Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Baptisms by Proxy

Kimberly Powell and Craig Manson both discuss the Vatican’s recent announcement

In an effort to block posthumous rebaptisms by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Catholic dioceses throughout the world have been directed by the Vatican not to give information in parish registers to the Mormons' Genealogical Society of Utah.

I’m not Catholic, but I am Jewish, and way back in 2002, long before my recent obsession in genealogy, I wrote a post on the controversy of, as I saw it initially, “forced conversions” (Let me warn you, that some of what I wrote back then wasn't family appropriate, and I ask anyone who follows the link to read through the comments, because my thoughts and position changed as I learned more information.)

Now, post-onset of genealogical obsession, what are my thoughts?

1. I am very thankful for the LDS obsession with genealogy

2. Familysearch.org is a great website, and their new labs.familysearch.org appears as if it will be a magnificent contribution to many family historians.

3. Baptisms-by-proxy really could be called something better since the current term implies a conversion, when the Mormon teachings appear, from what I have read, to imply the proxy provides the soul a choice. Only if the soul accepts is the process completed. So anyone upset about seeing a family member on the list is, in a way, expressing doubt that their family member would remain faithful to the religion in which they lived their life.

4. I am confident that all religiously spiritual members of my family tree (and for that matter, the non-religiously spiritual too) were strong enough in their beliefs that their beliefs won’t change merely upon being given a choice in the afterlife. And if the soul makes the choice, it is still their choice. In my family tree I have Catholics, Methodists, Mennonites, and Jews. I don’t have a problem if any of my ancestors decide to switch over to Mormonism in the after-life.

I would like for them to somehow let me know, so I can record it in my database, but other than that, I’m fine with it.


Anonymous said...


I LOVE your final sentence! Yes, I agree!


Craig Manson said...

Great post, John!