I knew that Mormons were a bunch of homophobes like Orson Scott Card, but I never knew they baptized dead people and the ancestors of present Mormons. Where the do they get off on doing something like that?

I bolded the part that I think is pretty important:

Holocaust survivors said Monday they are through trying to negotiate with the Mormon church over posthumous baptisms of Jews killed in Nazi concentration camps, saying the church has repeatedly violated a 13-year-old agreement barring the practice.

Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints say they are making changes to their massive genealogical database that will make it more difficult for names of Holocaust victims to be entered for posthumous baptism by proxy, a rite that has been a common Mormon practice for more than a century.

But Ernest Michel, honorary chairman of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors, said that is not enough. At a news conference in New York City on Monday, he said the church also must “implement a mechanism to undo what you have done.”

“Baptism of a Jewish Holocaust victim and then merely removing that name from the database is just not acceptable,” said Michel, whose parents died at Auschwitz. He spoke on the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Nazi-incited riots against Jews.

“We ask you to respect us and our Judaism just as we respect your religion,” Michel said in a statement released ahead of the news conference. “We ask you to leave our six million Jews, all victims of the Holocaust, alone, they suffered enough.”

Michel said talks with Mormon leaders, held as recently as last week, have ended. He said his group will not sue, and that “the only thing left, therefore, is to turn to the court of public opinion.”

In 1995, Mormons and Jews inked an agreement to limit the circumstances that allow for the proxy baptisms of Holocaust victims. Ending the practice outright was not part of the agreement and would essentially be asking Mormons to alter their beliefs, church Elder Lance B. Wickman said Monday in an interview with reporters in Salt Lake City.

“We don’t think any faith group has the right to ask another to change its doctrines,” Wickman said. “If our work for the dead is properly understood … it should not be a source of friction to anyone. It’s merely a freewill offering.”

Michel’s decision to unilaterally end discussion of the issue through a news conference leaves the church uncertain about how to proceed, Wickman said.

Baptism by proxy allows faithful Mormons to have their ancestors baptized into the 178-year-old church, which they believe reunites families in the afterlife.

Using genealogy records, the church also baptizes people who have died from all over the world and from different religions. Mormons stand in as proxies for the person being baptized and immerse themselves in a baptismal pool.

Only the Jews have an agreement with the church limiting who can be baptized, though the agreement covers only Holocaust victims, not all Jewish people. Jews are particularly offended by baptisms of Holocaust victims because they were murdered specifically because of their religion.

[b]Michel suggested that posthumous baptisms of Holocaust victims play into the hands of Holocaust deniers.

“They tell me, that my parents’ Jewishness has not been altered but … 100 years from now, how will they be able to guarantee that my mother and father of blessed memory who lived as Jews and were slaughtered by Hitler for no other reason than they were Jews, will someday not be identified as Mormon victims of the Holocaust?” Michel said Monday.[/b]

Wickman said the practice in no way impinges upon a person’s “Jewishness, or their ethnicity, or their background.”

Under the agreement with the Holocaust group, Mormons could enter the names of only those Holocaust victims to whom they were directly related. The church also agreed to remove the names of Holocaust victims already entered into its massive genealogical database.

Church spokesman Otterson said the church kept its part of the agreement by removing more than 260,000 names from the genealogical index.

But since 2005, ongoing monitoring of the database by an independent Salt Lake City-based researcher shows both resubmissions and new entries of names of Dutch, Greek, Polish and Italian Jews.

The researcher, Helen Radkey, who has done contract work for the Holocaust group, said her research suggests that lists of Holocaust victims obtained from camp and government records are being dumped into the database. She said she has seen and recorded a sampling of several thousand entries that indicate baptisms had been conducted for Holocaust victims as recently as July.

Wickman said lists of names have been entered into the database by a small number of well-meaning members who were acting “outside of policy.” He said that church monitors have identified and removed 42,000 names from the database on their own, and that the church welcomes research from others.

Church officials say a new version of the database, called New Family Search, is being tested overseas and should reduce the problems. In the works for six years, the new database will discourage the submission of large lists of unrelated individuals. It will also separate names intended for temple rites from those submitted purely for genealogical purposes, the church states in a letter sent to Michel on Nov. 6.

“The names of any Holocaust victims we can identify in the database are to be flagged with a special designation – not available for temple ordinances,” the letter states.

The church also proposes jump-starting a monitoring committee formed in 2005 to review database entries. The committee has met just once since 2005.

In May, the Vatican ordered Catholic dioceses worldwide to withhold member registries from Mormons so that Catholics could not be baptized.

I’m not a religious person, and I still think that’s fucked up.

I thought this was fairly common knowledge. I also thought it had been going on for a very long time, and according to your article it has. Over one hundred years, in fact. So, uh, other things that happened in the past hundred years:

Moon landings

Just, you know, keeping you up to date.

Dick post, Aeon.

Nope. I knew they were up to a lot of shenanigans but I didn’t know about this. They sound every bit as crazy as Scientologists now that I’ve done some looking into them. So why are both groups tax-exempt. More importantly, how do the Mormons get away with something like this without pissing off every other religion or raising more outcries?

That’s why you don’t fuck with the Mormons.

I first found about this practice when doing my family tree research. The software I was using had two dates for baptism: regular and LDS. Turns out, they baptize just about everyone they document.

Yup, one of my great aunts posthumously baptized most of my family/ancestors.

I think it’s hilarious. They probably went through and baptized everyone in the bible also.

Yeah, this is some silly shit. It would be one thing if the Mormons were deleting records of someone’s ancestry, but the idea that the man’s parents might be considered Mormons by history because they are recorded as having been baptized decades after their deaths is just dumb. If he doesn’t believe in Mormon superstitions, then why does he care if they put his parents on their “people we think are ok” list?

Just wait 'til Sol hears about Kolob.

You’d be hard pressed to find an Aeon post that wasn’t at least a little dick-ish.

And Sol: If you think Mormons are as dangerous as Scientologists (a religion based on nothing more then profit) then you need to dig deeper.

Just want to make sure that everyone is given a chance. Seems pretty simple.

“They tell me, that my parents’ Jewishness has not been altered but … 100 years from now, how will they be able to guarantee that my mother and father of blessed memory who lived as Jews and were slaughtered by Hitler for no other reason than they were Jews, will someday not be identified as Mormon victims of the Holocaust?” Michel said Monday.

Hey just about every other class of people who were persecuted by the Nazis are historically a footnote in the minds of the world, and in some cases are still being actively persecuted, so like, cry me a river.

I think Scientologists are pretty dangerous, but Mormons are equally as influential, especially since they helped pass Proposition 8. They also have ‘spokespeople’ like Orson Scott Card, who’s completely vocal about conducting a ‘violent overthrow’ of the government should it ever recognize homosexuals as citizens deserving of equal rights. Worse still is the fact that he’s taken seriously, and is well respected by conservatives. He’s not some kook like Tom Cruise whom not many people (apart from scientologists) take very seriously.

That’s more than a little messed up, I’ve lived with Mormons all my life and while I knew they did alot of genealogical research I didn’t know they post-humorously baptized people.

How does that even work? I thought baptism had to be voluntary. I guess its time to call up the mormon friends again and ask them how all of that works.

The genealogical research stems from the baptism thing.

Well that’s nice to know. I wonder how they’d feel if Catholics, or god forbid scientologists started doing this their Mormon ancestors.

Except that neither Catholics nor Scientologists believe in posthumous baptism.

As one who was raised Mormon I can explain it.

Mormons believe that in the afterlife you go to a holding place, kind of like purgarory but not punishing or anything. All of us will stay there until Jesus comes back, the world is destroyed and the real afterlife begins.

In this holding place (called the spirit world which is somehow different from the pre-existence where we were before we were born), we still exist as individuals and can still make choices. Other enlightened people and angels will preach to people in the spirit world and those who haven’t had the opportunity to convert to Mormonism will have the opportunity then.

Most Christians believe that you have to be baptized and repent of your sins and be saved to go to heaven and there’s good scriptural documentation of this belief both in the Bible and Book of Mormon, I’m too lazy to look it up and link though. So in place of baptism on earth the Mormons have the proxy baptisms. They also have rituals where married couples are sealed to their spouses and children (sealing is a whole subject in itself).

In defense of Mormons this is a much more loving view of the afterlife than some Christian faiths. There’s the eternal purgatory view like Dante where if you’re a pagan who was born before Christ you’re stuck, and there’s the fundamentalist fire breathing baptist view where if you’re not saved you’re in the fiery pit for all eternity.

It’s a nice loophole to get into heaven for those born before Joseph Smith so for Mormons it’s an act of love.

There are of course logical problems that are obvious to anyone who is not Mormon. What about people who died for their faith? Why would anyone reject Mormonism if an angel is telling you in the afterlife that it’s true, if that’s the case why aren’t we all just Mormon here? There are several other questions to ask and it gets totally weird when you start looking into the sealing (let alone the sealing rituals) however considering all the logical leaps away from daily reality you have to take to be a Christian in the first place these are but small steps.

If you want to learn about Mormons, watch the PBS 2-part documentary. If you don’t have that long of an attention span, watch the South Park episode.