Howard Berkes for National Public Radio reported that this coming Sunday (March 11, 2012), Mormon leaders are formally warning followers to stop controversial baptisms for the dead, particularly of “unauthorized groups” such as “celebrities and Jewish Holocaust victims,” and a letter will be read in every congregation stating: “Our preeminent obligation is to seek out and identify our own ancestors…Those whose names are submitted for proxy [baptisms] should be related to the submitter.” There is also concern over non-Mormons being offended in finding out their deceased family members had been baptized into Mormonism.
The complete letter to be read has been published in The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints Newsroom article “First Presidency Issues Direction on Names Submitted for Temple Ordinances.” It is as follows:
We would like to reiterate the policies first stated in 1995 concerning the submission of names for proxy temple ordinances:
Our preeminent obligation is to seek out and identify our own ancestors. Those whose names are submitted for proxy temple ordinances should be related to the submitter.
Without exception, Church members must not submit for proxy temple ordinances any names from unauthorized groups, such as celebrities and Jewish Holocaust victims. If members do so, they may forfeit their New FamilySearch privileges. Other corrective action may also be taken.
Members are encouraged to participate in FamilySearch indexing which is vital to family history and temple work.
Bishops are asked to post this letter on their meetinghouse bulletin boards. Church members may seek the assistance of the family history consultants in their area for additional information, if needed. Name submission policies are also clearly stated on New.FamilySearch.org.
We appreciate the faithful adherence to these policies by all members of the Church.
Thomas S. Monson
Henry B. Eyring
Dieter F. Uchtdorf
The First Presidency
Baptism for the dead is one of several Mormon Temple Rituals vital for attaining godhood, which Hank Hanegraaff contends have no biblical sanction. Although just exactly what the apostle Paul meant in speaking of the “baptism for the dead” in 1 Corinthians 15:29 is a matter of some debate, the Mormon interpretation and practice is clearly not consistent with the teaching of Scripture. The Christian Research Journal has well-critiqued baptism by proxy and set forth viable interpretations of 1 Corinthians 15:29 in the articles “The Mormon Doctrine of Salvation for the Dead: An Examination of Its Claimed Biblical Basis” by Luke P. Wilson, and “Baptism for the Dead: Discerning Historical Precedent from Mere Prose” by Steve Bright.
—Warren Nozaki, Research
For further study on Mormonism, CRI recommends the following bookstore resources:
Memorable Keys to the M-O-R-M-O-N Mirage by Hank Hanegraaff
Mormonism 101 by Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson
One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church by Richard Abanes
Mormonism’s Greatest Problems Package featuring Bill McKeever, Eric Johnson, and Sandra Tanner