John Turner: Mormons and Baptism by Proxy

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What do George Washington, Albert Einstein and Stanley Ann Durham (Barack Obama's mother) have in common? Mormons have baptized each of them by proxy, performing a temple rite they believe gives human beings a posthumous opportunity to obtain salvation.

Researchers recently discovered that Mormons had similarly baptized the parents of famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, whose mother died in a Nazi extermination camp in 1942. And one Mormon recently proposed for proxy baptism the still-living Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel.

This esoteric practice doesn't always provoke complaints—President Obama refused to comment on his mother's case, for instance—but it has strained Mormon-Jewish relations over the past two decades.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaismMormons* TheologyEschatologySacramental TheologyBaptism

Posted February 24, 2012 at 12:05 pm

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1. Ad Orientem wrote:

Necromantic witchcraft.

February 24, 5:36 pm | [comment link]
2. Christopher Johnson wrote:

If someone did it to a member of my family, I would’nt be angry since the whole rite is ludicrously meaningless nonsense.

February 24, 7:00 pm | [comment link]
3. Frank Fuller wrote:

OK, just for the sake of fairness, what exactly do you guys say I Corinthians 15:29a means?  Was Paul a necromantic witch/wizard?  Even the wildest feminists ever alleged that about him…

Personally I’m just glad they are so gung ho about genealogy—it sure makes finding your own ancestry a lot easier.  And if you don’t think that’s not Anglican, go read Burke’s Peerage…

February 24, 8:02 pm | [comment link]
4. NoVA Scout wrote:

It strikes me to be, at worst, harmless.  Even under Mormon teachings, the recipient of the proxy baptism has free will to decline the invitation.  I don’t understand it and find it very odd, but, as FF notes, the geneology resources their beliefs create are immensely interesting and useful.

February 25, 12:03 am | [comment link]
5. ORNurseDude wrote:

I think Frank Fuller (#3), raises a good point, vis-a-vis I Corinthians 15:29, which has stumped me since I first encountered it nearly 12 years ago. I have absolutely know idea what to make of that passage.
On a similar vein and only slightly off-topic, I’ve been reading a number of books re: September 11th, most documenting first-person accounts of the victims and first responders. In the book I am currently reading, a Catholic priest recounts arriving at a fire station near Ground Zero prior to the towers collapsing. Upon his arrival, he his first opportunity to see the multitude of people jumping from the buildings, and in response, he “granted them all a general absolution.”
For me, the obvious first question was “did that actually do anything for the jumpers?”
Secondly, were the words pronounced by the priest in granting “general absolution” required in order for it to be efficacious?
Third, what about all the people who jumped prior to his granting general absolution? And the ones who jumped afterwards? Is the granting of absolution predicated on a priest being at the right place at the right time? 
Serious questions here, folks…

February 25, 12:24 am | [comment link]
6. Brian from T19 wrote:

If you want to see some critical exegesis on the subject, this isn’t bad:

The view that has been expressed by all the Instruments of Communion in recent years is that <u>interventions are not to be sanctioned</u>. - Archbishop Rowan Williams

February 25, 1:26 pm | [comment link]
7. Adam 12 wrote:

This controversy has, I think, a Christian component as well. I remember a Jewish friend objecting because my wife had sent a Mass card for his deceased father. While I certainly would not repeat that action with that friend again, I think there is some legitimacy to the overlap of religions on unbelievers so long as it is not being done as a provocation or when the indirect recipient’s feelings are known and violated.

February 26, 9:11 pm | [comment link]

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