Famous posthoumous Mormon baptisms

Posted on August 22, 2012 by


In The Detroit News Libby Spencer expresses some concern over LDS baptisms for the dead.

“I find it very odd that the Mormon Church baptizes people without their permission, after they’re dead.”

We can recognize why others may find baptisms for the dead to be odd.  However, a brief review of the doctrines behind the practice will clear up a lot of confusion.  The official LDS website states:

“Jesus Christ taught that baptism is essential to the salvation of all who have lived on earth (see John 3:5). Many people, however, have died without being baptized. Others were baptized without proper authority. Because God is merciful, He has prepared a way for all people to receive the blessings of baptism. By performing proxy baptisms in behalf of those who have died, Church members offer these blessings to deceased ancestors. Individuals can then choose to accept or reject what has been done in their behalf.”

So while it may be perceived as an odd practice, baptisms for the dead represent doctrines illustrating the benevolence and complete fairness that Jesus Christ affords all people from all time in any circumstances.  It was for this purpose that following his crucifixion and prior to his resurrection He caused the gospel to be preached to those who had died during the great flood “wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.”  These, too, would be afforded the same opportunities for salvation as any other.

Church policy regarding names that may be submitted for proxy baptism very clearly state to:

  1. Work only on their own family line.
  2. Not submit names of celebrities.
  3. Not submit names of unauthorized groups, such as Jewish Holocaust victims.

Unfortunately, some individual members of the Church have violated these policies, and the Church is then required to discipline the individuals.

Ms. Spencer misunderstands these violations as she comments:

“Apparently, they do multiple baptisms after death for some people to make sure they have plenty of opportunities to accept the conversion from the grave.”

Multiple baptisms for the same deceased individual only occur in cases where there was no coordination between individual members who submitted those names for proxy baptism work.  One baptism is enough.  Repeated baptisms do not afford the deceased individual any greater opportunity than they have with one baptism.  So in cases where a celebrity may have been baptized posthumously multiple times this would represent multiple rogue individual members who not only do not follow Church policy but also do not coordinate their activity in order to prevent duplication of effort.