Did we mention that Mormons like to baptize dead Jews in order to “save” them? That shouldn’t be a problem in Florida, should it?

Put this on the list of things I never knew about Mormons;  And now that I do, I feel more comfortable about that Jeopardy show application…. Apparently Mormons like to baptize dead people.  Go figure.  But then again, I’m not Jewish.

Florida – Mitt Romney’s problem with evangelical Christian voters has been well documented.  But as the Republican presidential nomination fight heats up in Florida, a Mormon rite that leaves many Jews seething could prove awkward for the candidate in a state that’s home to more Jewish people than any other besides New York and California.

The religious rite is proxy baptism for the dead. According to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormon Church, these posthumous “blessings” are intended to “save” ancestors and others who weren’t baptized in life or were baptized “without proper authority.”

Any Mormon may baptize any person posthumously. Church members have performed the ritual on Buddha, Catholic popes, 9/11 hijackers, William Shakespeare, Joan of Arc, Elvis Presley, President Obama’s mother and even reportedly Jesus Christ. In 2002, the managing director of the Mormon’s family and church history department told The New Yorker magazine that as many as 200 million dead people had been baptized as Mormons.

The names of most were listed in microfilm records at the church’s Family History Library in Salt Lake City and in 4,500 branch research centers. The Mormon Church has spent millions of dollars microfilming, indexing and cataloging vital records from everywhere to enable its mission. Its genealogical treasure trove of 2 billion documents, open to anyone with the patience to troll through it, is the largest in the world.

In 1994, an Israeli genealogist researching her family in the Mormons’ computerized International Genealogical Index made a startling discovery. Her grandfather, a religiously observant Jew killed in the Holocaust, had been posthumously baptized as a Mormon. Distraught, she alerted other Jewish genealogists who soon learned that some 380,000 Holocaust victims, including Anne Frank, had been baptized. Plus, Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism, David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, and scientist Albert Einstein had received this treatment.

Negotiations between Mormon and Jewish leaders led to an agreement in 1995 to stop the posthumous baptism of all Jews, not just Holocaust victims, except in the case of direct ancestors of Mormons.

The church insists the deceased have “the right to choose” whether to accept Jesus Christ as their savior. But that hardly satisfied an outraged Jewish community. To them, the baptisms disparaged ancestors who were forced into ghettos, tortured in inquisitions, expelled from countries or murdered in pogroms and the Holocaust just because they were Jews.

“Baptizing is a very dirty word to many Jews,” said Gary Mokotoff, a prominent Jewish genealogist who contacted church elders soon after the Israeli genealogist’s discovery. “It reminds us of the persecution Jews had in the past where churches told Jews they had a choice: either convert to Christianity or be murdered.”

“They tried to do something very difficult for Mormons to do, which was to stop the whole process of conversion,” said Abraham Foxman, who lost 14 relatives in the Holocaust. As national director of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, Foxman took part in the negotiations.

Still, Mokotoff told The Huffington Post, “overzealous Mormons” continued baptizing dead Jewish martyrs.

Renewed public outrage prompted more talks with Mormon leaders, who in 2010 agreed to a new, supposedly more ironclad pact that included changes to prevent inappropriate submissions of baptisms to the computer database records of Holocaust victims — although not of all Jews. But Helen Radkey, an ex-Mormon whose research uncovered the continuation of Jewish baptisms that led to the second agreement, recently told Salt Lake City Weekly that violations of the pact continue.

Posthumous baptisms are among the practices that have made some voters squeamish about the prospect of a Mormon president.

In 2007, when Romney made his first run for the Republican nomination, NECN in Hartford, Conn., asked him about baptizing the dead. He said he is “not a cafeteria Mormon” and adheres to all tenets of his faith. But Romney, a former bishop and top church official in Boston, referred specific questions to religious leaders.

When Newsweek magazine asked Romney if he personally had performed posthumous baptisms on anyone, author Jonathan Darman wrote, “he looked slightly startled and answered, ‘I have in my life, but I haven’t recently.’ The awareness of how odd this will sound to many Americans is what makes Romney hesitant to elaborate on the Mormon question.”

There was no mention, and it is not known, whether the people that Romney personally baptized were Jewish.

Requests for comment by Romney campaign and the Mormon Church were not answered.

As a religious minority, Jews have been “somewhat more likely than Americans as a whole to say that a presidential candidate’s Mormon affiliation wouldn’t make them less likely to support that candidate,” said Kenneth Wald, a University of Florida political scientist who studies religion and elections. But, Wald added, other than the small minority of Orthodox Jews who lean Republican, most American Jews have “some concerns about what they perceive as the theopolitical nature of Mormonism.”  A recent Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life report stated, “Mormons are more conservative than the general public on a variety of political, social and moral issues.”

Wald, whose grandparents died in the Holocaust, said, “Jews are understandably angered when another religious faith denies the legitimacy of Judaism by attempting conversion — and that is precisely what these retroactive baptisms do.”

Mokotoff, the genealogist who credits the Mormon database for helping him trace his ancestors back to a small Polish village in 1727,  said the controversy should be kept separate from the 2012 election. “Romney should be judged on his political views and political past,” he said, “and not on the views of the president of his church.”

But if Romney’s rivals want to use the issue of proxy baptisms against him, they will do it “quietly under the radar lest Jews find themselves portrayed as intolerant toward a religious minority,” Wald said.

Foxman doubts the issue will affect the outcome, “but everything is fair in politics so somebody’s going to use it.”  (article)

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50 Responses to Did we mention that Mormons like to baptize dead Jews in order to “save” them? That shouldn’t be a problem in Florida, should it?

  1. stellap says:

    I think this is the idea behind the Mormon Church researching ancestry. They believe they can go back to your dead ancestors and save them posthumously.

    Like

    • LOL
      Sellap you are too funny sometimes but you may have a valid point. Most Mormons do not even understand what they believe in. What the symbols stand for or what the intention of the church is in the world.

      Like

    • Aussie says:

      what Stella says is correct. That is exactly why they do the historical research into ancestry. What they really want to do is do their version of baptism on the dead. It is just as well that the whole process is meaningless.

      Like

  2. frenchreader says:

    I did not know about the jewish reaction.
    As a matter of fact, it is well known in France among people interested in genealogy that the best info, when someone is looking for ancestors, is available at a mormon info center. They have one in the Paris area. The mormons have visited all townhalls in France and put on microfilms the registers of each city/village townhall where people have recorded the births and deaths during the past centuries. The most common attitude is not to care much because people were usually baptized. People see them as weirdos from America.

    Like

    • stellap says:

      I’m a member of ancestry.com, which is the best centralized source for genealogical information. Saves lots of time when researching your family tree.

      Like

      • Aussie says:

        the problem is that sometimes people feed them incorrect information. I came across something in the family tree that actually showed that someone gave them false information relating to my family. It is a long time since I did the research. It was on my mother’s side of the family where the information was incorrect. I had done the tracing, but someone else in the USA did the same thing on the same people with some different results. That person was wrong.

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    • Aussie says:

      French Reader,

      I know for a fact that their genealogy information is not that great. I know because someone entered information relating to some ancestors of mine and the information is not correct!!

      Like

      • stellap says:

        You can’t rely on what other members enter, but they do have a great documents collection, which you can see and save to your own files. I actually volunteered to do data entry for them for a while. I was working on USA immigration records from the early 1900’s. They have every record reviewed by at least two people before they confirm the information in their database.

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        • stellap says:

          To be clearer, what you do is view the actual hand-written record, then enter the data that you see into a database record. They are often very difficult to read and, of course, there could have (and were) mistakes made by the person who originally wrote the record.

          Like

  3. barnslayer says:

    The Protestant requirement is that baptism is a voluntary conscious decision. To baptize the dead would be irrelevant.

    Like

    • frenchreader says:

      Right. For the Protestants, baptism does not take place before the person reaches 16 yo.

      In France, the majority was catholic. All babies were baptized in the village church and there was always someone from the church nearby at a burial (except in the Revolution years of course).

      Furthermore, the mormons can easily plan to keep on copying the townhall (and the church)registers because nowadays, average catholic people never go to church, don’t marry in the church anymore, but still they have their babies baptized and the dead buried with the prayers of a catholic priest.

      Like

      • Zauber says:

        Little know upside to the LDS’s mania for copying vital records is that they copied many birth/marriage/death in Europe before WW II and European government agencies have come to the LDS archives to retrieve copies of those records, many of which were destroyed during WW II.

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    • tnwahm says:

      Exactly. Baptism is a voluntary sign of the belief that Jesus is your Savior and that you identify with him. Baptism doesn’t save you. While Mormons have many strange beliefs, the fact that Mittens is a Mormon doesn’t even register on my barometer for whether I support him or not for POTUS.

      Like

    • “let the dead babtize the dead” Kind of like Bo saving US from recession.

      Like

    • Aussie says:

      Ha, from the Catholic point of view, to baptize the dead would be irrelevant!!

      In our case it is the godparents and parents who do the consenting. This is why we have confirmation – it confirms our baptism when we are old enough to assent!!

      Like

  4. Zauber says:

    (A) If you are at room temperature – what’s the difference?
    (B) I heavily doubt that God takes meatloaf recipe suggestions from the LDS hierarchy nevermind directions on who should be folded into whose version of the afterlife. They can baptize, seal or coat with fine chocolate glaze, anyone they want – what’s the difference? My personal take over the years has been they can dunk, in my name, one of my extended relatives in the ranks of the LDS church to their heart’s content but they don’t have the final say.

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  5. barnslayer says:

    This can be interpreted as converting someone against their will. I know of only one other group that does that.

    Like

    • Zauber says:

      I think that being dead negates the concept of ‘will’, free or otherwise. As part of the Green Machine I comverted some Communists and Islamics against their wills, much like a misisonary but more permanat in their status and beliefs.

      Like

  6. Tom Moeller says:

    Baptism is a desire from faith not a show of faith.
    Jesus instructs his Apostles to go and BAPTIZE and teach ALL NATIONS (never saying “adults only.”). And Peter in Acts 2:38-39 says, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    A Christian baptism is in the name of The Father, and of The Son, and of The Holy Spirit. Mormons do not worship God of the Bible (once man, attained godhood by his works) so their “baptisms” cannot save.

    Like

  7. Coyote says:

    I’m having one of those days where, no matter how hard you try, no matter how many times you read an article, absolutely nothing makes ANY sense.

    Today, this article. This topic. These threads. No sense. Nothing personal ya’ll.
    Maybe I’m having a stroke or something, because nothing makes any sense today.

    It’s lunchtime. I’m going to go eat lunch on the banks of the Rio Grande. I’ll talk to God out there.
    That makes sense to me today.
    Yeah. I’m not having a stroke. The world has gone nuts. Not me.

    Like

  8. Tom Moeller says:

    Better phrasing: Mormons worship a god who was once a man and through good works attained god status. This is applied to Jesus as well and is the goal of male Mormons.

    Salvation is through Jesus Christ ONLY. So … Mormons are splashing about to no effect.

    Like

    • I’ve read the book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price, which are supposed to be offered by G_d to augment the Bible as a latter day testament. In other words, G_d messed up and had to offer us the rest of this stuff as a great cosmic re-do. Read them, and you’ll stand amazed and incredulous at some of the stuff in these works.

      Also, if you can find a pre-1900 Book of Mormon, it will be worth a lot of money. Why? Well, the Book of Mormon has changed significantly since old Joe’s Version 1.0. All the parts about killing non-Mormons, plural marriage and supremacy of white folks has been removed. Of course, you know that the head of the Mormon church is appointed by G_d to act as the Christ-like figure on earth. When G_d decides to change something, he “reveals” it to the church leadership and they amend the Book of Mormon.

      However, find a Mormon on unemployment, food stamps or other public assistance, and it will be most likely someone who left the church. In other words, for all their weirdness, there’s a lot of good.

      Personally, I’d prefer almost any Mormon (except Harry Reid) to be president over that golf-playing narcissistic idiot we have in there now.

      Like

  9. Tom Moeller says:

    Banks of the Rio Grande! Enjoy your lunch in peace and joy!
    It may not make sense now but it will when it does because you will be much more like you are then than when you weren’t so much before. (hee hee)

    Like

  10. F.D.R. in Hell says:

    Since the dead are permitted to vote, why not get baptized…or even married?

    Like

  11. Sharon says:

    SD, hope you’re prepared to be called a bigot for articulating a fact. ‘cuz you know, only the left gets to point out things like that (as illustrated in your other great thread about Biden)…..

    “What Mormons believe” will keep you awake nights, so you might want to stop while you’re ahead.

    I don’t care if he worships purple rocks if he would be a conservative spokesperson and help restore These United States of America. I do care very much that he gets away with acting like Mormonism is “just another group of Christians.” It ain’t. And either he knows better and is deliberately prevaricating on that point, or he doesn’t know better and is that easily led.

    And that’s all I’m gonna say about that. Got my head handed to me over at TSWSNBN once for saying that much.

    Like

    • I just thought baptizing a dead person was, well, more than a little silly. If that makes me a bigot, then so be it.

      It takes a soul to find Jesus.

      Like

      • Tom Moeller says:

        Mormonism is a works based belief system where man’s advancement to godhood is determined by the “good” works he does (do all you can. how much is that and did I really do ALL? did I hold back?) .
        When the crushing reality of the uncertainty of “enough” good works is comprehended, man (never God) will look to the world around him and “discover” new works that will be deemed “good” in the sight of his concept of god. This accounts for the addition of this necro-bapto ritual to the mortal quest to pad the works account and buy godliness.
        Man will alway quest for participation in his salvation so he can bring praise to himself by “Look what I have done” in the most pious way. Saving faith is a work of the Holy Spirit and not of works so none may boast.

        Like

  12. Aussie says:

    There are many weird things that are part of Mormon beliefs. You might want to check out the stuff about underwear. They are truly weird. Also Mormons are the true racists.

    Like

    • Tom Moeller says:

      I would not call them racist. But I would certainly challenge their world view that their neighbor is an object to use in the quest for “good works” rather than the desire of God’s love working through man.
      When your neighbor is man’s object … equality in status (fellow) is lost.
      When your neighbor is God’s desire … he is a blessing.

      Really!

      Like

  13. One of my long-dead ancestors helped the early Mormon church. I’ve discovered that he and all his descendents have been baptized into the Mormon church. As weird as Mormonism is to me, it’s certainly not as far out there as some others I know of. Nosiree, not by a long shot.

    In fact, if Joseph Smith had been born about 1950, The Mormon church would probably be real big amongst the Hollywood elites and beautiful Left Coast types.

    Like

  14. stellap says:

    Mormons are big on survivalist stuff, too. I think it is so they will survive the Last Judgement:

    http://www.shtfblog.com/latter-day-saints-mormon-preparedness-survival-manual/

    Like

    • zmalfoy says:

      I gotta say, when it comes to preparedness, Mormons really know their stuff. That manual is in hard copy in my SHTF Binder. A very good foundation manual to have. The religious stuff is only at the beginning, and is easy to ignore.

      Like

      • Tom Moeller says:

        For disasters prior to the second coming and final judgement, why would the faithful fear for their survival?

        When the King of Kings come in Glory, just what does one want to survive?
        Come Lord Jesus! (ring a bell?)

        Like

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