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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. myklds

    @Nii

    Would you mind to elaborate what's you called "quasi-Christian cult? And what makes LDS fall in that category?

    February 17, 2012 at 5:05 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      They also reject the doctrine of universality of the church and communion of saints. Universality or catholicism means the visible church must b united under Christ. Communion of Saints means spiritually only God knows who are His no matter their outward religion and their spirits are united in Him.

      February 17, 2012 at 5:35 am |
    • myklds

      @Nii

      Kindly read my response on your other post. I have refuted your misconceptions about the church.

      And since you keep on spewing another false claims about the church. I think it's fair now to pass to you the burden of proof.

      Can you present an ounce of proof that would back up your claims above?

      February 17, 2012 at 5:52 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      There is the word "church" u just used. Just because u used it does not mean u r a part of the Church. RCC, Eastern Orthodox, Monophysites, Montanists and Protestants recognise themselves as Christians though they say the others are in error. U say we are mistaken. Mistake means u r right totally

      February 17, 2012 at 6:19 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      I wud never have to refute u or u me if ur 'church' had de same cult we have as a Church. The Christians traditions I talked about have the same cult but different doctrines about that cult. You have a different cult and different doctrines. Have u heard of an Anglican or Messianic Jewish Temple b4?

      February 17, 2012 at 6:26 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      The christian cult is the same as the Jewish cult but yours is different. If u remove the communion service what u r left with is the Jewish Sabbath service. We recognise the Jewish Sabbath but u don't. The Levitical priesthood is recognised by X'tians but for u anyone can become a Levitical priest.

      February 17, 2012 at 6:34 am |
    • myklds

      @Nii

      "There is the word "church" u just used. Just because u used it does not mean u r a part of the Church."

      Isn't that obvious that I'm an LDS and that when I mentioned "church" I meant the LDS church. Do I need to spell it out to you?

      One last question, does your IQ exceed of the 3-yr. old's? It's seems to me that doesn't.

      February 17, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • DD

      If you believe in Christ then you must believe in the Bible. The Bible clearly states that there is only one God – one – period – end of story. LDS believe that they will "become" gods in their afterlife. If so, how can the LDS be christians? It's impossible.

      Also, if you don't pay into the church you get excommunicated and/or can't go to "temple" proceedings and won't get into the "higher" levels of Heaven. I'm sorry, but you can't "sell" tickets to Heaven.

      Since when does God care about money?

      February 17, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • Trololol

      Successful Troll is successful.

      February 17, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  2. Nii Croffie

    Faith is d ability 2 trust n obey God n Grace is the granting of this ability as help from God to those who show effort. Faith is not religious dogma or a religion. Obeying d laws of love whether u r Christian or not will mean grace n thus salvation will be given. Our God is not 4 X'tians only.

    February 17, 2012 at 5:01 am |
  3. Nii Croffie

    Besides this de sola fide doctrine dividing Protestants n Catholics is a formulation of S Augustine. however its 2 b emphasized that Jesus,S James the Just,S John de Divine n S Paul all believed that works of love will get u saved but not works of religion. Salvation isn't religious in the Bible.

    February 17, 2012 at 4:51 am |
    • Randy M

      I have to refute you claim about the book of Mormon. There is no evidence outside of the book itself that verify s any facts written in the book of Mormon. The Christian and Jewish Bible has thousands of facts outside of the books themselves that verify the Bible historically. There is no historical or archeological evidence that the Book of Mormon is anything more than a book of fiction written by Joesph Smith. And there many inconsistencies in the Book of Mormon that show it is not historically accurate. The Christian Bible is scientifically and historically accurate and nothing in it can be dis proven. There are many other references to New Testament people in other non christian contemporary writings. If you believe the Book of Mormon you have to believe it without any outside verification. The Christian Bible is historically accurate even if you choose not to believe that is God's Inspired Word. The Book of Mormon is purely fictional in its historical accounts.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  4. DavidPun

    The Evangelicals believe that the Jews are condemned to burn in Hell for all eternity because they have rejected their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So that is somehow less offensive than sneaking in a bit of behind the scenes redemption?

    February 17, 2012 at 2:23 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      Actually Evangelicals are most conciliatory towards Christianity's Jewish roots of all Christian traditions. To b Christian is to recognise Christ as God in one form or the other and this is what excludes JWs, LDS n other quasi-Christian cults. All Christians cooperate but these do not recognise us.

      February 17, 2012 at 4:42 am |
    • myklds

      @Nii

      Would mind to elaborate what's you called "quasi-Christian cult? And what makes LDS fall in that category?

      February 17, 2012 at 4:58 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      Cult here is 2 denote a ritual tradition not necessarily a spiritually abusive or occult group. In d LDS a 2nd book of divine revelation, The Book of Mormon, is upheld over the Bible. They also dont believe in Christ's divinity. Even in X'nity de Hebrew OT was used to define the NT not vice versa.

      February 17, 2012 at 5:10 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      Then also are the occult worship rites in the LDS. In X'tianity angels are defined. The most seniour are the 7 Archangels and 4 cherubiim. They are not dead humans. Moroni was a dead human. Humans will attain an angelic state but are generally not held to do so unless with special dispensation.

      February 17, 2012 at 5:19 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      There are very few people in Scripture granted this. Second Christ is not a phenomena in the Western Hemisphere without the missionaries from the Eastern. There are rites based on eternity of the human soul like special baptisms but this is foreign to x'tianity. Only God is eternal, self-existent.

      February 17, 2012 at 5:27 am |
    • myklds

      @Nii, you said:

      1.) "In d LDS a 2nd book of divine revelation, The Book of Mormon, is upheld over the Bible."

      We as LDS have been taught The Bible and Book of Mormon as co-equal when it comes to Christ's divinity.

      2.)"They also dont believe in Christ's divinity."

      It seems that you are etheir ill-informed or extremely misguided, or, both about the LDS Church.

      If you have a Book of Mormon kindly open it and read Alma 46:14-15. Or search lds.org they have all Holy Scriptures available.

      3.) "Cult here is 2 denote a ritual tradition not necessarily a spiritually abusive or occult group."

      Every religion on earth has it's own ritual tradition.

      Now what is a quasi-Christian cult?

      February 17, 2012 at 5:39 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      Yes but in Christianity there are no other Scriptures other than the Bible. The Hebrew Scriptures can be used for our doctrines just as the NT. A quasi-is one which uses the word Christian but is not in essentials of faith. I read the Book of Mormon A-Z. Ur Christ is not the Christ of the OT n NT

      February 17, 2012 at 6:06 am |
    • myklds

      @Nii, you said and I quote,

      "I read the Book of Mormon A-Z"

      Can you state here what Alma 46:14-15 says?

      February 17, 2012 at 8:55 am |
    • Fred

      Nii: You are an ignorant fool. Mormon's do believe in the divinity of JC. They believe he is the Son of God, a separate being from God the Father, but divine and godly nonetheless.

      February 17, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Randy M

      In response to mykids – I have to refute you claim about the book of Mormon. There is no evidence outside of the book itself that verify s any facts written in the book of Mormon. The Christian and Jewish Bible has thousands of facts outside of the books themselves that verify the Bible historically. There is no historical or archeological evidence that the Book of Mormon is anything more than a book of fiction written by Joesph Smith. And there many inconsistencies in the Book of Mormon that show it is not historically accurate. The Christian Bible is scientifically and historically accurate and nothing in it can be dis proven. There are many other references to New Testament people in other non christian contemporary writings. If you believe the Book of Mormon you have to believe it without any outside verification. The Christian Bible is historically accurate even if you choose not to believe that is God's Inspired Word. The Book of Mormon is purely fictional in its historical accounts.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  5. Reality

    Since there never were an Adam and Eve, Garden of Paradise or talking serpent, there never was any original sin i.e. baptism is a silly supersti-tion that even the Catholic church is slowly coming to grips with.

    From the white board notes of a Catholic Professor of Theology:

    "The story of Adam and Eve is only symbolic.

    Yes, this story was composed in the 900s BCE and functions as an etiology (explanatory myth) . In the 900s Israel was self ruling, under King David and Solomon. The people were no longer at war and the question" Why are we not happy?" may have been asked. The short answer is sin. (Look at 1 Kings 11 for some clues into why the story depicts Eve sinning first and then tempting Adam [Solomon]).

    Original sin is therefore only symbolic of man's tendencies to sin.

    Yes, I teach Original Sin as symbolic of the sins of our origins – in our
    families and in the broader society, both of which affect each person
    profoundly. The "sins of our origins" approach helps to account for certain
    patterns of sin in particular families and societies.

    Baptism does not erase original sin since the sin does not exist. Yes, the old "laundry of the soul," approach to Baptism is no longer accepted.

    Infant Baptism is only a rite of initiation and commits parents and godparents to bringing up the child in a Christian home.

    Yes, but, since baptism is now celebrated at Sunday Eucharist, all the members of the parish family are encouraged to pledge their support and care for the faith life of the newly baptized. (A manifestation of this is
    persons volunteering to teach other people's kids the basics of Catholicism.)"

    As per National Geographic's Genographic project:
    https://www3.nationalgeographic.com/genographic/

    " DNA studies suggest that all humans today descend from a group of African ancestors who about 60,000 years ago (added note: bible time has Adam living about 6000 years ago) began a remarkable journey. Follow the journey from them to you as written in your genes”.

    "Adam" is the common male ancestor of every living man. He lived in Africa some 60,000 years ago, which means that all humans lived in Africa at least at that time.

    Unlike his Biblical namesake, this Adam was not the only man alive in his era. Rather, he is unique because his descendents are the only ones to survive.

    It is important to note that Adam does not literally represent the first human. He is the coalescence point of all the genetic diversity."

    February 17, 2012 at 12:45 am |
    • Cindy

      Where did you come up with this stuff?

      February 17, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  6. The Phist

    More crap about the mormon cult. Fantastic.

    February 17, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    • Peter

      Cult? if only all the other cults spent millions in the relief of human suffering...

      February 17, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  7. King of Kolob Krampus IV

    I hereto decree that if a Mormon baptizes me after I go teets up, I'll come back as a ghost and haunt their crapper.

    February 17, 2012 at 12:12 am |
  8. King Kong Kolob

    To convert a mormon, you'll need a chunk of Kolobmite and some whacky tobacky.

    February 17, 2012 at 12:03 am |
  9. John Stefanyszyn

    The reading and understanding of 1Cor 15:29 by the Mormons is incorrect.
    Paul is not talking about the baptism of the dead.
    Paul is saying...what is the validity and purpose of being baptised into Christ if the resurrection is not real?...if the dead cannot be resurrected?
    He is saying...what is the purpose of being in danger and dying for Christ if the resurrection through Christ is not real?
    He goes on to say that if the resurrection is not real, that then one might as well eat & drink because tomorrow we die...that there is no hope of the resurrection.
    He goes on to say that this thinking is untrue and a deception by unbelievers.

    February 16, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      John.. why is it ok to baptize babies who have had so say what so ever in to what religion they are being subjected ..yet it is not ok to baptize a dead person..each is having the same input into the insanity of the act. what are the babies wishes as far as religion? what if he does not agree with the group think of that religion? why can he/she make up their own mind ? the answer is obvious of course.. with out early indoctrination most children when they get to critical thinking age would see it for the farce it is and reject it all. Get them fearful at an early age and they are yours for life.

      February 16, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
    • myklds

      @John..

      It was very clear that Paul talked about the baptism of the dead and apparently, it was the Jewish who practiced it during that time but they do not believe that Christ has risen from the dead. It was maybe the reason why it was a question and NOT a statement.

      Perhaps it's also the reason why most of the Christian denominations are not practicing it now, just because it was an ancient Jewish practice. But they fail to realize its importance and significance if you really believe that the Church you are with is true.

      February 17, 2012 at 3:42 am |
    • tallulah13

      Of course Paul didn't actually know Christ. Therefore, anything that Paul said is simply the words of a middle-management Roman tax collector who pretended to speak for a man who was dead before Paul was even born.

      February 17, 2012 at 3:47 am |
    • banti

      Thank You. Mormons got that scripture all wrong

      February 17, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • W247

      MYKIDS – where does it say that this was a Jewish practice? At the time there was a cult by Corinth in the nearby city of Eleasus (sp) who baptised for the dead, Paul was also warning the Corinthians ( who were highly influenced by the other cultures around them) not to follow suit.

      February 17, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Randy M

      In response to mykids – Paul spoke against praying for the dead, Gnosticism and polytheism. He could not have been more anti-Mormon. Mormon is all of those things. There were Jewish sect or cults that did practice praying for the dead but it was not mainstream. You are probably referring to Kabbalah which is a Jewish sect that had occultic practices.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  10. Nick

    I can't stand it when people ask non-mormons to teach them about mormonism...THAT IS RIDICULOUS! Its like asking an English teacher to teach you Chemistry. If someone has a question or wants an explanation about the church then ask a member of the church.

    February 16, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      Well, given that many atheists are actually more informed (as studies have confirmed) than believers, a better analogy would be that it's like asking a former professional chemist now teaching an English class about chemistry instead of asking the Chemistry teacher who never made it past chem 101 as an undergrad.

      February 17, 2012 at 12:12 am |
    • myklds

      What can be more worst than Non-Mormon speaking about Mormonism.

      February 17, 2012 at 5:02 am |
    • Peter

      *facepalm*- I can't deny that many athiests know much about diety and christianity. I just find it ammusing that they spend so much time trying to justify why they don't believe in something. But what I find more interesting is the fact that in all their research they don't come to the conclusion that what Christ taught was pure love... and what God wants is for good to prevail. Why then is it so bad for people to believe in that... its the human race who perverts the teachings of God. Read the Joseph Smith story and you just might find you have more in common with him than you thought.

      February 17, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Lew

      HEY NICK WAKE UP, I WAS IN THE MORMON CHURCH FOR 36 YEARS , and when i went to the BISHOP AND STAKE PRESIDENT, He Was his words " I dont process to know much about the curse of Cain , nor do i need to know", OR TRY THIS ONE ON FOR SIZE , THis Nick comes from my former Bishop, " i wont allow now or in the future QUESTIONS TO LEAD ME ASTRAY' IAM NOT MAKING THIS STUFF UP, YOU DONT QUESTION MORMON LEADERS, FOLLOW AND KEEP YOUR EYEE SHUT

      February 17, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Randy M

      All I know about Mormonism is from the book Mormons for Idiots. It was written by 2 Mormons and covers everything a non- Mormon would want to know about the religion. Why don't you read it and tell me what I got wrong.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  11. gunste

    I have sent the following to my Rep., Anna Eshoo, and to Senators Boxer and Feinstein, to consider introducing a bill in Congress – to stop the desecration and change of people’s religious faith posthumously by baptism without the consent of all their descendants or a Federal judge.

    "It shall be unlawful for any person or organization to file papers for or approve a change of the religious faith of any person, living or deceased, without permission of the individual, if alive, or a Federal Judge, or the unanimous consent of all descendants, if deceased."

    This is designed to prevent any Mormon from filing papers to posthumously baptize anyone, which would change their religious affiliation, even if they are distantly related to them without anyone's consent. It should also prohibit their church from accepting such papers for changes in affiliation in order to increase their "flock".
    The wholesale posthumous filing of baptism papers for thousands of holocaust victims and other ancestors by people of the Mormon faith is in violation of a 1995 agreement. The LDS Church should not accept such papers and reject all such filings, except with the unanimous consent of all descendants. – These attempts to build a history for a religion founded about 1849 desecrates their memory, is repugnant to many descendants, who are powerless to have this reversed.

    I am personally offended by the desecration of the faith of my grandaunt Elise Steinberg, an observant Jew, and some of her siblings and descendants by a LDS Church member. I had personally informed that member of my objection.
    Her descendants include persons with the Jewish, Catholic, Protestant and Mormon religious affiliation.

    Failure of the Mormon Church to adhere to the 1995 agreement to cease and desist, a law that prohibits this in the US seems like a good solution. – Since the LDS church is headquartered in the US, this would force the hierarchy to take a stand and stop this widespread practice, and stop the incorporation of proposed baptism names into the church files.

    February 16, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • robyn

      Your entire argument is silly to me. Sue? Oh come on.

      February 16, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      gunste..and babies who are forced to undergo baptism into a religion they know nothing about or may not agree? what if being say being a protestant gets you closer to god than say a catholic? cant babies have a say first? I guess at least with the dead you can pray and get an answer from them as to what they want to do...

      February 16, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • Aloha

      @EvolvedDNA

      I hope you do not claim to be informed of the baptism in Protestant churches. The only church that baptizes babies is the catholic church. In Protestantism you have to be of a certain age (the age restriction being the pastor's decision) and you have to decide 100 percent out of your own free will.

      February 17, 2012 at 2:30 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      The baptismal rite 4 children is like being anointed a child-king. it has no effect on the child until he is of age n confirms it. It was done basically to allow children into eternal life but dey lose it when dey fail 2 confirm when dey reach d age of discretion. There Protestants who do it!

      February 17, 2012 at 5:58 am |
    • Jay

      If you beleive that the Mormon Church is not true, then why the hell would you care what they do, if it does not matter anyway. You think a dead person somewhere is serioiusly insulted and hurt that someone used their name. Give me a break – find something worthwhile to do with your life.

      February 17, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  12. Dodney Rangerfield

    Baptizing the dead = a slam dunk

    February 16, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
  13. Iqbal Khan

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0A3WMOLOKo&feature=related

    February 16, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
  14. Dal

    As a Mormon, I totally understand how odd baptism for the dead is. Then again, I can think of tons of things in other peoples faiths I find odd. I also find it interesting that everyone seems to have the market cornered on what is the right way to believe in God (or not for that matter). The way I believe is a result of a lot of questions and answers to prayer. If you don't agree, go with what works for you. Seriously...no one is forcing you to be a Mormon and I'm sure not going to bag on your faith because really...you can believe what you want to. Thats the beauty of America.

    February 16, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • bill

      Actually you've described the beauty of delusional thinking. I can believe anything I want no matter what. And lets not limit delusional thinking to America. It can flourish anywhere.

      February 16, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • Cindy

      You can't read the Bible and then "go with what works for you" It doesn't work that way. There is only one intrepretation to the Bible and is the way God intended it to be. If you can do what works for you then why have the Bible at all?

      February 17, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • John Doe

      I think it is funny that this guy tries to relate with you and what do you do? You rip him down. If you are unable to cope with the terms that this guy doesn't want to argue with you and does not want to fight with you to convert then leave him alone. Mormons certainly belive that their gospel is true. But they also believe that there are many others who have truths within their beliefs, just not the entire gospel.

      February 17, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • college_student

      For Cindy "There is only one intrepretation to the Bible and is the way God intended it to be" If this is true why are there 1000's of Christian denominations?

      February 17, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
  15. Iqbal Khan

    Saving Khader Adnan's Life Is Saving Our Own Soul

    By Richard Falk

    The world watches as tragedy unfolds beneath its gaze. Khader Asnan is entering his 61st day as a hunger striker in an Israeli prison, being held under an administrative detention order without trial, charges, or any indication of the evidence against him. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30550.htm

    February 16, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
  16. i wonder

    Another case of when superst-itions collide.

    What to do? What to do?

    February 16, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • Wander forever

      Simple, go somewhere else where Superti.tions are not discussed.

      February 17, 2012 at 5:09 am |
  17. bill

    Don't worry any longer folks. I just unbaptized all the heretofore baptized dead Jewish folks in a nice little ceremony out behind my wood shed. Tomorrow I'll crank up the ritual wizardry again and make all the dead Mormons into Catholics and send them directly to Purgatory! You are most welcome.

    February 16, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • dk

      haha, I love that! And I'm a practicing Mormon. But I appreciate your wit and you actually describe quite well how I feel about the situation. I've participated in those baptisms in the temple, but I've never thought that when I did it I suddenly made the deceased person Mormon. I only gave them an opportunity to accept or reject what many Christians believe is essential to salvation...baptism. Somebody doesn't want it? That's okay. I didn't force them into anything. Like the article said...I extended an invitation to the party which could always be turned down, no hard feelings.

      Just like your comment above, even if you did perform some ritual on my behalf (whether the purpose was to save me or send me to purgatory) I guess I don't really care. If it's to save me...I suppose I'd be grateful that you tried to do something for me that you viewed was essential to my salvation. If it was to condemn me...I'd just shrug my shoulders and say...well that's weird...and move on!

      That being said, I can understand why those who don't understand the ordinance/baptism (or even those that do) might be offended. I especially think that according to the agreement with those representing the Jewish Holocaust victims, that should have been honored. I'm disappointed that a fellow Mormon decided not to respect that honest request and agreement.

      February 16, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • Abinadi

      That's ok to me too, bill. I don't believe the Catholic Church is the true church and I don't believe they have any power or authority and whatever ritual they perform is not going to affect me one way or another.

      February 16, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • bill

      Dk,
      You helped me understand the depth of the gulf between theistic thinking and mine. My humor was to illuminate the sham that various religious rituals are. I totally failed.

      You talk about offering dead people opportunities! Sorry but that is crazy talk.
      Bill

      February 17, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
  18. Kathryn Wildgen

    Catholics do NOT believe that only Catholics can be saved. Church teaching is that salvation comes through Jesus Christ. Period. There are also three types of Baptism: of water; of desire (people who die during preparation or are otherwise prevented from being baptized by water); of blood (people who die for the faith before being baptized by water). The Church also recognizes the possibility of salvation for those living in invincible ignorance, i.e. those who have never heard of Jesus or been evangelized.

    February 16, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • The One True Steve

      If that is the case ... Then there is no point in being Catholic. If you don't have to follow the rules and you still get in... Why bother?

      February 16, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • Linda Drum

      To quote you: "The Church also recognizes the possibility of salvation for those living in invincible ignorance, i.e. those who have never heard of Jesus or been evangelized." May I forvever live in ignorance rather than live by your rues of salvation.

      February 16, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • Spencer

      You're RIGHT!! Salvation is by Jesus Christ only, and thats also what Protestant churches teach also. CNN should really let a member of that particular religious backround explain their religion.

      February 16, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
  19. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    February 16, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • tnfreethinker

      Action changes things, prayer changes nothing.

      February 16, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things
      Good men pray
      Great men act on prayer
      Prayer changes things

      February 16, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • The One True Steve

      "Great men act on prayer" ...

      Is that one of those fluffy saying that is totally meaningless?

      February 16, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • strvin

      well what'll ya know...prayer just happens to be an act in and of itself...

      February 16, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • Spencer

      Yes, more prayer more power!

      February 16, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
  20. Nonimus

    If Mormons can baptize the dead 10 at a time via proxies baptizees, then why do the living need to do it in person?

    February 16, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • poquimoqui

      LOL, I agree that it was poorly-worded. When you go to the temple to perform proxy baptism they will usually give you 10 names to be baptized for. Each baptism is performed individually in behalf of the deceased, not 10 at a time as the article implies.

      February 16, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • tickled

      poquimoqui
      You sound in the know. Have you actually done this?

      February 16, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Athabascan

      tickled
      I confirm that what poquimoqui said, Baptisms are performed individually on behalf of the deceased, however the individual acting as proxy will end up doing so again for each individual.

      February 16, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • myklds

      @Nomimmus

      Baptism for the dead is for those who don't have the opportunity to hear the fullness of the gospel during their lifetime.

      February 17, 2012 at 3:14 am |
    • meemee

      myklds

      @Nomimmus

      "Baptism for the dead is for those who don't have the opportunity to hear the fullness of the gospel during their lifetime."

      As a living person, I can tell you that I've heard it over and over and over and over. But since the dead can't hear, what makes them hear it when they are dead? And by what right you do intrude on the dead to baptize them into a religion without their consent? This is nothing but hypocritical religious hegemony and pure arrogance.

      February 17, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • SunnyInSLC

      I'm happy to say that I'm no longer LDS, but I did baptisms for the dead when I was a teenager. You go into a baptismal font, they read a name, they dunk you, they read another name, they dunk you, etc. And they do it FAST, like the guy reading the names could be an auctioneer.

      February 17, 2012 at 3:43 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.