Mormon Church’s Prior Baptism Of Dead Jews Could Raise Concerns For Florida Voters
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.