Mormon leaders reminded Church members on Saturday about the importance of performing ceremonial baptisms on dead ancestors who did not receive the ordinance while alive — a practice unique to the faith that has included baptising dead Jewish Holocaust victims.
Henry Eyring told a worldwide audience during a twice-yearly Mormon conference in Salt Lake City that God wants all his children “home again, in families and in glory.” He encouraged listeners to use the religion’s massive genealogical database to trace their roots.
Ceremonial baptisms occur when a member brings an ancestor’s name to a temple. Mormons believe the ritual allows deceased people a way to the afterlife if they choose to accept what they see as an offering of love. The belief that families are sealed for eternity is one of the faith’s core tenets.
The practice is becoming more common because young Church members have embraced it, said Eyring, a member of a top governing body of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, called the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
“They have learned that this work saves not just the dead; it saves all of us,” Eyring said. “There are now many people who have accepted baptism in the spirit world. … This is the work of our generation.”
But ceremonial baptisms offend members of other religions, especially Jews, who became upset years ago when they discovered attempts by Mormons to alter the religion of Holocaust victims. These included Anne Frank, a Jewish teenager forced into hiding in Amsterdam during the Holocaust and killed in a concentration camp.
In the 1990s, after negotiations with Jewish leaders, the Church agreed to end the ceremonial baptism of Holocaust victims. After it was revealed that they continued, including baptizing the parents of Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, Mormon leaders in 2012 spoke out against the practice and reminded the public that a virtual firewall was put in the database to block anyone who tried to access the names of people who died in the Holocaust.
The “proxy baptisms” also were mentioned Saturday at the conference in a speech by Russell M. Nelson, another member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles who is next in line to assume the Church presidency.Monday, April 03, 2017