A Curious Pioneer Blessing

Excerpts of A curious pioneer blessing, Worlds Without End


...…   Elders William Hall, Rabins R. Strong, Llewellyn Mantle, Joseph Champlin, Martin Potter, and one more laid hands on the horse and commanded the unclean and foul spirits of every name and nature to depart and go to the Gentiles at Warsaw and trouble the Saints no more, when the horse rolled twice over in great distress, sprang to his feet, squealed, vomited and purged, and the next morning was harnessed to a load of about 12 cwt. and performed his part as usual. ...
The exorcism of the horse suggests the Elders may have been influenced by the story in Matthew 8. The loss of a horse was a serious matter for a pioneer, which contributed to the need for a spiritual solution in a worldview that blended the temporal and spiritual. A sense of spiritual innovation by these common men is apparent as they felt empowered by scripture and their priesthood to enact a new multi-purposed blessing/exorcism/cursing for the animal and the gentiles, as well as facilitate their mode of transportation. Their act apparently met the approval of Apostle Richards who records the account with its faith promoting conclusion.
Also reflected in the account is the sense of anger at the loss of their prophet and their homes. They called for divine retribution over the dying horse, looking for biblical-styled vengeance. By laying hands on the horse, they exercised faith that their enemies in Warsaw might become possessed and perhaps even run down the banks of the Mississippi to drown like swine.

End of Topic: Unconventional Baptisms in Mormon History

This ends the topic of Unconventional Baptisms in Mormon History.

Stay tuned. A new topic will be available soon.

Rebaptism, February 25, 2012

-- February 25, 2012
Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert performs a mock posthumous conversion of Mormons to Judaism (1)

-- February 29, 2012
First Presidency letter on Baptisms for the dead

Feb 29, 2012: Letter to be read in Sacrament Meetings

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

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 onNew.FamilySearch.org.

We appreciate the faithful adherence to these policies by all members of the Church.

Sincerely yours,

The First Presidency

President Thomas S. Monson

President Henry B. Eyring

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf (2)

-- May 14, 2012
There is public criticism in the Netherlands of the Mormon practice of baptism by proxy after a Dutch newspaper revealed May 9 that several members of the royal family were posthumously "baptized" into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, colloquially known as the Mormon church.

The daily newspaper Trouw quoted unpublished documents in the Mormon church's global genealogical database that show the late Queen Juliana, her husband Prince Bernhard and Queen Beatrix's late husband Prince Claus were all baptized as Mormons after their deaths. (3)

-- July, 2012

1 - Comedy Central
2 - circular
3 - The Christian Century

LDS History Chronology: Unconventional Baptisms

Mormon History Timeline: Forms of Rebaptism in LDS History

Rebaptism, November, 2008

-- November, 2008
Talks shut down between Jewish group and Mormon church over Baptism for the dead

Chairman of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors, said talks with leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which were held as recently as last week, are over. He stataed the church has repeatedly violated a 13-year-old agreement barring the practice. "We ask you to respect us and our Judaism just as we respect your religion," he said. "We ask you to leave our six million Jews, all victims of the Holocaust, alone, they suffered enough." The church denied the charge. Church spokesman Mike Otterson said Michel's decision to publicly denounce the church seems like a unilateral termination of the discussion. (1)

-- Nov 11, 2008

Around the Nation

Jewish Group Exhorts Mormons

NEW YORK -- Holocaust survivors said 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 to 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. "We ask you to respect us and our Judaism just as we respect your religion," Michel said in a statement. "We ask you to leave our six million Jews, all victims of the Holocaust, alone, they suffered enough." Posthumous 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.

-- From News Services (2)

-- September, 2010
Agreement between Mormons and Jews over unwanted baptisms for the dead

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a group of Jewish leaders released this joint statement. "Over the years, survivors of the Holocaust have pointed out to the Church that its practice of posthumous proxy baptism has unintentionally caused pain due to the inclusion of names of those who perished in the Holocaust. As a result of dialogue and extraordinary efforts of the Church, computer systems and policy initiatives have been put in place that resolve this issue which is greatly appreciated by the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants, the result of which will be felt throughout the world." (3)

-- February 04, 2012
Comedian Bill Mahr performs a mock un-baptism for the dead on his show (4)

-- February 15, 2012
Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel Shines said Mormon presidential candidate Mitt Romney "should speak to his own church and say they should stop... I hope that if he hears about this that he will speak up."

Wiesel was reacting to news this week that his name, and the names of his father and grandfather, were found on a genealogical database kept by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and used to select deceased souls for a Mormon practice known as proxy baptism. The Mormon church issued an apology and the first ever public rebuke of a responsible follower.

"These submissions were clearly against the policy of the church," said spokesman Purdy. "We consider this a serious breach of our protocol and we have suspended indefinitely this person's ability to access our genealogy records." (5)

-- February 16, 2012
In view of reported proxy baptisms of some prominent Jews, concerned Hindus have urged The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) to set-up a mechanism to avoid baptizing by proxy their deceased ancestors without their will. Hindu statesman Rajan Zed (President of the Universal Society of Hinduism) in a statement said that although they had not received any reports yet of such proxy baptisms of deceased Hindus by LDS, but they were simply concerned after learning of posthumous baptizing of parents of a well known Jew, whose names were not submitted for baptism. (6)

-- February 21, 2012
The Huffington Post story reports the recent baptism of Anne Frank. "Mormons have submitted versions of her name at least a dozen times for proxy rites and carried out the ritual at least nine times from 1989 to 1999." (7)

Church Statement on Violations of Proxy Baptism Policy, Mormon Newsroom

The Church keeps its word and is absolutely firm in its commitment to not accept the names of Holocaust victims for proxy baptism.

It takes a good deal of deception and manipulation to get an improper submission through the safeguards we have put in place.

While no system is foolproof in preventing the handful of individuals who are determined to falsify submissions, we are committed to taking action against individual abusers by suspending the submitter's access privileges. We will also consider whether other Church disciplinary action should be taken.

It is distressing when an individual willfully violates the Church's policy and something that should be understood to be an offering based on love and respect becomes a source of contention. (8)

1 - Jewish group wants Mormons to stop proxy baptisms" by Deepti Hajela and Jennifer Dobner AP
2 - A chronicle of the Mormon-Jewish controversy; The LDS Agreement: A JewishGen InfoFile, http://www.jewishgen.org/infofiles/ldsagree.html
3 - Mormons and Jews reach agreement on posthumous proxy baptism , Kelly Marshall, CNN
4 - HBO, Bill Mahr, Feb 4, 2012
5 - Mormon Chronicles,  February 15, 2012
6 - Hindus concerned at proxy baptism of Jews by Mormon Church, Baltic Review
7 - Huffington Post
8 - Mormon Newsroom

LDS History Chronology: Unconventional Baptisms

Mormon History Timeline: Forms of Rebaptism in LDS History

Rebaptism, Dec 17, 2006

-- Dec 17, 2006


SWC Calls On Mormon Church To Immediately Remove Simon Wiesenthal's Name From Database

The Simon Wiesenthal Center called on the Mormon Church to immediately remove Simon Wiesenthal from its online International Genealogical Index (IGI), which is the Mormon database of posthumous ordinances.

We are astounded and dismayed that after assurances and promises by the Mormon Church that Mr. Wiesenthal's life and memory, along with so many other Jews, would be trampled and disregarded, said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the Wiesenthal Centers founder and dean.

Simon Wiesenthal was one of the great Jews in the post-Holocaust period. He proudly lived as a Jew, died as a Jew, demanded justice for the millions of the victims of the Holocaust, and, at his request was buried in the State of Israel. It is sacrilegious for the Mormon faith to desecrate his memory by suggesting that Jews on their own are not worthy enough to receive G-ds eternal blessing, added Rabbi Hier.

We therefore urge the Church to remove his name and the names of all other Holocaust victims immediately, Hier concluded. (1)

-- Winter 2006
XXI, 4, p67

Avotaynu: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy

By Aubrey Newman

(Emeritus) Professor of History

University of Leicester


Chastizes Mormons

I am annoyed at the waste of time and effort over this controversy which is once more being caused by the Mormon use of various genealogical records. .... I am even more concerned at the deliberate bad faith which has emerged following what seemed to have been agreed to some ten years ago. It seems to me that the Mormons have been guilty of deliberate bad faith, of calculated and deliberate obfuscation, and that they never intended to abide by the agreements they themselves made. I think that all those who are in any way concerned with historical truth should inform as widely as possible of these facts. I invite others to join with me in making these facts known in as many journals as possible.

I would suggest also that if those organizations which originally allowed the Mormons to microfilm their archives retained their copyright in them, they should now withdraw those materials from the Mormon Church and forbid any further use being made of them. (1)

-- Mar 1, 2008
[In a Jewish Times of Seattle article, a Mormon claimed that the Church has met their commitment to the Jews regarding posthumous baptisms. This is the response of Gary Mokotoff, leader of American-Jewish genealogy. [Ed.]]



Gary Mokotoff

Bergenfield, N.J.

Acts of the church

Posthumous baptism of Jews by the Mormon Church, [that it was] was the act of just nine people out of 13 million Mormons is not true (The record keepers, Feb. 22). Until the Mormon Church signed an agreement with certain Jewish organizations in May 1995, the Church itself regularly acquired Jewish records often under the false pretense of record preservation and used them for their religious rituals, including posthumous baptism. An example was the records of the Hambro synagogue of London, England. All persons whose births were recorded in the synagogue in the 19th century were baptized. The Church did not limit itself to birth records. All the Jews murdered in the Holocaust who were recorded in a Dutch memorial book were posthumously baptized by an act of the Church, not the act of individual Mormons.

This practice stopped with the signing of the 1995 agreement.... When this was discovered in 2005, the Church claimed they had no way of stopping these baptisms. This seems unreasonable. A simple directive to all the local wards could have stopped the extraction of names.

[Mark] Paredes stated that Church rules make it clear that a person who adds a name to the baptism rolls must be able to prove that they are related. This is true. But it is also true that this rule, along with many other rules, are ignored by individual Mormons, and the Church makes no attempt to enforce the rules. For example, there is a rule that you cannot posthumously baptize any person who was born within the past 95 years without permission of the closest relative. Yet Anne Frank was baptized six times. ... (1)

-- May, 2008
The Catholic News Service reports the Vatican has ordered catholic parishes to block the church's Genealogical Society of Utah from their records, expressing "grave reservations" regarding proxy ordinances for the dead that occur in Mormon temples. The Vatican letter calls the church's genealogical practice "detrimental" and asks Bishops "not to cooperate with the erroneous practices of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." Father Massa, executive director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs said "we have to make very clear to them their practice of so-called rebaptism is unacceptable from the standpoint of Catholic truth." (2)

1 - A chronicle of the Mormon-Jewish controversy; The LDS Agreement: A JewishGen InfoFile, http://www.jewishgen.org/infofiles/ldsagree.html
2 - Catholic News Service

LDS History Chronology: Unconventional Baptisms

Mormon History Timeline: Forms of Rebaptism in LDS History