An incredible story just hit the wires involving Mormons and their 'baptism for the dead' rituals via the LA Times
The Mormon Church apologized Tuesday for a "serious breach of protocol" after it was discovered that the parents of the late Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal were posthumously baptized as Mormons. The church also acknowledged that one of its members tried to baptize posthumously three relatives of Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.
The efforts, at least in Wiesenthal's case, violated the terms of an agreement that the church signed in 1995, in which it agreed to stop baptizing Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Wiesenthal and Wiesel gained fame for careers spent grappling with the legacy of the Holocaust, Wiesenthal by hunting down war criminals, Wiesel by writing books that became part of the canon of 20th century literature.
Coming at a time when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is in the public eye as perhaps never before, the revelations could prove embarrassing — and, conceivably, influence perceptions of presidential candidate Mitt Romney's faith.
Posthumous baptism is common in the Mormon Church. The purpose is to ensure that ancestors can join church members in the afterlife. Individual Mormons submit to the church the names of persons they wish to have baptized, then undergo baptism "by proxy."
However, the practice has sometimes offended those of other faiths whose ancestors are baptized by proxy by enthusiastic Mormons. That is especially true of the families of Jewish victims of the Holocaust, whose outcries prompted the 1995 agreement.
You may remember that the LDS Church posthumously baptized the late mother of President Obama into the Mormon faith.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints confirmed Tuesday afternoon that someone improperly, posthumously baptized the late mother of President Obama into the Mormon faith.Last June 4 — the day after then-Sen. Obama secured enough delegates to win the Democratic presidential nominee — someone had the president’s mother Stanley Ann Dunham, who died in 1995 of cancer, baptized. On June 11, she received the endowment.
The baptism and endowment which appear on FamilySearch.org, the LDS Church’s genealogical site, were first reported by John Aravosis at the liberal Americablog.
Mormon Church spokeswoman Kim Farah said that "the offering of baptism to our deceased ancestors is a sacred practice to us and it is counter to Church policy for a Church member to submit names for baptism for persons to whom they are not related. The Church is looking into the circumstances of how this happened and does not yet have all the facts. However, this is a serious matter and we are treating it as such."For almost two centuries, Mormons have performed baptisms on behalf of deceased relatives, but church members are counseled to request temple baptism only on behalf of their relatives. To do so for those who are not relatives is contrary to Church policy, officials of the Mormon church said.