Mormonism: Baptism for the Dead

A recent news item posted to Religion News Blog says:

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.

The article explains the practice as follows:

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.

– Source: Holocaust survivors to Mormons: Stop baptisms of dead Jews, AP via CNN, Nov. 11, 2008

Baptism for the dead, or baptism by proxy, is one of countless unbiblical practices of the Mormon Church. While the church — which calls itself the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — claims to be the restoration of early Christianity, its doctrines and practices clearly demonstrate that it is, theologically, a cult of Christianity.

Baptism for the Dead is part of the LDS Temple Ceremony:

The most often practiced ritual in the Mormon temple is baptism for the dead. In a font resembling King Solomon’s “brazen sea,” participants are baptized on behalf of those who died not having embraced Mormonism. To say that early Christians were baptized in a similar font is without historical merit. There was no brazen sea during this time period. According to 2 Kings 25:13 the brazen sea was destroyed by the Chaldean’s and its pieces carried off to Babylon after the fall of Jerusalem. It was never again replicated.

Mormons claim the Apostle Paul participated in this practice since he mentions baptism for the dead in I Corinthians 15:29. While scholars have debated as to what the apostle was actually referring too, one thing is certain: Paul actually separated himself from such a practice when he said, “Else what shall THEY do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are THEY then baptized for the dead?” If baptism for the dead was in fact the “most glorious of all subjects belonging to the everlasting gospel” (D&C 128:17), it seems odd that Paul would not include himself as a participant.

Biblical scholars have noted that heretical groups such as the Cerinthians and Marcionites practiced a form of baptism for the dead. Still, there is no evidence to suggest that such a practice was the Christian norm.

– Source: The LDS Temple Ceremony, by Bill McKeever, Mormonism Research Ministry


In our opinion, the Mormon practice of baptizing people after they have died is of no consequence because the doctrine is true only in the minds of Mormons. It is not a Biblical practice and — like Mormonism itself — has nothing whatsoever to do with historic, Biblical Christianity.

At the same time, the practice is obnoxious. Many people, religious or not, feel that the LDS Church is assaulting the memories of their ancestors.


Additional research resources on Mormonism and the Mormon Church