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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. Maddie Baldwin

    Hi Folks.. I have been enjoying the discourse. First, let me say, I am not a Mormon. Second, I like to study the doctrines of various Christian Denomination. . Third, I think we are just humans who cannot possibly speak for God. We can only speak through our own cultures and experiences, as well as what we have been taught and come to believe. ..

    I found the comment about God having been a "man" living on another plant and experiencing the trials and tribulations of life there as STRANGE. I wanted to leap up and yell WRONG ! ... That's when Jesus' experience here on planet earth came to mind. ..

    Do we not also believe that Jesus is the Son of God and One with God, and for those who believe in the Trinity.. One God in Three Divine Persons? ... Jesus had a mortal existence as a MAN on a planet, went through pain, suffering and mortal death, yes? That sort of stopped me cold... isn't that what the Mormons are saying God the Father also did? ....
    And who are those "other gods" that sit on the Grand Council in heaven that the Bible refers to? Other sons of God, who went to other planets like Jesus did? (Satan could be very busy if there are other inhabited planets.. and the Bible is just the story of our planet) Or did God the Father HImself decide to intervene on a planet at one time??

    REALLY GETTING PRETTY WILD NOW... but what if? Earth is not the center of the Universe like it was believed to be by the Catholic Church in times of old. In fact, as I have studied different Christian denominations and beliefs that were held over the years, I was totally blown away at to how strange some of those seemed to be and how out of touch (and sometimes un-Christian) they were with what we believe now. (some of us would have definitely condemned them, too).

    So Folks, I for one love to believe that I know everything about everything and am always right. SOOO FUNNNY !!

    I DO BELIEVE THAT WE DO THE BEST WE CAN WITH OUR FINITE PUNY MINDS TO UNDERSTAND WHAT THE INFINITE GOD WANTS. We're just human after all, and God, well He's GOD !!! .. There is NO comparison. Just do the best you can, and try to understand that we are ALL God's children and seek to do His will (if we so desire).

    April 12, 2012 at 8:58 am |
  2. Steve

    Peter indicates that Jesus thought preaching to the dead was of some value...

    1 Peter 4:6 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
    1 Peter 4:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
    1 Peter 4:19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;
    1 Peter 4:20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

    April 9, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  3. Grace1972

    There’s something unsettling about the LDS leadership’s selective, "grab bag" approach to Hebrew and Christian Scripture. Take a little bit here, ignore the context there, amend this section a touch, and viola...a new revelation of truth. No small change of truth, in most Christians’ minds, is the tenet that Mormons are gods-in-waiting who will someday reign over their own worlds, as our current "God" is really a flesh and blood man who had to go through a similar journey to become God and who actually populated this world through physical relations with a goddess (fallible, carnal gods living on material worlds and mankind with the capacity to ascend to the status of gods remind anyone else of anything?). But more unsettling than the misappropriation and/or distortion of these sacred texts is the glossing over by the LDS church and their PR team of the reality that there is any selectivity or distortion at work. Americans are made to believe that Mormons are just like any other Christian churchgoers. "We follow Jesus Christ," and, "We love the Bible," are comments I've seen posted here more than a few times. But if you love the Bible and follow the Jesus who is chronicled within its pages, wouldn't you read it and own up to the changes your church has made? And if you read it and accepted Jesus for the one it claims him to be, could you really be convinced that you are an infinite and immortal god or that salvation has anything to do with what you have done...or could ever do (for yourself or another)? If Scripture teaches us anything, it's that our lives–temporal and eternal–are absolute gifts from the one and only God and Father of the heavenly lights (who, by the way, does not change as shifting shadows). There is nothing we can ever do to earn these gifts or summon them or twist God's arm into giving them. All of Scripture, really, is a reminder that our source is God Almighty, that God loves us, and that any good we have or could ever hope to have is pure, unvarnished grace.

    Yes, we should follow after God with all that we are, and we should love our neighbors as ourselves. But any good inclination or "works" on our part are an expression of what God has put into us, not the means for us to get something we want from God. Mormons–apart from their conception of themselves as gods of eternal progression–seem to humanize God on a similar level as the ancient Greeks, Romans, and other pagan peoples did: If you make enough sacrifices or visit the temple enough, then God will be compelled to let you win the battle or send rains for the crops or make your livestock fertile...or save all the long-dead folks whose names you can gather and recite while a proxy is being baptized. What arrogance to think that we could have such influence–as if we are capable of saving the ones that God is somehow either too shortsighted or simply unable to save within the lifespan that He allotted for them. Do we need to be God's (book)keepers?

    And in response to all of the posters who have stated, in effect, “There should not be such an uproar over a practice that has others’ wellbeing in mind and doesn’t hurt anyone,” I would simply say that while the practice is not “hurting” anyone, it is about as offensive as if a major Protestant denomination like the United Methodist Church were to announce that one of the cornerstones of its day-to-day operations was the compilation of the names of all the Catholics who have ever lived and died, so that Methodist church officials can have members of their congregations take the non-transubstantiated communion in proxy in order to save all those who died without accepting the real gospel and were currently trapped in spirit prison. I can absolutely understand why people are very upset about this less-than-transparent and much-less-than-sensitive practice that the LDS has been carrying on.

    April 9, 2012 at 3:12 am |
    • Steve

      You state, "... There is nothing we can ever do to earn these gifts or summon them..."

      Does this mean that you believe every person will go to heaven? Hitler, Stalin, etc.?

      Or do you believe that a person must accept Christ? In which case you DO CLAIM that there IS something a person must do to earn those gifts...

      Or do you believe that a person must accept Christ, but only God will give a person grace to accept Christ? In which case you make God the author of salvation in some and damnation in others? Do you make God to be the author of the ugly acts of Hitler and Stalin?

      April 9, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Mark

      @Steve: There is a difference between earning a gift and accepting it, or asking for it.

      April 10, 2012 at 12:56 am |
    • Steve

      @Mark: Semantics. Either accepting or earning require choice – which is a mental action.

      It would appear that more people prefer to believe IN Christ than to BELIEVE Christ. Certainly, it's much easier to believe in Christ as God's Son and the Savior than to actually believe Him to the degree you become His disciple (discipline).

      April 10, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Sam Hanson

      I am afraid you misunderstand our doctrine. We do not believe in a fallible or a changeable God, we do not believe that our works can save us, and we believe that all good we have comes from God. The Book of Mormon states, "and all things which are good cometh of Christ; otherwise men were fallen, and there could no good thing come unto them. Wherefore, by the ministering of angels, and by every word which proceeded forth out of the mouth of God, men began to exercise faith in Christ; and thus by faith, they did lay hold upon every good thing; and thus it was until the coming of Christ. And after that he came men also were saved by faith in his name; and by faith, they become the sons of God." It seems to me that this is precisely the doctrine you say we do not believe.

      I also agree with you, however, that there are differences. We aren't so much trying to hide from those differences as we are trying to emphasize our similarities. There is so much good we (meaning Mormons and Evangelicals) could do if we learned to work together. We both want to love our neighbors, we both want to promote family values, we both want to testify of the reality of Jesus' divinity and His love. We are trying to emphasize that so we can better work together.

      April 11, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  4. Grace1972

    Surprised that none of my attempts at posts have worked. Is there a certain amount of time that has to pass as a member of the community before they'll go through? Or perhaps they're sometimes censored...

    April 9, 2012 at 2:55 am |
  5. hannah

    do mormons take the Bible literally? because i dont understand how mormons think they are a part of the reformed church of christ, yet they interpret the Word of God in different ways. actually, it seems like there is a lot of interpretation going on. If you believe in every word of the Bible, then God is the creator of the universe, and if He's really that powerful, wouldn't he be above a thing like marriage? why would He need what we need to please Himself? and i think it's pretty obvious that God lives in Heaven. why would you need to designate a "planet" for God? There's no place in this physical world where God can be found. and again, if you take the Bible literally, then you'd believe that when a person dies, they are judged by God, not based on their good and bad deeds, but on whether or not they accepted Christ's gift of salvation. then souls are either condemned to Hell for eternity, or they go to Heaven for eternity. there are no second chances after you die.

    April 8, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Steve

      Regarding "interpretation": perhaps Mormons consider your beliefs in the meaning of Biblical verses incorrect "interpretations"?

      Who other than God or his anointed prophets have the right to clarify past revelations?

      Seriously, it seems to me that you think your "interpretation" is correct for some reason, but other people's interpretation is incorrect? What's the basis for your assumption? Majority opinion? Some scholars in Nice? the common vote of some instructors at a Bible college?

      Seems to me revelation would be most sound guide.

      April 9, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • k

      What happens to people who have never accepted Christ because they live in a place where they have never heard of him?

      April 9, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
  6. Tom

    These Mormons get it all wrong! The scripture 1Corinthians 15:29 on which they base this "doctrine of baptism of the dead for salvation" is simply a question that the Apostle Paul was asking to make a point about Christ's resurrection from the dead becoming proof that believers will rise (THIS IS THE MAIN TEACHING AND CONTEXT OF 1CORINTHIANS 15:1-58).
    IF ALL MORMONS READ JOHN 1:12; 3:16, ACTS 4:12 -IT IS CLEAR THAT SALVATION IS NOT IN BAPTISM BUT IN THE JESUS CHRIST. ALSO JESUS' STORY ABOUT THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS IN LUKE 16:19-31 CLEARLY STATES THAT AFTER WE DIE, OUR SALVATION OR DAMNATION DOES NOT CHANGE.

    April 7, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • Ty

      To tom and anyone else who doesn't seem to get it. It is relatively easy to find several scriptures in the Bible that CONTRADICT each other. For example. Moses talked to God face to face as one mane talks with another, but then No man has seen God and lived. hmmmmm... I can find 20 more examples of contradictory verses when they are quoted by themselves with not context... and no amount of debate or claiming you have it right and everybody else has it wrong is going to solve it. That is why we believe in revelation. That God will give revelation to every person who truly, in earnest seeks it and whatever God has entrusted to that person they can receive his guidance for. Whether it be a father or mother seeking guidance for how to best raise their children or a prophet whom God has called to teach the whole world.

      "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him aask in bfaith, nothing cwavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord."

      There is the promise and the requirement. If you ask God will answer, BUT ONLY if you will DO what he says. If you are going to dismiss the answer as a dream, or thought, or a hope, or a flood of emotion, why would he answer you? If He answers and you disobey then the answer will only cause your condemnation. Because he is merciful and knows the heart of his children he will only answer those who pray with the faith to go and follow what he tells them.

      There are several ignoramuses on here that obviously prefer to just make inflammatory remarks instead of adding something intelligent to the discussion. To the rest of you, nobody is asking you to believe what we believe, or agree with us (yes, I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), but the least you could do is try to understand what we believe before judging us, mocking us, making outlandish claims, and perpetuating the most laughable trash for rumors and gossip, none of which is true.

      I have spent time studying in Israel and Egypt, I've done business in China, and I love to learn about other people and cultures and what they think and why. When you get down to it, none of us are all that different, and EVERYONE, even rational atheists, have some pretty weird ideas and beliefs. look in the mirror before you start lambasting someone else for their "idiocy". Many of the things you hold dear look like idiocy to plenty of other people.

      Anyone who wants to do some research with a little effort will find that Baptism for the dead was practiced by many early Christian groups. There are also many buildings in Italy that are from that time period (50-300 AD) that have the same things we do in our Temples all over their walls. None of it is that wierd. We believe we are practicing the religion Christ originally introduced, but after 300 years of persecution, that religion was all but lost and what was left of it was mixed with Pagan ideas and practices that were given new names and faces.

      Yes we do believe that God asks men to do SPECIFIC ordinances to make covenants with him and these are required for the opportunity to progress as God's children and heirs in the eternities. If someone didn't have the opportunity to be baptized for never hearing the gospel, or they rejected it without a knowledge,why wouldn't a merciful God prepare a way for them to still receive everything he has offered? The act of being baptized for the dead is an act of MERCY. Is God a liar? Can anyone who isn't baptized enter the Kingdom of Heaven according to Jesus in the Bible? NO. They can't regardless of how good they may have been. If Christ had to be baptized to fulfill all righteousness, why would anyone else get a free pass? BUT those who have received it have the beautiful and wonderful opportunity of doing the work as proxy for their kindred dead and of doing something for them they can no longer do for themselves. We also believe that noone can just go and baptize, but they have to have the authority given to them by another who already has it. Authority. God won't recognize an unauthorized baptism, regardless of the good intentions of the recipient. Study your Bible and you'll see examples of people being baptized a second time because their wasn't a surety they had been baptized with the right authority. Go beyond the gospels and study the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles. Then ask yourself why they did certain things? Why did they only replace Judas with one Apostle? (because their are only 12 that make a quorum and hold the authority to direct Christ's church). The reason is that Christ organized his Church a specific way, and once it was lost, it required a restoration of those things from him.

      April 8, 2012 at 2:25 am |
  7. Jim Warn

    The Mormon article says that the Mormon Sacrament of Baptism shows that they are inclusive unlike other Christian faith based communities, because they will baptize Jews, Buddhists, etc. after death. Well, there is a large group of Christians who believe that God has many rooms in the eternal mansions where probably people of other faiths reside. So, even though I do not hold to most of the beliefs of the Mormons, welcome.

    April 7, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • Jared

      Jim, I'm a member of the LDS faith and I have spoken to hundreds of people of many different faith traditions within Christianity. I have found it interesting that, like you, many people inherently believe things that are true, but for which they have no scriptural foundation from The Bible. We believe that this is the case because of the fact that before we were born we were known by The Lord and taught by Him in preparation to come into this life to be tested. The Holy Spirit was sent, in part, to remind us of the things that He taught us. If you venture to read The Book of Mormon and ask The Father, in the name of The Son, if it is true, the same Holy Spirit that has reminded you of the fact that there are many mansions and that belief and acceptance of Christ in this life is not necessary for Salvation will testify to you that the Book of Mormon is in fact the word of God.

      April 7, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
  8. sue thom

    MORMONS ARE UTTERLY AND THOROUGHLY INSANE!!!!! WHERE DID THESE LUNATICS COME FROM??????!!!!

    April 7, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Mavent

      Probably the same place that teaches old people to glue down their Caps Lock.

      April 7, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • Jesse Bardsley

      Aw, we're not really that bad! 🙂 Do you know any of us personally?

      April 8, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
  9. DPTX

    A very dear relative married an LDS follower who is/was a JAG officer (attorney) in the military; they had a few kids, lived in Germany for a good while, then at some point she became unhappy with him, the church, and their life, etc. She eventually divorced him. When their son, who is also an LDS follower, was getting married, she was told she would not be allowed inside the church for the wedding ceremony. Not allowed to attend her own son's wedding! So, she stood outside the church while the wedding was taking place When the celebrants came out, there she was, wearing a very red, red dress. This is only one thing I love about her!

    April 7, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Mavent

      A story both stupid and demonstrably false. I've lived in Utah my entire life, and what Mormons REALLY do in a case like that is hold a ceremony known as a "sealing" or "temple marriage" inside the Temple, and then hold a civil ceremony where everyone can attend. In fact, that's how 90% or more of all Mormon marriages happen anyway, since very few brides want to give up their chance at a traditional ceremony.

      April 7, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Ty

      I am sorry you and your friend do not understand why she wouldn't be able to attend the ordinance. I admit, It is different than most other religions. However, if her son wanted to be married in the Temple, then everyone, including her, knew she wouldn't be able to go in, well in advance. It isn't like it was a surprise. I wonder how much your friend really understood about the church before she decided to leave it and her family?

      April 8, 2012 at 3:37 am |
  10. Jenny

    I am sure there are Mormons who are good hardworking people but you gotta scratch your head a little.

    What does a mormon believe?
    He believes that Jesus Christ is Satan's brother.
    He believes that God lives near a planet called "Kolob."
    He believes in baptizing dead people.
    He believes that Jesus is married to a goddess wife.
    He believes that The Garden of Eden was in Missouri.
    He believes that it was impossible for African Americans to go to Heaven before 1978.
    He believes that Jesus has children from his wife or wives.
    He believes that he is going to become a god.
    He believes he will own his own personal planet after he dies.
    He believes the real Christian God is not eternal but rather that He was once a man on some other planet besides Earth!
    He believes he needs to wear magical underwear created by Mormons and he is never to take it off unless he is bathing.
    He believes it is a sin to drink anything containing caffeine.

    I think all religions have at least a few quirky beliefs but I just cannot take these people seriously

    April 7, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • denfarm

      well said

      April 7, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Tim

      Jenny,

      A few corrections from a practicing Mormon and a PhD student in religious studies:

      What does a mormon believe?
      "He believes that Jesus Christ is Satan's brother": We believe all mankind are the spirit-children of our "Father"-in-Heaven. We believe Lucifer was also a spirit child of God but was cast out of heaven for rebellion (Revelation 12)

      "He believes that God lives near a planet called 'Kolob.'": Yep. If God exists on the material plane, which we believe he does, he has to exist somewhere. Why not near a planet? (Book of Abraham, The Pearl of Great Price 3:9)

      "He believes in baptizing dead people": Yep. Straight from the mouth of the Apostle Paul who received a personal witness from the Lord Jesus Christ himself.

      "He believes that Jesus is married to a goddess wife": Marriage and family life is one of the greatest blessings of existence. Why should Christ, sinless and perfect, not be allowed to partake of such blessings when us sinners have a chance to participate in them?

      "He believes that The Garden of Eden was in Missouri": Yep. Why not? What did the earth look like before the flood? Or even after? Doesn't it say in Genesis 10:22-25 that the earth was divided in the days of Peleg? Is Missouri somehow incapable of being a sacred space?

      "He believes that it was impossible for African Americans to go to Heaven before 1978": Wrong. Blacks were denied the priesthood from around the 1850s-1978 (Joseph Smith ordained some black men to the priesthood in his time). The priesthood is not a prerequisite for baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, or enduring to the end.

      "He believes that Jesus has children from his wife or wives": Once again, if I as a sinner am able to recieve the joy of family life, why should it be denied to the Only Begotten of the Father?

      "He believes that he is going to become a god": We believe our Father-in-Heaven, like any good mortal parent, wants his children to have the blessings he enjoys. Does that mean we will someday rise above him or supplant him as our God? Certainly not.

      "He believes he will own his own personal planet after he dies": That's putting it a little strangely, it's not a real estate scheme. What does our Father-in-Heaven do? He creates worlds, He inhabits them with children.

      "He believes the real Christian God is not eternal but rather that He was once a man on some other planet besides Earth!" No eternal thing can be created. God has always existed, therefore He is eternal. But, to suppose that He has never had to overcome obstacles, or learn, or do anything to reach his glorious and perfect state runs counter to logic. We on this earth find joy and fullfillment in learning and growing. Why should the allmighty be denied a history, a developmental path? Where do you think God comes from?

      "He believes he needs to wear magical underwear created by Mormons and he is never to take it off unless he is bathing": Hmm, partially correct, but still mostly wrong. We wear sacred garments as a reminder of the covenants we have made with God. We wear them just as often as other people wear underwear. Is it odd that most people in the western world wear underwear, except during certain activities? Wearing some sort of sacred garment is not a strictly LDS practice. The Sikhs have their Kaccha, American Indians have had various sacred articles of clothing, etc.

      "He believes it is a sin to drink anything containing caffeine": Wrong. We don't drink tea and Coffee. In fact, I just drank a Diet Dr. Pepper and I am not expecting brimstone to drop on my head anytime soon.

      You say that you "just cannot take these [LDS] people seriously," but I bet if you met some sincere LDS people, you wouldn't mind them at all. Our beliefs are precious to us. They make us want to be better citizens, better parents, better neighbors, and more like our saviour Jesus Christ–yes, the same Christ in the Bible, which we consider scripture. How can that be a negative?

      April 7, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Robert

      Not well said. You are part right, mostly wrong and out of context. You are repeating the gossip chain without actually going to the source for your information. The church does not hide its true docterine. It is preached my thousands of missionaries throughout the world. It's websites http://www.LDS.org and http://www.mormon.org have links to the scriptures and teaching manuals that are used in Sunday school. There can be no excuse for ignorance about the church with all of these docterinal resources available for believers and nonbievers alike.

      April 7, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Blake Jensen

      This comment was severely taken out of context and some of it is completely false. Please research Mormon.org for a more accurate description of the church.

      April 7, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Jesse Bardsley

      Well, some of the things you said aren't accurate, and some are. To understand where our beliefs came from, you would have to know the basics of our faith. For instance, it is not strange at all to us that Jesus is Satan's brother-before this life, we all were Spirits residing with God, who is the Father of our spirits. Satan and Jesus were both our brothers, because we were all brothers and sisters. Satan chose to rebel against God, and was therefore cast out of heaven, and became the devil. Jesus chose to submit His will to God, and He was chosen to be the promised Savior. Does that sound less weird now?

      April 9, 2012 at 12:04 am |
    • Joe Quinn

      Jenny, If you are truly interested in understanding the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, you need to spend some time with your community's Mormon Missionaries. They are called of God to teach you. They will not try to brain wash you. They will do their best to work with the Holy Spirit and help you understand these gospel principles. I wish you the best.

      April 9, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  11. Hotchixie

    I love how a lot of people believe that the autonomy of the internet provides them with the freedom to express what they really feel inside, instead of understanding that the internet has become one community. Many people on here are expressing judgement from a very tall pedestal, sometimes using crass language and saying that they are better than those "mormons" (i.e.. mormons are so silly – i am so much better than to believe in that), when in reality, by showing who they really are and disrespecting someone else's belief, they are showing that they are the ones who might need a lesson in how to treat others. in whatever form of religion / belief that you may have, we should still respect others and not let misunderstanding others religious believes bring out the worst in ourselves. We all believe in Something – whether it be God or karma or in just being good, and we should use that moral standard on the internet as we would in our interacting with others, not necessarily for those we are debasing as much as to keep our own morals intact.

    March 10, 2012 at 12:06 am |
    • jenna223717

      Amen to that...the only thing I have to add...I'm sure that their behaviour on the internet is the same in everyday life.

      April 8, 2012 at 8:28 am |
  12. Jim in San Mateo

    How goofy is this. If you need any proof that God doesn't exist, this is it. I wish someone would ask Romney about this.

    March 9, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • Mavent

      Mormons do something you don't agree with, so it's "proof God doesn't exist"? You might as well call it "proof China doesn't exist", for all the logic your comment makes.

      April 7, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  13. Horrified

    this is the most riduculous thing i have ever heard! this is a blatant cult and i can't believe they have so many unseeing people following this. THIS IS WRONG!!!! this is not christian.

    March 9, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • shane

      I bet they don't even believe in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny! How terrifying! AAAHHHH!!!! HELP!!!

      March 9, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Nancy Bell

      I am a member of The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-Day Saints. You call us "Mormons". The Church is the RESTORED Church of JESUS CHRIST. This means that the practices that JESUS CHRIST formed while he was on Earth have been RESTORED in our church. Remember when JESUS CHRIST told the two men who were crucified with HIM that HE would be with them in Paradise? That is where the dead go immediately after death. (We are not a cult although if a "cult" is a group of people who believe in the same principles, then I guess every religion could be identified as a "cult"). While in Paradise the souls of the dead are not idle but are learning. There are missionaries there, too. Each of us has our free agency (the right to choose for ourselves) and those who are dead can, if they choose, ask for baptism. We members who go to the temples (which are world-wide) might perform the ordinances for them by proxy. We do not have to have known them, we research records to our kindred dead and we know that they ultimately have the right to accept or refuse the gospel. Read your Bible and pray about it.

      March 15, 2012 at 8:14 am |
  14. John

    mark 16:16 says that he who believeth and is baptized shall be saved, not if someone is baptized for someone who did not believe when they had a chance to believe, "the question was not Paul asking why do we baptize for the dead, he said why do they baptize for the dead. these same people say there will be marriage after death Jesus says there will be no marrying in heaven, Jesus promise is that we reighn with him, they say we will have our own planet to reign over. Paul says if anyone preach another Jesus even an angel, let him be accursed. False religion

    March 9, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • guest

      here' s question. what makes this messed up religion the one that is to be the savior of all?? are mormons really that arrogant?? of all the religions that exist, this is the one that's going to save everyone? also, jews are evil. they can't be saved by any religion so good luck with trying to baptise the children of satan.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Long Live Chick

      John, you need to study 1 Corinthians chapter 15 a little closer. Paul is preaching about resurrection. And to support his claim that we will all be resurrected, he states the question of why would we be practicing baptism for the dead if there was no resurrection. Of course there will be a resurrection, which validifies our practice of baptism for the dead. It really is pretty clear once you read the entire chapter.

      March 9, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Jenny

      I am sure there are Mormons who are good hardworking people but you gotta scratch your head a little.

      What does a mormon believe?
      He believes that Jesus Christ is Satan's brother.
      He believes that God lives near a planet called "Kolob."
      He believes in baptizing dead people.
      He believes that Jesus is married to a goddess wife.
      He believes that The Garden of Eden was in Missouri.
      He believes that it was impossible for African Americans to go to Heaven before 1978.
      He believes that Jesus has children from his wife or wives.
      He believes that he is going to become a god.
      He believes he will own his own personal planet after he dies.
      He believes the real Christian God is not eternal but rather that He was once a man on some other planet besides Earth!
      He believes he needs to wear magical underwear created by Mormons and he is never to take it off unless he is bathing.
      He believes it is a sin to drink anything containing caffeine.

      I think all religions have at least a few quirky beliefs but I just cannot take these people seriously

      April 7, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  15. Randy M

    Baptism of the dead is an ascetic practice that gives justification to man being able to save himself. This and other practices are why they are not considered Christian by Evangelicals. The belief that Jesus existed but was not the only Son of God is unchristian and directly opposed to the New Testament Gospels. Mormons are closer to Hindu polytheist in there beliefs than they are to Christianity. In fact there is nothing Christian about their beliefs except they do believe in a person that went by the name of Jesus. They do not believe that any man needs salvation. Christians believe that all men have an evil nature and the only way to Heaven is by belief in the Jesus of the New Testament. Mormons believe that all men go to Heaven and do not believe much of the bible at all. They even wrote their own bible called the Book of Mormon and several other books that they consider superior to the Christian New Testament and the Jewish Old Testament. Mormons deny the diety of Christ by saying that anyone can become a God and have their own planet or universe to rule over. They are very nice and moral people but they are not Christian.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • guest

      dumb dumb dumb dumb...

      March 9, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • Meta

      Many mistakes in what has been written. If you took the time to study what you are writting about than you would know. It is simple you can believe what sticks to this wall or look into it your self. http://www.lds.org. Also http://www.vatican.va/phome_en.htm Baptism alone doesn't save you. What you do afterwards towards you neighbor does.

      March 9, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • David Len Allen

      Hi, Randy. The Latter-day Saints hold four books as sacred canonical scripture: The Holy Bible, The Book of Mormon (named after an ancient American prophet who compiled the work in 350 AD), The Pearl of Great Price and Doctrine and Covenants (modern revelations for the restoration and governance of the modern church). Each is an additional testament of Christ, supporting and sustaining the other without contradiction.

      The Bible has two testaments – old and the new. The Church of Christ is outlined in great detail in the New Testament, a blueprint as it were: a foundation of prophets and apostles with Christ himself as the chief cornerstone. We are also instructed in the New Testament that 'no man takes this honor unto himself (to be a minister) unless he is called of God (and is ordained with authority from God such as Moses) as was Aaron. Christ, a high priest after the order of Melchizedek, ordained his apostles, teachers, priests, evangelists, and the seventy. They in turn, under the direction of Peter and Paul and others ordained others to the priesthood to administer in Christ's name including baptizing for the remission of sins. Unfortunately the "chain of command' was broken when the apostles and other ordained leaders were martyred. Eventually, God's authority and authorized servants were no longer found on the earth. Because there were no apostles, the pure doctrine of Christ was changed.

      There is only one church today that fits the new testament blueprint perfectly and who claims to have authorized priesthood power restored to humankind in this last dispensation of the fullness of times - leading us into the end times and Christ's triumphant return to earth. This priesthood authority was restored through modern-day prophets by the hands of a resurrected John the Baptist, who brought back the power to baptize for the remission of sin (and entrance into God's kingdom). He was the ultimate prophet of Aaron's priesthood and according to Jesus, "the greatest that ever lived". So baptism must be performed in the name of Jesus Christ (and the Father and the Holy Ghost) by a priest who has been authorized of God to do so.

      The greater priesthood (Melchizedek) – the Holy Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God - the same possessed by Jesus, the same priesthood and authority by which He ordained apostles anciently, has also been restored to the earth by Peter, James and John - also glorified post-mortal beings - to baptize with fire, preach the Gospel, gather Israel, turn the hearts of the children to their fathers, organize and preside over Christ's church, and perform in Christ's name the blessings and ordinances of salvation. Priesthood holders that exercise their sanctioned authority righteously are authorized servants to do the Lord's work on earth in His behalf under His divine direction, freely received and freely given - without monetary gain or support.
      Therein, my friend, lies the difference. Whereas we are all spirit children of our Heavenly Father (or with Christ as our Spiritual/religious Father), Jesus Christ, who is also Jehovah of the Old Testament and creator of heaven and earth under the direction of His/our Father (Elohim), took upon himself a tabernacle of clay to come to earth to dwell among men to save us and redeem us from The Fall and ransom us unto God and reclaim us as His children. Jesus Christ is Father God's ONLY begotten Son in the flesh – born into mortality to a virgin mother named Mary. Christ came to show us a better way to live, to teach by example (including immersion baptism for the remission of sins). Only He, a perfect being who voluntarily left celestial realms above, could come to earth as God's sinless Lamb and offer Himself as the ultimate sacrifice of Atonement that we all, through the miracle of divine mercy, may be cleansed from our imperfections and turn our hearts again to God and Heaven. Because Christ lived and died and was resurrected from the dead, we too, all of God's spiritual children, will also rise from the dead and can lay claim to all the blessings of righteousness that Heaven holds for the faithful. This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the only Gospel taught by the church that bears His holy name, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

      God bless you in your individual search for His direction in your life.

      April 9, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  16. guest

    nice religeon you freakin wierdo's. how about you baptise my dick...

    March 9, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • pennylane

      Aren't you a Grumpy Bear...Maybe you need "salvation" or a swift kick in the @#$@#!!!!!

      March 9, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • LDS Guest

      We'll gladly baptize that, along with the rest of you. 🙂

      March 20, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  17. Rosemary

    How about we all respect eachother's beliefs, faith's, religions, etc. I am Catholic, however, that does not mean that I believe we are the only ones going to Heaven. My measure of a person is how they live their lives. In the end their salvation, or not, is going to between them and whatever god they believe in. For the most part all religions share the same core beliefs, honor, respect, do unto others, etc. If a person died Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, etc... it is no one else's right to go and change their will after they have passed, that I do find disrespectful, other than that how about we all just try and be good people and good to eachother?

    March 9, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  18. Daniel

    The statment above regarding the Catholic Church is blatently wrong. The Catholic Church does not suggest that only Catholics can be "saved."

    March 9, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
  19. badwisky

    If the mormons Baptize Hitler is he then saved?

    March 9, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • pennylane

      Awhahahahahahahahahaha!!! According to the LDS he is...however good luck in finding a "young adult" to stand in proxy for him....

      March 9, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Long Live Chick

      Penny Lane, you are wrong. Even if Hitler was baptized by proxy, again this is just an invitation. What is required to accept that invitation of baptism is faith and repentance. Hitler would have a bit of a problem with the prerequisites. I love how people on here just speak without knowing the doctrine. Do some research before you make ridiculous claims. It's just pure ignorance.

      March 9, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • David Len Allen

      Jesus is the ultimate judge. A proxy baptism may not be accepted by the individual - no real harm done. The church's offcial position is that folks only do temple ordinances (including proxy baptism) for their own kindred dead who didn't have a chance to hear the Gospel or receive an authorized baptism while living. Dead celebrities and historical characters are NOT fair game - unless you are personally their descendant, then it's a private decision. Linking oneself to one's progenitors is an LDS tradition because they believe families are forever and they want the chain to be complete in the hereafter.

      April 9, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • kevin

      No, it means that Hitler will be judged by the Almighty, just like you will be. Got it? Good.

      April 10, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  20. brandon

    how is this so much different than someone of any religion praying for victims of natural disasters or other similar instances. I'm sure that none of those people would be mad that a catholic, jew, or lds member was praying for them.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • guest

      mindless simpleton... cause its wierd. you people are messed up man. everything in this country is perverted. even the religeon you folks base your life and beliefs on. at the same time, its the most corrupt nation in the world so the religeon thing seems to be working out well for you. go prey you that someday you turn into descent people. freaks....

      March 9, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • guest

      here' s question. what makes this messed up religion the one that is to be the savior of all?? are mormons really that arrogant?? of all the religions that exist, this is the one that's going to save everyone? also, jews are evil. they can't be saved by any religion so good luck with trying to baptise the children of satan.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • pennylane

      Prayer is different than "Bapitism" Most regilions use "prayer"...Bapistim is a whole other believe system...

      March 9, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
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About this blog

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.