As the Mormon Church gears up for the opening of its new temple in Carmel, Indiana, local news sources are letting residents know what to expect once they have a Mormon temple in their region. I’m guessing that the Church put out a new press release because last Wednesday (January 14, 2015) two of these news reports showed up in my inbox. One was from Fox59 News and the other from Current in Carmel.
Both news reports included the same basic information, mostly focusing on the benefits a Mormon temple will bring to Indiana. That is, economic growth and population growth for the area; greater understanding of Mormonism among non-Mormons; and “geographic convenience” for local Mormons wishing to attend a temple.
What I found most interesting about these reports is not what they said, but what they didn’t say. Both explained that Mormon temples are used for endowment ceremonies, weddings, and “some” or “certain” baptisms. But neither mentioned the fact that most of the activities done in Mormon temples are done on behalf of the dead.
Readers would have no way of knowing this, but none of the “certain baptisms” mentioned in the news reports are for living people. The living are baptized in Mormon meetinghouses or chapels; the dead are baptized by proxy in Mormon temples.
Endowment ceremonies, weddings and sealings (not specifically mentioned in the news reports) are performed in Mormon temples for both the living and the dead. Temple-worthy Mormons will typically participate in these ceremonies one time for themselves, and then return often to do temple work as proxies for the deceased.
In 2007 PBS aired a two-part documentary titled “The Mormons.” According to the program, at that time two billion names of deceased people had been recorded and were being stored in Mormon vaults outside of Salt Lake City. Of those, Mormons had “baptized well over 100 million deceased people.” According to an article found on the Mormon Newsroom website, 400 million new historic records are being added to that database each year. And the goal of the Mormon Church is to complete the temple work (washings, anointings, baptisms, sealings, endowments and marriages) for each deceased person identified through these records. In fact, the ultimate goal is to do this temple work for every person who has ever lived. Past Mormon prophet Joseph Fielding Smith taught,
“…the work must be done in behalf of the dead of the previous 6,000 years, for all who need it. Temples will be built for this purpose, and the labor in them will occupy most of the time of the saints.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation 2:166)
That’s a lot of temple work for the dead.
So isn’t it interesting that the news reports on the new Indiana temple didn’t even mention that Mormons do work in their temples to benefit the dead?
The fact that proxy work for the dead is done in Mormon temples can be found on the MormonTemples website if one takes the time to look for it. The fact that work on behalf of the dead is the majority of what goes on in Mormon temples is nowhere stated, as far as I can see.
One leg of the three-fold mission of the LDS Church is “redeeming the dead.” A significant purpose for Mormon temples is “redeeming the dead.” The main activity engaged in within those temples is “redeeming the dead.” I find it odd that something so prominent and important — to Mormonism in general and Mormon temples in particular — would be neglected in these news reports. But I suppose it makes for better public relations as the temple open house approaches.
As one of the news reports said, “one of the exciting effects of the new building will be an open house for people outside the faith, which will provide an opportunity for local Mormons to talk about their beliefs in an impressive setting.” Perhaps an impressive setting will be enough of a distraction to keep visitors from thinking too much about *what really goes on inside Mormon temples (link below).
* Not everyone may want to watch this linked video produced by “New Name Noah.” While MRM has no official affiliation with this person, the material was produced by someone who apparently possessed a valid temple recommend and secretly filmed the ordinances inside the temple. This material is readily available on the Internet. Please view at your own discretion.