Stop Baptizing Our Dead!

Jeff Spector baptism, catholicism, christianity, eternity, evangelicals, families, inter-faith, Mormon, Mormons, temple 91 Comments

The LDS doctrine of Baptism for the Dead is unique within Christianity. The explanation for the doctrine and additional references on the LDS Church website can be found here. There is also a fairly lengthy explanation on Wikipedia here. It is a controversial doctrine and many groups have protested this vicarious work for the dead, including Jews, Catholics and others. I find a certain ironies in their protestations.

The Background

In 2008, The Vatican issued an order to Bishops not to release parish records to Mormons. A news article is here. Its intent is to prevent Mormons from performing Baptism for the Dead for their own ancestors who may have been Catholic, whether practicing or not.

There has also been an on-going dispute between the Church and Jewish groups about the specific posthumous baptism of victims of the Holocaust by Church members. In most cases, the names of these victims were extracted and submitted by non-relatives of these people.  Church officials including General Authorities have met with representatives of the Jewish Groups in an attempt to resolve the issue as best they could. Here is the Jewish side of the story from the JewishGen Website. The actual agreement from 1995 is found here. The resolution involved removal of holocaust victim’s names from the International Genealogical Index (IGI), which lists the names of people cleared for Temple work and the ordinances which have already been performed on their behalf and the agreement to stop allowing members of the LDS Church to perform temple ordinances for Jewish people not their direct ancestors.   Recently, the same Jewish Groups have accused the Church of not complying with the agreement and presented their lengthy evidence of that non-compliance here. They also mounted a huge publicity campaign as well.

The Ironies

Irony #1 – The progress of genealogical research has been lead by the LDS Church – Because of the Church’s doctrine of Baptism of the Dead, it has literally invested millions of dollars to further genealogical research.  The Church dispatched an army of volunteers throughout the world to film as many vital records as possible.  The Church built the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City to house these records and has satellite libraries across the world. The Church has employed state-of-the-art techniques to assist governments and religious groups to preserve their records.  The church has also embarked on an effort to digitize and make available all the records it has acquired for access via the Internet. All this effort is for the purpose of assisting the members of the Church in identifying their ancestors to perform Temple Ordinances for them according to our beliefs. The ultimate goal is to perform earthly ordinances for all who have lived on the earth.

All of these resources have been made available to the general public, free of charge, without strings or expectations.  The public has been asked to share the information that they uncover in an effort to further their own work as well as of that of the Church.  Sharing is entirely voluntary and not a condition of using the resources of the Church.

The Church has even produced specific family history information to assist groups like the Jewish community and a CD-ROM which is sold through Jewish Genealogy Societies. The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) has held its annual convention in Salt Lake City a number of times to take at advantage of the so-called “candy store”(their term) of information at the FHL.

The worldwide hobby of genealogy would either not exist or not be as pervasive as it is without the work of the LDS Church and its doctrine of Eternal Families and Baptism for the Dead.  Popular websites like Ancestry.com, Genealogy.com and others  would probably not exist.

Irony #2 – Since Baptism for the Dead is false doctrine, why do you care? The Catholic Church as well as other Christian Organizations has denounced the LDS practice of Baptism of the Dead as a false doctrine.  You can find examples here, here, and here.  The irony for Catholics is that they, as mentioned above, have taken an active role in preventing Baptisms for the Dead by not allowing Mormons access to their parish records, many of which have been preserved and filmed by LDS Church volunteers.  Another irony for me is that while the Catholic Church dismisses Baptism for the Dead as unbiblical, I might remind folks that Infant Baptism, a practice of the Catholic Church is not in the Bible at all. At least Baptism for the Dead is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15, verse 29.

Irony #3 – If Mormons baptize our people, they will forever be known as Mormons – This is a specific claim of the Jewish groups.  I can, because of my background, understand this concern since, throughout history, various groups have tried to wipe the Jews out, either killing them or forcing them to convert to Christianity. Irony #3a, The LDS Church has been instrumental in helping the Jewish Genealogy groups in identifying Jewish records, preserving them and producing materials to help Jews identify their ancestors.  Irony#3b, The Jews worry that by having their relatives baptized, they will forever be identified as Mormons.  This is a misunderstanding of the doctrine of agency associated with the vicarious work for the dead. Performing the ordnance does not automatically make anyone a Mormon. According to our theology, the person has the choice to accept or reject the ordinances.  The only designation on the earthly record is that the ordinances were performed.  Just as in this life, having those ordinances does not automatically make someone a practicing member of the LDS Church.  They have to want to belong and honor those ordinances.   Side irony:  Most Jews don’t even believe in a next life after we die.

Irony#3c, Jewish population growth is practically zero (source). This is true for two specific reasons: 1) Assimilation, intermarriage and non-observance.  There is an alarming trend in Judaism to assimilate into the country population, intermarry with non-Jews (I did) and/or not practice their religion. The result is less Jews or those who identify themselves as Jews in the future. 2) Low birth rate.   Population growth of Jews around the world dropped to -.5% while birth rate growth in Israel is 1.6%.  This still puts Jews below the world birth rate growth of 1.4% since the greatest Jewish population is in the US.  Obviously, the holocaust took a huge bite out of the Jewish Population. Some estimates are that there may have been 26 to 40 million Jews if not for the mass murder. So, if Jews are worried about disappearing from the face of the earth and being labeled as Mormons, they might consider having more babies.

Conclusions

1.      Church Members should stick to doing Temple Work for their own family.  I think we have seen an increase in this effort.  If we all did that, no one could argue with us that we are baptizing their family that is not our family.  But I wonder if the Temples of the world would be even less busy, if that was the only work performed?

2.      People doing genealogy should recognize and thank the Church for the great service it provides to the genealogical world and should realize the intentions of the Church in making this effort.  They should take the time to thoroughly understand the doctrine of Baptism for the Dead and vicarious work for the dead and how we believe it works in the hereafter. Recognize that, in spite of their beliefs, we are doing it in accordance to our beliefs and there is absolutely no malice intended but love for mankind being the driving factor.

3.      The Church must do its best to live up to the agreements they have made with the Jewish Groups.  I think that the new Family Search is an effort to prevent duplication of ordinances and prevent widespread ordnance work for those not of our own family. Names must be removed from the IGI and other databases when identified as Jewish names not part of LDS family temple work.

4.      Stop the whining.  Work with us to resolve the problem and not in the media.  That does not help foster a good working relationship.

Comments

comments

Comments 91

  1. Yeah, the ironies abound.

    This is one of the issues for me that shows just how deeply the anti-Mormon feelings go – especially the Catholic response. I can understand Jews being hyper-sensitive about anything that appears to them to be an attempt to convert them to Christianity, given their history with Christianity, but the Catholic response is so illogical as to almost defy understanding.

    I served my mission in Japan. Reverence for their ancestors runs strong and deep in that culture. However, I never heard a single Japanese Buddhist get upset with the idea of vicarious temple work. Largely, I believe it is because they appreciated deeply our concern for connecting to our kindred dead. They saw it as the exact same motivation as their own in erecting shrines in their homes. They “got it” – which is another great irony, imo.

    Fwiw, I wrote a very short post a couple of week ago on my own blog about temple work and this concept of connecting:

    http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2008/12/worshiping-among-spirits.html

  2. A slight but significant correction to the Catholic discussion: The Vatican prohibited release of parish registers to the Genealogical Society — i.e., the filming-in-bulk of records. There is no prohibition against the release of individual records of ancestors to individual Mormon descendants, except insofar as an individual priest might misinterpret the prohibition that way (as you have). The bishop in Salt Lake City went to great pains to clarify for the local press that he recognized the right of any individual — Catholic, Mormon, or other — to access the records of their ancestors, and that the diocese would continue to provide those records upon request.

  3. You did a wonderful job of flushing out all the considerations. I worked at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and was fascinated to learn that less than 50% of the patrons were Mormon. Although the patrons didn’t share the same beliefs, they were very appreciative for the free services provided by the Church. Thus, I’ve also thought about many of those ironies.

  4. “The Jews worry that by having their relatives baptized, they will forever be identified as Mormons. This is a misunderstanding of the doctrine of agency associated with the vicarious work for the dead. Performing the ordnance does not automatically make anyone a Mormon. According to our theology, the person has the choice to accept or reject the ordinances.”

    Having talked with a few Jews on the subject who are concerned about Baptism for the Dead, they believe they really do become Mormons. What happens in this life does effect the next life. Therefore, according to them, Mormons might believe the dead have a choice, but they don’t. Therefore it is the Mormons who misunderstand. Of course, there are those Jews who don’t believe in an afterlife. For those that do it is a big theological issue.

    Not that I care. My theology trumps their theology for obvious reasons; I believe in my faith and not theirs.

  5. Jeff I haven’t had a chance to click on your links yet. But I am trying to see it from another religions perspective. If someone got a hold of all the church’s members names and used them for some deviant Satanic Ritual and made us all members of Beelzebub’s reformed church wouldn’t we put up a stink – it would be hardly honest to denie that a lot of members would want that stopped!

    Even though they know were pretty good people its the same principal to them.

  6. James,

    Your point is the standard point always made. Can we at least admit that this isn’t a true comparable and consider the real differences between your made up example and the reality of Mormon baptisms for the dead?

    Examples:
    1. Your example is that they converted people to the Church of Satan. The Mormon example is a choice that converts no one.
    2. Your example assumes they are intentionally doing it to be offensive.
    3. Your example assumes it’s just a one off doctrine unrelated to anything else and they could give it up if they wanted to whereas the Mormon act is a core doctrine that can’t be removed without the whole tapestry coming apart.
    4. Your example assumes they are seeking out other people that are not their relatives to offend whereas the Mormons are actively trying to avoid this and have policies against it. (Mormons, being a huge organization, can’t control all their members and it’s offensive to claim they can.)
    5. The Mormons allow people who don’t want their ancentors names on the record to be removed. Your example assumes they aren’t that accomodating.

    Also, I hate to say this bluntly, but if the Church of Satan decides to hold such beliefs, and if you are right that in such a circumstance Mormons would publically call for them to stop, can at least we enlightened few here admit that this is religious freedom and it absolutely and soundly trumps the Mormon’s hurt feelings and that the right response is for Mormons to ignore it?

  7. Oh, and the Mormons allow and encourage groups offended by the practice to have those concerned “police” our records to help us stay compliant. Your example assumed otherwise.

    These are huge differences that you are easily skipping over.

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    James,

    let’s stick to reality, rather than developing hypotheticals, which are not true and then asking how we might feel. We could do that forever. The fact is, even if it were true, I have enough to worry about without wondering what any other church does that does not affect me.

  9. This is an emotional issue for other religious groups and no amount of reasoned discussion is going to change that. It’s best to find accomadation in order to have access to the records than to try and force the issue with logic that isn’t going to be listened to.

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    BC,

    “The bishop in Salt Lake City went to great pains to clarify for the local press that he recognized the right of any individual — Catholic, Mormon, or other — to access the records of their ancestors, and that the diocese would continue to provide those records upon request.”

    The Bishop of SLC has a vested interest in helping LDS folks. A Parish Priest sitting in Ireland, for example, does not and thus may not interpret the order in the same way. I haven’t had a chance to check that out, but we’ll see sometimes this year.

  11. “This is an emotional issue for other religious groups and no amount of reasoned discussion is going to change that. It’s best to find accomadation in order to have access to the records than to try and force the issue with logic that isn’t going to be listened to.”

    GBSmith, it’s hard to imagine any right minded person that would argue with that salient point. Now all we have to do is determine if the LDS Church is truly doing all reasonably within their power to accomodate other’s feelings without giving up on their own beliefs. And where they are, we should probably call their efforts to help others understand an appropriate (indeed only possible) rational and emotional response.

  12. I really don’t understand the Jews’ problem.
    Their ancestors are only provided a vicarious baptism for their acceptance or neglect.
    It will be the relative’s choice whether or not to be “Christian”.
    Is that such a difficult concept?

    I can’t imagine being upset if the Jews wanted to provide an ordinance for my ancestors to allow them to become Jews if they wanted to.
    Why would I deny my ancestors their freedom of choice?

    I don’t get it.

  13. For those interested, there was a really long thread on this very topic between some Mormons (Ray and Myself mostly) and Miriam, a non-orthodox Jewish lady dating a Mormon. You can get a real feel for both sides of the argument by reading it. But it’s really long.

    I don’t know how much Miriam’s view had moved by the time we were done. It was clear that she had picked up knowledge about a great many things she wasn’t aware during the discussion. If this changed her mind any or not, I do not know.

    I do think that the primary problem between the Jewish and Mormon communities on this issue are:
    1) A lack of understanding of the real belief – i.e. there is no implied conversion and it’s only so that one can reach “Exaltation” (Godhood) which is something the Jews don’t believe in anyhow. Mormons are actually universalists if you exclude the possiblity of Deification.

    2) A lack of understanding of why Mormons can’t just stop it – i.e. it’s a core theology, you have to do it as part of your own ‘exaltation’, it keeps the temples opened, etc.

    3) A lack of understanding of how much the Mormons have already bent over backward to accomodate their feelings and the lack of much more Mormons can do that doesn’t start to infringe upon Mormon beliefs in a far more offensive way then the initial offense.

    4) For some, a lack of desire to understand.

  14. Jeff:

    You left out one of the large ironies. The Catholic Church — which believes that baptism of some form is essential to avoid hell (or at least purgatory) — issued an official statement back in 2001 indicating that LDS baptisms were invalid, thus condemning all Mormons to hell (or at least purgatory). Note that this is in spite of the fact that we do baptize “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”, which supposedly is the standard the Catholic Church accepts.

    I fully understand the Jewish reaction to baptism for the dead, given the centuries they endured of forced (on pain of death) conversion at the hands of so-called Christians. The Catholic blocking of LDS genealogical research to me just seems silly, though, given that they don’t even recognize our baptism for the living, much less for the dead. ..bruce..

  15. 7 and 9 Jeff and Bruce you guys are really tough mean and scary 🙂 I will have to put a bit more thought into my replies from now on!

  16. The thing about all these groups protesting the LDS performing ordinances for their dead all hinge on one concept. The ordinances must be true! If the ordinances were of no efficacy, it wouldn’t matter who performed how many such ordinances. Therefore, in protesting LDS temple rites for their dead, the protesters are bearing witness of the truth of the LDS restored gospel. Go figure!

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    “I do think that the primary problem between the Jewish and Mormon communities on this issue are:”

    Bruce,

    I agree completely with your assessment, but I think that many fail to understand (as I failed to explain) the depth to which some Jews hold this fear of annihilation. History and the current situation in the Middle East only serve to feed this fear. Not understanding our doctrine is just a mere piece of it.

  18. 14.
    I think that your points 1-4 all go without saying. However, I also think that 4 alone contributes to a a disproportionate amount of the problem here. So much of the religious world lives in a react-first, think-later kind of existence that it’s hard for me to believe that any serious progress can be made. As Latter-day Saints, we are who we are, and we will keep doing what we need to do. Accommodations are important and may curb some of the bad reactions, but pardon my cynicism if I don’t wait by the phone for those offended by this practice to re-think their stance.

  19. “I agree completely with your assessment, but I think that many fail to understand (as I failed to explain) the depth to which some Jews hold this fear of annihilation. History and the current situation in the Middle East only serve to feed this fear. Not understanding our doctrine is just a mere piece of it.”

    Jeff, you are right.

    I guess I am not think of this for two reasons 1) I wasn’t really aware it tied to this, 2) Miriam (my last chance to discuss this) didn’t bring this up as an issue.

    It’s interesting, Jeff, but if this is a big issue, then that suggests another possible compromise. We Mormons could make a point of putting the persons religion (if know) on the record.

    “So much of the religious world lives in a react-first, think-later kind of existence that it’s hard for me to believe that any serious progress can be made.”

    LOL Dead. I completely agree with what you said… except that I think you could have dropped the word “religious” from between “the” and “world.”

    Yet, the fact that progress is slow doesn’t mean it can’t be made. I have to believe that standing up for Mormon beliefs on this, and helping a Jewish person understand how much is being accomodated and how hard it is to accomdate further really will, over a very long haul, make progress.

  20. Thanks, Bruce, for posting that link to our former conversation with Miriam. What a wonderful lady she was, and it was such a great experience to have such a civil and respectful discussion at such depth – both in the thread and afterward via e-mail. She really was a special lady.

    I also enjoyed re-reading our discussion from the thread. The following excerpt from on of my comments sums up how I feel about temple ordinances:

    “We also believe that this work will be completed during the Millennium – when we will have the information available to do so. Frankly (and this is just me talking – not official Mormon doctrine), this belief that “it will happen at some point, since we never will be able to complete it on our own” almost forces me to believe that performing these ordinances is NOT primarily for the benefit of the dead, but rather for the benefit of the living who perform them (since the dead will have it done at some point regardless of whether or not I do it for them). It is a real, practical way to turn the hearts of the children to their fathers (Malachi 4), and it also is a real, practical way to blunt the natural egotism of our modern age by making us aware of just how noble and dignified and wonderful people were in previous times. It also is a great way to understand yourself better and realize what aspects of your character you inherited from whom. It also forces you to become aware of and thankful for the mercy of God in the lives of your ancestors, helping increase your ability to accept the possibility that God will be just as merciful to you.

    Finally, I personally believe there is a spiritual power that comes with being tied to the righteous dead, but that is a subject for a different post.”

  21. 19. Bruce

    I certainly agree that the think-later mentality fits the world generally. However, I still think that, other things equal, a religious subset of the whole world will engage in think-later silliness more readily. (and with a much lower probability of admitting their errors! Being “right” is great; being “righteous and right” is even better.)

    Over the long haul, you may well be right about possible progress. Perhaps what I mean is that I don’t expect that huge investments in our own behavior (accommodating, etc…) will ever have a proportionate return.

  22. “Perhaps what I mean is that I don’t expect that huge investments in our own behavior… will ever have a proportionate return.”

    Quotable!

    Ray, I appreciate your summary in #22. I agree Miriam was a real gem of a person. She might eventually see this discussion since she likes to read Mormon blogs.

    Interestingly, I had come to the same conclusions you did on my own while trying to work through my own beliefs.

    Also, reading through the exchange, I can see how easily we can all get hotheaded over nothing. I did several times and almost didn’t post the link because I’m embarrassed by some of the things I said prior to really underestanding Miriam’s full view. But we all got there eventually and really started to understand one another, even if we couldn’t necessarily agree.

  23. My favorite part about his bru-ha-ha is the unstated presupposition that LDS ordinances have actual, effective power in this and the next world to create real change to ancestors’ beings. I love that this admission is completely unstated but at the core of the objections to the practice.

    If we were keeping a “list of dead people we think used to smell great,” people wouldn’t/couldn’t object since it doesn’t seem to change who their ancestors *are*. Once we claim to keep a “list of dead people who, while in the spirit realm, we have changed so that they love the Mormon church”, then all the fireworks go off and people would get all upset. In the second example, the presupposition that we have the *power* or ability to do such a thing is IMO the core of the matter.

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  25. We assume the world sees us as this group of hard working civic minded people dedicated to doing good but we forget that to many we’re a non christian cult. Witness the feelings that emerged over Mitt Romney’s candidacy for presidency. In Europe east and west the term sect is used and is very negative. It will take a lot of persuading to have those people see our motives as pure and in some way non damaging to their dearly departed. As I said arguing against a negative emotional bias is not an easy thing and probably shouldn’t even be tried.

  26. “As I said arguing against a negative emotional bias is not an easy thing and probably shouldn’t even be tried.”

    GBSmith, since you are saying to not try, do you have an alternative? Is the alternative to “just take it silently?” I am not sure what you are proposing here.

    Don’t get me wrong, I completely agree with Deadly Serious on this. Our efforts to seek understanding will never return much. I do believe over the long haul our efforts will make a difference (perhaps for our children or grandchildren) but I don’t expect to see much in my life time.

    But it seems somehow morally wrong to me to not attempt sincere dialog and better understanding, even if the efforts are doomed from the outset. Since I’m not king of the world (at least not yet MUHAHAHAHAHA!) I can’t really choose to outlaw bad behavior based on a misunderstanding. So I’m not seeing a lot of options here but what we’re doing. Seeking understanding from those that don’t or won’t understand. (And of course to seek the best compromises we can to adjust to their feelings, though I do not see anyone suggesting additional ways in which we can do this.)

  27. Number 9 Jeff
    James,

    let’s stick to reality, rather than developing hypotheticals, which are not true and then asking how we might feel. We could do that forever. The fact is, even if it were true, I have enough to worry about without wondering what any other church does that does not affect me.

    Thanks Jeff it was meant to by hypothetical as to not offend anyone’s religion (if your a Satan worshiper I apologize for that just trying to use an example) – I was hoping you’d have picked that up! I of course was trying to dramatize it as well so you could see the point.

    I don’t think the Catholics and Jews get the Irony thing it just makes them mad obviously!

    I think the church’s view is that we can see it’s uncomfortable for your religion but were talking about souls that are waiting to move on and progress.

    Our family have been doing a fair amount of service lately for the living and we discussed temple work on the way home. It was brought up why can’t we put temple work on the back burner till the millennium when their is so many people who could use our time money and resources right now while were alive.

  28. Sorry one more thought couldn’t go make it comfortable for those that have moved on until the millennium or are they in a miserable state because the work isn’t being done for them. For example are they in a more miserable state than kids dying wasting away in africa wouldn’t it be better to use the money that goes into the temple and all our time and effort into helping our brothers and sisters in our own countries and through out the world.

    If your read funneling us all through were hardly going to touch any of the worlds population in temple work from those that are active in the church http://mormonmatters.org/2008/09/26/funnelling-us-all-through/

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    “Thanks Jeff it was meant to by hypothetical as to not offend anyone’s religion (if your a Satan worshiper I apologize for that just trying to use an example) – I was hoping you’d have picked that up! I of course was trying to dramatize it as well so you could see the point.”

    When folks find out I am a Satan worshiper, they always seem to turn off, so I don’t usually tell them. 🙂

    I just notice that a lot of folks set up hypothetical strawmen, beat it down and it sometimes gets us off on a tangent.

    “It was brought up why can’t we put temple work on the back burner till the millennium when their is so many people who could use our time money and resources right now while were alive.”

    Well, that’s a whole another topic. I suppose we could all cut back to the bare essentials and donate the rest of our money (after tithing and offerings) to worthy causes and spend all of our time giving service to others. There has to be a balance in everything. Ignoring Temple Work because people are hungry is an option, but again, its a balance.

  30. “I think the church’s view is that we can see it’s uncomfortable for your religion but were talking about souls that are waiting to move on and progress.”

    While this is true, I don’t think is a full nuanced view and ultimately makes us look worse then what we’ve really done in real life to try to accommodate.

    To capture the full nuance, I’d have said it like this:

    Someone’s beliefs are going to win out here. We are either going to impose on you or you are going to impose on us. So the proper way to handle this is for us to all compromise to the best we can while taking each others basic rights into consideration.
    We are going to continue to believe our beliefs. It would be immoral for you to ask us to stop. We want to make sure you understand our actual beliefs here, in case your discomfort is just a misunderstanding. And we are going to try to minimize your pain because we honestly mean you no harm and we have no desire to offend for its own sake.

    But in the end, we have religious freedom, as do you. This is our own private practice with records we own. We aren’t actually hurting you in any legal sense at all and none of your rights are being violated in any way. Ignoring our practices is a viable option for you.

    But if you make us stop our practices — through legal action or public outcry and resulting public humiliation — the same can’t be said for you really are taking away our basic religious freedoms.

    So in the end, we need to kindly ask you to not hurt us and our people through attempted public humiliation to force your will upon us and to instead be accommodating and compromising on this.

    ___

    I honestly do not see a solution to this problem other then the above that doesn’t include wiping Mormons off the face of the earth or destroying their freedom of religion. Some things are more basic then others and should be protected more vigorously.

  31. “It was brought up why can’t we put temple work on the back burner till the millennium when their is so many people who could use our time money and resources right now while were alive.”

    This really is a whole other topic, James, and I don’t want to start a tangent. BUT please understand that this comment is based on the assumption that religious rituals for the believer have no value. (Since the primary purpose of the temple ritual is for the living proxy, not the dead person.) So we could, just as well, say: “why do we have to go to church when we could spend that time at a soup kitchen, etc.”

    If you (I don’t mean James here, this is the “generic you”) personally feel religious ritual has no value, then this IS a good question that has only one answer: stop participating in religion and spend that time and resources on something else.

    But if someone starts with the assumption that religion and it’s rituals actually have a value to themselves that cannot be replaced by working at a soup kitchen, then the above question is invalid.

    In this case, the question is like asking “why read Tolkein when you could be reading Shakespeare?” or “why read anything but Shakespeare?”

    Even if we assume one is better than another (I don’t make that assumption, but even if we did) it’s still not a valid question since it’s not meant to be an either/or choice.

  32. Oh, funny related story to my post #33. The question of “why read Tolkien when you could be reading Shakespeare?” wasn’t something I just made up. It actually comes from real life.

    There was a professor that wanted to teach a class on Tolkien. This was long enough ago that it was still primarily considered “just a fantasy novel” by “the establishment.” (Guess it probably still is in some circles.)

    So he had a hard time getting that class approved because they asked that very question of them.

    Obviously the real question they were asking was “since we see no value in Tolkien at all, why teach a class in it?” But that wasn’t politically correct, so instead they asked about in compared to Shakespeare (since in their mind that was the apex.)

    But of course that’s a stupid question because then you might as well ask “why read anything but Shakespeare?” based on the assumptions they have built into the question.

  33. Jeff, I agree with your conclusions above, especially that “Church Members should stick to doing Temple Work for their own family.” With family and religion one needs to be very respectful of others.

    The problem though is that the authority (for lack of a better term) to submit names and approve ordinances still resides with the average member. And just like with the missionary and building programs of the past, members do get carried away and start submitting all sorts of names. They use that vision elder woodruff had to justify the endowments of people like Franco, Peron, Elvis or Holocaust victims. Plus some bright spark invented that name extraction program which got us into more mess.

    Maybe proper training could fix this. Another solution could be to enforce privacy even more through IT as they are trying to do with the new site by only allowing church members see the ordinances performed, but still there’s a long way to go to cover all records.

    Oh, and one group you forgot to mention: the apostates who actually used family search to ‘prove’ that Joseph Smith Jr was bad since he was sealed to so many women including teens and already married women. Family search taught them that. Now that’s ironic.

  34. “Maybe proper training could fix this.”

    LOL. We’ve been training on “only do your own family” for how long?

    This is the crux of the problem. It’s impossible to control everyone. If someone decides to put in a name and perform the ordinances themselves, how do you stop them?

    There is another issue here, though: the extraction program. The temples would shut down without it. The extraction program is perfectly willing to not use some records, if requested. (This happens all the time.) But if someone picks up records that there is currently no ban on, how do you pull out the Jewish ones that happen to be holocaust victims and remove them?

    The argument that I’ve seen is that “it should have been obvious in some cases.” (Like it has the name of a concentration camp on it for place of death, for example.) I think this is problematic, however, because I know far too many little old ladies that wouldn’t have a clue. Plus, while I might agree with the very small handful of cases where the extraction program picked something up that it shouldn’t have, that doesn’t help with the millions of other cases where there was just no way to know short of waiting for someone to complain.

    I think removing info to avoid offense and keeping it private makes sense. This also addresses the whole argument of “people won’t know and will think they are Mormons” argument (which to be honest, prior to this post, I assumed was not a serious argument anyhow.) I think we could go further and eventually make a system where it is easy to have someone removed from the records via a relatively automated process that gives members a chance to protest if it’s a relative, etc.

    But that solution costs millions to create. It’s literally a complete rewrite of the existing software. So I can understand why we’ll have to wait for the Church to get around to doing that, especially in a really bad economy. But I do think that will eventually happen whenever they do end up doing a rewrite for other reasons.

  35. Just to point out a comment that got trapped in moderation and, therefore, will be missed otherwise:

    Bruce Webster’s #15 is a very astute observation. It adds a relevant point to this discussion.

  36. 16 – James – LOL!

    My sister was born in a Catholic hospital, and before they would release her, they insisted to my mother that the baby be baptized so that she wouldn’t be damned to hell if she died. My mother said go ahead because she didn’t believe in it so it didn’t have any effect in her opinion. I somewhat doubt this would still happen today in a Catholic hospital. Perhaps I am mistaken. That was in 1961.

  37. Bruce,

    Maybe they could make the results of the extraction program ‘Highly Confidential’ to use in Temples only. Although having Temples open only one or two nights a week plus Saturdays will work for most areas, only Utah may have problems with members complaining.

    They are currently re-writing the software today though, its the delivery via the new family search site that seems to be delaying things -so I hear via the mormon grapevine.

  38. RE #29:

    “GBSmith, since you are saying to not try, do you have an alternative?”

    The alternatives are to continue what the genalogical society has been doing when possible. Copy civic and governmental records with copies going to the entity as payment for the privilege. Continued use of national archives and census materials. Encouragement of individuals to research materials as able. There’s a man in our stake that on his own has gleaned over 150,000 names from national archives in Europe with the use of the internet. Foster one on one relationships with religious and governmental individuals and entities to be able to continue to have access to records. The example of the relationship with the local Catholic Church in SLC is instructive. The main thing is to avoid confrontation and accede to others concerns without argument. Those are arguments that can’t be won and always end up on the front page of newspapers.

    Lastly, I’d be interested in knowing just how successful extraction is and what the back log of names in temples is. Just curious.

  39. My husband and I, both lifelong Catholics, have discussed this in the course of me becoming, I suppose, an “investigator” to your faith. I had never heard of this practice until recently (w/in the past year). I brought it up with him in regards to my grandparents, very Catholic-Irish, daily mass attendees for over 50 years now, both of whom are approaching 90. I said to my dh that I can only imagine them rolling over in their graves if someone were to “baptize” them Mormon after death and how absolutely angry they would be, “some nerve of them…I’m catholic, always have been, always will be.”

    My dh had a great take on it. The Mormons, well, they either have it right, or they have it wrong. If they’re wrong, then what’s the big deal if they’re doing some ceremony involving my name, it doesn’t mean anything. If they’re right, then well, thank goodness someone is taking care of it for me while I’m in the afterlife.

    In talking to some of our LDS friends, what they’ve described to us about baptism for the dead is that it then gives a “choice” in the afterlife — it doesn’t mean someone becomes LDS, rather, it means they can now have the choice of learning/accepting/proceeding, etc…

    So, my dh has left it with me –if he dies first, I am to have our friends perform a ceremony for him here in our local Temple, “just in case.”

    And I think his is a good take on things.

    Aileen

  40. GBSmith,

    Ah, now I see what you are saying. We are talking about two different things. I’m talking about outcries over the practice itself, you are talking about Mormons being upset over Catholics not letting them use their records.

    So let me go on record myself as saying that I disagree with the sentiment expressed here that what the Catholics are doing is silly or not understandable but what the Jews are doing is. I actually think the reverse might be true.

    Catholics own the records in question. They can decide what to do with those records as they see fit. They are a different religion than us and part of their religion is that we cause people to go to hell. So hindering us in a legal means like this is not in any way intolerant. And I’d be hard pressed to think of any way it cause Mormons harm.

    What I’ve seen the Jews sometimes do is not the same. They (some anyhow) have been using public humiliation to try to get Mormons to change their doctrines or they have tried to hold Mormons accountable for the impossible. Public humiliation is real harm and is intolerance.

    While their feelings might be understandable (and perhaps their fears of annihilation are justified), I think bad behavior still needs to be called bad behavior and needs to be resisted as strongly as possible. (With all possible compromises being offered, of course.)

    Thus, it would seem, I am in agreement with GBSmith’s original point now that I understand it.

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    Aileen,

    Thanks for your story, I really appreciate it in light of the fact my wife’s family is also Strong Irish-Catholic. Your husband is a wise man as well. When I was dating my wife (she was a member), she asked me if she could have me sealed to her when I died. This was because I was not a member and at that time, had no intention of joining the Church. I said sure, “I’ll be dead, so go right ahead.” I was in the “when you are dead, you’re dead camp at that time.” So, based on that she decided to keep dating me and we got married the next year. I also joined the Church, so that issue became moot.

    BTW, tell him for me he’d be better off joining the Church and doing the work for himself. 🙂

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    Aileen,

    One other thought, I had/have the same dilemma with my family. My parents would not have wanted me to do their Temple Work. In fact, told me not to. I justified it by the fact that I assume their perspective has changed now that they are “on the other side.” Otherwise, they can yell at me when I get there. In that case, nothing will really have changed. 🙂

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    Bruce #15,

    I do recognize that irony with the Catholic baptism. I think a church spokesman said, “they don’t recognize our Baptisms and we don’t recognize theirs.” So I didn’t repeat it. Besides any of their scholars who have read the Book of Mormon know exactly how we feel about infant baptism. Mormon pulled no punches on that subject.

  44. Personally, I wish that other religions could do the same for us that we’re doing for them. It would be nice to know that I have the option of being Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist — whatever — in the afterlife. You know, just in case I’m living my life in vain as a Mormon. I like to have my bases covered.

    A friend of mine (a Mormon) was told by some ex-Mormons that Hitler’s temple work had been done. He was shown some documents but had no way of knowing whether they were really authentic.

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    FD,

    “was told by some ex-Mormons that Hitler’s temple work had been done”

    Apparently, it is true. The detailed report of the Jewish Groups that I link to has that information in it.

  46. Thanks for sharing that, Aileen. Your husband really is a wise and compassionate man.

    I share Faithful Dissident’s view: I would LOVE it if all religions cared enough about all humanity that they would create a way to “offer the ultimate gift” to all of humanity.

  47. If one does worry about someone else’s ceremony (even if performed without recognized authority) affecting their eternal spiritual state (i.e. comment #4), then it must lead to quite a degree of paranoia during one’s life. Is that why people get the urge, for instance, to forward chain mail? 🙂 How can anyone be absolutely certain that somewhere, someone is not saying a prayer, lighting a candle, or performing a ritual in their behalf? I’ve heard, for instance, of a faithful Catholic grandmother lighting a candle that her grandson wouldn’t marry his Mormon girlfriend. You could see this as either an act for a fellow Catholic, an act against a Mormon, or a simple expression of a humble woman’s faith.

    I’ve felt the despair of someone trying to use my social security number to apply for a phony credit card, and that wasn’t fun. Is that the type of feeling one would get who believed that a Mormon baptism for the dead performed for their ancestor had eternal consequences to their soul–even if they thought Mormonism was false doctrine? Would these same individuals object to a Catholic person lighting a candle in their behalf?

  48. I was thinking that would be the perfect solution for Catholics: To pray them out of purgatory (again), maybe a blanket prayer would do. (But then I’m not Catholic so I really don’t understand if that would be a solution for them or not.)

    For Jews, the solution might be more severe: Circumcision by proxy? I don’t think so.

    I think it would put the responsibility back on our own shoulders, though, if the only temple work that was done was for our own ancestral families–and the extraction process were only an indexed file for people to find their ancestors in.

  49. I served my mission in Japan. Reverence for their ancestors runs strong and deep in that culture. However, I never heard a single Japanese Buddhist get upset with the idea of vicarious temple work. Largely, I believe it is because they appreciated deeply our concern for connecting to our kindred dead. They saw it as the exact same motivation as their own in erecting shrines in their homes. They “got it” – which is another great irony, imo.

    An important note is that often these displays of outrage have little or nothing to do with the LDS and everything to do with intergroup dynamics.

    Would these same individuals object to a Catholic person lighting a candle in their behalf?

    I don’t think so. I am glad when Catholics light candles on my behalf (which has happened) or people leave stones on the graves of my children.

  50. As Monty Python would say, “And now for something completely different:” (not completely different, it does seem to connect)

    Nightline did what I considered a fairly even-keeled piece about the Church, which can be found here. Elders Ballard and Cook are interviewed on three main topics: gay marriage, polygamy, and temples. But the focus and impetus for the piece was temples, with the Draper temple open house. They talked on the issue of baptisms for the dead, as well as the perceptions people have of other temple ceremonies. I thought it offered some more interesting perspective on the topic at hand.

  51. People are missing the key problem with the so-called “Jewish baptisms.”

    The rub is not that some members have delved into parish or government records and submitted these names.

    No. The reason for the outrage is very simple. Members keep going into the Holocaust death records and submitting names from those records.

    The church keeps promising to stop it. But, members, ignorant of the incredible offensiveness of what they are doing, keep submitting the names from the death camp rolls over and over and over again.

    Imagine if someone combed aircraft crash manifests or the Titanic roster or the names of soldiers killed in Iraq to generate names for submission. It would be unbelievably tacky.

    We need to be very, very careful on this issue. It is offensive. And, indefensible. The church leadership is incredibly frustrated by the stupidity of some members on this topic. The dingbats just keep doing it over and over again.

    Hopefully the new program for submitting names will thin this out.

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    “Imagine if someone combed aircraft crash manifests or the Titanic roster”

    Uh, they did that too. For the Titanic, that is.

    “Members keep going into the Holocaust death records and submitting names from those records.”

    While this is a true statement, I think it is important to acknowledge that while it may be offensive, the members are not doing it to offend. But, they need to realize, that in due time, those folks will be taken care of, perhaps by their own descendants and to worry about their own family and not someone else’s.

  53. My mother absolutely forbade me to do the temple work for anyone in her side of the family, as well as for my father. She’s adamant about it. So I agreed. It grieves me that they will have to wait perhaps until some distant descendant does their work. It makes me feel cut off, sometimes, from my eternal family. But this is how I’ve decided to look at it.

    I can do the genealogical work anyway, and leave it in the record for that distant descendant to find. I can savor the connection with my ancestors. Mom doesn’t have the benefit of the gospel in her life, and so she’s exceedingly fragile in her self-ness. Any thing like this that reflects on her or her people wounds her deeply, just talking about it. It upsets her and makes her angry. She holds grudges against her family and neighbors and friends that go back 45 years or more that she simply can’t let go of, and they injure her continually in a way that she can’t see. All that prickliness and lashing out come from pain so deep that she can’t find a way to heal, because she lacks the gospel. I’m fabulously lucky that I have a source of strength and healing to teach me to overcome those kind of hurts. I don’t need to go stirring all hers up and hurting her more.

    We LDS have the long view. We will have time to get all the temple work done for the entire family of humankind. What, after all, is a few thousand years compared with the scope of the work in which we’re all engaged, to help bring about the exaltation of our species? We can afford to be patient with these fragile beings in the meantime, until they’re ready.

  54. Tatiana #58, I think the issue of dealing with your immediate family vs. the debate here about unrelated people’s ordinances are different ones. Your post seems to express a deep sadness regarding your mother’s decision, but I would like to suggest a more positive way for you to approach it. You are exhibiting a sincere respect for the choices your mother makes with her free agency. I actually think that you are being honest in your dealings with her, unlike post #46, who seemed aware of the feelings of his family and then chose not to respect it. His family members’ feelings may have changed in the afterlife, but because he is a member of the church, he also knows it may take them time as they learn the gospel, grow, and understand their own convictions. Sometimes, waiting a few generations makes that possible.

    I agree with some of the above commentators that a misunderstanding of “agency” contributes to the problem, especially in the Catholic tradition where agency is definitely NOT understood the way it is in the LDS tradition. Additionally, some Jewish records are owned by various groups, societies, and Jewish communities (such as cemeteries or synagogues) but not owned corporately the way they are in the Catholic church so we have to be careful about that.

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    “I actually think that you are being honest in your dealings with her, unlike post #46, who seemed aware of the feelings of his family and then chose not to respect it. His family members’ feelings may have changed in the afterlife, but because he is a member of the church, he also knows it may take them time as they learn the gospel, grow, and understand their own convictions. Sometimes, waiting a few generations makes that possible.”

    Bev, I appreciate what you are saying and I prayed long and hard about my decision, I can assure you. Since I know very little about the afterlife and what actually happens, I chose to do the work now rather than “wait a few generations.” First of all, I have no idea of what is happening with my family on the other side, for all I know, they might be waiting for me to do those ordinances. On the other hand, in a few generations, no one may care enough to do them. I am not willing to take that chance. My parents and family can yell at me on the other side if they wish. I’ll take that chance. As we earlier stated, we only do the ordinances, the people have to accept them or it is like they were never done.

  56. One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is that Mormon concept of exaltation is based on the concept of linking yourself into the patriarchal order via proxy ordiances. So no discussion about baptism for the dead and doing your own relatives work can be complete without understanding that a request to “not baptize me after I’m dead” is the same as asking them to not practice their honest beliefs pertaining to their own salvation.

    There are real feelings that have to be addressed on both sides and, generally speaking, we consider the living’s feelings over the deads. Just something to think about and factor in.

    Everyone has to make their own decisions, of course.

  57. Jeff’s comment brings up another point. If the dead don’t object, why should the living? It is the feelings of the living we are placating, just as a funeral is for the survivors and not the dead. They are feeling a sense of loss of some sort through a misunderstanding of the action. But I take it from their silence that the dead do not object, even if they did in life.

  58. Tatiana, fwiw, your mother’s demand is no more reasonable than your desire. If she had demanded you not do HER work only, that’s reasonable; to make the demand to not do OTHERS’ work (when BOTH of you are related to them) makes her desires more important than yours. It is a simple case of unrighteous dominion.

    Telling someone unrelated to leave one’s family alone is one thing; telling another family member to leave the family alone is quite another. If I was in your shoes, I would honor her personal request (since I do believe in honoring our fathers and mothers), but I would ignore her demands regarding others (except, perhaps, your father – IF you joined the church after he died and he had no chance to express his own wishes).

    I’m just callous that way.

  59. Steve is right on. Too many Mormons are blaming Jewish groups on this, when the core of the problem is members of the Church who wilfully disobey the Church’s directives.

    This is a classic “Ark steadying” problem, where members think that doing (what in their mind is) “the right thing” is more important than following the direction of the leadership. It’s not, and the Church has spoken repeatedly and clearly on this, and the misguided ark-steadyers need to stop submitting names of Jews and celebrities and get to work on their own genealogies (and worse yet, I suspect some have lied about family connections to the names submitted.) They have done serious damage to the Church’s reputation and may hurt its ability to continue the genealogy work.

    On the Church’s side, more care in filtering the extraction lists would help; a simple check to see if records are coming from a synagogue or other known Jewish source. But as has been pointed out, filtering names based only on the name structure is impractical; I think there is a reasonable compromise that can be found on filtering extractions.

  60. I really love irony 2! Their outcry almost lends credibility to the whole practice. It must be a total headache for the leadership of the Church to try and get millions of people to act the way that the Church would like them to. Some of the people may have good intentions, but the reality is that there is plenty to do without going after forbidden groups of people.

  61. #40 Hawkgrrrl’s comment about how a Catholic hospital in 1961 insisted a new baby be baptized before leaving the hospital intrigued me. Hawkgrrrl’s mom certainly had a good attitude about it, but I’d think most people would find it offensive (despite the fact that if the Catholics are wrong, it has no effect). Am I wrong? If it is offensive, why?

  62. Anna G. – I’m with my mom on this in that I don’t think it’s offensive. Maybe a little high-handed . . .

    But if someone else out there would find it offensive, that would be interesting to hear about.

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  64. #68 – I have never heard of a Mormon being offended by this… BUT I did hear once of a Mormon being offended by her parent-in-laws (and husband to a lesser degree) insistence of baptizing her children to be raised Mormon so that they won’t go to hell. Apparently it turned into a huge thing.

    Interestingly, she told me, point blank, she made the wrong decision to not baptize them Catholic. As she put it at that point in time (post the baptism of her husband) “well, if it doesn’t mean anything to me, then why not just do it for my parent’s in-laws sake? The baptism that really matters to me is the one by authority at age 8.”

    It was too bad she didn’t realize that back then. A family incident could have been avoided.

    Please note, this is not really the same as baptism for the dead. I can see how a Mormon woman might be worried her children will grow up with some Catholic identity and how she might be against that.

  65. Put yourself in their shoes. What if another church decided to baptize their dead Mormon relatives into another church? You may all say “oh it wouldn’t matter” but I know there would be an uproar in the Mormon community.

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    “but I know there would be an uproar in the Mormon community.”

    And you know this why? I think you might have missed the point.

  67. “And you know this why? I think you might have missed the point.”

    Considering how upset LDS people might get when they hear their church referred to as a “satanically inspired polytheistic pornographic pagan cult” (I heard this at the Central Lutheran Church in Tacoma, Wa. a number of years ago) I expect uproar is a fair term if someone wanted to make their dear departeds Methodists, RCs or whatever.

  68. The point, Jeff, is that when you tell someone that their deepest help spiritual beliefs and hopes are wrong, that their spiritual leaders have no authority to affect salvation for their them and that you have decided to take it upon yourself to fix it, never mind that you are a church that’s seen as non Christian and a cult to boot, well people see that as condescending and insulting.

  69. Is part of the problem different understandings of the word “baptism”? I think that in the common understanding of many Christians (and Jews with experience in Christian cultures), baptism has a certain meaning: you baptize someone in a particular faith, and that baptism makes them a member of that faith. Certainly in the common Catholic understanding (whatever the intricacies of Catholic doctrine on the subject might be), as soon as a baby is baptized, he’s Catholic.

    That’s not really what’s happening in LDS baptism for the dead, of course. But I’m not sure it’s realistic to expect most people to make that distinction when the LDS church is using the same word they are already familiar with and think they already know the meaning of. Peoples’ understandable belief is going to be that the LDS church is, at least in the LDS church’s own view, making their dead relatives into Mormons.

    I doubt that most people would have nearly as big a problem with the temple work for the dead if it were simply described as temple work for the dead or ordinances for the dead, instead of “baptism.”

    This might explain why, in Japan or other countries that are not predominantly Christian and do not attach a strong meaning to the term “baptism,” there’s not such a strong reaction.

    I’m not sure if this is quite the right way to look at it, but I’m trying to find something other than an explanation that Catholics and Jews are silly, irrational, fail to understand the concept of agency, etc. That attitude seems neither charitable nor helpful. (Full disclosure: I’m Catholic and have no particular problem with baptism for the dead.)

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    GB,

    “Considering how upset LDS people might get when they hear their church referred to as a “satanically inspired polytheistic pornographic pagan cult” (I heard this at the Central Lutheran Church in Tacoma, Wa. a number of years ago) I expect uproar is a fair term if someone wanted to make their dear departeds Methodists, RCs or whatever.”

    First of all, the point that S made is one of those strawmen I spoke of earlier. It isn’t true so how I would feel is a non-issue. Second, these churches have been calling Mormons, non-Christians, cult-members, going to hell, etc. for years now, and we have learned to ignore it and not get too bent out of shape. third, you apparently miss the entire point of my post which is:

    They willing use our resources which has been set up solely for the purpose of vicarious work for the dead, they call it a false doctrine, explain it away and STILL they complain when we are only doing what we’ve said all along.

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    Anna G,

    It is the ordinance of Baptism, we cannot escape that fact. However, we recognize the fact that everyone has the right to choice to be a member of Our church, even if they have departed this earthly life. So that ordinance is only effective if the departed person accepts it. Don’t ask me how that all works, because we really don’t know that. Think about the Catholic Baptism, it is done when a child is an infant, completely unaware of it. The Catholic Church accepts them as Catholic, but if they are raised in a different religion, say Islam, would that person consider themselves Catholic, even with a Catholic baptism? I think not.

  72. “And you know this why? I think you might have missed the point.”

    Okay maybe I’m wrong, this is the main point I’ve been seeing in the original post and in the comments is “why do they care, if they don’t believe in baptisms for the dead, it shouldn’t matter.”

    This is my point. People in other churches get mad, because like us Mormons, their religion is their identity. So I was trying to get everyone to think outside of the box and put themselves in the perspective of the people in the other churches. What IF the Jewish church decided to start baptizing all of our pioneers that gave up their lives a trekked through the United States to get to Zion? You can’t tell me that you don’t think there would be any uproar in the Mormon community. Those pioneers gave sacrificed so much on the behalf of the church and someone is going to make them Jewish? Never mind the fact that we don’t believe in Jewish baptism for the dead, don’t you see if as a sign of disrespect for those that gave their lives up for the church? This is the way people see us baptizing those that died in the Holocaust. The church has asked members of the church to stop and they need to stop.

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    S,

    “What IF the Jewish church decided to start baptizing all of our pioneers that gave up their lives a trekked through the United States to get to Zion?”

    But, they don’t, so I can’t answer this.

    “This is the way people see us baptizing those that died in the Holocaust.”

    Look I understand this completely. I am Jewish and some of my family died in the Holocaust. So, yes, I am sensitive about this and I stated it in my post. And, yes, I agree and stated that the church AND its members need to live up to the agreement they made.

  74. S, I think there is a “calming influence”, if you will, for a religion like Mormonism that already believes in vicarious work for the dead if another religion started doing vicarious work for OUR dead. It wouldn’t faze me in the slightest, since I still would believe that my ancestors would have a choice – that they could reject the other vicarious work and accept mine.

    I really don’t think it would “cause an uproar” in the Mormon community – specifically because I think most Mormons would shrug their shoulders and assume their ancestors would reject the work, anyway – so they wouldn’t get bent out of shape over it. Without an existing belief in vicarious ordinances, it might be different, but with that belief . . . I just don’t see an uproar happening.

  75. I think what it comes down to is that you’re telling people who complain to stop whining about it. If that’s the point of your post then good luck. If as you’ve said on many occasions in the past that I’ve missed the point, maybe you need to be more clear.

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    “I think what it comes down to is that you’re telling people who complain to stop whining about it’

    That is one of the points, but certainly not the main one. I guess I wasn’t clear, sorry. I’ll try harder next time

  77. For the record, I don’t object to overlap baptisms or rites of other churches. I tend to think they’re all being sincere and wanting to do the best they know how for the people involved.

    My particular faith path took me through Catholicism as a child, to Atheism as an adult, through intellectual engagement with several Eastern religions, and on to non-specific Christianity worshiping at a Pentecostal church, finally to Mormonism which I feel is permanent for me. No doubt my understanding will continue to increase, but I don’t anticipate it ever taking me outside the church. So I’ve been baptized by sprinkling as an infant, and again before my first Communion as a Catholic, then by immersion as a non-specific Christian, then by immersion again as a Latter-day Saint. Then multiple times by proxy for others. I happen to like being baptized, and don’t see any harm in other faiths. We’re all just doing our best to do the right thing. I feel lucky for what I’ve found. If dozens or hundreds of other religions want to do proxy sacraments and ordinances for me, I’d feel touched and grateful, just as I appreciate the prayers of anyone who feels prompted to pray for me, no matter to whom they do their praying.

    So I don’t feel the same feelings that my mother feels about proxy baptisms for her or her ancestors. But I respect hers. She honestly doesn’t know better and many things hurt her a lot. So I’m trying my best not to hurt her more.

    I agree, Ray, that she can’t necessarily speak for everyone before her, or even for my dad, though he was alive when I joined and agreed with her that it was a crazy cult and I had taken leave of my senses. It just feels like the right thing for me to do to wait until she is reconciled. Maybe because it will bring us both more joy to do it that way. I just know that I can afford to be patient with her because I have the gospel and it gives me strength, peace, and patience that she doesn’t have access to.

  78. “She honestly doesn’t know better and many things hurt her a lot. So I’m trying my best not to hurt her more.”

    Tatiana, I really respect that.

  79. It wouldn’t bother me either, but I just have seen Mormons get upset over the littlest things and that is the basis of my opinion. I guess we won’t really know if or when it happens.

  80. I never heard that the Jews were afraid their ancestors would be identified as Mormons. I heard that they felt it was disrespectful of the religion of those who had died in the Holocaust for Mormons who were NOT their descendants to have them baptized by proxy. I agree with them. The Church also agrees and asks members not to submit names of non-ancestors. People just keep doing it anyway.

    As for the Catholics, the decision of the Vatican hurts catholic genealogists the most. Their answer was that to keep their records from the public my hamper genealogists, but making them public facilitates heresy (baptisms for the dead), which they as a church are forbidden to do. I think it is a bad decision, but I can see the logic from within their system.

    Before we get on our high horse, we might ask ourselves why it seems to bother Mormons so much that non-Mormon gay people want to marry each other. We don’t have to believe their marriage is valid, so why do we stick our noses in?

  81. The Church also agrees and asks members not to submit names of non-ancestors. People just keep doing it anyway.

    Which the critics know. The Church is not a mammothly tightly organized group, just a lot of people strung together, muddling through.

    Catholics have masses for the dead, which I don’t object to, but I don’t see much of the difference either.

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    “Before we get on our high horse, we might ask ourselves why it seems to bother Mormons so much that non-Mormon gay people want to marry each other. We don’t have to believe their marriage is valid, so why do we stick our noses in?”

    I hope nobody gets sucked into this off-topic question.

  83. Praying for those who have passed on does not forcibly put on record forever, that they were baptized in the Mormon church. Baptizing people into the Mormon church or “giving them a choice to believe in Mormonism after death” when they’ve all ready made a choice in life, is an insult to others because you’re ASSUMING either they didn’t understand your doctrines *or had they understood, they would have surely converted* or that they don’t realize they made the wrong choice so you are giving them a choice AGAIN. It comes across as very arrogant and condescending. I’m a Seventh-Day Adventist and have chosen to be due to intense study and prayer and yes, I have talked with Mormon missionaries extensively and open mindedly and read the literature and have DECIDED and CHOSEN with the mind that the Good Lord gave me, that according to God’s word, mormonism does not follow the word of God. The word of God says there is no longer a choice after death: Ezekiel 18:20, Luke 16:19-31 http://bible-truth.org/baptism.htm
    So why would I need another choice to go against God’s word in the after life . People get very offended when they aren’t given the courtesy of being asked wether they want to be put on the records as Mormon or not, at the very least, you could ask their close relatives if they mind or not.

  84. I agree, it is an insult to those that have made their decision in life.  I want to know how I can be put on record with the mormon church as having rejected their doctrine so as not to ever be baptized into the religion after death.

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