To Baptize for the Dead…or not?

It’s a saga that’s 16 years in the making, with the story line that goes something like this: The Jewish community is up in arms because they find out the Mormons are being baptized in proxy for deceased Holocaust victims, then the Mormons apologize before eating crow later once it’s discovered they’re still baptizing these folks. So, so they apologize and say it will never happen again. Phew.

It all began in 1994. The Mormon leaders promised to stop having their people do work for these Holocaust victims, but, somehow, the Jewish names kept getting into the main database. The last time the Jewish and LDS representatives met was in 2008. One disappointed Jewish leader, Ernie Michel, refused to participate any longer. Despite losing Michel, the leaders kept meeting and struck a deal in early September that is totally based on a new computer system, which will apparently no longer allow participants to submit names of Holocaust victims or even celebrities. (Even Adolph Hitler has had his work done in a Mormon temple!). We can only keep our fingers crossed because they’ve promised this before.

Michel, who appeared relieved that an agreement was made, said, “We are hopeful now that [Mormons] will keep their word,” he told a Jewish Week journalist, “and that this will lead to a much better relationship.” (The Salt Lake Tribune, September 2, 2010). “Keep their word”? Ouch, it sounds like Mr. Michel has some issues with Salt Lake City.

OK, so now I have some questions for the Mormon leadership. First of all, does this mean that, through no fault of their own, these six million Jewish folks who never heard the Mormon gospel will never, ever get to hear it in the next life either because of the complaints of a few who were living? Death in a concentration camp and no hope for any level of heaven…does this seem fair?

Let’s be honest. If Mormons really do believe that there is another possibility after death to accept the LDS gospel, it seems like the LDS leadership should have just told the Jewish leadership, “Too bad. If these dead spirits don’t want to allow the missionaries from Paradise through their doors, then they can hide behind the couch like every other nonMormon who happens to be living.”  Oh, and what about the celebrities whose work hasn’t been done yet? Apparently, they’re doomed as well. Sorry David Letterman and Jose Canseco.

Another question: If a Holocaust victim already had work done for him/her before 2010, does he/she get to still have the missionaries visit him/her in Spirit Prison? Or do those spirit missionaries have to return to Paradise? What a conundrum!

Still more questions: Could this rule be expunged once the millennium starts? After all, the millennium is when the temple work is supposed to be completed. Will the Mormon leaders not care about hurt feelings during this 1,000-year period of time and just do the work anyway, darn anyone who gets in the way?

Finally, is it possible for me to petition and have my name removed from the genealogical rolls? I want to get in on this deal. After all, what if I never wanted this work done in the first place? Could we expand the sign-in sheet to include those of us who want to be exempt?

I think I wouldn’t make a good God anyway, so I’m probably best left to Outer Darkness. Just ask my wife and kids.

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22 Responses to To Baptize for the Dead…or not?

  1. Hannah says:

    this is funny.

    my opinion is that if people of other religions don't believe that this practice holds any significance or really "works", then I don't see why they would oppose it. yeah, i guess it feels funny to have someone performing a religions ceremony in your name, but if you have your own beliefs of salvation and heaven, shouldn't their practice just be meaningless to you?

    i had someone who asked me if she could be baptized for a deceased friend of mine. i know this friend to have been a born-again Christian and I told her that the friend is in heaven and that what she wants to do with baptism is pointless, but she is welcome to do it if she wants to. I don't see it as covering the bases at all just in case – no way – my girl has the assurance of salvation and nothing that this mormon lady can do will add or detract from that, so baptize away if it makes you feel better!

  2. Kate says:

    I would LOVE to know if there are ways to remove my name from the genealogical rolls too.

  3. wyomingwilly says:


    Excellent thread, and you raised some great questions also. When you said that you probably
    would'nt make a good God in the hereafter, I thought that actually you would because given the
    fact that Mormonism postulates that all future Almighty Gods will be former sinful creatures
    like Brigham Young or Thomas Monson, then why not you ?


  4. caedmon says:

    On an intellectual level, I am able to dismiss proxy baptism as an ineffectual ritual that holds no meaning to those outside the LDS faith (including myself).

    However, my gut level reaction is very different. Proxy baptism is an arrogant attempt to negate the religious choices of people who can no longer speak for themselves.

    Mormons try to backpedal on their insulting practice by claiming that they are only giving the deceased a ‘choice’. However, the ritual itself makes no mention of choice. The wording is essentially the same as for a living person and the subsequent ‘confirmation’ declares the deceased is now a member of the LDS Church.

    I don’t want future generations of my family to be misled into believing that I have embraced a religious system in death that I have firmly rejected in life. So, how do I get on that exemption list?

  5. khippor says:

    My personal feeling is that I would rather my name not be put in a record for having been accepted into something that I never had any part of. Especially something like this.

  6. Rick B says:

    What I would like to know is, MILLIONS died at the hands of Hitler, I believe it was 6 million Jews alone. Then their was the homosexuals, Gypsys, People that hid the Jews, and even Germans. I have family on my moms side that were killed because we are of polish descent. My mom has showed me very graphic pictures of the death camps and bodies piled high.

    I have 2 questions to add for the Mormons to answer.

    1. with over 6 million people dead, How can you honestly expect to baptize all of them? And are you sure you have names for every one of them? Now if you miss a name does that mean that poor soul loses out on a second chance?

    So if they will not and cannot enter heaven, what makes LDS think they can baptize a dead homosexual person and they will then be able to enter heaven.

  7. 4fivesolas says:

    Think of all the wasted time, energy, and expense repeatedly dunking the same people in water in at best a meaningless, or at worst, a cultic ritual. These people could have spent time reading or listening to God's Word faithfully taught or preached, or even actually enjoyed the day at a water park or pool. Just another pointless endeavor invented by Joseph Smith.

  8. khippor says:

    I completely agree with you. I have no real problem with it, but my gut reaction feels it is wrong. I do not things done for me without my consent, dead or alive.

  9. Eric says:

    That's the point, in that if Mormonism is true, then our God was once a sinner. And knowing me as I do, I realize how impossible this would be, for my motives are selfish and my cravings are huge. I don't think Young or Monson would make good gods either. Who would want to be involved with Young's world anyway? It would be pretty scary, to say the least.

  10. f_melo says:

    Imagine they expect to baptize every single deceased person in the history of the world that didn´t have the chance to hear "the gospel" ! It´s insane. They will need more than a thousand years for that…

    "And are you sure you have names for every one of them?"

    They say the bulk of the work will happen during the millennium, and at that time angels will come down to assist them with the records. That´s very silly if you stop to think about it because the angels are going to have to provide the majority of the records. Then i wonder why the angels don´t assist them on the actual baptism, since the requirement to perform those proxy baptisms is that the person has a physical body… uhhhh, i´ll keep an eye to see if any general authority steals this idea to encourage the members when necessary….

  11. f_melo says:

    "what makes LDS think they can baptize a dead homosexual person and they will then be able to enter heaven"

    See, they can´t practice homosexual acts in the spirit-world, so they can repent and be saved in the celestial glory if they accept the temple ordinances…

    The Bible is not the final authority on those matters, everyone knows the Bible has been translated so many times and it is so full of errors that can hardly be trusted, right?

    Wrong! But that´s what they think anyway…

  12. f_melo says:

    Well, that´s what they mean when they say they are family-oriented. It´s more dead family oriented than living family oriented for sure. Otherwise the parents wouldn´t have to waste so much time in pointless meetings, or wouldn´t have to spend entire sundays training uninterested people on how to serve in their callings they hardly care about…

    The whole point of it is to keep people so busy so they don´t have the time to research their own religion…

  13. f_melo says:

    Young´s world – that would be a great title for a terror themed amusement park!

    Think about this, how appealing it is the notion that one day you could create your own worlds (my universe would have some star-wars worlds and creatures in it, and Natalie Portman as well). Create your own children and whatever creatures your imagination allows…

    It would be awesome – but there´s one thing that ruins it all, those midichlorians, er, i mean, intelligences with all their rules the gods have to abide by if they want to keep their god state…

  14. Rick b says:

    F Melo, Call me crazy, But to me the more logical way of looking at things is like this. instead of baptizing everyone for the dead and hoping they have all the names and spending years, why not just die and stand before God and have God say, here is your second chance, do you believe now? If not the good by.

  15. f_melo says:

    Sure, and that´s what the Bible says – but here is the problem, that´s revealed doctrine, it touches people´s feelings regarding their ancestors and family and they cannot remove it without hurting deeply the feelings of the most faithful mormons who actually do dedicate most of their time doing that work.

    They will work like crazy whenever the LDS church declares this millennium to be(after some major world event), and once they realize they can´t really come close to getting all the records(and getting it right), let alone baptize all those people, and they see no angels coming down from heaven to help, the leaders probably are going to tell them "you were not worthy enough, so god changed his mind"…

    It will be all a huge waste of time, and the saddest part of all will be when those people die and find out they worked very hard for nothing, and won´t receive the glory of becoming a god as they expect….

  16. wyomingwilly says:

    Well said Eric.


  17. K O'Connor says:

    Does anyone know if the deceased people being "baptised by proxy" are listed as such? Or are they listed as official members of the LDS?

  18. K. O'Connor says:

    I agree. As a Christian, I believe my name is written in the Lamb's Book Of Life. So what if somewhere down the line some mormon descendant of mine decides to be baptised in my name? It is a meaningless ritual with no power.

  19. RalphNWatts says:

    They are listed as having received the ordinances, but not listed as members in any way shape or form.

  20. Delevadova says:

    I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints, and i have a simple answer to why Baptism for the dead is a Christian belief. So the belief is that if one dies and is not baptized in this life then they can in the next life, or the spirit world, there is a great word that helps understand this true doctrine as it were, it is the word "Vicarious"

    Vicarious if you don't know what it means: Preformed or suffered by one person as a substitute for another to benefit or give advantage to that person.

    As a true believer in The Savior Jesus Christ member or non-member; we all believe that Christ died for our sins, we cannot and will not pay for our own sins, is a part of Christ's sacrifice and purpose. This act that the Savior preformed, we could not do for ourselves. So Christ preformed a Vicarious work or act for all of us. Accepting and believing the possibility of baptism for the dead has to be a Christian view because its is the base on which we believe that Christ died for us.

    As for the history of the holocaust, us becoming gods after life, those are points that are not important to Salvation, there are many mysteries in the heavens, the bible tells us so, instead of getting caught on those points focus rather on the most important teaching; that is to accept Christ in your personal life (a relationship with Christ) and be baptized in his church as a promise that you will follow Him always and help your brothers and sisters along the way. I testify that this is true because i have a relationship with the Savior and my prayers have been answered.

  21. nick_dood says:

    im glad that you have no problem with it. in the end, it turns out that the church was wrong, then the ordinance is meaningless.
    something that is very interesting though is that every single person that comes to this earth has been given the gift of freedom of choice. the same goes for the spirit world. people dont have to accept the ordinance, and it isnt forced upon them. a good example is when Jesus Christ atoned for our sins in the Garden of Getsemane, then finished his sacrifice upon the cross. He did that for every single person that has lived on the earth, that is presently on the earth, and who will lived on the earth. no where in the bible does it say what he did forces people to be christian. every one has the choice to accept Jesus Christ as his/her savior and also accept his gospel. So giving our consent or not, Jesus atoned and died for your sins, as well as mine.
    Really, if you think about it, Jesus himself did work for the dead, otherwise, how could the atonement be infinite and extend to everybody that lived before him as well to the rest of us?
    now please dont think im trying to force any beliefs on anybody. im just trying to clear a few things up

  22. Clayton says:

    "Accepting and believing the possibility of baptism for the dead has to be a Christian view because its is the base on which we believe that Christ died for us."

    I don't agree with this statement for a couple of reasons. The fact that Jesus was able to die for our sins was because he was perfect. I couldn't die for someone else because I am not a spotless sacrifice. Jesus was our propitiation, our sacrifice. He died for the salvation of all. It is our choice to make while we are alive. No where in the bible does it teach that we can intercede for someone else's sins. That's between them and God. Jesus even talks about our separation from those in Hades. Luke 16:19-31.
    In summary, Christ died for our salvation, this is our base. Secondly, baptism is what we do to show the world that we believe Jesus is Lord of our lives and we are a new creation in him. Finally, we must go to the Bible for truth and baptism for the dead is not a truth taught by Jesus or any of his disciples.

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