======================================…

      -early scientists were Christian, therefore Christianity owns a monopoly on science and atheists are not allowed to say there is discrepancy between the beliefs in the two.
      ............... and any early scientist that offered a conflicting theory to church doctrine was summarily killed or excommunicated.
      ======================================…
      -Creation scientists tend to win creation-evolution debates

      Yes they do; in their own minds and based on supposition – NOT SCIENTIFIC FACT.
      ======================================…
      -Notable atheists have converted to Christianity. The reverse never happens.

      AGAIN – I have never researched the numbers and I seriously doubt that you have either; based on the fact that all your previous rants have been based on rhetoric, arrogance and ignorance of the known facts."

      February 17, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  6. Truthship

    It was surprising to see the LDS apologize for baptizing Jews. I too would like that consideration.
    If Romney wins Republican nomination it would be interesting if Obama asked Mitt how he explained his support for the black mans Mormon ‘Mark-of -Cain’  when he was on his LDS mission in the 1960’s.  Google ‘Mark of Cain’ Has the Mormon Church apologized for that racism too?

    February 17, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  7. steve

    For you know it alls, where is the Melkizedek priesthood and the Aaronic priesthoods after Acts 3 verses 19, 20 and 21.
    Jesus Christ obtained the Melchizedek priesthood directly from God just like all the ancient prophets did and he ordained his disciples and he and his disciples passed it on to worthy other persons. Ordances for both the living and dead are done in the Mormon temples by holders of the Melkizedek priesthood and Aaronic priesthood. Baptisms for the dead are performed by Members of the Aaronic priesthood in temples and baptisms for the living are performed in wards of the Church. But that is not the end of it. There are other ordances that need to be performed for the living and dead before a person can even be judged.
    People need to do their own reseach as to the orgins of the Mormon Church and its authority. God and Jesus Christ do not perform the way mankind thinks they should perform. They are the boss not mankind.

    February 17, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  8. Bill

    I find it amusing, but before Mitt Romney, there were no articles regarding Mormon's on CNN at all. After he entered the race, they made sure there were plenty of articles, particulary showing Mormon's in a negative light like the article above. CNN knows that the fact Romney is Mormon is a negative trait to voters, and they will present it as often as they can. No supporting Obama on this website.............sure........

    February 17, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Chris

      No, it's because he's by far the highest profile Mormom to have a national spotlight on him. Also, I find it amusing that your response is to ignore the absolutely RIDICULOUS nature of what the article is reporting about Mormons, with some of their extremely weird and fringe cult-like tendencies, and instead attack CNN for reporting it. What a jerk-off you are.

      February 17, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Tired of Morons With Agendas

      How is the article above negative? The only negative thing here is you. I found it interesting. Take your Obama bashing to a fair and balanced website. I'm sure they have been writing great articles on the Mormon faith for years.

      February 17, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  9. Play nice

    Really! And some of you call Mormons close minded. Yes, we perform baptisms for the dead. Yes, they can choose to accept it or not (so who is it hurting, obviously not you). Yes, we believe in the Bible and Book of Mormon. Yes, we believe in God (the Eternal Father), Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. NO, we do not have more than one spouse. No, we do not baptize people that are living without their knowledge (for baptisms for the dead you have to be deceased for at least a year, so obviously baptisms for the dead wasn't revealed to steal money from people either). No, The baptisms in the temple are not used to "jack up" the membership number for the LDS Church, they aren't even counted in the church numbers because who knows on this side of the veil if they accepted the baptism.

    Lastly, Why not focus on the Humanitarian efforts of the church? There are people all over the world that have been helped with Hygiene Kits, school kits, blankets and food during a disaster.

    If you don't share our beliefs at least look for common ground and not to bash things that are not to your full understanding.

    February 17, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Reality Bites

      We can also focus on the negative things the church does like the funding of Proposition 8.

      February 17, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • One Person

      The LDS church reported donating money "in kind" or through allowing groups to use their facilities. No official money came from the LDS Church. Several churches non-religious groups provided more money "in kind" as well as real money. I am not sure why the LDS church is constantly singled out on this one when even with donations "in kind" they were one of the middle of the pack.

      February 17, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  10. Merle Terlesky

    There is no other name given among men by which you must be saved, and that name is Jesus Christ. There is no salvation after death-none!

    February 17, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  11. David West

    This is surprisingly lazy reporting. Any Mormon will tell you this practice has biblical roots. Paul discussed it in 1 Corinthians 15:29. Even the ancient temples had basins. As a Mormon, I believe those were built for the purpose of proxy baptism for the deceased.

    The entire Christian church is founded on the principle of proxy salvation. Christ acted as proxy for each of us in suffering for our sins. He taught every person must be born again. Like many others, we believe baptism is a necessary saving ordinance for every person to receive His glory.

    February 17, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • Emperor Vadik, CA

      Take His (your version of God) glory and shove it where the sun don't shine...

      February 17, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • michael

      So why no slavery? It has biblical roots...

      February 17, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  12. treblemaker

    All of you who think that the Mormon faith is a cult, what do you make of a Jew that comes to believe that the Jewish messiah actually did exist 2000 years ago, and comes to understand that the original church under the savior was a Jewish church?

    February 17, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  13. Ab

    You look at the letter from Paul and it is all about what to do. Chapter 15 is Paul giving instruction on the resurrection. One of the books I looked at mentioned that St. Paul refers on either side of the verse 29 as we, I, you but switches to the 3rd person (meaning that he is no longer talking about how he feels he and the Christians in Corinth should be doing this) for just this one (count it one) verse.

    If it were really a major tenet of faith in that time period, one would think that it would be talked about more within the New Testament as well as by the bloggers of the day who were not Christian but missed few opportunities to comment about Christianity as well as other current events. Tacitus, Seutonius, Plutonius, Pliny and Josephus. Between them, someone would have managed to have heard about it and wanted to point out just how crazy they all were.

    Another problem is that the Mormon faith talks about how they consider the Bible to be corrupted. You can't keep a verse you like because it supports a tenet of your faith and call the rest of the book not good as well.

    February 17, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • LinSea

      I am a Mormon and absolutely believe in and love the Bible as the word of God and testimony that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. I have studied the King James Version my whole life and it IS good.

      February 17, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  14. Grandma

    Non-believers : STOP COMMENTING ON RELIGIOUS ARTICLES!!!!

    Stop shoveling your nonbelief in our throats!!!

    February 17, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Ken in NB

      Gladly when you stop pushing your ideological garbage on the rest of us!!

      February 17, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • PC

      Now Grandma, you are being childish. Why should a non-beleiver be kept away from a religious article? I no longer believe in the God you profess to believe in, however I have studied the world's relgions for over twenty years and hold a degree in it. I believe I am qualified to comment. And even if I did not have my credentials, I would still be able to comment as that is still, although for how much longer I do not know, my right.

      February 17, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  15. CopontheBeat

    Mormons are none too bright. And if you've ever dated a Mormon girl, you'd understand why they baptise the dead - frankly you can't tell the difference between a dead Mormon and a live one.

    February 17, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Nick

      Probably only because she won't get in your pants. That's a high standard there.

      February 17, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
  16. Barry G.

    The Christian church began baptizing people in the first century (about 33 CE, on the Day of Pentecost), according to the Acts of the Apostles (one of the oldest and most reliable records of the church. It was on this day in @ 33 CE that Christians were taught to be baptized, in order that their sins may be forgiven, that they receive the gift of the holy spirit, and so that they would receive the promise of eternal life.

    Never did the Christian church authorize baptizing the dead, or baptizing for the dead.

    In fact it wasn't until the thirteenth century that leaders of the church (such as John Wycliffe) reminded the church that the Scriptures do not even authorize praying for the dead.

    Almost two thousand years later (at about the time of the Civil War of America), a man starts teaching new ideas, as if the teachings of Christ and the apostles were in some way deficient.

    Read what Richardson writes about this man in his book, Alexander Campbell's Memoirs.

    February 17, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Nick

      Oh Barry, that is a slanted of an analysis as I've ever heard. So do you know for a fact that all of Christ's teaching and all the teachings in the early history of the church were written in the bible? Nope.

      That's why it's silly to say that there couldn't be more found or added to what is in the bible. It's not a closed book, or maybe I should say "books", since it is a compilation of lots of different authors.

      February 17, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Barry G.

      Nick,

      We know that of all of the Christian writings (canonical and non-canonical [biblical and extra-biblical]), the teachings that Jos. Smith began to teach at about the time of the Civil War are contrary to what the Apostle Paul taught, contrary to what the other apostles and church leaders of the first three centuries taught, and more importantly, contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ, himself.

      Read the Bible. Read also the vast collected writings of the first three centuries–or for that matter for the first thousand years of the Christian church.

      When Jesus said: "I have sheep, which are not of this flock", he was speaking about the gentiles, who would soon be brought into the church, along with the Jews, who had converted to Christianity. (See: the Gospel According to John).

      The other sheep were not Native Americans. When the gentiles were brought into the church (see: the conversion of Cornelius, in Acts), this was accomplished. And when Paul arrived at Rome and preached the gospel there, the gospel had been spread to the gentiles, as Acts states.)

      Don't let pride prevent you from admitting error!

      Read your Bible!

      February 17, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  17. Emperor Vadik, CA

    Well, if I was wrong about afterlife, and it turns out that the Mormons are right, that means that I can be the most evil person in theis world, and die that way, so long as the Mormons come and baptize my body...

    ...then I get my own planet where I RULE EVERYONE....

    BWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

    BWWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

    BWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

    February 17, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • Jiyan

      The comments have gone well benyod me and I am only allowed 4 comments a day, so I might be responding for a while. Please keep that in mind.Aaron, the only works that God wants come from a heart freely and fully forgiven for all sins. Why exactly do you feel that Mormons are incapable of giving such works? faith is not nebulous. It is attached to real promises made by Jesus. Jesus has offered free and immediate forgiveness and the assurance of eternal life to all who would simply trust him for it, who would receive it by faith apart from works or worthiness or merits or ordinances. Fine, but this definition neither describes what faith is nor does it explicitly explain how it is attained. Are you saying that in order to receive salvation by faith, you must believe in Christ?Regarding Ezekiel, he is making metaphorical use of actual ordinances. Actually water was sprinkled on actual sacrifices in order to cleanse them. Actual blood was sprinkled on priests for the same reason. I don't think that one can successfully argue that Christ isn't saying that some form of baptism is necessary and that it involves some physical action, but I am willing to see you give it a go. In any case, surely this is a matter of interpretation, no?Finally, if it is any consolation, I have often encounter Protestants who make assertions about grace without really seeking to understand it.Joe, The Book of Mormon clearly teaches salvation by grace. While doing so, it utterly demolishes the Mormon insistence on both baptism by water and the requirement for temple endowments. As you no doubt well know, the Book of Mormon teaches the importance of baptism as a saving ordinance and as an expression of faith and devotion. The two are not mutually exclusive in LDS thought.Also, regarding John's baptism, I don't see your point. The Pharisees sought out baptism from John, according to the Synoptic Gospels, so it must not have been foreign or incomprehensible to them.

      September 9, 2012 at 2:25 am |
  18. sisi

    Ridiculous in so many ways!

    February 17, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • PC

      You know Sisi, I really tried in so very many ways to write a well thought out comment to this article. I must have tried four or five drafts when I saw your one line and I have to say, I agree. This is utterly ridiculous in so many ways.

      February 17, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  19. Larry in Denver

    I am working on my family tree. If I send a copy to the LDS archives (so it can be available for future generations) will those included in the family tree be "baptized" without my permission???

    February 17, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • Former 4th Generation Mormon

      The simple answer is YES.

      February 17, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • David West

      No, but another living relative (a cousin for example) may use your research to submit names for temple ordinances.

      February 17, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Matt

      How are you working on this family tree Larry? If its genealogy.com or ancestory.com ts already known to the Mormon church (as they own these businesses) and the church already does data harvesting via most municipal record databases.

      February 17, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Bruce

      My understanding is that those in your family tree are not to be "baptized" unless a living relative submits their names. I would suggest checking with the folks at the LDS archives.

      February 17, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Adam

      No, not without your permission. Members can only look up and perform ordinances for their own ancestors. Feel free to use the church resources to do your family history, we've got a lot of resources to help out.

      February 17, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • One Person

      I don't know. But if they believe they are giving someone an option, and everyone else believes nothing happens, I wouldn't be concerned.

      February 17, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  20. Nick

    I'm surprised not many people have picked up on the fact that the LDS church spends a lot of time and resources to follow something they strongly believe in. I think there is some merit to spending millions of hours of service to extend what is believed to be salvation to other people. It is extending a hand to someone and offering salvation (in their point of view) I think that is great act of service and helps them to learn to reach out to those in need. I think one point of the article is to say that other religions don't offer this sort of dedication or inclusiveness that mormons do.

    February 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • michael

      The Taliban also agrees with your sentiment!

      February 17, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Nick

      Haha nice comment. You can't fault the determination. I think the major difference you are missing though is that the LDS baptisms don't have any effect on the people being baptized (if they don't believe it)

      February 17, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Former 4th Generation Mormon

      It's all about works in Mormonism. Faith without works is dead. If one does not actively partake of the Temple rituals, there will be no salvation for the person. If one denied the teachings of the living prophet today, there will be no second chance after death. Something the article fails to address.

      February 17, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Ken in NB

      The mormon churches motives are not quite so altruistic.

      They are more like a Mcdonalds trying to up the number served on their sign out front.

      February 17, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • One Person

      Ken – the article says the church does not know how many have been completed. I think it is too bad people try to pick apart nice people. For example, why are there so many people that say Tim Tebow and Jimmer Freddette can't possibly be as good of people as they say? This same thing applies: why can't people believe that churches and their members are trying to be good?

      February 17, 2012 at 2:01 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.