One of the more interesting teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The Bible states that you must be baptized to enter the Gates of Heaven. What about all the people who don't get baptized into the Mormon Church though? We really don't want them being sent to Hell. So to resolve this problem it was decided that we need to baptize everyone who has died by proxy.

There is very little support of this practice in the scriptures. In fact, the only verse I've ever been pointed to is 1 Cor. 15:29. Here's the text from the King Jame's Bible:

"Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?"
In this chapter Paul is, among other things, clarifying that Christ taught that people would be resurrected. So this verse can be interpreted to say something like, "Why do we go around baptizing people for the dead if the dead aren't even going to rise anyway?" Surprisingly, there is no mention of baptism for the dead in the Book of Mormon. I'm not sure if any ancient Christian sects practiced Baptism for the Dead or if any modern ones do.

In the LDS Church Baptism for the Dead must be performed in a Temple. Every Mormon Temple has a special baptismal font sitting on the back of 12 usually life-size oxen. Since baptisms are performed almost constantly, the water is kept at a very comfortable temperature. It's also a deeper font than most found in local Churches. The person doing the baptism must have the Melchizedek Priesthood, and therefore be male and above 18 or so. The person being baptized needs to be above 12, I think. I'm pretty sure it's necessary to be the same gender as the person the ordinance is being performed for. Either way, it's always done this way. Since this takes place in a temple, both participants must have acquired a Temple Recommend. There are many qualifications for the person the baptism is being done for. Of course, the person must be dead. Some sort of genealogy needs to be worked out for the person too. I can't remember all the info needed, but this is the reason for the Church's heavy involvement in genealogy.

The actual ordinance is pretty simple. The two people get into position to do a baptism by immersion. A short prayer is said. Something like, "(Living Person's Name), I baptize you for and in behalf of (Dead Person's Name) who is dead, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, Amen." Dunk. If you're doing baptisms based on a list of names the temple has on record you can get dunked up to 50 times in one session.

Since you only have to be 12, and either gender, to participate, it provides a great opportunity to get young adults introduced to the temple. One of the things the Utah Saints miss out on is the long distance Temple Trip to go do this.

In addition to baptism for the dead, there are several other ordinances (which the living take part in once for themselves during their lives) that are also done in proxy for each name. In fact, most of the activity in a Mormon Temple is performing cerimonies for the dead.

Make sure to /msg me if there is anything you'd like me to clarify.

Like a lot of faiths, Mormonism is all about redemption. Its members are encouraged to spread the gospel to as many people as possible, so as to help the ignorant achieve eternal happiness. Also typical for monotheistic religions, it teaches that souls stick around after their physical containers end, remaining discrete and fully conscious on a transcendental plane. Where these two tenets cross, things get theologically sticky, and sometimes quite absurd.

Mormons are exhorted to posthumously baptise ancestors who never got the chance to convert; their doctrine states that the dead souls may accept or reject this baptism freely, so nothing is actually thrust upon them. Joseph Smith even suggested that those who did not participate in the ritual were acting "at the peril of their own salvation". The details of the ceremony itself are excellently noded above.

The problem here is enthusiasm. Eager to bring the Kingdom of God to the Kingdom of the Dead, many overzealous Mormons have posthumously converted people who definitely aren't their relatives. Adolf Hitler, Sigmund Freud, Josef Stalin, Albert Einstein and Elvis Presley have all had a turn. Hundreds of thousands of random corpses have become Mormon in the eyes of God.

This became a public issue in 1993, when the Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies became aware that the Mormons had posthumously baptised 380,000 Holocaust victims, including Anne Frank and 12 of her relatives. Since a 1995 agreement, the Church has reluctantly removed hundreds of thousands of names from its baptismal records. Recently it has been forced to delete several hundred notable Jews, such as the aforementioned Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud.

A lot of people have been riled by this, and understandably. By allowing these practices, the Church has been implicitly suggesting that every dead soul would be better off Mormon -- this is arrogant and condescending, not to mention that it devalues the beliefs of the living.

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