Bring Out Your Dead … To Be Baptized

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Posthumous proxy baptism is a religious practice where a living person, acting as proxy, is baptized on behalf on a dead person. It is currently practiced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church), who submit names for the ordinance. The vicarious ordinance for the deceased have included Holocaust victims, prominent Nazis, and well known Jews such as Albert Einstein.

It has been discovered that the name of Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner, had been entered into the database but not submitted for baptism. Wiesel said, “I object fervently. It’s an outrage.” Wiesel wants Romney to speak out on the subject of the baptisms. Wiesel claims he’s still alive.

Those who practice this rite view baptism as an indispensable requirement to enter the Kingdom of God and believe that baptizing the dead will satisfy this requirement. The justification for this belief comes from 1 Corinthians 15:29, though Biblical scholars question the verse’s translation and  meaning.

The outrage is that anyone would take this practice seriously. Either the practice works and the dead person enters the Kingdom of God, apparently a desirable outcome, or it doesn’t work and nothing happens. Those who object to the rite seem to be fearing the former outcome for there is no reason to object to the latter.

None of this brouhaha is about the dead.

H/T: Howard Friedman, HuffPo, Jesus and Mo.

104 thoughts on “Bring Out Your Dead … To Be Baptized”

  1. try checking with a wiccan or a pagan to see if they would consider initiating joseph smith or brigham young into their orders.

  2. “If the Mormons were right about this, they’d be doing our loved ones a favor by getting them admitted to heaven.”

    Bruce in NJ,

    To begin with Jews don’t believe in heaven, which you should know if you were raised Jewish. Heaven, as we know it, is a Christian concept. The point of the discomfort of many Jews is not about the ritual and its’ meaning. It is about using murdered Jews (from the Shoah at least) as symbols for the glorification of LDS. This is self-serving on the LDS part, just as Christianity and Islam used the ancientness of the Torah, to add gravitas to their movements. My objection isn’t about the religion, it is about fellow Jews (live or dead) being used to help a religion whose premises are antithetical to Judaism. However, I also feel the same way about their doing it for any non-Mormon, no matter their ethnicity, religion, or lack of same. People who have solid beliefs, whether religious, deist, agnostic or atheist shouldn’t be used in the service of a belief they don’t ascribe to. Please understand this though, I’m not in favor of using law, force or whatever to stop Mormons from doing this, I am in favor of calling them out on it publicly and hoping they develop some sense of shame about this practice.

  3. Bruce in Jersey,

    For cryin’ out loud Bruce … that’s fine and good for an agnostic but what about all those poor Catholics who are scraping together their pennies to have Masses said for their dead loved ones … how much more is it going to cost them to get their loved ones out of Mormon heaven and into Catholic heaven?!

    And isn’t there some sort of Mormon belief that the father of the family becomes a god … have these newly baptized dead people been assigned a family and father-god? How much is it going to cost to get them out of the family-cult?!

    This Mormon practice could cause very real emotional distress for the living.

    Sue the bastards!

  4. Caution: For Mike and everyone else that wants to make up facts and malicious allegations to suit their own perverted notions of reality, they may not want to read this statement. To wit, there has been no “lying” or dishonesty – except from Mike and his anti-truth militia.

    “It takes a good deal of deception and manipulation to get an improper submission through the safeguards we have put in place,” the statement reads. “While no system is foolproof in preventing the handful of individuals who are determined to falsify submissions, we are committed to taking action against individual abusers by suspending the submitter’s access privileges. We will also consider whether other church disciplinary actions should be taken.”

    Those “other church disciplinary actions” could ultimately include excommunication, or loss of membership in the church.”

    Will holes continue to be exploited? Sure they will. But they’re certainly not tolerated.

    1. Jack,
      One would think that if keeping their word was so important to LDS they would have discovered and announced it on their own. As for not tolerating it in the absense of evidence of a censure. this could well be empty words. As far as truthfullness goes why did the 1995 agreement have to be updated in 2010? Finally, when one talks of integrity, I’ve proven mine in life and online. The LDS and your anonymous self not so much.

  5. I can understand that living relatives of a deceased person might take offense at their departed’s being posthumously baptized, but for myself (agnostic, though raised Jewish) I have to laugh at the illogic required to muster outrage. If the Mormons were right about this, they’d be doing our loved ones a favor by getting them admitted to heaven. Personally, I would thank them for making the attempt, even though as a non-Mormon I think they’re wasting their time.

    The source of the outrage, of course, is that in performing these postmortem baptisms the Mormons are implicitly declaring that the rest of us have a false theology. So? As far as I can tell, almost every religion that’s ever been practiced on this planet believes that it alone knows the will of God (or the gods), and that everyone else is wrong. Members of their sect are going to heaven; everyone else is going to hell. The genius of religious toleration in a pluralistic society is that no one gets to punish other people for wrong belief. But that doesn’t mean the disagreements have gone away; it’s just impolite to point them out. My neighbors will not like it if I tell them outright, “I think your belief system is just plain nuts,” so I don’t. And that, in effect, is what the Mormons are saying when they “baptize” dead Jews and other non-Mormons: “Your beliefs weren’t good enough to get you into heaven; we’re going to fix that.” Sure, it’s arrogant, but it’s harmless. I can choose to laugh, and my dead ancestors are past caring.

    Lighten up, people. If you want to get ticked off at the Mormons, do it over the stuff they do that’s actually harmful to people who are alive today: in particular, the LDS Church’s political activity against gay marriage.

    1. There is a certain bizarreness to this latest Ann Frank tale. It is not only the insensitivity, it is the fanaticism inherent in their continuing to do it. It seems that they are urgently trying to create a phony historical record for future generations. Their hope it would seem is that in a future era of Mormon dominance they could create a better pedigree for themselves. If that is the case there is a sick slickness to this whole affair.

  6. The problem with something like this is that it is \insulting to those who hold their religion and take it seriously. Being an atheist, my instinct is not to feel sorry about anybody, including Jews, getting their religious beliefs insulted. Perhaps more substantially, the Mormons are insulting the families of the dead.
    An insult does not need to *affect* you to be an insult. That’s a bizarre standard to apply to insults. They can be a step down from that. Even I can see that Jews can be offended by this without sounding like babies. Of course there are limits to their reactions. But they can reasonably continue their complaints as long as this bizarre crap continues.

  7. “The problem isn’t insensitivity, but your complete dishonesty. You refuse like an obstinate toddler to actually accept facts as they are given by people that know what they’re talking about, and in its place you press complete nonsense that you have crafted in your old-warped mind for your own embittered purposes.”


    Obfuscate all you want and hurl your silly invective at me, it still will not change the truth of what I stated. I fully understand that you are defending your religious beliefs doctrinally. My point has nothing to do with your doctrine, that is your conscience, nor does it have anything to do with an attempt to limit the LDS religious liberty. It is an attack on a LDS practice that is disrespectful to my religion and certainly disrespectful of those who died in the Shoah. It is a proven case, or else the LDS would not have agreed twice to stop doing it, without any viable threat making them do so. The point is that though they have agreed on two disparate occasions, the process seems to continue and that shows bad faith no matter the excuse that mistakes happen.

  8. Jack, your argument is so full of moral and logical holes I don’t even know where to start. Awarding a medal posthumously for individual valor under fire is nowhere close to being equivalent to insulting the millions of Jews and others who died in the Shoah. False equivalence fallacy.

    The insistence on “baptizing” hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of people who do not share your religion is hubris of he highest order. People who actually find your religious practices abhorrent and diametrically opposed to yours.

    Do Mormons get the names of Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists and baptize them too. If not, why not? I am sure the millions of Muslims around the world would be thrilled to discover their ancestors are now Mormons. Not!

  9. Gene:

    “What they (we) do in our names is our business, but you make what you do our business when you drag us into it. My solution still stands as a matter of logic.”

    No it doesn’t. According to your logic, you should have a say before anyone ever discards a phone book with your name in it. That’s complete nonsense. You only have say where there is an injury. And as the OP noted with vicarious baptisms, it’s either a good result or inefficacious. That means the only harm then, is in your mind – which isn’t actionable. So get over it.

  10. Mike,

    Out of curiosity – when we as a country give a medal of valor (in name only, obviously) to a deceased soldier that happens to be Jewish without his permission, does that offend you? If not, you’re going to have a hard time justifying that with other acts of honor, done in the individual’s name after they are done that likewise have no real effect on anything. Unless of course you base your sensibilities on intolerance and bigotry. Then its easy.

  11. Gene H.

    “You want to pray for them? No objection. But you can’t baptize others, even symbolically, against their will (or permission) and not be in violation of their human rights.”

    Apart from one of the silliest hyperboles I’ve ever heard, your comment shows that you don’t understand anything you are talking about (really…are the self-proclaimed law on human rights?). Frankly, praying for people is more invasive than a vicarious baptism. In the latter, you’re not asking deity to infringe on them in any sort of way…just handing the person a ticket that they can use or toss. In other words, it’s really a step down from prayer on the scale of “involuntary intercession.” Now the problem might be that you are shoving your own ideas of what a vicarious baptism should be, or what it should stand for. But don’t let the facts get in the way of your tirade.

    “Intent is irrelevant. You do offend. If you don’t like people taking offense? Stop it.”

    Frankly, offense is something that’s taken – not given. So a better line than “Stop it” is “Get over it.” Seriously, if you get offended over something done with good intent and that has absolutely no effect, at what age will you see that you need to grow up and move on? Remember what your mother said – if you ignore it, it can’t hurt you. But in the meantime, watch out for the Boogey men. They might get you. And worse yet, they might offend you.

    P.S. Your life must be awful, and I am sorry. It can’t be easy for people raised to stomp at every phantom offense, or taught to harbor some insatiable need to blame the world for every little mental inconvenience. Pity.


    The problem isn’t insensitivity, but your complete dishonesty. You refuse like an obstinate toddler to actually accept facts as they are given by people that know what they’re talking about, and in its place you press complete nonsense that you have crafted in your old-warped mind for your own embittered purposes. I have corrected your “facts” time and time again, and you stubbornly refuse to realize that the premise of your notions are fundamentally incorrect. A further mark of this is this allegation of a “lie.” What part of the real story do you actually understand? Even though the church has no obligation to do so, it said it would change the policy and it did. It made the concerted effort to stop (how many breaches in how many years?) but someone went against the policy which they have condemned, and you have the gall to pass judgment on mens rea? Really? The notion that the Mormons’ desire to “help” people (and force them to do nothing in the process) can tenably offend you is a blatant contrast to your malicious and poisoned vitriol that you cancerously nurture just so you can perpetuate your ignorant craze through a fantasy of facts. You may point fingers of offense, but what you are doing is outright evil.

    And if you want to boycott Mormon stuff, start with you TV. Genius.

  12. That neither Jack nor Fuller understand the offence just indicates to me their lack of sensitivity. Mock me all you will though Jack it only proves how insensitive. to others you are. As for you Fuller, your bland smugness of attitude only exemplifies LDS insensitivity. As for life beyond death it is not a tenet of mainstream Jewish belief. One can follow a moral path quite easily w/o the threat of misery beyond death. The point is that the Shoah killed innocents and the LDS uses their names dishonorably. They agreed to stop the practice on two occasions and lied both times. That fact says little for LDS integrity.

Comments are closed.