Wednesday, May 06, 2009

This Just in: Obama's Mother Saved From Purgatory

Thank God. According to Politico, Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham--who died in 1995--was baptised posthumously by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Baptising dead people is a common practice for the Mormons, who believe that it's the only way to help good people who didn't get the chance to hear the "good news" while alive into heaven. A Church statement e-mailed to Politico said:
"The offering of baptism to our deceased ancestors is a sacred practice to us and it is counter to Church policy for a Church member to submit names for baptism for persons to whom they are not related. The Church is looking into the circumstances of how this happened and does not yet have all the facts. However, this is a serious matter and we are treating it as such."
This practice got the Church into big trouble PR-wise when it came out that they had been baptising Jews who died in the Holocaust.

Apparently the Church stopped doing it after a formal complaint was lodged in 1994 by Holocaust survivor Ernest W. Michel and the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors.

Michel found out that his parents, who did not survive the Holocaust, were baptised by the Mormons years after their deaths. "I was incensed that my parents who were killed in Auschwitz were now listed as members of the Mormon faith," Michel told the New York Times.

The Times described the ceremony in a 1995 article:
"Although little known outside Mormon circles, 'baptism for the dead,' in which a church member stands in for a deceased person, is a main tenet of Mormonism. The church teaches that such ceremonies were performed in the early Christian church and work to help extend Mormon membership not just to the living, but also to the dead, who exist in what the church calls 'the spirit world.'

In Mormon theology, all people, living and dead, possess 'free agency,' and may either accept or reject church membership, even if they are baptized by proxy.

Ceremonies take place in the faith's 46 temples. A church member is immersed in a baptismal font as names of the deceased are read. The names of those to be baptized are taken from the church's genealogical archives, which contain approximately two billion names.

Elder Brough, who is executive director of the church's Family History Department, said church rules obligated members to perform genealogical research so they could baptize their ancestors, thus allowing the extended families to reunite in heaven."

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