Skip to comments.Mormon Leaders Warn Followers To Stop Controversial Baptisms
Posted on 03/04/2012 3:42:22 PM PST by greyfoxx39
Mormons around the world are getting this warning Sunday: Stop posthumous baptisms of "unauthorized groups, such as celebrities and Jewish Holocaust victims."
"Our preeminent obligation is to seek out and identify our own ancestors," says a letter to be read in every Mormon congregation. "Those whose names are submitted for proxy [baptisms] should be related to the submitter."
Mormons who continue to embarrass the faith by submitting the names of celebrities and Holocaust victims for the proxy baptism rite will lose access to the Mormon genealogical records, the letter warns. "Other corrective action may also be taken," it says.
The letter is signed by church President Thomas Monson and his two "counselors" in the Mormon First Presidency, the top leadership of the faith.
The warning follows an avalanche of criticism about the Mormon practice of baptizing deceased souls into the faith. In recent weeks, an excommunicated Mormon who continues to do genealogical research in church baptism records has found the names of prominent Jews and Holocaust victims, including Anne Frank and Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter captured and killed by terrorists in Pakistan in 2002.
"We welcome this as an important step," says Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League and a Holocaust survivor.
"Church members should understand why proxy baptisms are so offensive to the Jewish people," Foxman adds, citing "near annihilation during the Holocaust simply because they were Jewish" and "forced conversions throughout history."
Jewish leaders first raised concerns about the practice and the inclusion of Holocaust victims in 1992. Several meetings with Mormon leaders in the two decades since have resulted in promises to remove the names of Holocaust victims from Mormon baptism rolls and to screen baptism lists for those who died in concentration camps.
But some Mormons continued to place the names on baptism lists and conduct proxy baptisms in which the name of the deceased is read aloud while a living proxy is immersed in water.
The controversial practice has even touched the presidential campaign of Republican Mitt Romney, a faithful Mormon. Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel called on Romney to denounce inappropriate baptisms after discovering Wiesel family members had been posthumously baptized.
Romney's campaign referred questions about Wiesel's statement to the Mormon Church.
Mormons believe the ceremony has no effect if the deceased soul rejects it.
Mormon policy, as the letter restates, is to confine the baptisms to ancestors, but as recently as 2009, one of the highest-ranking leaders of the church indicated otherwise.
Quentin Cook is one of the faith's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the group at the top of church leadership. During a tour of a new Mormon Temple in Draper, Utah, Cook described the posthumous baptism practice and belief.
"We concentrate first of all on our ancestors and then for the people in the world at large," Cook told NPR.
In recent weeks, Mormon officials said they had punished at least two followers who had violated Church policy by baptizing prominent Jews who were not among their ancestors. The members involved lost access to the baptism system and a church spokesman said more serious sanctions are possible.
Proxy baptism is a fundamental tenet of the Mormon faith and followers are encouraged to participate. Millions of Mormons have gathered and placed billions of names into church genealogical records. Volunteers travel to Mormon Temples to conduct the baptism ceremony.
Mormons believe the rite offers deceased souls the opportunity for eternal salvation, but Foxman says the Mormon Church should "reconsider all the implications of continuing the practice of posthumous baptism, as it has re-evaluated other of its traditions."
"In these verses, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught the following principles:
1. The salvation of our dead ancestors is essential to our salvation. Our lives are closely tied to our ancestors lives, for we cannot become perfect without them nor they without us ( D&C 128:15 ).
2. Baptism for the dead is the most glorious of all subjects belonging to the everlasting gospel ( v. 17 ). This doctrine shows the love and mercy of an all-wise Father in Heaven. Baptism for the dead and other vicarious work makes it possible for all our Fathers children to receive the same blessings, and be judged on the same terms, whether or not they had a chance to accept the gospel in mortality. President Rudger Clawson said: Oh, the beauty of the justice and mercy of God, who is no respecter of persons! And let it be remembered that what it takes to save one who is living; it takes just that much to save one who is dead. (In Conference Report, Oct. 1931, p. 79.)
3. Baptism for the dead helps to prevent the earth from being smitten with a curse. As President Joseph Fielding Smith taught: If Elijah had not come, we are led to believe that all the work of past ages would have been of little avail, for the Lord said the whole earth, under such conditions, would be utterly wasted at his coming. Therefore his mission was of vast importance to the world. It is not the question of baptism for the dead alone, but also the sealing of parents and children to parents, so that there should be a whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories, from the beginning down to the end of time.
If this sealing power were not on the earth, then confusion would reign and disorder would take the place of order in that day when the Lord shall come, and, of course, this could not be, for all things are governed and controlled by perfect law in the kingdom of God.
Why would the earth be wasted? Simply because if there is not a welding link between the fathers and the childrenwhich is the work for the deadthen we will all stand rejected; the whole work of God will fail and be utterly wasted. Such a condition, of course, shall not be. ( Doctrines of Salvation, 2:12122.)"
Guess I just don’t get the point of it. After all, God knows the difference.
OMG! How ever will they be saved?
If it is not someones choice to be baptized, then it serves no purpose. I don't believe in baptizing babies either.
It’s as if the act itself, independent of the will, intentions or even existence of the person, is some sort of alchemical, magical act.
My seventh great grandfather came to this continent in the seventeenth century. A branch of the family became Mormon in the mid-nineteenth century. He’s been baptized by proxy, dead dunked, whatever you want to call it, so many timesm now with so many errors, birth dates ranging over a century, same for death, wrong locations ... probably about ten entries, only one of which is even remotely correct.
Whatever the intent, they shot a brick on that one, missed him by a country mile.
Yeah yeah yeah, they have said this before and never did a thing about it. What makes anyone think they are telling the truth this time? They have lied about it before.
If they were to really stop, then it would just be more proof Mormonism is false, led by false prophets, with a false god who bows to public pressure. That ain’t my God at all.
An arrogant little nephew took it upon himself to “do the work” for my wife’s parents without family permission. He was oh so full of himself for this great thing. When we found out the shit really hit the fan as Mom and Dad had lived in Utah since 1941. Three daughters had joined the church(married Mormons) but the parents knew better and never did.
His folks just don’t get why we are all so upset. Arrogant and sanctimonious bastards.
The “tradition” statement comes from “Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League” and not the LDS church.
What I dont get is why they agree to stop when asked. It seems pretty cruel to deprive someone of a second chance to accept salvation just because someone living wants them to. Why would anyone agree to stop that if thats what one truly believes?
I guess they can recognize a PR problem when they see one.
“I guess they can recognize a PR problem when they see one.”
They know that they need to keep this on the “down low”.
They can violate our dead mothers and children and no one hears our pleas , but the celebrity baptisms are drawing attention.
If they really believe in it, why should they stop? They actually don’t want everyone to go to heaven now? Or is it another case of the mormon church changing doctrine when they get into trouble?
But here’s the thing. It wasn’t the members submitting these names, it was the Church itself gathering these names. A letter to the Members is meaningless.
As I said. Just imagine if we actually believed this garbage and were still going down there on Sunday as they lay the guilt on us. O
h my, what a trip!
I have no doubt they'll be back to this religious practice as soon as this round of media scrutiny fades away.
Oh, well that just makes ALL the difference in the world! Did you get the official warning today?
Hey, go with the flow