Enough, already!

February 15, 2012 | 111 comments
By

Simon Wiesenthal

I was a little annoyed to hear it on the radio again yesterday. The Church was apologizing because apparently over-enthusiastic members had performed temple ordinances for recently-departed Jews, AGAIN! This time the situation was particularly egregious because the Jews involved are the parents of the late Nazi-hunter and war-crimes expert Simon Wiesenthal.

Can those who keep submitting these names stop already?

As I understand it, complaints about the baptism of holocaust victims have been made for decades now, and the Church’s policy that they not have posthumous temple work done has been in place for almost as long. But the practice has continued, leading the Church to attempt to filter out submissions of Jewish names in the New Family Search software starting in 2010. The most recent discovery may show that these efforts aren’t 100% effective.

The news reports also indicated that the name of Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel was added to one of the LDS genealogical databases, but, as the Church’s statement on the issue indicates, no posthumous ordinances were performed, and his name would have been rejected if anyone tried.

I must admit to being a little mystified about the reactions of Jews and others to our practice. If you don’t believe our religion, surely you don’t believe our practice has any effect whatsoever! And, if you bother to understand Mormon doctrine about the practice, you know that even Mormons don’t believe that these ordinances have any effect unless and until the person baptized by proxy accepts the ordinance in the hereafter.

But, I do understand one basic thing, some Jews see these ordinances, especially in the case of holocaust victims, as a symbolic slap in the face. For me, and apparently for the Church also, that is enough. If the relatives and co-religionists of these victims don’t want the work done, we shouldn’t do it (unless, a close relative is making the submission — and even then I suggest that the relative consult with the Church on how to handle the situation). We need to remember that we believe in the eternities. If it is right that these ordinances be done, I’m sure the Lord will make it possible at some point in the future. What is clear is that now is not the time. Let us avoid giving offense.

So, I’m afraid I don’t understand why over-zealous members keep doing this. Isn’t the policy well known by now? If not, isn’t the policy that you only do work for your own relatives well known? Aren’t you lying when you submit the names and claim that these are your relatives?

Of course, in some cases that have made the news, the work as been done by someone who IS a relative of the deceased. Most recently, complaints have arisen about the work done for Ann Romney’s father, who, according to these complaints, was a confirmed atheist. But, in that case, Ann submitted the name. To me that makes it a family matter–if Ann’s siblings or cousins don’t like it, they should talk to her. For the rest of us, its none of our business.

Perhaps this incident will help make these Church members stop. As I understand it, the person involved with submitting the names of Wiesenthal’s parents has lost the ability to submit names. I hope that risk will convince members that they can’t continue to do this.

So, to those who are submitting these names, please, stop already.

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111 Responses to Enough, already!

  1. John Taber on February 15, 2012 at 8:23 am

    Currently work can’t (generally) be done for someone who has been dead less than a year. Maybe the Church should make the waiting time a hundred years unless a relationship to the submitter can be proven. But that could be as futile as any effort to weed out controversial names . . .

  2. Julie M. Smith on February 15, 2012 at 9:25 am

    I’d be interested to see some data as to what % of members are aware of this policy. I would guess less than 50%.

  3. Researcher on February 15, 2012 at 9:36 am

    I was very glad to hear that the church actually banned someone from New Family Search. I wish they would do that more often. Perhaps they could disfellowship them too, while they’re at it. (One of the Jewish activists recommended excommunication, but that may be going a little far.)

    When you select ordinances on New Family Search, you see a description of the church’s policy on temple work. If you click through to another screen, there is a lengthy description of temple policy. It is very clear on not doing temple work for famous people, for Holocaust victims, and for people who lived before 1500.

    But in these days when we’re used to clicking “accept” on software licenses and installs without even reading the screen, I imagine many people don’t even bother to read the policy, as well as those who somehow feel themselves above the policies.

  4. Andrew S. on February 15, 2012 at 9:37 am

    I must admit to being a little mystified about the reactions of Jews and others to our practice. If you don’t believe our religion, surely you don’t believe our practice has any effect whatsoever! And, if you bother to understand Mormon doctrine about the practice, you know that even Mormons don’t believe that these ordinances have any effect unless and until the person baptized by proxy accepts the ordinance in the hereafter.

    I used to have this perspective (and to be quite honest, I still don’t completely understand the arguments to the contrary), but I was in a discussion where many people pointed out that you can have religious beliefs that acknowledge the impact of *other* people’s religious rituals. For example.

    A strange thing: people often accuse Wiccans of casting hexes. I have some hexes in my library but I have never in my life wanted to use one. But I do get hexed from time to time. I get letters that say “Transmit this St. Jude prayer to seven people or you’ll have seven years’ bad luck” and variants on that theme. From my point of view, the main hex-users in my life are a subset of Christians who don’t seem to see anything wrong with it. Really, if you believe the St. Jude letter is truthful, the only ethical thing to do when you receive one is destroy it. Otherwise you are purchasing good luck for yourself by inflicting bad luck on at least 7 (or 10 or 15, depending on the version) as many people, which is how many it will take to kill the chain you start. Not a nice thing to do!

    Baptism of unconsenting people is equally a hex. Imagine if Wiccans did this, what a fuss there would be!

    …Wiccans disagree on the propriety of doing magic on behalf of unwitting or unwilling recipients (it usually comes up with healing magic). I personally won’t, though I am a totally crappy healer so the issue seldom arises. I wish I saw more of this kind of restraint in other faith communities.

    I guess the bigger theme from the discussion was something along the lines of this:

    Here is how intent matters here. If the person truly does not intend to offend, the information that the result is, in fact, offensive, will lead to a cessation of the offensive action. Tender spots aren’t always as obvious as stomping a limb.

    In these cases, I think a lot of Mormons are left scratching their heads wondering, “OK, I don’t get how that is offensive.” The issue is what to do from there: do you keep proceeding with proxy baptisms as long as *you* (collectively, not you specifically) don’t get how it’s offensive? Or do you say, “OK, I don’t get your offense; I’ll stop it, though.”

    I think overzealous members continue to do this because (SPECULATION AND GENERALIZATION FOLLOW:) they don’t fully internalize the reasons why this could be offensive. So, their response is something like, “You’re offended because you just don’t understand, so I’ll keep on doing it.”

  5. Kent Larsen on February 15, 2012 at 9:48 am

    Julie, while I agree, I do think that the idea that you should be doing temple work for your own relatives only, especially in those that died in the last 100 years, is fairly well known.

    But, I too would be very interested to know how many are aware of the policy about holocaust victims.

  6. Kent Larsen on February 15, 2012 at 9:50 am

    Andrew S., thanks for that explanation.

    But for me the bottom line is simply that it offends others. Given an eternal perspective, do we need to be insistent that this temple work be done immediately? Can’t we wait until the Lord provides a way and time for it to be done?

  7. Andrew S. on February 15, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Kent,

    I guess there would be two things I’d ask
    …first, isn’t proxy baptism already something provided as a way and time for work to be done for the dead? Wouldn’t member already be inclined to see it as a step up from non-LDS approaches to what happens when people die outside of a particular religion?

    Secondly, do you think Mormonism is first and foremost about not being offensive or do you think some people see tension between the church and “the world” as important to maintain?

  8. Raymond Takashi Swenson on February 15, 2012 at 10:38 am

    In context, many other Christian churches believe baptism of dead Jews or other non-Christians is a waste of time, because the subjects are already burning in hell and will do so for eternity. I think we should ask those Jews who criticize the baptism on behalf of dead Jewish ancestors (like mine) if they would rather we adopted that viewpoint. If they discount those Christian’s views as having no effect, why can’t they give us the same courtesy?

  9. Bro. Jones on February 15, 2012 at 10:44 am

    #8 I see what you’re saying, but as others have said: if someone says to us, “Please don’t baptize my ancestors,” it’s kind of a jerk thing to say, “Meh, screw you and your ancestors, we have temples to keep busy.” And I say this as someone with Jewish family with whom I’ve had long discussions on the topic. Incidentally, I got my family to come around on it.

  10. Kent Larsen on February 15, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Andrew, I’m not quite sure where you are going with your questions.

    “isn’t proxy baptism already something provided as a way and time for work to be done for the dead?”

    If I understand you correctly, yes.

    “Wouldn’t member already be inclined to see it as a step up from non-LDS approaches to what happens when people die outside of a particular religion?”

    Again, if I understand your question correctly, yes.

    “do you think Mormonism is first and foremost about not being offensive”

    Huh? “first and foremost” is quite absolute. I don’t think many things are “first and foremost” about anything.

    My suggestion that we not be offensive is simply that since only a relatively few baptisms would be put on hold, why can’t we simply do what isn’t offensive in this case? I’m just suggesting that in this case the cost of not offending is relatively little and the gain is substantial.

    “do you think some people see tension between the church and “the world” as important to maintain?”

    Oh, I’m sure that there are those who believe this. I see some utility in it myself. But again, I don’t see this as absolute, or a reason to maintain offense in this case — because I don’t see these cases as so crucial at this point in the eternities that we should put other priorities at risk.

    Who knows what perceptions will be of our practices 100 years from now? Can’t we simply wait and see what happens?

  11. Sam Brunson on February 15, 2012 at 10:52 am

    If they discount those Christian’s views as having no effect, why can’t they give us the same courtesy?

    Probably because we generally see active and passive as different. Other churches may believe that non-Christians will burn in Hell, but they don’t actively do anything to (putatively) cause that to happen, so it’s easier to ignore. If we believed that non-Mormons who die have the chance to become Mormon in the afterlife, I doubt anybody would object. The offense is to our actively doing something to cause them to become Mormon.

    And given Jewish experience with enforced Christianity, I can totally understand the objections. Moreover, the Church has said that it understands institutionally, and that members are not supposed to do it.

    Andrew S., clearly the first priority of the Church isn’t to avoid giving offense, but so what if it falls in the first three or four (or ten, or whatever) priorities? There’s no downside to not performing proxy ordinances for certain subsets of people (because, in spite of our proxy theology, we don’t believe they’ll be harmed if we don’t do their work right now); as a result, the benefits of not giving offense in this particular regard undoubtedly outweigh whatever benefits there are of performing proxy work now.

  12. Janell on February 15, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Given the number of people I know who know very little about church operation, and given the number of people I know who practice sloppy genealogy – then, yup, I’d guess there’s a huge number of people who don’t know the rules and policies regarding submitting names to the temple.

  13. Mark B. on February 15, 2012 at 10:54 am

    Ardis posted a personal note on Keepapitchin that explains better than anything I’ve ever read why nonbelief in the ritual doesn’t really lessen the sense of violation. Maybe her essay should be required reading for anyone who wants to submit any names for temple work.

    http://www.keepapitchinin.org/2010/09/20/in-which-i-suddenly-understand/

    [Yeah, I could figure out how to imbed that link in a word or two, but I'm too lazy to do that this morning.]

  14. Mark B. on February 15, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Oh, and as to Researcher’s suggestion that disfellowshipment be the penalty–I agree. With excommunication held ready for a second offense.

  15. Jettboy on February 15, 2012 at 11:18 am

    The LDS Church leadership will continue to pander to Jews because its politically correct, but I have a hard time supporting it in theory. It is our religion, our church, and our faith to do proxy work. The scriptures are very clear that if we don’t do this the very existence of the human race is in peril. If a wiccan wants to do a hex on me, so be it as I don’t believe they have any power over me or my life. Besides, there is no harm associated with doing the ordinances other than if we don’t do them. For me to not do the proxy because a group of Jews get upset is a slap in God’s face and fearing the arm of flesh.

    Religious penalties for doing what God commands us to do because someone outside the Church doesn’t like it? Talk about unrighteous dominion.

  16. Kent Larsen on February 15, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Thanks, Mark B. for posting the link to Ardis’ wonderful article. It explains the the Jewish viewpoint very, very well — in a way most Mormons will understand.

    As for disfellowship, I hope that the circumstances manner to some degree. If the person honestly didn’t know the policy and had never heard of the policy, then perhaps disfellowshipment is a bit strong.

    Thankfully, in cases of “church discipline” a lot of leeway is given to those charged with judging.

    I just wish there was a way to make sure that everyone understood the problem.

  17. Kent Larsen on February 15, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Jettboy, read Ardis’ post! The one Mark B. linked to:

    http://www.keepapitchinin.org/2010/09/20/in-which-i-suddenly-understand/

  18. Kevin Barney on February 15, 2012 at 11:21 am

    My impression is that perhaps a majority of “ordinary” members (by which I mean those who are not active in Internet Mormonism) have no conception that this policy exists.

    This whole thing is really embarrassing to me. We’re supposed to be this mega-organized institution, and we cannot convey this message to our people in a way that will actually take. We deserve the black eye we’re going to absorb over this.

    There is this cultural thing in the Church that people think it’s “cool” to do ordinances for famous historical figures. The removal of privileges/disfellowshipment options will be a start to the extent that the clueless Mormon rabble actually learn of them. But I think it’s going to take an Apostle standing up in General Conference and speaking in very bold terms against this practice to really make a dent in it.

  19. Andrew S. on February 15, 2012 at 11:22 am

    And RTS serves as exhibit A for my first point.

  20. Mark B. on February 15, 2012 at 11:30 am

    And, Kevin, there are those who do participate in “Internet Mormonism” who are equally clueless. See, e.g., comment 15.

  21. Andrew S. on February 15, 2012 at 11:35 am

    Re 10

    Kent,

    With the first and foremost part I was responding to your comment that the “bottom line” for you was that it offends people.

    My question probably should have Bern something more like, “do you think that is the bottom line for other Mormons when thy are considering what they do as part of their religion?”

    For me, it wasn’t. But then again, maybe I was just a bad person? ;)

  22. Mark N. on February 15, 2012 at 11:51 am

    So when the athiests start a movement to prevent temple work just as a matter of principle, then what?

  23. Mark B. on February 15, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    First of all, we’d have to figure out if they are “athiests” or “atheists.”

    And, once we’ve done that, we don’t do temple work for their ancestors.

  24. Jettboy on February 15, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    I’m not “clueless,” as I have been following the Jewish thing since it started. I just HIGHILY disagree with pandering to anyone outside my faith when it comes to my faith. And I wasn’t very moved by that link. It sounded to me like a person who wasn’t in control of their emotions and didn’t fully understand the point of the doctrine of proxy work. The point being that it gets done for the salvation of the Children of God so long as its done in a Temple and by proper authority. Calling someone a nincompoop for doing the work of God was not very Christlike.

  25. SusanS on February 15, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    There is a political point to Jewish Holocaust victims objections which I have not seen is that the often the Nazis forced Jews to be baptized as Christians.

  26. John Mansfield on February 15, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    “There is this cultural thing in the Church that people think it’s ‘cool’ to do ordinances for famous historical figures”

    I have never once encountered this “cultural thing.” No one has ever said anything to me about a famous person he or she did ordinances for. On the other hand, I’ve known several people in my ward who recruit the ward to help with ordinance work for all the children of their great-great-grandparents brothers and sisters.

  27. Sam Brunson on February 15, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    The point being that it gets done for the salvation of the Children of God so long as its done in a Temple and by proper authority.

    I’m not convinced that this is the point of temple work. I get the impression that it’s at least as much for our (the doers’) personal spiritual progression; we believe that everybody will have the chance to have proxy work done at some point. In fact, we know for a fact that we won’t be able to do everybody’s proxy work in this life (lack of records, destruction of records, etc.).

    So what is “pandering” about respecting others’ wishes? It’s not a competition and, to the extent that their ancestors want to accept salvific ordinances, they’ll have the chance. In the meantime, I’m not sure that we’re particularly blessed for doing sacred ordinances in an adversarial manner, or against the Church’s policy directives.

  28. Sam Brunson on February 15, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    No one has ever said anything to me about a famous person he or she did ordinances for.

    Fair enough. But I’ll counter your anecdotal experience with mine: I knew someone who did proxy work for (IIRC) Charlie Parker and other jazz greats. He was a great jazz musician, and sincerely appreciated their contributions to music, but wasn’t descended from them in any non-musical sense.

  29. Ardis E. Parshall on February 15, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    I just love it when some people who are as un-Christlike as it gets complain about other people being un-Christlike as if it were a defense for their own bad acts. And yes, I recognize the endless loop I am entering with this remark.

  30. Jettboy on February 15, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    I guess it depends on your definition of Christ-like. To me doing the work of the Lord and calling out apostates and defending the words of God are Christlike. Calling people names who are doing the work of the Lord not so much.

  31. Ardis E. Parshall on February 15, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    It’s your Church, Jettboy, and its leaders, who have made this decision and are asking you to abide by it. Where is the virtue in defying their judgment and complaining that they are “pandering” (a filthy word), and setting up your own wisdom as greater than theirs?

  32. Wilfried on February 15, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    How sure can we be that a faithful Mormon submitted those names? I assume some (unidentified) ex-Mormons, with an axe to grind and feelings of revenge, can still access the database to enter names, well knowing what the consequences can be. And then find a way to inform the Jews who are sensitive to the issue?

  33. Researcher on February 15, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    “I have never once encountered this “cultural thing.””

    Seriously? Never heard about Wilford Woodruff’s vision of the Founding Fathers? Never heard a joke about people doing the temple work for Elvis? (Even though he isn’t really dead…)

    If you’ve never been exposed to this sort of thing, you could click over to read Ardis’s post mentioned in comments 13 and 17, since there are a number of experiences shared there.

    My mother told me recently about her brother going to the temple. On his way in someone handed him a family file card and asked if he could do it. He said, “Sure,” without looking at it, and when he actually did look at it, it was for some recently deceased famous person. He was scandalized, since he thought it was an actual family file name.

    By the way, about Woodruff’s vision, I personally don’t put that under the same category as the current baptizing of famous people. It happened in 1877 right after the first proxy endowments began in the newly-built St. George Temple, and I think it was a vital point in the development of the temple ordinances and sealings as we know them, and of the origins of the Genealogical Society (now FamilySearch), but it is certainly not a pattern to follow in doing temple work, any more than we would perform the ordinances as they were performed back then.

    (In other words, we believe in continuing revelation and the authority of our current leaders to direct doctrine and policy, so if we believe in temple work at all, we should follow the current recommendations.)

  34. h_nu on February 15, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    It’s amazing to see the number of bloggernacle-ites who think excommunication for adultery and homosexuality are too harsh, but think it’s a fitting punishment for failing to read the policy of a website…

  35. Mark B. on February 15, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    So you think it’s God’s work to perform again and again temple ordinances for people who received those ordinances already in their lifetimes? And then to change the public record to cover up the record of the actual ordinance with the mistaken (and meaningless) proxy ordinance performed years later? Your God must be a horribly disorganized and inefficient Being–who is happy to have us waste time re-doing ordinances 14 times for Elvis Presley, for example, while countless others await their turn.

    And, frankly, “nincompoop” is considerably more Christ-like than “&*^##@ nincompoop” which is what I thought when I read that blog post.

  36. h_nu on February 15, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Ardis,
    The bloggernacle-ites often remind us that we don’t have to “like” everything our church leaders tell us to do.

    I for one agree with the church’s policy choice, but not the reasoning.

    If an Atheist were to claim, “Having missionaries offends me” are we going to stop “bearing witness of Christ at all times?”
    If a NOM were to claim, “Bearing testimony to the historical veracity of the BoM offends me,” are the faithful going to give it up?
    If a homosexual is going to claim that “their love is just as eternal as true heterosexual marriage” are we going to throw the Law of Chastity away?

    In some stances, some would say yes. People like Jettboy and I, would say no.

  37. Frank Pellett on February 15, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    I find it amusing that there are people who spend time watching for names in the FamilySearch database, just to be sure certain people don’t have their work done.

    I think part of the desire of some members to do work for famous people (or who they deem need to be “saved”) is a result of Joseph Smith getting the vision of the US founding fathers and doing work for them. Granted, I doubt the people doing this are recieving angelic visitations requesting work be done, but it makes them feel important. “Did you hear? -I- got baptized for Napoleon. No, not Dynamite, -the- Napoleon.”

    Doing work for people not your family (or helping someone else’s family) makes the work about you, not them.

  38. Frank Pellett on February 15, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    Oops, was Wilford Woodruff, not Joseph Smith (stand corrected)

  39. Mark B. on February 15, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    Since I suggested excommunication–but only for repeated offenses, and partly in jest (but only partly), I’d suggest that we consider the damage done to the church by the misguided people who ignore church policy and bring public shame onto the church. Even if a well-known stake president were guilty of adultery, the rest of the world would simply react–”another man committing the oldest sin in the books”–but it wouldn’t make the whole church look bad. And that’s one of the considerations in church discipline–what effects the transgression has on the reputation of the church.

    So, there’s a valid argument to be made for the severest discipline.

  40. Researcher on February 15, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    “It’s amazing to see the number of bloggernacle-ites who think excommunication for adultery and homosexuality are too harsh, but think it’s a fitting punishment for failing to read the policy of a website… (34)”

    And, what, exactly is that amazing number? How could you possibly know what any of the small handful of us who mentioned church discipline think about excommunication in general?

    (Although now, with a screen refresh, I see that Mark B. has explained himself further. And I agree with his point about the damage to the reputation of the church.)

  41. Kent Larsen on February 15, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Andrew S (21)

    “With the first and foremost part I was responding to your comment that the “bottom line” for you was that it offends people.”

    Ah, that makes things clearer. I don’t mean that it is the bottom line for everything in the gospel, just in this subject.

    “My question probably should have been something more like, “do you think that is the bottom line for other Mormons when thy are considering what they do as part of their religion?”

    Oh, I don’t know. I suspect that something like what I’m saying is the Church’s viewpoint. I don’t necessarily think that it is universal.

    But, I do think that this is probably the best course for both the Church and for members of the Church.

  42. Jettboy on February 15, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    “what effects the transgression has on the reputation of the church.”

    To some of us that kind of thinking is wrong and perhaps even non-Scriptural. We do things because its the right thing to do or God asks us to do it. I find it funny that the same people who complain the LDS Church shouldn’t be so PR conscious are suddenly so concerned on THIS issue. Why? I don’t understand.

  43. Kent Larsen on February 15, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    Jettboy (30) wrote:

    I guess it depends on your definition of Christ-like. To me doing the work of the Lord and calling out apostates and defending the words of God are Christlike.

    As in everything, there is a world of difference among the various ways that this can be accomplished. “Calling out” people itself doesn’t quite sound Christlike to my ear. Perhaps my ear is overly sensitive?

    Are you suggesting that failing to do these particular temple ordinances now (as opposed to in the Lord’s due time) is so important that it is worth offending those who might be our allies on other issues or who might even be interested in the Church otherwise?

    And I’m not sure how you can justify your implicit criticism of the brethren in calling their actions towards the Jews “pandering.” Like in most attempts to interpret the actions of others, there are multiple ways of interpreting. What you see as “doing the work of the Lord” could also be called “short-sighted zealotry.” We’ve been told to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” — and it sure seems like the Church is taking that tack to me. But perhaps my interpretation is wrong somehow?

    As for your statement “I wasn’t very moved by that link,” I wonder that you weren’t moved — or didn’t at least see the parallel between what Ardis experienced and what Jews have experienced. I don’t know about you, but each time I’m not moved I try to think to myself about that scripture in the Book of Mormon that talks about being “past feeling.”

  44. Mike Parker on February 15, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    The current system presumes the honesty and sanity of the individual who submits the names. In any organization as large as ours, you’re going to have a tiny percentage of people who (a) think it’s funny to do Adolph Hitler’s temple work, (b) think the rules don’t apply to them, and/or (c) want to embarrass the Church by pulling stupid stunts.

    The only solution to this is to create a review process for every name submitted, but that would create a massive bottleneck that would slow temple work to a crawl and require immense time and effort by paid or volunteer workers. It’s simply not worth it.

  45. chris on February 15, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Again! Oh my gosh! You mean someone didn’t get the memo?!?!

    The non-existent outrage incredulity is over the top. Here’s a simple truth, no matter what you do, some % of people are going to make mistakes, are going to do things without realizing it’s forbidden, and are going to do things because they think they can. Anyone who reads this blog post, or clings to the latest AP reports, etc. is not going to be the target of the communication to stop submitting forbidden names.

    The best you could hope for us a prompt every single time you upload a name that tells you to double check you are allowed to do so, but presumably we do that (I haven’t worked with the system on that level) and even so, there is nothing you can do to communicate to someone that doesn’t read the fine (or large) print.

    I’m not arguing we should just baptize them all and let some people rage (while others gin up faux rage for effect). But I fear once the church concedes some names are off limits it’s only a matter of time before it creeps a little further. Pretty soon, we’ll have people insisting that if *any* ancestor is upset, then other ancestors will not be allowed to utter a persons name and hold them in brief memory while they are baptized.

    That’s really the issue here… can you tell me I can’t pray for certain deceased? Or is it I’m just not allowed to pray and write their name down? Or is it the horror of praying and actually doing something physical at the same time followed up by writing their name down?

    Again, I’m not arguing we should butt heads over this, because temple work should promote a feeling of love not contention.

  46. Mark B. on February 15, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Jettboy, if you believe that damage to the reputation of the church is not a valid consideration in church discipline, then perhaps you should (1) read the handbook–I don’t have it here, and will have to get it from my office at the church to cite the precise language. And then, when you’ve read it, you should (2) ask yourself why the First Presidency and the Twelve are so much farther from being able to discern what is “scriptural” than you are.

  47. John Mansfield on February 15, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Researcher, to be a current “cool” cultural thing amongst us, there would have to be more than third-hand accounts such as yours to point to; each of us should directly know someone in our ward or family who told us last Sunday that she has Whitney Houston’s death anniversary marked on the calendar.

  48. Blake on February 15, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    Suppose that a major Jewish movement, say the Orthodox movement, chose to hold a special service on Yom Kippur so that Mormons and all of their ancestors could all be forgiven for their sins and blindly following a Messiah who led them astray. What do you think the response would be from Mormons? I suspect that we would thank these well-meaning folks for caring about our well-being and the well-being of our forebearers even though we think are are wrong about the Messiah thing. I think we would see the service as well-intentioned even if misguided from our point of view.

    I suppose that is why I just don’t get what the big deal about work for the dead. Oh, I understand that the Church has now entered into an agreement not to carry on the salvific work for the dead for Holocaust survivors. We are duty bound to honor that agreement now. But what is the big deal? From the Jewish perspective what we do surely appears misguided — but it is surely well-intentioned and motivated by nothing but love and concern for their well-being. From the Jewishj perspective it has to be that our work for the dead is merely a nullity occasioned by misguided spiritual devotion — even if the intention is to express or love for them.

    I know that there is always a certan % that will cry foul no matter what — they are thin-skinned individuals who will choose to take offense where none is intended and cause trouble where none exists. In this case, we have a professional and hateful anti-Mormon stirring the pot — and we empowered her surly hatred with an ill-advised agreement.

    If someone didn’t get the Memo — give them the memo and explain the inexplicable to them. Explain that the ordinances of salvation (from an LDS point of view to which we are entitled) don’t need to be done if someone somewhere will get their nose bent out of joint and choose to take offense. But with that standard, certainly everything we do will come to a halt including all of our missionary work. There have been numerous individuals totally offended that we would proselytize those who already believe in Christ. There are numerous who are offended that we send missionaries at all. Ward dinners would certainly be a thing of the past. No more green jello for sure. Are we really wise to let ourselves by held hostage by the most thin-skinned who are bent on seeing even our best-motivated acts as evil?

  49. Ardis E. Parshall on February 15, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    I think we would see the service as well-intentioned even if misguided from our point of view.

    Well, sure. We’re always grateful, aren’t we, for the well-intentioned prayers and public statements of certain Christians branding us as cultists, because we know they have our best intentions at heart and are only trying to save us in their misguided way.

  50. Jettboy on February 15, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    “if you believe that damage to the reputation of the church is not a valid consideration in church discipline”

    If there was intention to damage the reputation of the church, then yes. If it was not intended and they were trying to do their duty to God as best they understood, then no.

    I also second what Blake said. Where does avoiding offence start and no longer following our religious obligations end?

  51. Jettboy on February 15, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    what we do Ardis is private and only in particular records noted. We don’t make public statements about our work, who its done for, and a way to call others out for their “misguided way.” I understand your point, but it only proves that those Christians have a far better sense of who they are than we Mormons do I suppose.

  52. Mark B. on February 15, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Blake, you’d have to change your hypothetical to include the fact that your pioneer ancestor, who slogged through the snows of Wyoming with the Martin Handcart Company, is now shown on a semi-public database as a Jew, due to a posthumous ceremony performed by some aggressive sect of Ultra-orthodox Jews.

    Jettboy, I thought I had dealt with your “intent” question by suggesting that we reserve excommunication for second offenses. But, really, are there avid genealogists out there, the kind of people who do this, who don’t know about the Church’s agreement regarding temple work for the Jews? Besides, if a well-publicized excommunication or two would prevent future problems like this, even innocent excommunicants can simply consider themselves valiant soldiers giving their lives for the cause of truth.

    And, as soon as this limitation affects your ability to live your religion, let me know. I’ll send some suggestions along of some alternative ways you can lose yourself in Christian service to others. As for the dead, they’ll be fine. I’m confident that a loving God will grant relief to all those clamoring for it, even if we cannot perform their proxy baptisms right now.

  53. N. on February 15, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    If you don’t believe our religion, surely you don’t believe our practice has any effect whatsoever!

    I’m all for trying to understand, but I don’t see how us keeping a private list of people we would like to have in Heaven is devaluing anyone’s life, faith or legacy. It doesn’t matter how many times people say “it just does;” I just don’t get it. Being on anyone else’s private list of anything doesn’t effect me or my life at all.

    I suggest we put a new marker on LDS ordinances on the records called “the date we decided to notice this super-cool person we really love who was *never Mormon*” right next to “baptism date” Naturally everyone who is offended at being in a Mormon baptismal list somewhere can have that date shifted over to the “super-cool” column. The Lord knows what we did and when; he can explain it to their descendants at a later time.

    Done and done.

  54. Jettboy on February 15, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Mark B., do you have any idea how the practice of polygamy was ended and why? To me this is just the first step to losing our Temples again.

  55. Blake on February 15, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    Mark B.: So? I don’t see that it changes anything — we don’t show anyone as Mormon and we don’t believe that the ordinances we perform make anyone a Mormon per se.

    Ardis: If another chooses to take offense, I cannot control — but if someone prays for the salvation of my soul I’m grateful.

  56. N. on February 15, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    you’d have to change your hypothetical to include the fact that your pioneer ancestor, who slogged through the snows of Wyoming with the Martin Handcart Company, is now shown on a semi-public database as a Jew, due to a posthumous ceremony performed by some aggressive sect of Ultra-orthodox Jews.

    I’m not Blake, but fine by me. Especially because “semi-public” is another way of saying “private.”

  57. Cray Z. Mann on February 15, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    I am in complete agreement with jettboy and Blake. To hell with all those thin-skinned people who are just looking for occasion to take offense!!! We are but humble servants of the Lord, and we don’t care what others think.

    The Brethren were obviously pandering to political correctness when they made this ill-advised decision to show a modicum of respect for the wishes of others. Because of this decision, we are going to lose our temples, close all our missions, and quit having ward dinners.

    Folks, this is all-out war on our church. If you are all too dumb to understand that, I suggest you go back and read each one of jettboy’s and Blake’s comments on this post. Their wisdom and courage should inspire us to even greater efforts.

  58. Mark B. on February 15, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    I notice, Cray Z., that you ignored N.’s humble contribution. Are you one of those snobs who simply ignore people who don’t know the difference between “effect” and “affect”?

  59. JimD on February 15, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    One other aspect to bear in mind, is the fact that the Church currently has a number of employees/missionaries dedicated to expanding the collection of the Family History Library by contacting records repositories around the world and requesting permission to duplicate their holdings.

    It makes it pretty hard for us to get more of these kinds of records–especially from religious institutions–when we’ve established a reputation for running roughshod over the religious sensitivities of the people whose records we [i]do[/i] have.

  60. clark on February 15, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    The LDS Church leadership will continue to pander to Jews because its politically correct, but I have a hard time supporting it in theory.

    It probably has a lot to do with the land, buildings and facility in Israel the Church has and doesn’t want to lose. I don’t see why Mormons are upset on this. So you delay doing someone’s work for 50 years until the Holocaust doesn’t have the emotional impact it still does. This really doesn’t hurt anyone. Especially when you consider how many people’s work has probably been done wrong and will need redone.

  61. clark on February 15, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    Well, sure. We’re always grateful, aren’t we, for the well-intentioned prayers and public statements of certain Christians branding us as cultists, because we know they have our best intentions at heart and are only trying to save us in their misguided way.

    While I’m sympathetic to this I think it actually highlights why I don’t care when people call me a cult. Honestly as a religious sentiment – typically by people whose religions views I don’t exactly hold in high esteem myself – it really isn’t something I care about. Why I care is when this is used to discriminate and sometimes outright persecute us. i.e. make it seem like Mormons are not to be trusted. (Think the Protocols of Zion like ending to the Godmakers which undoubtedly has an effect in the current political campaign) Now that really bothers me.

    However note that this is a point of complete disanalogy with the baptism for the dead issue. It isn’t portraying Jews as untrustworthy or the like. Indeed anyone who knows Mormons knows the pretty ridiculous high esteem we hold Jews in. (And honestly I think it is precisely that high esteem that makes us bend over to worry about their feelings) We should remember that it really wasn’t that long ago that Jews were still actively persecuted. Not allowed to go to particular universities, not hired, or worse. And that’s easily in the lifetime of people reading this post. It’s a bit much to expect that purely emotional response to be overlooked because we explain why it isn’t rational. It doesn’t matter if it’s rational. It’s a completely understandable reaction given the 20th century persecution. As a group that’s faced persecution ourselves I think it’s 100% understandable the Brethren would react the way they do.

    What I don’t understand are those who know the Church’s policy and consciously ignore it. (The unintended actions is more understandable and is frankly a place to criticize the current computer system of the Church)

  62. Jettboy on February 15, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    If you notice my statement about closing Temples, perhaps you noticed the context I placed it in. Are you aware how close the LDS Church came to getting wiped out because enough people didn’t like what we were doing? At this point the issue might be a drop in the bucket, but there is precedence for it to go father. Oh the irony of a Holocaust survivor on that side of history.

  63. wondering on February 15, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    Off topic, but I’m always amused by the internet Mormons who think that things that never get discussed in church meetings or manuals are nevertheless “well known.”

  64. Melissa B. on February 15, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    Awwwwwww! I was going to submit Michael Jackson’s name. I’m probably too late.

    I think many people don’t know the policy (I didn’t know). If they announced it in Sacrament, and you were late that day, or in RS and you’re in Primary and don’t hear the announcements….well, no wonder!

    Blake – I’m entranced with “Salvific” – good word!

  65. clark on February 15, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    To be fair, what Wilford Woodruff did could be seen as doing the work for “celebrities.”

  66. h_nu on February 15, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    Given the story of Daniel in the Hebrew Bible, it is quite ironic for a small, outspoken, group of Jewish people to try and complain and prohibit the free exercise of religion in the American tradition of freedom of thought and the free exercise of religion.

    Think about it from the Babylonian POV. “Everyone knew” that praying to the Hebrew God was offensive (Jerusalem had fallen, Yahweh had failed them), and they “should be polite and honor the God of the land of their captors”.

    I, for one, don’t buy the emotionally unhealthy viewpoint of “you have to do everything you can to not offend anyone.” You’ll go crazy that way. Intelligent mental health professionals will inform you that people who tell you you have to act a certain way in order to keep from offending someone are bullies. The bloggernacle is full of bullies, and some of them are blog perma’s.

    But, I think we should make a point with this situation. Unofficially, we could list out the names of Holocaust survivors, and start a prayer list. We can add to it the names of the current trouble makers-including Helen Radkey and the offended Rabbi. We can then pray for those currently alive, and those who are no longer alive. Then those offended can try and limit our prayers, the bloggernacle-ites can say we should change our behavior because we might possibly offend someone, and the thought-police can investigate. Then, at least, the Rabbi would have a right to be offended.

  67. Marine1 on February 15, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    The protocol to not do “proxy work” for holocaust survivors came down from the First Presidency (if I’m wrong please tell me)… my understanding of how they work is that they counsel with the Lord in all matters (if I’m wrong please tell me)… with that in mind, I have come to the conclusion that it is revelation from the Lord to not perform this work at this time. So unless you choose not to exercise FAITH or BELIEVE that the First Presidency can communicate with the Lord on such matters as this, then why are you members of this church? Why would you believe that the First Presidency is pandering to this group? Why are we even questioning this policy? The point I’m trying to make is this… in the Lord’s time all things will be done, ours is to do our part and at this time our part is to NOT do “proxy work” for this group of Jews. To believe that the First Presidency didn’t counsel with the Lord on this matter and that He did not reveal to them what they should do, would lead me to believe that this church is NOT His.

  68. psychochemiker on February 15, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    Some Bullies try and censor the viewpoints of others…

  69. Kent Larsen on February 15, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    I’m going to delete comments 62, 69, 73 and 75 by Cray Z. Mann for excessive personal attacks. I’m also removing posts by N (60), and Blake (61) and (64). All are put on notice. The personal attacks are not permitted. [numbers are before the deletions]

  70. Kent Larsen on February 15, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    I also need to warn everyone that we require a valid email address. Throw away addresses are NOT permitted and will get your comments deleted when they are discovered.

  71. Kent Larsen on February 15, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    For the record, I strongly disagree with Jettboy, Cray Z., Blake and others who seem to be saying “to hell with the feelings of others.”

    I especially like clark’s logic on this:

    So you delay doing someone’s work for 50 years until the Holocaust doesn’t have the emotional impact it still does. This really doesn’t hurt anyone.

    In contrast, some of the counter-examples given (of not proselyting because it might offend certain groups, for example) either do have a high cost for us, OR, we actually ARE respecting their feelings — such as in the case of countries where they have prohibited our proselyting by law. We respect that choice. We don’t ignore it and proselyte anyway.

  72. Erin on February 15, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    I wonder how many of the people who did the temple work for Holocaust victims and famous people, etc. did so because they believe that the 1st presidency’s announcement is really just a PR thing, designed to placate nonmembers, but is really a wink at them to continue. Much in the same way that I think those 1st presidency letters about the church not supporting any political party, and for members to vote their own conscience. I know of people who view those letters as a cover-your-behind thing for the church but a nod & a wink for members to follow the right (!) party.

  73. Erin on February 15, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    Also: Let’s say a bunch of morons, (the ones who love The Godmakers, who scream “whore” at new brides at Temple Square, who leave comments at the SL Trib’s website), were to suddenly decide my baptism and temple work was invalid, and decided to fix that via morons doing proxy work. So, I wouldn’t believe in the validity of their work, but I’d sure be pissed. And of course, my anger would be nothing compared to what the descendants of these victims would feel. It is the ultimate narcissism to not try to see another person’s point of view and bulldoze over their feelings.

  74. Raymond Takashi Swenson on February 16, 2012 at 1:05 am

    The Catholic Church has sent out a policy statement opposing giving LDS Church research teams access so they can record church records of births, deaths and marriages. It is based on opposition to vicarious baptism of deceased Catholics. The question I have is, how do the souls of the deceased belong to the Catholic Church rather than their own descendants and families? Assertion of the same dominion over the souls of those baptized Catholic would prevent us from sending missionaries into Catholic communities, including Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Latin America. Indeed, the missions in Spain, Portugal and Italy were only opened around 1970 because of Catholic opposition.

    Eventually some Jewish group will complain that we are baptizing LIVING Jews and committing genocide against the Jews, because they have low fertility rates and converting them to any form of Christianity (the Jews kindly include Mormons in Christendom) eventually destroys the population of Judaism. While the Church obeys the laws barring proselyting in Israel, we are going to have to offend some Jews, and some Catholics, and a lot of Southern Baptists if we are going to fulfill our commission to preach and baptize aound the world. Paul and Barnabas ticked off a lot of Jews with their preaching in the synagogues of the Roman Empire.

  75. Blake on February 16, 2012 at 2:21 am

    Kent: “I especially like clark’s logic on this: So you delay doing someone’s work for 50 years until the Holocaust doesn’t have the emotional impact it still does. This really doesn’t hurt anyone.”

    Well, let’s test that. Change the 50 years to a 1,000 years, does that change your view? I guess I forgot that the Church’s agreement had a 50 year term. Why do baptisms for the dead at all right now? After all, we could just wait until it is more politically correct and won’t get us such bad PR.

    Perhaps we could add a proviso to Jesus’s great commission: “Go into all the world baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost — unless of course they are Jews.” We could this proviso: “Unless of course they could be offended because they have a history of being persecuted.” We could add this proviso: “Unless of course others will call you names and publish bad stories about you creating bad PR.”

    Come to think of it, the Great Commission just ain’t so great with any of these provisos.

  76. Marie on February 16, 2012 at 2:23 am

    I met an American Jewish lady at the Western Wall in 1998 when I was there with BYU. She wanted to know about our church because she was impressed with our students’ great interest in Jewish and Muslim cultures–she said that most Christian students came to Israel just to study about Christian history and largely ignored the other faiths. When I explained to her the LDS non-proselytizing agreement and that under Israeli law I wasn’t allowed to tell her anything about our beliefs, she launched into a rant about Jews who try to protect themselves from all future hurt by turning into racists and bullies themselves. She wondered aloud if Israel could really call itself a democracy with laws that picked on minority faiths. She apologized on behalf of her people and said she’d learn more about Mormons when she got back to the States. It is sad that a Christian group so especially enamored of Judaism isn’t given the benefit of the doubt in these matters, but I have and do respect the policy of the Church in complying with the desires of these vocal Jewish minorities.

    However, the present offense, as far as I can tell, was smaller than advertised: Simon Wisenthal’s mother died in the Holocaust, but his father died during WWI. And from the stories I’ve read, it’s unclear whether the person submitting these names for temple work was a collateral relative of the Wiesenthals. It’s also unclear whether the genealogical record for Wiesenthal’s mother clearly stated that she died in a death camp rather than just in Poland–if the record wasn’t clear on that point, submitting it for temple work could have been an innocent mistake on the part of the member and then could have slipped by the Church’s Holocaust victim filters. (Though I doubt it: I’d imagine it was submitted by a troublemaker of some kind.)

  77. Bradley on February 16, 2012 at 4:48 am

    I’m as surprised as anyone to see a Jew complaining about something, but maybe a little tit for tat is in order. They are welcome to do proxy bar mitzvahs for my ancestors as a form of payback.

  78. Kent Larsen on February 16, 2012 at 7:06 am

    Blake (75), neither you nor I have any idea whether the agreement with the Jewish organizations has a term or not.

    Off hand, I can’t think of any agreement that has lasted more than 100 years or so — if there are any, they are very few and very far between. No one wants to be hamstrung into a future they know nothing about.

    We also know almost nothing about the future of 50 years from now. That is exactly why agreeing to hold off on performing temple work for a relatively small number of people doesn’t matter much. Enough people have lived on the earth that we will be able to keep busy doing Temple work for the foreseeable future (and if we do run out of information, the number we’ve agreed here not to baptize won’t be the reason or the solution).

    AFAICT, the only possible downside is that that respecting the wishes of the Jews will lead to other groups requiring the same respect. Theoretically, that might eventually become a problem. News in the media about Jewish objections certainly makes that more likely, doesn’t it?

    My point is that all of this assumes that the current situation continues and expands. IMO, this kind of extrapolation is almost always wrong.

    At least the folk belief (bolstered by calculations of the amount of work to be done) of Mormons is that the majority of those who have died will have their Temple work done in the Millennium, following the second coming. I very much doubt that any agreement will survive the millennium. If some small portion of records have to wait until then (along with all those whose records do not exist), why should we worry.

    ALSO:
    You continue to bring up the comparison to missionary work. But, as I’ve observed before, we DO the same thing in missionary work. When a government makes it illegal to proselyte, we don’t do it. We have enough other places where we CAN work that we can leave those nations that don’t let us proselyte for now and wait for them to change their minds.

    In the end, I suppose, this really doesn’t matter that much. The Brethren have made the decision to respect the wishes of those who don’t want us to do these ordinances and have set a policy to not do them. If you disagree with that policy, then perhaps the best thing to do is to take it up with them.

    Isn’t it clear that in the Mormon context the thing NOT to do is to find ways around the policy and perform the ordinances anyway?

  79. Kent Larsen on February 16, 2012 at 7:06 am

    Bradley (77), perhaps we could avoid stereotyping Jews?

  80. Doug Hudson on February 16, 2012 at 8:30 am

    I haven’t seen anyone mention this yet, but for hundreds (almost thousands) of years, Christians would periodically force groups of Jews to convert to Christianity at sword point. (And those were the lucky ones–often Jews were just slaughtered without the chance to “convert”) An entire group of Jews in Spain were forced to “go underground”, adopting outward catholic appearances, while secretly keeping as much of their Judaism as they could.
    So, for a sect of Christians to baptize Jews (even deceased Jews) without permission, brings back memories of almost unparalleled persecution, that goes back much further than the Holocaust.
    Why would the Mormons want to cause such offense? Surely God will deal with it in his own time?

  81. h_nu on February 16, 2012 at 8:51 am

    Kent,
    Sure, when it’s illegal. We’re not talking about legality, yet. But we certainly don’t want to start backsliding so that it becomes about legality…

  82. VeritasLiberat on February 16, 2012 at 9:00 am

    “AFAICT, the only possible downside is that that respecting the wishes of the Jews will lead to other groups requiring the same respect.”

    Are there any other groups whose need for respect is so understandable and so urgently motivated? We’re not talking about a group of politically correct nit-pickers here. We’re not talking about people who just happen to dislike our doctrines. We’re talking about a people who were obliterated en masse. SIX. MILLION. Can you wrap your head around this number? Because of the Holocaust, there are only 13 million Jews worldwide instead of 32 million.

    What kind of people are we if we expect them to just “get over it, already”? If anyone deserves special consideration in this matter, it’s Holocaust survivors. Our prophets, seers, and revelators understand this clearly.

  83. VeritasLiberat on February 16, 2012 at 9:03 am

    Post above was not aimed at Kent — I’m on his side. The “you” refers to the posters who think we should just baptize whoever we want.

  84. Mike on February 16, 2012 at 9:17 am

    I agree that we should follow the prophet on this and not do this work as described. I also agree that the complainers are thin-skinned and do not understand proxy baptisms.

    Bottom line: an agreement has been reached and members should honor it.

  85. Blake on February 16, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Kent: Actually, we know that the term is as long as there are Holocaust survivors — and that is forever. The agreement isn’t to hold for a relatively small period of time. However, my son-in-law has a Jewish heritage so he is free to baptize away. What happens if he gives me a name to do from his family? No one knows, but perhaps I’ll be excommunicated for doing their temple work. Go figure.

  86. Kent Larsen on February 16, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    VeritasLiberal (82), I wasn’t trying to imply that every group would deserve the same respect, just that they would seek it.

    Blake (85), I don’t know what would happen. Personally, I think that some of the comments here have overstated the action that the Church should/would/will take. I don’t think that the Church wants to excommunicate anyone over this (except perhaps for those who are actively trying to embarrass the Church. Unfortunately we don’t know anything about those who did this and what their motivations are).

    I don’t think you are at much of a risk at all. As long as you are honest in how you do temple work, I’m sure you won’t run into any problems at all.

  87. Sharee Hughes on February 16, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Several people have mentioned that we are not to do the work for holocaust survivors. I thought it was holocaust victims. Am I mistaken? At any rate, the brethren have determined that we should not do that work at this time, so we need to abide by that. Those people will have their chance during the millenium. We are supposed to redeem our own dead (and if have holocaust victims among our ancestors, we should be able to do that work). However, I am in agreement with those who do not understand why people are offended by work they don’t even consider to be valid. Another thing I don’t understand. You must have a membership number to be abl to set up a password to access the part of New Family Search that shows ordinance work. So how are non-members discovering what work has been done? Seems to me some members are telling tales out of school.

  88. Frank Pellett on February 16, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Sharee, the info would be obtained by ex-Mormons who still have access to the system.

    For the issue of the Catholic Church not sharing records for fear of our doing work for those people – its not that big a deal. Most of the proxy work should come from people doing their own, independant research. Names from lists, or “extraction” names are used to fill in the space left by not enough research being done on our own. I don’t care if the Catholic Church won’t allow the LDS to digitize their records. I only hope they get -someone- to do it.

    Also, you cant conflate doing work for the dead with prosletizing the living. We don’t baptize living people and then tell them they don’t have to accept the work. The dead have no way of giving prior approval, and even if they left something stating their desire to not be baptized when they were dead, some of our members would do it anyway. Seem to think they know better.

  89. Marie on February 16, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    Frank #88: Pursuing the Catholic records tangent….Most of the records filmed by our church sit waiting for individual researchers’ “own, independent research” on their own family lines, and those individual researchers would have a much more difficult time doing this already difficult work if they didn’t have the Church’s international film collection in a central location and instead had to write to or visit church after church, cemetery after cemetery, in city after city, and even country after country. The LDS church provides access to these records free of charge to all genealogists, while many Catholic churches and cemeteries charge a good deal of money for copies of the originals, costs which quickly add up and can make genealogy a very expensive endeavor (there are some Catholic cemeteries in New York that have cashed in on this recent genealogy mania, charging hundreds of dollars to provide even basic information about burials there).

    And the Catholic Church’s decision to not allow their records to be microfilmed by Mormons has had even broader effects than it was intended to: my LDS convert sister-in-law, whose family ancestry is largely Catholic, has ever since the Papal microfilming restriction had trouble getting Catholic repositories to respond to her requests for her family’s records (she lives in Utah, so her return address no doubt makes them suspicious). She’s considering having one of her non-LDS relatives outside Utah make all Catholic record requests for her–a lot of trouble.

    I bet the LDS Church would promise to do no more temple work for names mass-extracted from Catholic church records in order to get rights to just film Catholic records again–the FHL is very responsive to special requests from those who agree to let them film–but I don’t think that would satisfy. I don’t think the Vatican cares whether dead Catholics are baptized by Mormons: I think they just want to make a doctrinal statement and publicly discredit us in a way that hurts one of our unique religious projects. Entirely their right, but it hurts more than just the Mormons, and plenty of Catholic family history researchers are upset about its effect on their own research.

    Also, I would imagine that mass extraction of names for the purpose of non-family-proxy temple work is going to diminish dramatically as the Church digitizes and fully indexes its film collection. Completing research on entire families of LDS ancestors and collateral relatives will be easier and easier (and free to anyone with Internet access!) so we will need fewer mass-extracted names to keep the non-genealogist temple patrons busy.

    I, like you, hope that at the very least the Catholic church will film or otherwise preserve their own records if they don’t want to let us do it. Such a wealth of information, and so easily lost in floods and fires. In many cases, the only remaining earthly evidence of a life.

  90. clark on February 16, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Well, let’s test that. Change the 50 years to a 1,000 years, does that change your view?

    Most of the world has been waiting at least that long. And if someone had their work done wrong they’ll probably be waiting for the Millennium to get it fixed. So, yeah, I think in the big picture it doesn’t matter too much. Almost certainly the main period of temple work will be during the Millennium. Right now we honestly can only do a few hundred years of names and then probably only for a portion of the world’s population.

  91. Alison Moore Smith on February 16, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    When my grandmother died in 1973, we got a letter from a convent in Salt Lake. The letter said that the nuns there had given X number of prayers to save my grandmother’s soul from purgatory.

    My mom thought it was very kind that they took the time to do something THEY thought would benefit her mother — even though the implication was that grandma was in big trouble otherwise.

    I’m not a big genealogist and, in fact, have to really psych myself up just to login to family search, so I’ve certainly never been out mining for work outside my family, let alone inside. The long-standing church policy doesn’t impact me at all.

    That said, however, I completely understand the zeal others have for doing the work. It seems to me they actually BELIEVE that the ordinances are SAVING ordinances.

    I also understand the church’s position and the PR involved, but it seems a bit nonsensical given the church’s position on the importance of the ordinances. If God says the work needs to be done for everyone, then why are going along with demands of descendants? Is temporary offense more important than eternal salvation? And if leaving all these millions of people without their ordinances is no big deal, why are we expending so many resources to do the work for our own ancestors?

  92. Blake on February 16, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    #92: Thanks Clark. That lets me off of the hook from worrying about doing temple work for now. I’ll wait for the Millennium when it was really intended by God to be right.

  93. Chris H. on February 16, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    ” If God says the work needs to be done for everyone, then why are going along with demands of descendants? Is temporary offense more important than eternal salvation?”

    Kent, their you have it. People like AMS are why this will continue.

  94. Chris H. on February 16, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    That said, AMS is being fully honest and I appreciate that. However, we should not be shocked the people dislike us.

  95. KLC on February 16, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Chris H. I get the impression that AMS is asking rhetorical questions to illustrate a paradox in the church’s public stance.

  96. jjohnsen on February 16, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    “If God says the work needs to be done for everyone, then why are going along with demands of descendants?”

    Alison, God also says we shouldn’t be doing work for the Jews right now. At least he does if you believe the leaders of our church.

  97. Jettboy on February 17, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Jjohnson, I haven’t heard the word of the Lord on this, only a statement that an agreement has been made. I for one do not believe that it is a religious commandment, but a temporary PR proposal. This is an earthly only concern until they get up in General Conference and declare in the name of the Lord that the work for Holocaust victims should not be done.

    You liberals really should stop trying to play off your stereotypes that Mormons will walk lockstep on every word said by the leadership of the Church as if it comes straight from the Lord. Prove that its a Revelation from the Lord. I haven’t seen evidence any more than that we need to make “pro-illegal immigration laws” is a Scripture-like injunction. At least you can be pleased that you taught us that not every word by an authority of the Church should be taken as set in stone ;)

  98. stephen hardy on February 17, 2012 at 10:51 am

    The work for the dead raises a number of troubling issues for anyone who spends a lot of time serving in the Temple.

    For example, what about all those people’s whose records are lost? For instance I understand that in Laos/Cambodia that during the “Killing Fields” era almost all public records were destroyed. The zealots doing the killing of people and the destroying of records believed that they could build a pure society only if all references to the past were purged. If proxy ordinances are so important, are we to conclude that God loves people from Southeast Asia a bit less than those from Germany? Why would entire regions and eras be totally unavailable to us. I understand that the same questions apply to missionary work today: Why, if it is so important, can’t we find a way to reach out to the half of the world or so which cannot currently be reached?

    Records may be unavailable to us, or they may be destroyed, or they may not have been kept in the first place. If work for the dead is important, and if people are waiting anxiously for it to be done, then what do we make of the vast vast vast majority of people who lived in, say, 1250 BCE? We likely can identify only a few dozen people from that era in terms of name, DOB, death, father/mother, etc. Why do those who have waited the longest have the least hope of getting this work done for them? Talk about the first being last and the last being first.

    I think it is most likely that temple work is primarily for the benefit of those who do it, although we may feel like we are doing it for others. It may also have real benefit for those who really do it right: that is, seek out their actual ancestors and do the work for them rather than doing what most of us do: pick up a name from somewhere in the mid-west from 1894. I think that it’s likely that eventually all temple work will need to be done only for one’s own ancestors, or perhaps as a personal favor to someone who can’t do it for their own ancestors for some reason.

  99. stephen hardy on February 17, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Jettboy, please understand that any sentence that begins with “You liberals really should..”, is not likely to be taken seriously.

  100. Kent Larsen on February 17, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Jettboy, you seem to be parsing that question differently from Ezra Taft Benson (14 Fundamentals of Following the Prophet) [GRIN]

    But, I can’t resist suggesting that while you may not see any scriptural injunction in favor of “pro-illegal immigration laws,” I can easily see that God would be opposed to “pro-immoral restrictions on movement laws.”

  101. Mark B. on February 17, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    I like the implicit distinction Jettboy is trying to draw between the revelations given by God to the leaders of the church, and PR pronouncements made to try to get along in the world–or at least to appear to get along.

    Since the Manifesto is clearly just political expediency, a statement made to placate the powers that be, I’m looking for Jettboy to announce shortly his second and third, etc., nuptials.

    Good luck with that, Jettboy.

  102. Blake on February 17, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Mark B: It seems to me that there is a distinction between PR pronouncements and revelations — at least I really hope there is. If there isn’t, then there is no revelation worth believing at all.

    The Manifesto isn’t just a PR statement — that is why the Church goes out of its way to publish the statements by Wilford Woodruff about his experiences leading to the Manifesto in the current edition of the scriptures. The additional historical statements serve the function of showing that the PR pronouncement in which the Manifesto is couched is not all that there is to it. It was based on revelation.

    I really, really doubt that the decision to enter an agreement not to do temple work for Holocaust victims was based on such a history of revelation. It was just a decision. Nothing wrong with that. But it leaves us very free to ask about the wisdom of the agreement and what the results of breach of the agreement should be for those who didn’t enter into it but are church members.

    Frankly, the idea of allowing a nut-case excommunicated ex-member hold the church hostage by running to this or that Jewish organization to see if she can find a thin-skinned lackey to take offense and try to give the church a black eye in “the Press” that is so eager to make a mountain out of mole-hill in a desperate attempt to sell papers and give Romney some trouble is just good entertainment for the damned.

  103. clark on February 17, 2012 at 5:16 pm

    Blake(92) Thanks Clark. That lets me off of the hook from worrying about doing temple work for now. I’ll wait for the Millennium when it was really intended by God to be right.

    Well let’s skip the hyperbole. The point is that there are still tons of names we can do between now and the Millennium without doing these groups. Portraying leaving a small group out for 50 years is the same as abandoning temple work seems a bit disingenuous.

  104. Blake on February 17, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    Clark: You know, I’ve seen this 50 years stuff now about 20 times. Can you show what suggests the agreement is limited to 50 years?

    For the record — I really do excuse myself with the “it will get done in the Millennium” rationale.

  105. Ugly Mahana on February 17, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Last night I read some commentary on this issue, from mainstream sources, that made me ill. Those who object to the practice of baptism for the dead seem convinced that Mormons baptize the dead with a triumphalist mentality – as if the souls of others were little more than marbles in a cosmic game of “for keeps.” Based on how the practice is presented by some mainstream commentators, no wonder the uninformed object. Since we cannot ask anyone else to speak up for us, we had better figure out how to prove that this practice is an act of love.

  106. Daniel on February 17, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    I once knew a young man who had a devout belief in Wicca. He was also a former Latter-day Saint. He once told me that he was against the opening of shopping centers on Sundays, but given this was a cultural artifact and allowances made for those whose religion prohibited work on that day, we would have to extend those same provisions to protect Jews on Saturdays and others whose Sabbath was Fridays. I short we should have a four day work week. I asked him why he thought that should be the case. Surely we could open every day and have protections for those who could not work a certain day?
    “It is important, ABOVE ALL ELSE, that we hold sacred those things that other hold sacred”
    I asked why.
    “Because one day, after you’ve destroyed the sanctity and beliefs of those who are not like you, they’re going to turn around and walk all over you in return. Some call it Karma. I call it getting what you deserve.”

  107. Dan on February 17, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    The Church says that the names came from a genealogical database and were not submitted by an individual Church member.

  108. Kent Larsen on February 17, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    Mark B. (101) and Blake (102), I hope that my comments didn’t imply that I think that this policy is based on revelation — It seems to me that there is a kind of continuum from policies decided by the Church hierarchy to formal revelations, adopted by the membership of the Church (yes, I think some of us will remember that it takes a vote of the membership of the Church — usually in General Conference — to accept a revelation as binding and scriptural).

    Despite my previous comments above, I don’t think that policy decisions like this one are anything close to revelations. However, they are in some sense binding on the Church, since we have agreed to support the leaders who have made this policy.

    In that sense, at least, shouldn’t those submitting the records of individuals for temple work be following the policy? Does it really matter whether or not it is just a policy or a revelation?

    I don’t mind if you vocally disagree with a policy, and advocate for changing it. But going against policy to actually perform temple ordinances is way outside of my comfort zone!

    Blake (104), as far as the 50 year example is concerned, I don’t think there is any idea that there is some 50 year agreement — I think whoever first mentioned it just threw it out as a potential length of time for how long it will take for world society to either forget about this issue or decide its not important or otherwise change its mind.

    I don’t know about you, but I have the impression that the longer the term, the more likely the world is to change its views of a subject. Certainly our society’s views of many important issues (race, sex, birth control, homosexuality, etc.) have changed in the past 50 years. Go back 500 years and the number of views that are similar are even fewer.

    I don’t know how long it might take for the world’s views to change on this subject. It could well take much longer than 50 years. Or, it could be we are near the end of a 30 or 40-year-long preoccupation with something that the world will eventually decide isn’t very important. No one knows.

    IMO, the Church has simply taken the very reasonable position that it is worth waiting for a while to see if society/those with relatives affected by the holocaust will change its views.

    And, as has been pointed out, at least for the short term the cost isn’t that large. If the Lord wants these ordinances done, they will eventually get done.

  109. Jettboy on February 17, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    “Since the Manifesto is clearly just political expediency, a statement made to placate the powers that be, I’m looking for Jettboy to announce shortly his second and third, etc., nuptials.”

    I totally agree, other than the marriage portion, that the Manifesto(s) were PR agreements when first delivered. They were to be taken seriously, but not binding. However, since the Manifesto(s) are now in the Doctrine and Covenants it holds the position of Scripture. To be honest, I really think the Revelation of why on the Manifesto(s) by Wilford Woodruff should have been included instead. My views on polygamy, that I still consider an eternal principle, are a bit complicated without going off on a new subject from this post.

    Will I go out and do the work for Holocaust victims or add them on a list? No, because I will take the agreement seriously. That doesn’t mean I agree with it or believe it is binding compared to other more directly revelatory pronouncements on the subject.

  110. clark on February 18, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Blake (104) You know, I’ve seen this 50 years stuff now about 20 times. Can you show what suggests the agreement is limited to 50 years?

    The fifty year figure came from me and was an arbitrary number I picked out of the air to indicate a future time when WWII and racist persecution is so distant that people’s reactions to it would be quite different. I didn’t imply anything about the Church’s position in any agreement with it. It was more just a, “hey is waiting a few generations really that bad?”

  111. Kent Larsen on February 18, 2012 at 11:46 am

    I hope everyone agrees with me when I suggest that we have talked out this subject. Thanks everyone for participating. I’m shutting down comments.

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