March 1st, 2012
04:23 PM ET
Mormon proxy baptism of Daniel Pearl draws family's ire
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) - A muckraking ex-Mormon researcher struck again this week, revealing that some Mormons conducted a proxy baptism for slain Jewish journalist Daniel Pearl last year.
The disclosure comes after recent revelations that Jewish victims of the Holocaust, including Anne Frank and a parent of Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, had been baptized by proxy by Mormons.
Helen Radkey, who has been combing through Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints records for years, told CNN the Pearl incident was one of "the most egregious," because of the circumstances of Pearl's death.
Pearl, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, was kidnapped in Pakistan and beheaded by terrorists in 2002. Prior to his execution he was forced to read a statement on camera saying he was Jewish, an episode that was captured on video.
Radkey, found LDS records that revealed Pearl was posthumously baptized at the Twin Falls, Idaho Temple in June.
The baptism struck a nerve with Pearl's mother, Ruth Pearl. She said in a statement that while she knew Mormons had good intentions, and meant the baptism as a way to offer salvation, "rest assured that Danny's soul was redeemed through the life that he lived and the values that he upheld."
"He lived as a proud Jew, died as a proud Jew and is currently facing his creator as a Jew, blessed, accepted and redeemed," Ruth Pearl's statement said.
CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories
"For the record, let it be clear: Danny did not choose to be baptized, nor did his family consent to this uncalled for ritual," her statement continued.
Pearl's widow, Mariane Pearl, told CNN's Brian Todd that whoever conducted the proxy baptism should have contacted the family out of respect.
"I'm shocked by the fact anyone would do something like this," she said.
Explainer: How and why do Mormons baptize the dead?
Baptism for the LDS Church is an important article of faith for the "remission of sins." Adherents can be baptized by water immersion as early as 8-years-old. Mormons have always conducted proxy baptisms for the dead, whether a person was Mormon or not.
"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,” Richard Bushman, a Mormon scholar at Columbia University told CNN's Belief Blog earlier this year. “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,” Terryl Givens, an expert on Mormonism at the University of Richmond told the Belief Blog recently. “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.’”
After Frank's proxy baptism last month, the LDS Church said it is committed to disciplining members of its church who conducted such baptisms, which violates a 1990s-era policy against conducting such baptisms for Holocaust victims.
“It takes a good deal of deception and manipulation to get an improper submission through the safeguards we have put in place,” LDS Church spokesman Michael Purdy told CNN in a statement, responding to the February report about the Anne Frank baptism.
The church apologized for the baptism of Wiesenthal's parents and blamed it on a technical glitch in its system for submitting names for posthumous proxy baptism.
Church officials say the principle in the Pearl case is the same, whether it is a Holocaust victim or a famous individual, the requests for a proxy baptism are only supposed to come from family members. One sticking point though is the church has no distinguishing line as to who counts as a family member.
"The policy of the Church is that members can request these baptisms only for their own ancestors," Michael Purdy a church spokesman said in a statement Thursday.
"It is distressing when an individual willfully violates the Church’s policy and something that should be understood to be an offering based on love and respect becomes a source of contention," the statement continued. "The Church will continue to do all it can to prevent such instances, including denying access to these genealogical records or other privileges to those who abuse them in this way.”
–CNN's Brian Todd, Dugald McConnell and Dan Gilgoff contributed to this report.
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.
"T h e . m u r d e r . o f . D a n i e l . P e a r l . w a s . a . r e a l . t r a g e d y . a n d . a . g l o b a l . o u t r a g e . . I t . i s . o n e . o f . t h e . m a n y . ( t o o . m . a n y . t o . e n u m e r a t e ) . e x a m p l e s . o f . t h e . b a r b a r i c . n a t u r e . o f . I s l a m . . N o b o d y . i n . I s l a m . "T h e . m u r d e r . o f . D a n i e l . P e a r l . w a s . a . r e a l . t r a g e d y . a n d . a . g l o b a l . o u t r a g e . . I t . i s . o n e . o f . t h e . m a n y . ( t o o . m . a n y . t o . e n u m e r a t e ) . e x a m p l e s . o f . t h e . b a r b a r i c . n a t u r e . o f . I s l a m . . N o b o d y . i n . I s l a m . "m e . a n y o n e . w i s h e s . t o . u s e ) . . A . s h a m e . o n . a l l . o f . m a n k i n d . ( a c t u a l l y ) . a n d . s o m e t h i n g . t h a t . s h o u l d . n e v e r . b e . f o r g o t t e n . ( a l o n g . w i t h . 9 – 1 1 , . K i l l e . L a u r e l , . M a r i n e . B a r r a c k s , . L o c k e r b e e . M u n i c h , . E n t e b b e , . F t . . H o o d . . a n d . s o . m a n y . m a n y . m o r e . . . y e a r . a f t e r . y e a r . . B a c k w a r d , . b a r b a r i c . a n d . u n c i v i l i z e d . s a v a g e s . "
It was "sav.ages" that tripped the word filter, because of the "v.ag".
Why care? A group of people, who are ridiculous simpletons even by the forgiving standards of religious belief, believe that Pearl somehow survived his own death and will live happily ever after if they perform some bulls.hit ceremony in a Utah temple.
Up there with the voodoo faith healers and Catholic priests turning "wine into blood". Silly, childish nonsense that only simple little minds can accept.
That's an incredibly small-minded and bigoted comment. Per capita, more residents of predominantly LDS Utah have a higher education, speak one or more foreign languages, and have spent more time traveling and living abroad than any other demographic in the US. This idea that Mormons are a bunch of sheltered, backward people with no concept of life out in the real world, is simply not supported by the facts.
And regarding the ordinance of baptism for the dead, if people truly believe it has no value or impact on life in the next world, then why should they care whether or not someone else engages in the practice? Have we really digressed to a point where we're going to start legislating someone else's beliefs just because they don't coincide with our own? THAT, my friend, truly is small-minded and simplistic.
Colin - aside from being obnoxious, your comment also displays your ignorance. No one believes the Pearl survived his own death. Also, the LDS church has FAR more temples OUTSIDE of Utah than in Utah - if you read the article you'd note that this was done in the Twin Fall, ID (that's not in Utah if you can't find your map).
Maybe they can trick little Jewish kids into getting baptized. What's the harm? After all, its "Silly, childish nonsense".
No harm, no foul, according to your logic.
Now THAT"S arrogant!
Orson Scott Card, a Mormon, came up with the idea of a speaker for the dead. Basically, a dispassionate party lays out a person's life, good and bad, in the most relevant contexts before witnesses. Interesting idea, and I'm sure everyone could get behind it – the family, entire community really, are involved, unlike proxy baptism. Perhaps if Mormons could advance something like that they could become involved in everyone's death rituals, which might satisfy whatever motivates them toward proxy baptism.
If I say falsely that someone's parents were thieves, my saying so won't make it true. But it would be thoughtless, insulting and wrong. Mormons baptizing Jews won't make the dead Mormons, but it is thoughtless, insulting and wrong.
I disagree. It is completely irrelevant. Just ignore them and they will ago away.
Please, it is not baptism of the dead, it is baptism FOR, the dead.
Ok, yeah right.....but I mean....they are dead. This is, well gross. Ick.
What's the difference? And who cares, anyway?
You are smart.
This is still drawing my ire.
Who wants to join me for a party in La Jolla next weekend ? We can proxy baptize the dead people of your choice, (maybe Elvis), have some beer, and whatever. What a hoot. 😈
How far is La Jolla from L.A.?
You mean you can't friggin' look it up yourself?
No. I am special needs.
About 3 hours down the 405, depending on traffic.
Hi John. Am really glad you are better ! Hope your heart issues are settled...it' my fav subject in school. Love Cardiology.
San Diego neighborhood, yes?
Bucky, please re-post your video about the origins of the Judeao-Christian god(s). I need it.
Colin...gotcha ... be right back with it.
Here's one :
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MlnnWbkMlbg).....(take off the parentheses)
also here's one more general : "These Gods Used to Matter" :
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=hWTdEe6gtnk#t=23s)....also take off leading and trailing parentheses.
Yes, sort of Southern SD, beach area. Actually I was kidding, but Peace-2-All really is coming down to see us in a few weeks I think... we really could do a real party ??
Take the Pacific Surfliner from L.A. Union Station. They serve beer in the snack bar on Friday and there is always a Friday party going on there. .. every body is half lit by the time they get to Santa Ana. Bonkers by San Juan Capistrano. Wasted when they get to Oceanside .. unable to walk at the Santa Fe Station in San Diego. Then they can go to the emergency room at Scripps La Jolla and be ready tp do it again on Saturday at who's-it's party .. and then try to make it back to the train on Sunday and go back to L.A. in a roomette with shades drawn, eye shades and ice pack. (and never have actually been a DUI.)
It's all about Romney winning the Republican nomination and nothing else.
I'm sick and tired of Jewish people complaining about our tradition of proxy baptism for the dead. It is not binding upon the deceased unless they choose to accept it in the spirit world. They are not added to the membership rolls of the LDS Church after they're baptized. And we will not change our doctrine merely because some drama queens are offended by it; in our tradition, doctrine is changed only if the President of the Church receives a revelation from the Lord authorizing him to make the change.
Perhaps Jews need to clean up their own house before complaining about our house. For example, the Talmud is extremely problematic. Sanhedrin 55b states, "A maiden may be acquired by coition if she has achieved the age of three years and one day". We have another name for that in our society; we call it "pedophilia". Maybe the Jews should decommission their Talmud before they ask any Christian denomination to change its doctrine.
Carl, in that case, other faiths should be able to do the same for Mormans that have passed away. So, when you pass away, we should record that you are no longer Morman but are Muslim instead. Would you like to know that after you die, your religion is going to be changed on you? Most likely not. Leave the dead to rest in peace with their own faiths.
You seem to have missed the part about people NOT being added to the membership rolls of the LDS, Ramsen. It's a completely stupid ritual, but how is it more offensive than someone praying for you within a prayer tradition not your own? Prayer is silly, but when someone says they are praying for me, I thank them for the kindness.
Ramsen, They're not changing anybody's religion. Records will remain whether somebody died a Jew or Catholic or whatever. Even in LDS theology with baptism for the dead, not a single person is ever converted against their will.
Since you don't see why people of other faiths should be offended, maybe when you die we should wash your body, wrap you in sheets and bury you before sunset on the same day. Stop pushing your ridiculous beliefs on others. The LDS Church has been working towards acceptance by main stream Christian Churchs for 20+ yrs. If you want to be accepted then start respecing other peoples beliefs and stop pushing yours onto others.
There you have it folks. Now try living with a whole state full of Carls. If you are stupefied by Carl, don't- I repeat – DON'T move to Utah.
Pam, there is a huge difference between interfering with the burial and funeral rites, and performing proxy ordinances on behalf of the dead. There is so much misinformation and misunderstanding regarding the doctrines and ordinances of proxy baptisms performed by members of the LDS Church. We never, ever assume that a person on the other side will automatically accept the ordinances being performed on their behalf. That's so contrary to the Gospel of Christ, the very foundation of which is based on upon the concept of free will and choice.
The LDS doctrine is a kin to one person of faith, offering a prayer for someone else. It is merely a request made out of love and compassion, and a desire Mormons have to be able to stand and face those people on the other side with a clean conscience, knowing that we have done all we can to afford them the same opportunity to receive the Gospel as we ourselves have had. However, we also realize that the entire Gospel of Jesus Christ is based on the principle of free agency and the ability to choose for ourselves. If that person on the other side of the veil does not wish to accept the ordinances performed on their behalf, then that act of performing the ordinance is of no more effect than a sneeze. When someone makes the comment that, "My son, daughter or family member would never accept a Christian baptism!", they may be absolutely correct. A person who was unwilling to accept the ordinances of the Gospel when offered to them in this life, quite possibly will still reject them in the next life. That's their choice, and we cannot rob them of that ability to choose for themselves, but we still have a duty to make it available to them.
Christ said that without us, our dead cannot be made perfect, and neither can we be made perfect without them. He wanted us to understand that we are all connected in some way, and he wanted us to learn to care more about others than ourselves. It takes dedication and commitment to make the effort to go and perform temple ordinance for others. We juggle soccer games, parent conferences, work, school and all of the normal family commitments, and still must find time to attend the temple regularly. But for us, it's an act of service and compassion, no different than serving soup and a soup kitchen. Some people on the other side are thirsting and hungering for what is being served, while others are satisfied with what they have found elsewhere. Nobody is forcing them to partake, we're just reserving a table in their name in case they decide to partake what is being offered. In the process, we hopefully become a little more grateful for the blessings in our own lives, and become a little less self-absorbed with the usual worldly pursuits. We don't think we are any better than anyone else, and we don't arrogantly assume that everyone else will want what we are serving, but we know that just as in the soup kitchen, while some scoff and criticize at the menu offerings and insist that they can get better fare elsewhere, there are also others who are desperate and hungry for the basic sustenance of the Gospel of Christ we are trying our best to offer up.
Carl, you are nothing less than a rabid anti-Semite. Who cares if you're "sick of Jews"... I'm certain most people you encounter are sick of your stupidity. Besides, all "Christian" denominations are just Jewish heresies... so bite on that.
All of this is totally silly. If I deem you a member of the Great Spaghetti Monster Church after you die, it's as pointless and stupid as anything else. Your bones will not turn over whatsoever. You're just going to turn to dirt eventually no matter what.
So, Jewish people do not have a right to an opinion about your practices, but you have a right to an opinion about theirs? Get over yourself.
My opinion is that Mormonism may have done some good things for some of its believers, but it's a cult that by happy accident for its founder became successful during a time of religious madness in the history of this country. The foundation story of Mormonism could only be accepted by those who are willing to ignore history, archeology, and anthropology. It is yet another cult that makes women second-class citizens at best, and promotes the glorification of men at their expense.
While it's stupendously arrogant and disrespectful to "baptize" the non-Mormon dead, it's also a ludicrous waste of time and resources. When you're dead, you're dead.
LOL, religious folks arguing about which folk lore is better than the others.
"Repent to his Pastaness or ye shall boil in marinara for all eternity!"
Mormons like to baptise all dead people – So, they are doing exactly that to Daniel Pearl.
Muslims like to behead infidels. So, they did exactly that to Daniel Pearl.
Reasonable - apparently reasonable is just a handle, with no resemblance to you. Equating beheading and proxy baptism is a pretty insipid stretch. In one case you're brutally dead - in the other case, you were dead, you remain dead, but you have an option to choose another path after death.
“Catholics have taught that only Catholics are saved,". Apparently the speaker only kows about Mormons, because that is NOT what the Catholic Church teaches. Catholicism is universal in that ALL are welcome and Christ died for ALL of our sins. In practice, our most recent Popes have reached out to our Jewish and Muslim brothers and sisters, recognizing them as peoples of the One God. Other Christian faiths do not have to be baptized again in Christ to become Catholic. Mormons are not recognized as Christian by the Catholic Church so a Mormon wanting to convert to Catholicism would have to be baptized, but it would happen while they were alive and consenting.
But what happens if they die without having an opportunity to be baptized?
Yes, what happens...? None of you anti-Mormon commenters are willing to take a shot at providing an answer to manof4's question?
mnof4 - "But what happens if they die without having an opportunity to be baptized?"
What happens if a person dies and there is no written record of the person's birth or death? They don't get baptized a mormon either, so your question is nonsense. Plus, may of the proxy baptisms are for people that were baptized, just not by the lds church. Maybe you should let God sort out the issue instead of pushing your rituals on people who cannot speak for themselves. Plus, readers need to know it isn't just baptisms that are done for the dead. They are also confirmed into the mormon church, receive endowments, the priesthood (if male), and are sealed to spouses. (Men can be sealed to multiple spouses but not women).
Look, the practice of "baptizing the dead" is just plain goofy. Clearly anyone who engages in that practice have a seriously loose screw. Rather than be offended, perhaps we should try to get them some psychological help.
So you're saying that here in America, the land that boasts "Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Expression, and Freedom of Thought", anyone who does not think or believe as you so should have their freedoms curtailed? That's a frightening thought. What's next, do you want to make them wear a mark on their clothes so you can distinguish them from the "intellectuals" like yourself, and herd them into concentrated areas to keep them from mingling and mixing bloodlines with the rest of society?
could we not turn that viewpoint onto every religion Mormon, Islam, Christian, Jewish, Bhuddist, Toaist, satanist ect.
MANOF4 & OTHER MORmONS KEEP YOUR RELIGION TO YOURSELF. KEEP MY DEARLY DEPARTED RELATIVES' NAMES OUT OF YOUR &^%$#@ RELIGION & TEMPLE RITUALS (which where stolen from the masons, by the way.)
No worries, following the Mormon corporation change in doctrine regarding polygamy and priesthood to the blacks, current external pressure will as well force the church to have a convenient revelation saying that such baptisms are not necessary. It is only a matter of time until Christians and even countries set boundaries in this issue.
That will NEVER happen Markus.
No worries, following the Mormon coorporation change in doctrine regarding plygamy and priesthood to the blacks, current external pressure will as well force the church to have a convenient revelation saying that such baptisms are not necessary. It is only a matter of time until christians and even countries set boundaries in this issue.
In other news
Andrew Breitbart is still dead. Andy passed away from natural causes? The coroner found several bullet wounds, twelve knives in his back marked return to sender and a rope around his neck. He is leaning towards describing the passing as the worst case of suicide he has ever seen.
Breitbart was walking near his house in the Brentwood neighborhood shortly after midnight Thursday when he collapsed, his father-in-law Orson Bean said.
Someone saw him fall and called paramedics, who tried to revive him. They rushed him to the emergency room at UCLA Medical Center, Bean said. Breitbart had suffered heart problems a year earlier, but Bean said he could not pinpoint what happened.
"I don't know what to say. It's devastating," Bean told The Associated Press
I came real close to checking out due to totally unforeseen heart failure this past December. I was lucky to catch the problem in time when I noted anomalies on the cardiometers on the aerobics equipment at my gym. You don't have to like the guy. But try not to be a total d-bag about his death.
Sorry to hear that John R . Hope you are feeling better.
@Dodney Rangerfield - They found that Andrew Breitbart was abusing prescription drugs with Rush Limbaugh. He died of natural consequence of drug abuse.
Thanks, Elijah. Like many pacemaker recipients, I find myself with more energy and a brighter outlook than I've had in a very long time.
Prayer changes things
Dogma of any kind is not healthy for children, be it the atheist or theist kind.
The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.
Don't study studies, studies are misleading, study God
If atheism is so bad for children, why are all children born atheists? They don't believe that such a thing as a divine deity even exists until parents and educators force it on them.
Perhaps a bill board explaining that Mormonism is a myth will help.
Who cares? (Attn. Mark from...)
Everybody knows the Mormon religion is ludicrous. Ludicrous even by Christian standards.
Leave them alone. Let them baptize my wife's dead cat, if they like. It just doesn't matter. It's like a game of Wizards and Warriors. It is all pretend.
There is no afterlife people. Nowhere to go. Nothing to do. But you won't care. You will be dead.
Just givin' you the straight scoop
Mormons are not Christians, so by "Christian standards" they are ridiculous.
I tend to agree with David here. It's well intended absurdity. I don't see whywhat point there is in becoming enraged over this sort of thing.
You said: "Mormons are not Christians, so by "Christian standards" they are ridiculous."
Both of your folk tales and beliefs do not hold up, when examined by the reality we see around us. The Mormons have just added more unbelievable silliness.
But, ask yourself this: Would you believe a man who wears magic underwear, and evidently is okay with this baptism of the dead, make a good President?
Just sayin.. has missed the irony again... her idea of silly actions are far more believable than other folks silly actions..... i hope the human race can survive this onslaught of intelligence reversal. All religions are pulling humanity into the abyss of stupid .
This has drawn my ire.