Baptizing the dead


Hitler and one of Israel's founding fathers could now be together in heaven, according to Mormon doctrine.

Did you know the Mormons baptize the dead?

According to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, as the Mormon Church is officially known, Christ taught that baptism is essential to the salvation of all who have lived on earth.

“Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.” (John 3:5).

Based on Mormon dogma, many have died without being baptized while others were baptized without proper authority. However God is merciful, the Church says, and has prepared a way for all, living or dead, to receive the blessings of baptism and therefore salvation.  In proxy baptism, a practice unique to the sect, a living person is baptized on behalf of another who is dead. Church members then offer those blessings to the deceased who, as a result, has a chance to embrace the faith in afterlife.

The Mormon Church believes any individual can be baptized into the Mormon Church posthumously. While this is theoretically supposed to be a practice carried out only by family members on dead ancestors, in reality it has taken on a life of its own. Church members began submitting names and suddenly the Church was baptizing people without having first obtained permission from relatives.

In 1995, following an outcry from Jewish communities, the Mormon Church agreed to stop baptizing Holocaust victims. Recently, though, it emerged that the practice is still continuing. The Vatican in May issued word to all bishops, telling them to withhold membership registers from the Mormon Church, so that Catholics will not be baptized as Mormons after death.

According to the Mormonism Research Ministry (, some of the more famous posthumously baptized personalities include Ronald Reagan, Napoleon and Shakespeare.  Also on the list are David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir, former prime ministers of Israel, and yes, Hitler. 

The Mormon Church may be offering to drop the names of baptized Jews from their register, but it is doubtful if anyone can be un-baptized in this manner. Anyhow, one would imagine that dinner-table conversations in the Mormon heaven must be very lively indeed.


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First Published: 
April 2009

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Ben DavisBenjamin Davis is a freelance writer living in South East Asia. Born in the U.S.A., Benjamin has travelled throughout the globe and set foot on every continent. Seemingly always on the move, he is continually investigating the people and places that make up our captivating world.

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