Rocking the Mormon world

Sometimes it is easy to predict when a CNS story is going to stir a huge buzz in the blogosphere, and that was certainly the case with our story last week on the Vatican’s effort to block posthumous rebaptisms by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon or LDS church. The story, which has been viewed more than 10,000 times as of this afternoon, reported that Catholic dioceses around the world have been directed not to give information in parish registers to the Mormons’ Genealogical Society of Utah.

That may not excite many ordinary Catholics in the pew, but it predictably struck a nerve in the Mormon world, where posthumous baptisms by proxy have been a common practice for more than a century. As CNS staff writer Chaz Muth reported, the practice allows the church’s faithful to have their ancestors baptized into their faith so they may be united in the afterlife.

One Mormon blog said the news “rocked the LDS genealogical world.” And stories this past weekend in The Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News generated hundreds of comments. A Utah Catholic priest also devoted a blog entry to the issue, generating his own set of a dozen or so comments.

Faithful readers may remember that this is the second time in just over two weeks that a CNS story has generated an interreligious buzz with the Mormon church. Our story during Pope Benedict’s U.S. trip on how representatives of the LDS church came to participate in a papal event for the first time — a story that came in second for most views during April –generated both gratitude from Mormons glad to see an emphasis on common beliefs as well as a huge debate on one evangelical site wondering why LDS representatives bothered to participate since, according to this site, Mormon founder Joseph Smith believed “that all other churches were wrong, an abomination and corrupt.”

7 Responses

  1. Your CNS story had bone-headed errors in it about Mormons. It said, “Latter-day Saints regard Jesus and the Holy Spirit as children of the Father and the Heavenly Mother. They believe that baptism was instituted by the Father, not Christ, and that it goes back to Adam and Eve.”

    The claim that the Holy Spirit is a child of the Heavenly Father and Mother is laughable. Honestly, where did you get this information? Also, the claim that baptism was instituted by the Father, not Christ? Hmm…sources?

  2. Either, posthumous baptisms have no effect on the dead and so why have any concern…Or posthumous baptisms do have an effect on the dead and so what might that tell about the relationship between God and that organization? It seems irrational to be offended by that which is offered in love and yet has no real power to change a deceased religious association. And just as irrational to not convert to such an organization if it is really believed they have such power.

  3. Here’s a “letter to the editor.” And since we don’t have a publication with a letters section, we’ll “publish” it here:

    Dear Editors,

    The Mormon practice of re-baptism may be at odds with the Catholic Church but these records are also of enormous genealogical importance for millions of people – and most are even willing to pay for access.

    Sad to tell you this, but having been raised Catholic, I have found utter incompetence and favoritism toward certain parties whenever I have tried in good faith (and with a donation) to obtain baptism and death records from Catholic parishes in New Jersey. My experience was a disaster. The behavior of the parishes involved was a total disgrace.

    The Mormons, however, are far more organized with maintaining genealogical records and far more generous with allowing Catholics to access what they have.

    Not only should the Catholic Church work out the re-baptism issue fast but it should also allow the Mormons access to these records as caretakers for all of us since they are exprets.

    Or perhaps the Catholic Church should come into the 21st century itself and begin digitalizing these important records before they turn to dust in rectory safes.

    Sincerely,

    Robert J. Spearing
    Amateur Genealogist

  4. You have got to be kidding me! People want to know about their families and their history. Sometimes, it will even lead them to find important information (like medical history) that might save their lives!

    This is just another example of why I left the Catholic religion. The Catholic Church belongs in the dark ages!

    The Catholic Church needs to focus on REAL issues, not coming up with new things to drive members away.

    I’m not an expert on God, but it seems like God might want us to be able to find and know our families!

    Another amateur genealogist (and prouder than ever to be an ex-Catholic).

  5. Mormons believe/teach that the Catholic Church is “the great abomination” amongst other bizarre beliefs. Any claim you or they make about the church is compounded in their indoctrination – just do some research if you can. Their practice of posthumous baptisms is offensive at best.
    Talk about invasion of the body snatchers!

  6. Mormons ( being one ) actually teach of “that great and abominable church” in the standard works, our Scriptures. The LDS church does not teach that this is the Catholic Church.

    I wonder what kind of hypocrites this would actually make LDS members if we were to send millions upon millions of aid to be used and applied by Catholics in areas where relief aid was so desperately needed.

    Bottom line, people will take offense where they will and what they dont understand, they can always fabricate and make up.

    I find some practices of Jews, Muslims and Catholics a little strange also. But at least I can respect these people enough to allow them to worship how they will according to their consciences and recognize them for the good they do in society where it is increasingly popular to believe in nothing. Where all organized religion is bad.

    I wish people would stop playing Chinese whispers about other peoples faith. I wish people who gave advice about researching my faith would actually do their own.

    Also, I work part time in our LDS Family History Center. Big thanks to all those non-members of my faith who come in and teach me and my family so much about how to find my ancestors.

  7. Amen to the Vatican for blocking the records!!!!! I started researching my family tree last year. I was very upset and hurt to find out that my grandpa had been “rebaptized” into the Mormon faith,also endowments were made in his name. I don’t feel that any religion is any better than another, it’s a personal choice. That choice was taken away from my family. When I called the LDS church, I was told that their way is best and they had to rebaptise because that was the only way people could get into Heaven. Needless to say I was livid. I asked for my grandpa and other ancestors to be removed as members of the LDS church. I was then told that I would have to call or write the Pres. of the Church in Utah. No other religious sect does this. Sure, the genealogy research aspectes of it is great. So long as they leave our ancestors religion as their own. I pray that other religious denominations will follow suit and not stand for the Mormons rebatisms!!!

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