What if Mormons are right and Catholics and Protestants wrong?

August 28, 2008    By: Jacob J @ 1:51 pm   Category: Mormon Culture/Practices

Click over and read this short article by Eamonn McCann from the Belfast Telegraph.

Every now and then someone I would never expect jumps in to say the obvious in it can be very refreshing. I’m not worried that his description of baptism for the dead is light on the word “proxy.” I’m not too concerned about his describing our baptisms for the dead as happening in “batches.” Misconceptions like that are widespread and increasingly I think they are not a big deal. When it comes to the main points of his article McCann is right on the money and I was thrilled to read it. Personally, I like it even better coming from an atheist since I can imagine that he has less built in religious bias than your average Catholic or Mormon commenting on the situation.

Hat tip to my mother in law for forwarding me the link.

P.S. Blake made some related comments in this post back in Feb 2007.


  1. I can imagine that if the Baptists got a hold of our temple records and held some sort of ritual to try and clean all these dead mormons, my parents and grandparents included, it could bother me a bit. It could feel like they were using my dead ancestors as a tool to attack my religious beliefs.

    Comment by Hal — August 28, 2008 @ 6:26 pm

  2. We could feel like that immediately… but we can certainly decide how to react and what to feel. I think Mormons in general would not really bat an eye if the Baptists or Hindus or whomever performed rituals or prayers for deceased Mormons, “let them worship how, where, or what they may.”

    Comment by Dave — August 28, 2008 @ 9:02 pm

  3. For more than 300 years after the Crucifixion, baptism of the dead was widely accepted
    I thought this was pretty cool. Anyone know the evidence for this?

    Comment by Howard — August 28, 2008 @ 9:08 pm

  4. It wouldn’t bug me in the slightest Hal.

    Comment by Seth R. — August 28, 2008 @ 9:55 pm

  5. Thanks for the link Jacob. The article hits the nail on the head and it is funny to boot.

    Comment by Geoff J — August 28, 2008 @ 10:26 pm

  6. I would like to associate myself with Geoff J’s statement.

    Comment by Peter LLC — August 29, 2008 @ 4:33 am

  7. Here is a lot of Baptism for the Dead information:

    Comment by Hal — August 29, 2008 @ 6:12 am

  8. Excellent article!

    It reminds me a little of the southpark where a large group of people were being given a tour of hell.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — August 30, 2008 @ 9:35 am

  9. Great spot Jacob! The article was spot on. I’m befuddled at the Catholic move respecting access to records — a move surely calculated to create a rift and destroy any attempt at real friendship with the LDS community. Given the current Pope’s assignment when he was a Cardinal to oversee the doctrinal purity of Catholic thought — and to purge it — perhaps we should have expected such a move. His take on Catholic thought was 19th century and his view of theological issues was so narrow that he had many Catholics cringing. He is a far cry from the openness and Christian love of his predecessor.

    The move is also theologically absurd. Let’s say that I want access to records so that I can place one name on a sheet of paper and then to take the sheets and place them in a stack so that I create a very large pile so that I can climb on them to get to heaven. How is that hurting the keeper of the records? If what I use your records to do is just theological non-sense to you, then why bother? On the other hand, if you have a long tradition of building objects to climb to heaven, how can you take the view that my activities are so ridiculous that they must be resisted?

    The Catholics have been offering prayers to dead Saints and for the dead since at least the third century. One of the major festivals was a mass for the dead. I like the implicit commitment to all of humankind and the respect shown for the fact that we owe those who went before us a great deal. Yet in the face of such practices, the Catholic policy towards Mormons is morally contemptible and bereft of Christian love. Many of my Catholic friends, who I love and respect, have expressed bewilderment at the Pope’s position and apologies for the obvious insult that it represents.

    Comment by Blake — August 31, 2008 @ 9:51 am

  10. What’s also strange about this is the Catholic church in many Hispanic cultures have a practice of doing the rosary for and in behalf of the dead to petition their access to heaven. (We went to one while on my mission in the philippines)

    Infants who have passed on can be post-humously baptised by a priest at the hospital.

    On the other hand, it’s a nice policy, but is easily handled by an attitude of don’t ask, don’t tell.

    Comment by Matt W. — August 31, 2008 @ 11:22 am

  11. I think Mormons in general would not really bat an eye if the Baptists or Hindus or whomever performed rituals or prayers for deceased Mormons

    I’ve never had any problem with Catholics who burned candles for my daughters or the people who have left crystals and other things at their graves.

    Just one data point.

    Comment by Stephen M (Ethesis) — September 1, 2008 @ 9:09 am

  12. Wow, that’s exactly the point I’ve been arguing for years. If they don’t believe our theology then what does it matter whom we baptize. It’s like when non-members get upset that we don’t give women priesthood. What does it matter to them considering that they don’t believe in the priesthood anyway. Bottom line, I think that good honest Catholics (including the current Pope?) suspect that there is something legitimate about our baptisms for the dead and it makes them nervous…

    Comment by Dan A. — September 8, 2008 @ 2:36 am

  13. Answers to various questions/statements: 1. There is Zero, as in no evidence, that any heretics during the first 3 centuries practiced so-called baptism for or of the dead/this practice started with J. Smith. 2. Catholics don’t pray to dead saints – they are more alive than you or I am. 3. Praying a rosary or having a Mass celebrated for a dead relative is NOT the same as baptizing them. 4. Catholic priests can’t baptize dead people. You mistake the sacrament of baptism with a simple blessing of the persons mortal remains. 5. To the Catholic, there is nothing “legitimate” about baptisms of/for the dead. As a matter of fact, because LDS theology is marred with paganism as in belief in many gods, and that men can become like God. LDS baptisms(of living people) are very suspect, if not downright invalid! Suggestions to the ignorant: STUDY the actual teachings of the Catholic Church before you pass judgment on them. May I recommend – http://www.catholic.com. I know that this post is long and may offend – that’s not my intention.
    Peace to all.

    Comment by Luis — September 13, 2008 @ 9:08 pm

  14. Thanks for the link. I had no idea that there was known history about the practice. Nor that it had been a bone of contention anciently.

    I think the others get peeved is because they have an inkling that someone else is right. Otherwise it would be live and let live.

    I think we all suffer from not letting others live as they choose to one degree or another.

    Comment by Steve Graham — September 25, 2008 @ 11:37 am