Barack Obama’s Mother Has Been Baptized into the LDS Church! No joke!!!

John DehlinMormon 32 Comments

I’m not kidding.  Here’s the link to (Update: It appears as though the church has taken the record down…but you can find a screenshot here).

It was, of course, in the temple (posthumously…via baptism for the dead)…but still!  Details below.

Do you think President Obama minds?  Also, will this be a black eye for the church, or no big deal?

Any bets as to whether or not the church pulls down this record?


President’s Late Mother Improperly, Posthumously, Baptized as a Mormon

May 05, 2009 6:53 PM

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints confirmed Tuesday afternoon that someone improperly, posthumously baptized the late mother of President Obama into the Mormon faith.

Last June 4 — the day after then-Sen. Obama secured enough delegates to win the Democratic presidential nominee — someone had the president’s mother Stanley Ann Dunham, who died in 1995 of cancer, baptized.

On June 11, she received the endowment.

The White House had no comment.

The baptism and endowment which appear on, the LDS Church’s genealogical site, were first reported by John Aravosis at the liberal Americablog.

Mormon Church spokeswoman Kim Farah said that “the offering of baptism to our deceased ancestors is a sacred practice to us and it is counter to Church policy for a Church member to submit names for baptism for persons to whom they are not related. The Church is looking into the circumstances of how this happened and does not yet have all the facts. However, this is a serious matter and we are treating it as such.”

For almost two centuries, Mormons have performed baptisms on behalf of deceased relatives, but church members are counseled to request temple baptism only on behalf of their relatives. To do so for those who are not relatives is contrary to Church policy, officials of the Mormon church said.

The Provo Daily Herald notes that the LDS Church “has run afoul of Holocaust groups multiple times,” because of efforts by Mormons to posthumously baptize Jews killed during the Holocaust. “Leaders said in November that they are making changes to their massive genealogical database to make it more difficult for names of Holocaust victims to be entered for posthumous baptism by proxy.”

Those changes obviously did not come quickly enough for the late Mrs. Dunham.

– jpt

Comments 32

  1. You can’t make this @#$% up! What’s with this endowing of celebrities and their kin? It’s an embarrassment. Particularly given the fact that had President Obama’s mother been LDS at the time of his birth, she and her husband would not have been sealed in the temple nor would the President have been ordained to the priesthood with other young boys his age.

  2. If I had to guess, I’d say this was the work of an overzealous Obama supporter who happened to be LDS. Certainly not the work of someone who was trying to harm or offend the candidate. But it’ll be spun as an overt offense by a racist, Republican-leaning church against a prominent, black Democrat. (Already, c.biden seems to have started that spin.)

  3. c.biden: Although we are now in the realm of Bizarro world speculation, Obama would have been a teenager in 1978, and had he been active in the Church and otherwise worthy, would almost certainly have been ordained to the priesthood.

  4. I suspect this record will be removed by Big Brother alla Orwell’s 1984 ASAP.

    But the big question is: Will Obama’s mother accept the baptism? I’m thinking all signs point to . . . YES! And is it just me or is it totally exciting to think of how the deceased but newly baptized-as-a-Mormon spirit of Obama’s mother will be influencing her son from beyond the grave?

  5. Teacher,

    I’m not sure how c.biden’s comment is relevant, but it is accurate. Obama turned 12 in 1973, 14 in 1975, and 16 in 1977. Had he been LDS, he could not have been ordained to the Aaronic priesthood along with his peers.

  6. I’m curious, I didn’t realize we only did our own ancestors. Did this change? I remember years ago my mom having an “extraction” job and would go to the stake center and look at microfiche from some other country and get the names for temple work. What are today’s rules?

  7. Unfortunately it is incidents like these that give the church its reputation of insensitivity when it comes to posthumous ordinances. And shows that the church really has no way of policing its own policies with regards to these matters.

    BTW, the genealogical information was contributed by a guy in Reno, NV, but the ordinances were done in Provo. Any resources to find out who did the ordinances? doesn’t give any information, and the site only gives the date and place the ordinances were performed.

  8. Domestic Goddess,

    My understanding of the rules is that for someone who has been dead less than 110 years (I’m not sure that number is correct), then only the closest living relative can authorize posthumous ordinances. After that time though, anyone is fair game.

  9. Kari,

    I am hoping this incident will cause enough embarrassment to the church that it will finally get its act together and actively teach members not to have ordinances done for non-relatives. It seems a group of Jews could not make a difference, Hitler’s work being done could not make a difference and Gay activists could not make a difference.

    I went to the GHI and found nothing that says you cannot perform non-relatives ordinances. It talks about doing ordinances for relatives, but nothing explicit about non-relatives.

    I was unable to find the publication “A Members Guide to Temple and Family History Work” on the Internet. Maybe there is something in this publication that explicitly says members are not allowed to have ordinances done for non-relatives. It appears the publication is available to Ward Family History Consultants on line and for free from church distribution centers. After a bit of digging I did find the following online, it looks like this person is a Ward Family History Consultant. It says you need to get permission from the closest living relative.

    “Permission from Living Relatives
    Before you provide ordinances for someone who was born within the last 95 years, get permission from the closest living relative. The following individuals are considered to be the closest living relatives (in order):

    Honor the wishes of relatives who do no want ordinances performed for someone born in the last 95 years.”

  10. Here are the guides I was able to find online.

    Family History Consultant’s Guide to Temple and Family History Work


    Member’s Guide to Temple and Family History Work

    From page 30 of the member’s guide, “Before you perform ordinances for a deceased person born within the last 95 years, please get permission from the closest living relative. Relatives may not want the ordinances performed or may want to perform the ordinances themselves. The closest living relatives are, in this order: a spouse, then children, then parents, then siblings. …”

    “Do not submit the names of persons who are not related to you, including names of famous people or names gathered from unapproved extraction projects, such as victims of the Jewish Holocaust.

    You may submit the names of individuals with whom you shared a friendship. This is an exception to the general rule that members should not submit the names of individuals to whom they are not related. Before performing
    ordinances for a deceased individual who was a friend, you should obtain permission from the individual’s closest living relative.”

    The Family History Consultant’s Guide says the same thing in different words and greater detail, again stating that only family members and descendants are to to temple work for deceased individuals.

  11. The church DOES actively teach members not to submit names of non-relatives or even relatives not in their direct line who lived in the past century. People do it anyway. I guess they are going to have to program their computers to kick out certain key names of famous people for human inspection before letting them go through.

  12. Pingback: I don’t get the whole fuss with baptisms for the dead « Irresistible (Dis)Grace

  13. Joe,

    Certainly. The brethren need to get off their butts and fix this mess. They need to police this to stop those zealots who will baptize Obama’s mother -wonder why not his father??- or Hitler or Juan Peron who never had kids and many more controversial people as well as stopping those with an antichurch agenda who will do this deliberately for the publicity only. Part of the blame is in the name extraction program but they presented it as the saving program of genealogy to help fill all the new Temples. I don’t understand why they can’t see that this is the Genealogical equivalent of those baseball baptisms of the past.

    “..will this be a black eye for the church, or no big deal?” I certainly hope that it is a black eye so they do something to fix it by first pulling down the record and then changing how all of genealogy works.

  14. TKS – “I’m thinking all signs point to . . . YES!” Did you shake your Magic 8 ball to get this?

    If the church wants to kill this, yank zealots in for church discipline when they over-do it like this. Why not treat it like a Chad Hardy situation (except for the fact that these guys are actually probably paying tithing and working their tails off to bring on the second coming)? Of course, they’ll probably go inactive and get all offended. Maybe they’ll defect to the fundies. Could be a win-win.

  15. Interesting. My first search at FamilySearch brought up both Ancestral file and IGI records. Right now another search only brings up the IGI record. How much longer until that disappears as well?

  16. Kuri (and c.biden): Pres. Obama would have been not quite 17 when the revelation on the priesthood was announced in June of 1978. Perfect age for being ordained as a priest in the Aaronic Priesthood.

  17. Most(not all) young men are deacons at around 12 years old; teachers at 14; priests at 16. So there would have been 4 (+/-) years when Barack Obama would have been denied regardless of his “worthiness.” And his parents could not have been sealed, regardless of their “worthiness” until after 17 years of marriage. The ban was in effect until two months before he turned 17.

  18. Talk about people talking past each other about something that is WAY dead as a topic.
    But clearly not dead enough for Ray. 🙂

    Are you referring to the racist history of the LDS church Ray, or the posthumous ordinances in violation of stated church policy?

  19. I’m talking about nit-picking about someone’s age in 1978.

    Kari, I have spoken and continue to speak openly about race in our history, and I have no problem at all with this general topic. I apologize for not making that crystal clear.

  20. A solution to this problem is to:

    A- change name extraction programs to information databases only.

    B- Force all to provide signed explanation of how the name presented is related to them, and check if true.

    C- (Most of all) Just let members go to the Temple and ‘Renew’ their OWN endowments when they don’t have a deceased persons name. We do something similar with the Sacrament so why not the endowment session?

    But then again the brethren don’t read Mormon Matters plus they tend to be very conservative so nothing (probably) will change until this becomes as problematic as the Blacks/Priesthood issue was back in early ’70, back when colleges refused to play with BYU for example.

  21. “But then again the brethren don’t read Mormon Matters plus they tend to be very conservative so nothing (probably) will change” Ahem, I beg to differ on the first point. I particularly like that Ray fellow. And, when you get to my age, sonny, you will have seen so much change it will make your head spin! But, as the saying goes, youth is wasted on the young.

  22. Hitler? Actually, Hitler WAS sealed to Eva Braun (his mistress) in the Los Angeles temple. This revelation proved even more embarrassing than Obama’s mother. It is amazing how the sealers and the proxies let this one go through without questioning it. How many Adolf Hitlers have there been, after all? Since he had no descendants (known), it couldn’t be a legitimate submission.

  23. “It is amazing how the sealers and the proxies let this one go through without questioning it. ”

    Because one is not permitted to modify any record or any card used in the Temple. For example is the card says that ‘Michael Jackson’ is to be endowed and married to ‘Janet Jackson’, well that’s it, it is done that way. The only possible change is when two women cards are handed out for marriage, for example. But what is on the card, name and so on, stays the same.

    Note that the system is changing today, so if one has a mistake on his membership record where the mothers’ name is incorrect or date of birth wrong or similar we can’t change it now in the Genealogy line, that is the edit doesn’t last since the system reverts back to what is on the membership record. So today in trying to make the entire system more secure they have actually only made it harder for members to update their details; but the baptizing of Hitler or Obama’s mum will still get through.

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