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.
I heard it was a two-part ceremony.
If humans would stop this foolishness of believing in magic invisible spirits, demons, witches, angels, gods, satan, etc. etc., then they wouldn't get upset over a "dunking in a tub of water by proxy" ceremony. I will ask the tree god in my backyard what he thinks about all this.
I give your approach the most likely to achieve results. The trees in my yard speak. Some day I hope to be wise enough to understand them, but I probably don't have the patience.
It does take a very long time to say anything in old entish.
Quote – “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.’”
Given is dead wrong. Mormons don't believe that salvation is open to all – that's why they do proxy baptisms so that those who were not Mormon while alive can accepted Mormonism in the afterlife. Also, only certain Mormons can achieve the highest level of salvation. The LDS requirements to be saved comprise a long (and expensive) list.
Salvation from death is a free gift to all from Jesus Christ, without any effort on your part. Salvation in the kingdom of God involves Jesus Christ as well as some effort on your part. Why else is there going to be a "judgement"?. ALL that want to go to the "highest heaven' are completely free to pursue it. Just walk the road that leads to it.
Baptism for the dead is based on the Biblical passage by Jesus that all must be "born of the Spirit and the water (baptism) in order to enter into the kingdom of God". The apostle Paul also referred to this practice when he said "else why do you baptize for the dead if the dead rise not at all?". He said that to people he encountered that were performing this ordinance but were also starting to doubt the concept of the resurrection. In any case – Baptism for the dead is NOT VALID unless accepted by that person in the hereafter. So, what's all the furor all about? If it's true it's a great blessing for that person. If it's not true, it doesn't matter at all!
Thus, if a Muslim performs some sort of Islamic ritual to convert your soul after you die, you would be happy with it.
Darth – It wouldn't matter to me at all – because I would not accept it
Darth – I would not be happy with. Since I would be dead I would no longer exist. I could not be happy or unhappy, just DEAD, FINI, THE END, THAT'S ALL FOLKS.
Darth, if a Muslim wanted to try to convert my soul after I died, I absolutely wouldn't have any problem with it. None. You know why? A.) I'm dead, and B.) There is no such thing as a soul. If I don't have one how can they convert it???
Darth: I wouldn't mind a bit. I, like everyone else alive or dead, have the freedom to choose for myself. What someone else does is of no relevance whatever to me or my salvation unless I choose to let it be. If you want to unbaptize me before or after my death, be my guest. What do I care? Noone else can impose their will on me regarding my salvation. It's between me and my God.
These people are sick, they need to go to rehab. baptizing dead really?
Darth – It wouldn't matter to me at all – because I would not accept it
I think, it probably wouldnt matter to you, because,
well, ya know.........You would be dead.
Catholics do this, Evangelicals do that, but Mormons are generous. It still comes down to the same thing, they wish to "own" through their self-declared authority. Perhaps the Mormons are actually being the most arrogant of all, who at least give people a choice.
Mormon whackos baptized my grandmother by proxy after her death. She was a lifelong member of her protestant church and it would have broken her heart to find this out. I would never have known except I was having my genealogy done, and this turned up on a website run by the Mormons. Her brother had converted to Mormonism when he married, and that was always a problem for her because she was devout in her religion. His wife had this done, and it was an atrocity.
This is an atrocity! Thanks to your grandmother's brother, she's stuck in Mormon heaven. What a thoughtless, cruel brother 😉
PROXY BRIS! I love it!
This is scary to me. The people in this religion are going to great lengths to make other people do what they want, secretly. Mitt Romney is a Mormon and I am afraid he may secretly do things that would be okay because that is what he believes as a Mormon. I guess consideration of others is not part of their belief system.
How many times have you prayed for someone that didn't ask for it? I smell hypocrit.
yes, consideration of others is one of the basic tenets of the Mormon church. Personally, i think romney has his own agenda to play if he's elected president...not the LDS church.
JT, I spell hypocrite.
I see a big difference between Romney's beliefs and Santorum's beliefs. While both would attempt to run the country informed by their religious, and therefore narrow, view, only Santorum would attempt to convert living people through force of law.
It would seem that the LDS church should stick to their own when administering their sect's beliefs. Frankly, if there is a God, I'm sure she doesn't care what we've called ourselves here in the flesh, rather that we treated each other with respect; sticking the Mormon 'nose' into a person's business when they're deceased is so very presumptive and abusive. The Mormons are proving that over time, 'religion' is the biggest divider of people that has ever been conceived. Wars, murders, descration, etc. have all taken their toll on humanity – all in the spirit of 'my beliefs trump yours.' (No pun intended.)
Have they baptized Jesus by proxy yet? He was not a Mormon. I presume He is roasting in hell and would like to be rescued.
Not necessary, Jesus was baptized through proper authority.
Nope, I refuse to recognize that. Jesus never had a chance to accept Mormonism and be baptised accordingly. He was baptised the same way people were for centuries upon centuries after he died. If Mormons don't believe that those baptisms counted, then Jesus' didn't count either.
Has anyone been to Salt Lake and gone to the Mormon cathedral there? That is an EXTREMELY bizarre religion. Just friggin' WEIRD!
LOL! What religion isn't? Talk about calling the kettle black.
lol Touche. I should qualify this statement by saying that Mormanism is "uniquely" bizarre.
Drinking the blood, and eating the body (Catholics) is not sick ?
Prayer changes things .
Dey terk errr jerrrrrbbbbbbbssssssss!
Dey terk isss doggggggggggg
Dey berk iss jawwwwwww
The hard work of one accomplishes more than the prayers of billions.
Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. Almost everything you can imagine WILL eventually become a reality. You know why? Because while you spend your life engaging in inaction and praying for it to happen, there are already people working towards making it a reality. That IS NOT divine order...that's natural human advancement. If everyone prayed for everything to happen nothing would happen.
My invisible sky monkey can beat up your invisible sky monkey.
Prayer changes nothing. People believing their prayers work change things. They act on their belief and accomplish things because they are motivated by their own prayer. I don't need to pray or believe in a higher power to be motivated. I act on my belief that when something needs to be done I have no right to wait for someone else to do it.
Prayer makes your knees dirty.
While you are down there...........
Spoken like a true catholic priest. LOL
~~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.
I agree if the Mormons want to do this, they should get permission from the descendants/relatives of the dead. Is this type of baptism done for the soul of the dead or for another feather in a Mormon's hat. I have relatives who are Mormons and I do not like the idea of doing something like this for me. And Mormons wonder why they are classified as cult. I do not believe they are of the cult, but this makes one question.
Thinking people care. Clearly you have disqualified yourself.
@amy: How deep and profound of you. The fact that I asked who cares does not mean I care.
Thinking people care. Clearly you have disqualified yourself.
Sorry Amy, thinking people dont believe in this garbage.
As a relative of the Fancher family, I wonder if the Mormons baptized members of the Fancher – Baker party who were murdered at Brigham Young's request at the Mountain Meadows Massacre.
Irritating, I know-but remember, it means noting. Religion is only socially acceptable myth and magic.It is like saying good luck to someone although there is no luck involved.
Irritating, yes. Cheeky as hell. Arrogant in the extreme. I was blase about it until I envisioned them "baptizing" my dear departed Mother, who was a life-long, devoted Catholic and how TICKED she would be if this was done to her. The Mormons, however well-intentioned they feel they are, have NO business sticking their nose into other people's religious beliefs. Each religion has it's own way of dealing with redemption and the hereafter. They need to butt out. Someone should sue them for a pile of money for emotional distress. Maybe if they have to fork over some cash, they'll stop this nonsense. FYI, Mormons – IT'S OFFENSIVE. STOP IT.
So I really don't get this. Is this like the Mormon's draft to decide who they want in heaven?
No, it's a sleazy scam to convert everyone to their cult [after death, no less, which is pretty funny].
no, it isn't a "mormon draft". they baptized the dead to give them a chance to accept what they deem as a way in to heaven. the dead that are baptized by proxy have the privilege of accepting or not.
Ex-mormon, how exactly do the dead have the chance to accept this baptism or not? Zombie style?
Sleazy scam? They believe in universal salvation, they live it, and act on it. They should take beliefs and feelings of the families into account. Does this whole ritual sound bizzare to the outsider? Sure, but so does Holy Communion (maybe more so).
amy-our spirit doesn't die. it lives on. it's up to that spirit to decide what it wants. that is my personal belief. it also happens to be the belief of almost every religion in the US. i'm sure there are some that disagree but it seems to be fairly universal.
The "renegade" Mormons felt that Pearl and Wiesenthal's parents were part of the universal "family," which seems more lofty then what the back-peddling, politically sensistive, LDS leadership wants to portray. In any case, why does Pearl's family care? Do they now feel less Jewish because of what some oddball group did? It's really an LDS internal matter.
It ceases to be an internal matter every time they posthumously baptize someone outside of their cult.
The LDS church is no more a cult than the Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans...etc, etc...ad nauseum.
The dead are dead and it doesn't matter to them. This only matters to their families. If they are offended by it, the Mormon's need to respect that and not do it. Good luck trying to figure out what to do when one family member wants it and another strongly objects.
I can understand that anyone who has a deeply-held religious belief would find it disrespectful, distasteful, and ghoulish to find that a group of cultists had made their relative the center of an unwanted rite. Heck, I don't think it means anything at all, and it certainly wouldn't change anything, but I'd hate to see it done to my relatives who are religious. It isn't the same thing as offering a prayer (as claimed elsewhere on this board); it's saying that even people who couldn't possibly have become Mormons can somehow be routed into that belief system after death. Completely illogical, and totally arrogant and disrespectful.
There are apparently many groups of "renegade" Mormons out there, all following whatever parts of the ever-changing belief system they choose. It's frightening if you look at the history of the group and examine some of their practices and actions.
CosmicC, when i was attending the mormon church it was taught that the family of the deceased being put forth for baptism should be contacted and permission obtained for this ordinance. this actually sounds like members who are putting forth their own agenda.