March 9th, 2012
07:50 AM ET

Mormons crack down on proxy baptisms; whistleblower’s access blocked

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

(CNN) - In response to recent media reports that well-known Jewish Holocaust victims and slain Jewish journalist Daniel Pearl were baptized by proxy, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is renewing and revamping efforts to crack down on the practice and, some believe, stop the attention.

The church said this week it had implemented a “new technological barrier” to prevent abuse of its massive genealogical database, parts of which have been used to carry out – as well as expose - proxy baptisms.

"The church is committed to preventing the misguided practice of submitting the names of Holocaust victims and prominent individuals for proxy baptism,” spokesman Michael Purdy said in a written statement.

“Anyone trying to access names that have been restricted will have their account suspended and be required to contact [the church] to establish their family relationship in order to have their access reinstated. Abuse of the system will result in the permanent loss of database access."

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Whistle-blowing ex-Mormon researcher Helen Radkey, who uncovered the proxy baptism records that made headlines recently, says an account she was surreptitiously using to gain access to the database has been blocked.

“I have been effectively stopped,” Radkey told The Salt Lake Tribune. She said the church was “of course” targeting her.

The church, though, says Radkey’s blocked account was part of its effort to stop inappropriate proxy baptisms and not about Radkey.

“It is ironic for someone to claim they are being targeted by the measures we have taken to prevent unauthorized submissions for baptism,” Purdy said. “We are doing exactly what we have been asked to do and what we said we would do - denying access to names that should not be submitted because they are against our policy.”

Purdy said no one by the name of Helen Radkey has an account with the church’s database, known as New FamilySearch.

“If she, or anyone else, is misusing a church member’s identity to search for Holocaust names, then the system is set up to block those kinds of activities. There have been a handful of accounts blocked so far.

“We have said before that no system is foolproof but that we were committed to improving our ability to prevent unauthorized names from being submitted for baptism,” he continued. “To complain about us doing just that is baseless."

Explainer: How and why do Mormons baptize the dead?

Word of the new measures and blocked accounts comes on the heels of a statement from top church officials that was read to congregations across the globe last weekend clarifying what is and isn't acceptable when it comes to proxy baptisms.

The statement said Mormons’ “pre-eminent obligation is to seek out and identify our own ancestors.”

“Without exception, church members must not submit for proxy temple ordinances [rituals] any names from unauthorized groups, such as celebrities and Jewish Holocaust victims,” the statement read. It warned that members who violate the rules could lose access to the system and added, “other corrective action may also be taken.”

Efforts to deal with proxy baptisms are nothing new. Instructions on how to use and contribute to the database grew out of a 1995 agreement with Jewish groups that were horrified to find that people who died because of their faith were being baptized by proxy in Mormon ceremonies.

After the recent flood of stories, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel appeared on CNN and called on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney to reprimand his church.

Romney, meantime, has been asked if he has ever partaken in proxy baptisms. He says that he has, but so have most Mormons who are eligible to participate in temple ordinances. Also referred to as temple work, ordinances are the sacred ceremonies performed within LDS temples for the living and the dead.

Explain it to me: Mormonism

Proxy baptisms are part of that work, and Romney's participation was likely decades ago. The baptisms are generally completed by younger Latter-day Saints, between the ages of 12 and 20, with males and females being vicariously submerged for deceased persons of the same gender, explains senior religion writer Peggy Fletcher Stack of The Salt Lake Tribune.

“A white-clothed young man or woman, standing in a font of water about waist-high, represents the dead person,” she writes. “He or she is then immersed after the adult male baptizer (also wearing white) says these words: “Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you for and in behalf of [name of the deceased] in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.”

Mormons, usually ages 12 to 20, are baptized for the dead in LDS temples.

To be sure, for the Jewish people, who have experienced their fair share of forced conversions over the centuries (think the Spanish Inquisition), the suggestion that victims like Holocaust victim Anne Frank or Pearl might be baptized after death can be horribly offensive.

Others might view the practice of proxy baptism as simply strange or utterly meaningless. If you don't subscribe to the Mormon belief system, some might say, why does the practice matter to you?

Still others view the practice as nothing short of laughable and have made a mockery of what Latter-day Saints view as sacrosanct. The website “All Dead Mormons Are Now Gay” lets users enter the name of a dead Mormon and click the "Convert!" button to make them gay. Comedian Stephen Colbert responded on his show by slicing off the tips of hot dogs, thereby proxy-circumcising dead Mormons to make them Jewish.

A special invitation, attendance optional

This isn’t a laughing matter to Mormons, not least of all church officials, who say they wish 100% of its members would abide by their instructions. Putting a definitive stop to inappropriate proxy baptisms, however, is complicated, if not impossible.

“With more than 14 million members around the globe, the church is no more able to guarantee compliance of every member with its policies than other worldwide faiths are able to guarantee theirs,” Michael Otterson, who heads up LDS Church public affairs, wrote in a piece for the Washington Post.

The practice of performing proxy baptisms isn't one that's going away.

Believing as Jesus taught that baptism is essential to “enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5), Mormons believe they are extending a loving invitation to those who died without having the opportunity for this rite. They point to 1 Cornthians 15:29, in which Paul spoke of baptizing the dead, a message LDS Church founder Joseph Smith took to heart.

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In doing proxy baptisms, Mormons do not claim to make anyone Mormon. They believe spirits in the afterlife are being exposed to the gospel, and a proxy baptism provides an opportunity to the dead to either accept or turn down the invitation to believe and find salvation.

Central to LDS Church teachings is the belief that families across generations can be united for eternity. Performing proxy baptisms for the dead is what makes eternal togetherness in heaven possible. Family history research for Mormons, as a result, is of sacred importance.

Members have been in the business of family research since the 1840s, writes Stack of The Salt Lake Tribune. So it’s no coincidence, then, that the LDS Church boasts the most comprehensive genealogical records available.

The church has compiled more than 2.64 billion searchable names in its online historic records collection, and more than 250 million names are added to the database each year, LDS Church officials say. Every year, FamilySearch produces more than 160 million digital images from source documents.

The database is accessible to the public online or at more than 4,850 LDS Church family history centers and libraries in 126 countries.

LDS Church members are given special accounts that allow them, in a separate process, to submit names for temple rites by proxy, as well as see other names that have been submitted and baptized. Such details are off-limits in the public version of the database.

“Our doctrine is for members of the church to submit names of their own relatives for temple work,” church spokesman Purdy wrote in an e-mail to CNN. “Over the years the church has provided eligible names to take to the temple [for ordinances], but it is the primary responsibility of members to submit family names.”

In baptismal fonts in the 136 LDS Church temples that span the globe, temple ordinances for the dead take place every day but Sunday. So an overzealous or troublemaking Mormon in Sydney, Australia, for instance, might ignore instructions and enter a slew of names of people he’s not related to into the system. And then, sometime later at the temple in, say, Accra, Ghana, the people on that list might get baptized by proxy.

Because officials back at LDS Church headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, can’t monitor what each member does, whether with good intentions or not, names slip through – names like Daniel Pearl, Mickey Mouse and Stanley Ann Dunham, Barack Obama’s mother.

Understanding 'the messenger’

Often at the center of breaking proxy baptism stories is Helen Radkey. Touted as a whistleblower, the 69-year-old researcher has shamed the LDS Church time and again for objectionable or embarrassing baptisms.

An ex-Mormon who was excommunicated from the church, she is often seen by some observers as an obsessive agitator. Others praise her for her dogged commitment.

Radkey says she was active in the church for less than five years in the 1970s. In a 2009 profile in The Salt Lake Tribune, it was reported that this “Catholic-turned-Mormon-turned-New-Ager” left her first husband and children to join the church because she wanted in so badly.

A grown son from a later marriage was quoted as saying, “She was on a crusade … to single-handedly take down the Mormon religion. She was so consumed by that, we had a hard time relating to it.”

But the Australian-born Radkey, who lives in Salt Lake City, points out that it’s often others who come to her looking for names, because she has found ways to get access to records and knows how to navigate the system. She suggests journalists, hungry for anything Mormon-related during this election season, have brought her down.

She says someone from a British newspaper asked her to look up Princess Diana, who was baptized in 1999. A wire service reporter called, she adds, wanting to check to see if there’d been a proxy baptism for Gandhi; there had in 1996. And it was a reporter from The Boston Globe, at the prodding of his editor who had once worked with Pearl, who reached out seeking info on his status, the results of which created the latest hubbub.

Helen Radkey is often at the center of proxy baptism stories.

Though Radkey says the church blocked the account she most recently had been using, she hints that she has other accounts available, though she won't divulge details or confirm anything. She also says, “I’m not looking up any more names.” This, however, is a claim she's made before, as she did in the 2009 Salt Lake Tribune profile.

Over the years, she says she’s heard people accuse her of trying to get rich off her efforts. “I don’t make a living,” she says. “I have to do other work, and I get Social Security.”

At one point, about 10 years ago, the head of a Holocaust survivors group paid for her time to accumulate a list of 1,000 Holocaust victims who had been baptized, after the LDS Church claimed the Jewish community was “overreacting to the problem,” says Gary Mokotoff, a Jewish genealogist in New Jersey who has been following the issue for 22 years, long before it made headlines.

Besides being compensated by the same group for her time and expenses in appearing at a news conference in New York a few years ago, “that is the only time [she] received compensation for her effort,” Mokotoff wrote in an e-mail. “Helen puts in hundreds of hours per year on the matter without compensation (and she complains to me about it).”

Others, Radkey says, have speculated that she’s entered the names of those she later finds in LDS records, a charge she denies, calling it “out of date and out of line.”

“The inference that I enter names into the Mormon system, which I never have, usually comes from a Utah mindset that would ‘kill the messenger’ rather than deal with the results of my work,” she wrote in an e-mail to CNN. “Not only have I never done this, I should not have to explain away this false charge because there is not one shred of evidence that I have ever done such a thing.”

The upside for others, including Jews

For Mokotoff, a professional genealogist, there’s an irony to this issue that isn’t lost on him.

The past president of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies and co-owner of Avotaynu, which publishes resources for Jewish genealogists, Mokotoff is beyond grateful to the LDS Church. He leads trips to Salt Lake City, ground zero for family research. He has benefited directly from the care Mormons take in gathering, preserving and sharing records.

“They have 2.5 million microfilm rolls that represent billions of names,” he says. “I traced back my ancestry to 1727 in Poland because they had made copies of birth, marriage and death records in Warka, Poland, the ancestral town of the Mokotoff family.”

But even so, he remains firm in his belief that the LDS Church must stop baptizing Holocaust victims, and preferably deceased Jews in general, by proxy.

Granted, he respects the caveat that the church has always maintained, that if a Mormon is descended from Jews or Holocaust victims, those names are fair game.

Mokotoff says he recently got an e-mail from someone who was concerned that a niece was marrying a Mormon, would likely convert and would then potentially baptize others in the family.

“She has that right,” Mokotoff answered. “It’s her religion.”

But just as she has that right, the Jewish community has a right to remain concerned about what's happening in a Mormon-only system it can't access.

Blocking a whistleblower like Radkey may slow the ability to keep tabs on proxy baptisms, but it's not insurmountable, Mokotoff says.

“The Mormon church thinks they have found a way to end the controversy between the church and the Jewish community: stop Helen Radkey,” Mokotoff wrote late Thursday in an e-mail. “Ten years ago, their religious database, then called the International Genealogical Index, was accessible to the public. Now it is a secret database that can be used only by password. Helen Radkey has found ways of getting around the church's barriers in the past. She is a resourceful woman. I am sure she will find ways in the future.”

‘It’ll never be perfect’

There are outsiders who wish the LDS Church would just stop the proxy baptisms altogether. But that’s both unrealistic and disrespectful, says Rabbi Gary Greenebaum of Los Angeles.

Greenebaum is intimately involved in the issue as a liaison between the LDS Church and the Jewish community.

“I can work with [the church], and I can suggest strongly what kind of actions they can take,” he says. “But when it comes to their own theology, I don’t have much of a place to tell them what they should believe.”

What the former American Jewish Committee director of interreligious and intergroup affairs can do is take his cues from Holocaust survivors.

“The issue is their relatives lived as Jews and were murdered because they were Jews,” he says. “The whole Jewish sense of never forgetting means remembering who died and why they died.”

To that end, he has worked with LDS Church insiders to alleviate concerns.

He also has seen up close the frustration within the church. He feels for the officials. He applauds them for the statement they issued to members on Sunday and the reminders of guidelines that appear on FamilySearch. He sees how they have made tweaks to the system, established safeguards and how entries are flagged for review, for example, if deaths were during World War II and in places bearing names of Nazi death camps like Auschwitz or Treblinka.

He has observed the new hires, the additional hours and money spent. With several million submissions of names in FamilySearch each month, he says he persuaded the church to do computer runs more frequently to help prevent inappropriate proxy baptism requests from seeping through. When violations appear, someone phones the submitter for a discussion.

When the church first worked out an agreement on the proxy baptism of Holocaust victims back in 1995, there were 8.5 million LDS Church members, Greenebaum says. Now that number is 14 million, and between Internet access and computer advances, the system is enormous and not easy to control.

As a result and despite the hard work, mistakes are bound to happen.

“It’s moving closer to being figured out,” Greenebaum says. “But it’ll never be perfect because it’s just too vast. And it’s important to appreciate the problem they’re dealing with.”

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • Holocaust • Judaism • Mitt Romney • Mormonism • Utah

soundoff (1,493 Responses)
  1. Dale

    As a Christian non-Mormon (aka NOMO) growing up in Utah for many years, I became very familiar with this beliief. Frankly, I am surprised that this issue has been ignored for so long. I certaintly don't want someone dragging my name up on some database after I'm deceased and re-baptising me. Is there an "OPT-OUT" option, much like the telephone telemarketers have?

    March 9, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • Randi

      Why bring that up? You are no Christian.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Aequitas

      Instead of opting out, perhaps the Mormons could actually follow the God they claim to believe in. No where does the Bible sanction baptizing dead people. Pretty simple to me.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  2. Reason & Logic

    Any religious person knows that you cannot force anyone to do or agree to anything without their willingness as an active participate. That entire premise is what the Christian religions use for recognizing martyrdom, i.e., Joan of Arc, John the Baptist, St. Isaac Jogues, St. Thomas Beckett, etc.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • peter

      That's why they wait until you're dead

      March 9, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • So

      So, what's the haps with these 23 pages of Muslim martyrs?


      March 9, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Reason & Logic

      The entire premise is that there is no baptism if they're dead (no active participant).

      March 9, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • peter

      it's pretty clear that this is not done for the benefit of the dead, it's done for the benefit living, to fulfill a fantasy of saving someone after they are dead so they can "accept god's praises" for doing so. it's selfish, and there's no other way about it.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  3. Albert E

    Yet another reason Romney will carry the torch of the past into the gasoline -doused future...

    March 9, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  4. John

    Simply a sketchy organization. All of the secretiveness of the Vatican without the fancy costumes.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • John

      Not a very tolerant or educated comment. I wonder if this is the type of rhetoric the Nazi's started with when they targeted the Jews? Can't be far from it.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Dale

      Trust me...even more secretive and they have fancy costumes...only you're not allowed to see them.

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

      I don’t agree with your comment so I’m going to call you intolerant and uneducated (though this is an assumption). And double down by associating you with Nazis. It’s easier than addressing the issue of disrespect being show here by both the Mormons and myself.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • John

      Fine John. Educate me on the Mormons and justify your comments.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • John

      You are asking an uneducated person to educate you. What does that say about your level of education?
      I have no need to justify myself to a random person on the interweb.

      P.s. “we’ are still not addressing the issue. /dodge

      March 9, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  5. travelinpants

    1 Cor 15:29 does not speak of anyone baptizing by proxy for the dead. it simply speaks to say why are we that are dead if we dont believe in Christ, be baptized if the dead in Christ do not rise as he did. It speaks to the heart of the Gospel in believing that Christ, died, defeated death and rose to his rightful position at the right hand of the Father, with all power. This is very offensive if you ask me. It is not up to man to baptize anyone by proxy if they did not do it in their lifetime. They had the Law and the Prophets just like the rich man and Lazarus.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Pete

      that may be all well and good, but it's still none of your god damned business

      March 9, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • travelinpants

      Pete, sure it is my business. I study the word of God and if it is being wrongly represented and I find out about it, I am going to speak up no matter what someone like you thinks. IT IS MY BUSINESS AND OBVIOUSLY NONE OF YOURS SINCE YOU PROMOTE DECEPTION. YOU WILL ANSWER FOR IT TOO!!

      March 9, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Randi

      That "Christians" should condemn another faith that believes in Christ, if unchristian. You point fingers at people of faith and yet ignore all the heathens and followers of Satan that are out in this world. If you can't find them–check some of these responses. The world needs Christ, but when God's children spend their time criticizing each other, there is no chance of spreading the Word or the love of God.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      My religious epeen is bigger than your religious epeen! /raspberry.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  6. A Random Californian

    I mean, it's like schools throwing un-immunized children out when a measles outbreak happens, saying that they fear for the health of the immunized. Wait. Isn't your child immunized? What are you worried about? Wait. Doesn't your Catholic baptism work? Why are you worried then about Mormon baptism?

    March 9, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Garrett Moffitt

      A) not all peoples have a perfect immune response when immunized.
      B) That means you have to have a herd effect. Not get immunized undermine the herd effect
      C) Non immunized children have a far greater change to mutate the disease.

      So non vaccinated peoples are a danger to every one, especially in places where there are crowds of children.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • dkinabq

      Why try and change someone's religion after they're dead? This is so disrespectful!

      March 9, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
  7. tony

    Conservatives love to look forward to Heaven. Perhaps because it's really the absolute model of Socialism

    March 9, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • Yabba Dabba Do

      Actually, Jesus' pragmatic teachings were far more compatible with theoretical Communism than Capitalism, especially regarding the radical redistribution of wealth and the probability of the rich getting into heaven.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  8. Kelcy

    This is entirely meaningless. It is no different then my mom in law sending in the names to some catholic prayer society so that people I know that she may have met once are being prayed for. She's doing it for my parents, my relatives, her neighbors, etc. Seriously. They are dead. People can pray for them, baptize them, do the rite of spring for them and it makes no difference. They are gone. Wherever they are, if anywhere, is where they are at. What any mere mortal does is just a waste of effort, a waste of spirit if you may (to quote Audrey Hepburn in Always). And, too, they could be doing this for living people on the other side of the world and if that living person is not an active participant in it then it too is meaningless. All these people doing these things, angsting over them being done, fighting them being done are using up valuable life that they could be doing something to truly help humanity......living, breathing people. We have serious problems in this world today, that need serious solutions, and we are all a dither about This (or athiest billboards).

    We are a strange, strange animal on this earth.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Reason & Logic

      If you believe in the tenants of the Catholic Church, some who have passed over can be in Purgatory so the offerings will help them ascend to Heaven sooner than later. Also, the Church teaches us that the subject of our earthly offerings can redirect them to where they are better needed (world peace, those who are not living a holy life here on Earth, etc.).

      March 9, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Garrett Moffitt

      You're mother is being rude. I don't care of she thinks its for their own good. It's non of her business. She is , literalness, forcing her religion on other people and it's insulting to the living family members.
      She is disrespecting the wishes of the survivors. Why can't you people get that through your heads?

      March 9, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  9. Andrew

    I find it ironic that some of these comments portray Mormons as an "angry, sick cult." What are the Mormons doing that is angry? or sick? The worst thing that can be said about proxy baptisms (by a non-believer) is that it is an act of misguided charity. Mormons do not gain anything from proxy baptisms; they donate their time and resources to a cause they believe is helping others. Furthermore, they do not even believe they are forcing people who can no longer accept a physical baptism to accept their proxy version – it's just so they have the opportunity. I don't think any religion that devotes time and energy to selfless service is sick or angry.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • MeMelvin

      Yea! Yea! I have been approached by severla religius organizations to "join with them...convert and be saved".

      At least with the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, they don't show up at the door with weapons like the Muslims.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • Maryam

      It is not charity. Mormons theoretically believe that you can bond family members for all eternity. Among the original doctrines of the Mormons was the assertion that men (and I'm sure that is the literal word-no women) could become gods, and that God was originally a mortal man. There are three levels of heaven-I don't remember the exact Mormon name-and eventually those who achieve godhood will govern their own planets.

      Besides the fact that this is supposed to be restricted to your own dead family members (which is why genealogy is so important to Mormons), it is specifically not supposed to be done to certain groups of people. Holocaust victims in particular are supposed to be left out of this.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Andrew

      Maryam, It is Charity. The church obtains the names primarily from family members, but the bulk of most actual temple service is done by people who have no idea who they are doing the services for. Even if they do the work for their ancestors, they are still doing an act (that they perceive) of kindness for another person – that is charity.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Reason & Logic

      When the Jehovah's Witnesses come to our door, I say to them, "I'm Catholic, my wife is Jewish, and our daughter-in-law is Buddhist. Now what do you want?" Usually, they are left dumbfounded and leave in a hurry.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Andrew is confusing charity with disrespect. However I can understand his mistake, many religious ‘saviors’ mistake their selfish egos with their (unasked for) charity.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • I_get_it

      @Reason & Logic,
      ""I'm Catholic, my wife is Jewish, and our daughter-in-law is Buddhist. Now what do you want?"

      Whatever it takes to get rid of them, I suppose, but you sure sound smug to me.

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

      I am not confusing anything. I said it can be seen as "misguided charity." I never said that people wouldn't take the Mormons' actions offensively. Would you say that someone leaving a loaf of bread next to a hungry person, but not insisting that he eat the bread, is disrespectful? The Mormons don't believe they are forcing anyone to accept anything. They are not taking away someone's heritage or religious beliefs by offering someone an opportunity to have something else. At the very least, the Mormons are helping people who are interested in family history searches. My point is that every act they do has intentions of helping other people. Some members of the church stray from the guidelines set up by the leaders of the church, and that's human error. However, the objectives of the church are guided by thoughts of charity. People can ridicule the act of baptizing the dead, but they should not regard the intentions of Mormons as evil, or disrespectful.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      @ Andrew
      Blow harder, you might get that balloon off the ground yet!

      March 9, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
  10. Alice

    Vote Romney in and we all will be baptized Mormons. Please Please Please I do not want to be a Mormon.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • Tracy Hayes

      Make sure all you women read up on what the Mormons think about a womans role in society. This is a cult, and we cannot let Romney in, be educated – not sheep, think for yourselves, research and learn what things really are without believing all the spin out there.

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

      I'm a mormon and if you don't want to be one you don't have to be. I can't promise that after you die you won't have a proxy baptism, but we believe you still have the choice to accept or reject. You have the choice to be a mormon, catholic, jew, or whatever. If Romney wins and forces people to be Mormons he is not a true Mormon because he wants to take away your freedom of choice.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      @ okcthunder
      These people made their choice when they were alive

      March 9, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  11. Moroni

    Here is infomation based in reality about the Morman cult. http://www.exmorman.org
    see what those who woke up about the cult have to say. they will tell you the truth about any question you have. Not the morman party lies.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • souptwins

      Yes, because "former" members of any organization never have a ax to grind or offenses to be revenged.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      @ souptwins
      As opposed to what unbiased source, current members? lol

      March 9, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  12. MeMelvin

    Don'tja just love a blog where people can toss manure at each other? BTW: Y'all are doin' a great job of it!

    March 9, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  13. Randi

    I can't believe some of the responses in these posts! How can you people live such godless lives?

    Matthew 12:31 [ The Unpardonable Sin ] “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • MeMelvin

      I love Bible study, albeit your selective use of it is pathetic.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • tony

      In the happiness of honesty.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Elwood P. Dowd

      Randi, How can you live without my friend Harvey, the 6'3" invisible rabbit?

      March 9, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      @ Randi
      You live in a bubble.. we get it.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Garrett Moffitt

      If you are quoiting the Bible, you have better be following all of it. I look forward to you stoning women because another man looked at them with lust.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  14. cadeswenson

    I'm a mormon, and I can understand why many would think baptizing for the dead might seem kind of weird or unecessary- even ridiculous.

    One thing that is good to keep in mind is that we believe that those we baptize for who have passed on must choose to accept that baptism. We are not trying to force them into our religion.

    Still I'm sure many will disagree which is fine.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Aequitas

      One major problem with baptizing dead people, they don't have a choice to accept it. The baptism is completely invalid, entirely useless.

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

      I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and it has been the best thing to happen to my life. There are many many benefits to being a member of the Church, and unless you are you could not fully understand. We are good people, we love our families, and our nation. We are good citizens, pay our taxes, fight and die in our wars.

      I realize that some of our practices may seem strange to others, but to us it is something we do for our ancestors that has meaning to us. We do this privately for our own ancestors, and hoped that we would not be mocked by others for what might seem peculiar to them. We believe there is an afterlife that these ordinances helps us become closer to our ancestors. Those few who abuse it, as this article suggests, are the exception. We mean no harm or disrespect to the Jews, and hopeful those few that abuse this will stop.

      If you really want to be educated about what Mormons believe go this site. Mormon.org

      March 9, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  15. Joe

    Mormonism is a religion. When they try to make it about their 'ancestors' they are just showing how much they are wanna-be Jews.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Randi

      In Heaven there are no Jews, or Baptists, or Catholics, or anything–we all become children of God.

      It is God that is the creator of this world and the world to come. The time is coming when this world will end. This life will be gone and memory of it will be gone. The ones you love that aren't believers–there will be no tears or memories of them. The time is now to be saved. You may want to think that you are the god of your universe and deny God in order to live a life of your choosing, but it is God that is your creator. He gave you the gift of life and an eternal soul - you have a choice on this earth how to live your life and that will be how you will also spend eternity–with God or without Him.

      Revelation 21:4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

      March 9, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • A Random Californian

      Which is kind of comical, since Mormon doctrine basically teaches that the Jews fell into a state of apostasy after Christ's death and that is one reason why they've been slapped around for the last 2,000 years. Mormons believe though that one day Jews will return to the true fold, which is Christianity. So no, Mormons do not want to be Jews. But Mormons do believe that Jews will eventually become Mormon. But not until after the big war, when everyone will set their sites on Israel. Coming soon vis a vis Barrack?

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

      Randi, "Revelation 21:4"

      ... and they all lived happily ever after. Stunning!

      March 9, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  16. Farce

    Mormons are idiots

    March 9, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  17. mary

    The Mormons are sick.... they have no right baptizing anyw=one by proxy. Without consent it is worthless.
    Hutful harmful leave the jews alone to be jewish and to practise their own beliefs. If they cant the religion should be banned in the US

    March 9, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • CalGTR

      You are absolutely correct that without consent the baptisms are worthless. Congratulations, you just announced the Mormon view of these baptisms-by-proxy! We believe we're offering our deceased family members the opportunity to accept or reject the baptism performed on their behalf. No one can be forced to join a church they don't want to join, and LDS church members would never want it any other way. We understand very well the doctrine of agency – the God-given right to chose for ourselves.

      March 9, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      @ CalGTR
      Glad we all agree then, this Mormon practice is sick and worthless.

      March 9, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  18. TROOF!!!

    The only thing this article taught me is one absolute fact!!! Helen Radkey has WAYYYY too much time on her hands. Helen, if you are listening... Go volunteer at a children's hospital or a women's shelter or something productive. Quit wasting your time protecting.... well, nothing except your own selfish beliefs.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  19. woodrow

    It's strange they have been doing this for a 100 years and now suddenly it's a problem. That's why they are called Mormon because they mourn the dead. They mourn anyone who isn't Mormon.

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

      It was a problem in 1995 and the mormon church said it would stop. Well, you see what their word is worth - NOTHING. The church has a policy of lying for the lord. Romney was at least a mormon bishop.

      March 9, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  20. devoitatheist

    The atheists should hold a "reverse Baptism" ritual for dead Mormons and others. What the atheists could do is hold a ritual in which we ask the spirit of dead Mormon if they wish to remain Mormon. A Mormon in the afterlife would be able to answer the question with a definitive "yes". So, if they don't answer "yes" in a loud audible voice, then they are officially christened an atheist and added to our national registery of practicing atheists.

    March 9, 2012 at 1:14 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.