Oh My Heck! Episode 3 – Baptisms for the Dead
Welcome back to Oh My Heck! where I make fun of myself and the weird stuff I was raised to believe. Hahaha.
This is the third episode, and I’m going to break down the steps to being a Mormon so that from here out, stuff will make more sense. Mormon Doctrine is this: it all started (for us) in heaven. We had a mom and dad—Heavenly Mother and Father. They had a bunch of spirit babies – all the people who ever lived or will live on the earth. One day Heavenly Father said it was time for us kids to get jobs and contribute.
The idea is that we were literally spirit BABIES and we needed to be spirit GROWNUPS like our Heavenly Parents. The only way that could happen was to do everything our spirit parents did, which is be born into a physical body and forget about Spirit Heaven, be baptized, be good, get temple married, die, and be resurrected. Yes. Mormons believe Heavenly Father, aka God the Father, aka God the Almighty is a flesh-and-blood deity who once was a schlep like you and me. More on this in a bit.
So we spirit babies tried to talk this out, and two of us were the most vocal: Jesus and Lucifer, literally our brothers. Lucifer told Heavenly Father that we would all go to earth, remember that we were once Spirit Babies and a family, do exactly what we were told without the ability to argue, and then we could all come back to heaven and be a family again forever, yay! (Sounds JUST like Lucifer, right?)
Jesus said, “No, no, we must have Free Will. Which means,” Jesus heaved a big sigh here even though he didn’t have lungs yet because he was just a spirit, “We have to forget any of this even happened. Because of this, we’ll lose some family members along the way.” And the whole host of angels, which were the rest of us, let out a big, sad, “Aww!” our faces filled with woe.
“But I’m sure we’ll all choose to be good and right and true and come back to be here with you, Dad,” beamed Jesus. Ugh, such a suck up.
And in that moment, Lucifer—the son of the Morning—became SATAN because he was peeved as all get out. He started a WAR because it was his way or NO way. Problem: he got his butt whooped by all of us—well, not the “fence sitters” and I want you to remember that term as we’ll talk about that in a later episode. So Heavenly Father kicked Satan and all his little joiner pals out of heaven, very John Milton of him, and those once-angels are now the demons who try and make you have premarital sex or wear sleeveless tops or watch impure movies and get Starbucks. They want you to sin because they are STILL mad about this.
Now, we had to come to earth and stop being dumb spirit babies because we need to PROGRESS ETERNALLY. In fact, this boiled down story is called the Plan of Eternal Progression. So after you come to earth, become Mormon (you have to become Mormon) and are resurrected in the End Times, you then get to go to one of the levels of heaven. Yep! There’s a caste system in Mormon heaven. Oh, before resurrection you’re either a wink-wink nudge-nudge primo member chilling in cool purgatory, Spirit paradise—it’s like a chill waiting room of a fancy hotel with pale yellow wallpaper, I think.
OR, you’re obviously Not Righteous so you’re stuck in the DMV of purgatory, Spirit Prison, where the next number served is 4 and you’re holding a ticket for 786 billion 943 million and fourteen in your hand. Sucks to be you, oh, and the flourescent lights keep flickering and making a weird sound and there’s a guy coughing onto your shoulder and the vending machines only have Hot Fries that have expired. Guess you should have lived a better life, huh?
So Jesus returns to the earth, it’s Second Coming time, you get turned out of Spirit Prison or Paradise, everyone is resurrected, like The Walking Dead but with way less biting, and now comes the Sorting Hat for the eternities.
The garbage dump of heaven—your murderers and thieves and masturbators and the like—go to the lower heaven, the Terrestrial Kingdom. Good people who just weren’t Mormon—your Maya Angelous and Princess Dianas—are the middle heaven, the Telestial Kingdom, and then the awesome Mormons who obeyed the rules end up in the top joint, the Celestial Kingdom. (There’s a super secret Penthouse Suite certain Mormons can access—like Prefects—where they get to become Gods themselves, just like Heavenly Father did. So like, you can have your OWN planet and your OWN Jesus and Lucifer, or hey! Fill it with shrimp! Or Jelly beans! You do you. You earned it.)
That is 100% Mormon Doctrine—maybe not the shrimp and jelly beans but it shoud be—and they don’t like people talking about it for obvious reasons. Hey, I didn’t make it up, I’m just making sure people know it exists. It’s in the Doctrine and Covenants, Joseph Smith’s own writings, and from the mouths of multiple prophets. This is called your Second Anointing, and it’s super hush-hush. I wish I still had my grandpa’s Priesthood book. Next to his green easy chair right by the front door in his farmhouse in Lehi, Utah, he kept this little black book of every priesthood blessing and temple ordinance he participated in, and I’m mostly certain he and my grandma had this done. It’s not really something I can ask my cousins, though. That’s like burping in front of the Queen to openly discuss this stuff.
Also, Mormons don’t understand that this principle in particular is why they are not actually Christians. It’s actually more like promotional Theism.
Okay, so now you know how crucial it is to be baptized a Mormon or you’re going to be denied a planet of shrimp (okay, so you want to fill it with people who have three arms. WHATEVER. Oh, protip: maybe don’t make a bunch of races and have tribalism, because that has NOT gone well on this planet…). Wait. What about all those people who aren’t Mormon? This seems super rude of God to make a rule that people didn’t even know about or can’t remember they’re supposed to do because of the dang-diddly rule you imposed about being forced to forget about the pre-existence?
If you want to enter into God’s Full Glory aka, the Top Floor of the 3-Story Heaven, aka the Celestial Kingdom, then you’ll have to be baptized by a Mormon official. Since so many people died before this opportunity arose in the 1830s, Joseph Smith received a “revelation” that a living, worthy Mormon could stand proxy for the deceased. The church believes fully that dead people are in fact sentient in the Afterlife and can either reject or accept this baptism. This totally contradicts the Bible, by the way, but no worries! Joseph Smith figured out that the Bible had been translated incorrectly—well, he’s not wrong—so Mormons all get a copy of the Bible with the “corrected” verse in it… so what’s the problem?
The problem is that once baptized (and confirmed a member) the person’s name is entered into the membership rolls. In a hundred years, if someone wanted to look up the genealogy chart for Albert Einstein, it might show that he was later in life converted to Mormonism. Which is false. But since some Mormon was dunked in a tub of temple water resting on the stone backs of 12 oxen in representation of the 12 Tribes of Israel, it could very well show up that way.
Which it already has in the case of several people who died in the Jewish Holocaust. For those who have been living under a rock, the vast majority of people who were ruthlessly killed in the Holocaust died because of their religion. That religion was not Mormonism, for the record. (Here’s a hint: it rhymes with chew-daism.) Rightfully so, the leaders of the Jewish faith raised a stink. In 1995, the LDS church agreed to stop the practice, but was caught still performing these baptisms up through 2006 by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who again asked for them to stop. Especially as it was discovered that Simon Wiesenthal1 himself had also been posthumously baptized.
Simon Wiesenthal, if you are unaware, was a death camp survivor and Nazi hunter who ran the Jewish Documentation Center. He fought to preserve the history of the Jews that were murdered in the course of WWII, as well as documenting the history for those who died in the camps and locating those who performed those crimes against humanity.
“We’re sorry! It was a slip up, and it won’t happen again,” the Church said. Even though it happened for more than 10 years after the first time they said it wouldn’t happen anymore.
Some famous dead people now baptized Mormon:
- Genghis Khan
- Joan of Arc
- William Shakespeare
- Roman Catholic Saint, Madeleine Sophie Barat
- Golda Meir
- Heinrich Himmler
- Joseph Goebbels
- Adolph Hitler
- Eva Braun (who was also sealed to Hitler in a marriage for the dead, so they could be together in God’s Penthouse for ever)
- Anne Frank
- George Washington (and every other President of the U.S.A.)
- All of the “Founding Fathers” of America
- Every dead member of the British Monarchy, back through the 10th century
- Frank Sinatra
So now is it more clear to you why Mormons are so zealous in genealogy research? They are collecting names to add to their rolls. Why, I even performed these when I was a member, and often.
I would hereby like to apologize to the descendants of the many Mary Juanita Juarezes for whom I was baptized by proxy, as well as all the other women. I grew up in Texas, so I was given mostly Hispanic names for my list. You can come in with a list of your own, though. It was explained to me that the various Mary Alvarezes – I did three in a row, once – would know which Mary Alvarez was which while waiting in the Heavenly DMV.
Time and again the argument from the Mormon camp is that they believe in free agency. The Mary Alvarez of 1807 who I was dunked for has the right to say, “No, thanks” to that baptism up in heaven. But that’s not the problem. The problem is for future generations researching their families, trying to get correct information. Mary Alvarez of 1807 wasn’t a Mormon. But will records show that she was? Considering how most ancestral research is done by religious records, births, baptisms, marriages, and/or deaths, it could very well turn up that a person who died in the Dachau camps will show up in research as having become a flippin’ Mormon.
If I was Jewish, I would be so pissed off. But the church members are so blinded by their “duty”, and they firmly believe that what they are doing is a kindness (because they want Mary Alvarez of 1807 to be in the Penthouse Suite, too!) Because of this, they cannot see how rude, how intrusive, how flat-out invasive their “rites” are.
They also perform Mormon marriages in the temple for people who have died, such as in the case of Adolph Hitler and Eva Braun, now married in the most solemn rite Mormons believe in, under the belief that when the Last Days come, and we’re all assigned to our Kingdom of Glory, Hitler and his Eva will be holding out their VIP pass to the innermost sanctum of God’s Kingdom. Proof Atonement works! I guess?
So while some small towns or villages don’t record history by baptisms, they most certainly do record personal histories by marriages. The LDS church’s guidelines now state: “If a person was born within the last ninety-five years, obtain permission for the ordinances from the person’s closest living relative…be aware that acting in conflict with the wishes of the closest living relative can result in bad feelings toward you and the Church.” They are implying their members are getting permission from family members prior to baptism, and that is complete and utter bull. How do I know this? Because my maternal grandfather, who died in the early 1990s and was not in any way, shape, or form Mormon, was baptized postmortem by a distant Mormon relative in the late ’90s, a woman I had never met or even heard of growing up. My mother was told about it after it happened, and was not given the choice or right to perform or not perform that service herself for her own father. This happens all the time.
No proof is required in the temple. If you, as an active member in good standing, want to perform this rite with a specific group of names, you just submit them when you check in. This means you hand a list over to the temple worker of the day, and they enter it into the rolls. That’s it. There’s no background check, no papers required to show you have permission… Nothing. I’m sure there will be a retraction from the Official Leaders saying something to the effect of these members are acting of their own accord, we don’t support that, yadda yadda. But until they implement a system of checks and balances, they’re culpable, because they’re teaching their flocks to perform this rite without governing it.
Just where do these people come off, you might be wondering. They claim a passage in 1 Corinthians is a part of what gives them the right to do this.
1 Cor. 15: 29 “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?”
The original Greek that the Apostle Paul wrote Corinthians in is quite ambiguous, as any Bible scholar can attest. Not to mention that in the Gospel of Luke, it clearly states that you cannot change your mind once you are dead. The general thought about this confusing passage is that Paul – through the use of the word “they” in relation to baptism for the dead – is referring to Pagans who did this as opposed to the newly Christian, identified as “we.”
How convenient that Mormons say the Bible is correct, but only in the Joseph Smith translation, which helpfully alters those parts of Luke, Ecclesiastes, and Hebrews [Eccles. 9:10, 11:12 and Luke 13:22, 16:19-31, Hebrews 9:27] that say there is no redemption after death – when you die, you’re judged, end of story. Not in the Mormon bible!
Joseph Smith received a “revelation” regarding this practice, so that’s all the Mormons care about, gleefully ignoring that their own Book Of Mormon contains not one mention of baptizing people who have died. The book that they claim holds the “fullness” of the gospel, the book that is “the most correct book of any book on earth, and the keystone to [their] religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding in its precepts, than by any other book .” (Book of Mormon, Introduction page). Not one word about baptizing for the dead. Or any mention of marriages for the dead. Or that blacks could have the priesthood. Or any of the temple ordinances. Or polygamy. Whoops! But still, most correct book on earth! The fullness of the gospel within its pages! Caveat emptor!
If anything, maybe this will get you to think twice before submitting names on FamilySearch.com or genealogy.com, both of which are church-run sites for research. Note: since the Simon Wiesenthal Center expressed their outrage at their Jewish hero being labeled – in the LDS database, at least – a Mormon, his name has since been stricken from their public records. But the deed was done.
How the heck is this done? – How it works
In the temple is a baptism room, which contains a large marble font resting on the backs of 12 stone oxen, the symbols of the Tribes of Israel. The font is surrounded by plexi-glass panels to keep the water in. On the far side is a computer screen, monitored by a temple worker. There are steps that lead up into the font, and steps that lead out and to a separate room. There are benches, or pews, for people to sit and wait their turn to perform baptisms by proxy and watch you as you perform yours.
Before you can go into the temple, you have to first get clearance from a Mormon clergy, specifically, your Bishop. He’ll interview you and make sure you’re toeing the Mormon line. For teens that means no petting, drinking, unchaste living. For all Mormons, the first question is: are you a full tithe payer. No tithing? No entry. It’s specifically asked if you’re “moral” but that only means abstaining from sex, it doesn’t mean not recycling, not giving your little brother swirlies, doing a lazy job at work, walking past someone crying for help, being a lousy gossip and so forth.
You attend the temple usually in a group – baptisms are more commonly performed by the teenage youth – and go to dressing rooms, which contain lockers with… locks. You’ve had to prove your morality, but there’s still a fear of thievery? Oh, right. Morality is sex, not stealing. You’re given temple clothes, because everything inside the temple has to be white from shoulders to shoes. You can also buy temple clothes inside. It’s nice hearing the cash registers “ching!” inside the temple. Takes me back to Jesus and the money changers….
The temple garment for youth is typically a polyester jumpsuit that zips up to your chin. Remember: white. You’re going into water. It’s best to not remove your bra and underwear, ladies, and you better remember to wear white underwear, or everyone will see your Valentine heart briefs.
When it’s your turn, you walk up the steps and down into the warm, bath-like water, and a priesthood member is there waiting for you. You hold your right hand up in affirmation, and cover your nose with your left. The priest begins the baptism ceremony:
Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I, [your name] baptize [dead person] by proxy, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, amen.
Then you suck in air, bend your knees, and rock back (it takes a few tries to get it right) because you have to be completely immersed in water, or you have to do it all over again. When I was originally baptized at the age of eight, I had to be dunked four times because my foot kept floating up. My dad stepped on my foot the last time so we could be done with it.
The person behind the plexiglass running the list of names through the computer hits ‘ok’ and then the next name on their list pops up and you do it again. I usually performed this rite for about 20 names each time I visited the temple, and we went at least four or five times as a group. In college, my roommate and I went at least once a month, just the two of us. Again, apologies to the families of those I was dunked for; I didn’t know any better.
After you’re done with your list (remember, your peers are sitting on pews watching you – hope you didn’t forget to take off your makeup!) you go down the far steps, are handed a towel by another temple worker, and depending on the need to rush, either go into the room to the right and perform the confirmation ceremony for the same list of people, or go get dressed and dry off a bit before performing step two.
Confirmation, or baptism by fire, is handled in a similar manner, except there are two priests with their hands on your head, and another one manning the PC. By your proxy, they confer the Holy Ghost to the person, making them an official member of the LDS church. The men lift their hands after and before starting on the next name, because… I never really knew. If they don’t lift their hands in between, can God (or the Mary Alvarezes) not figure out who’s who? I remember being shivery and cold, and having two sets of warm hands on my head felt good. Like a warmth of spirit, the baptism of fire filling my soul, except it was really just body heat and I was frickin’ freezing.
Mostly I recall how awkward I felt with wet snakes of hair on my back, trying to snail inward and hide my body from the boys sitting a few feet away, and hoping to feel impressed by “the spirit” that was supposedly ever-present in the temple. One leader talked about how she could see the people who belonged to the names on her list, her face glowing with joy. Their ghostly bodies were floating in the air, she said, and they smiled as each name was called, their spirit faces bursting with joy that we finally did this for their souls. She claimed she saw the newly Mormon spirit disappearing beyond a “veil,” clearly thankful that we were performing the acts so necessary to their eternal salvation.
Every time the priesthood member pulled me from the water I looked up, hoping to catch sight of Mary Alvarez joyously moving forward, no longer forced in Spirit Prison, but given the key to Spirit Paradise where she would wait before entering the Celestial Kingdom. I could only keep my eyes open for a moment—it’s a prayer, after all, and you’re meant to close your eyes to better connect with the Holy spirit.But after every name, I looked. I never saw that. But I wanted to.
Be sure to tune in every week to Mormon Mondays, found on my home site, laura-stone.com, on Soundcloud and iTunes! Next week is about those smiling guys on bikes, the missionaries! They’re just trying their best… Remember: Every share, reblog and tweet means an angel gets its wings and a puppy gets a nose boop, so don’t be a monster! I love comments, questions and story request! Until next time, thanks for listening to Oh My Heck!