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Baptism for the Dead

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Prophet Joseph Smith (1805 – 1844):

“The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead.

- Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Chapter 9, p. 356

Prophet Brigham Young (1801 – 1877):

“This doctrine of baptism for the dead is a great doctrine, one of the most glorious doctrines that was ever revealed to the human family; and there are light, power, glory, honor and immortality in it.”

- Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, v. 16, p. 167

“When Joseph received the revelation that we have in our possession concerning the [baptism of the] dead, the subject was opened to him, not in full but in part... Then women were baptized for men and men for women, & c.”

- Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, v. 16, pp. 165-166

Prophet Wilford Woodruff (1807 – 1898):

“I will here say, before closing, that two weeks before I left St. George, the spirits of the dead gathered around me, wanting to know why we did not redeem them. Said they, "You have had the use of the Endowment House for a number of years, and yet nothing has ever been done for us. We laid the foundation of the government you now enjoy, and we never apostatized from it, but we remained true to it and were faithful to God." There were the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and they waited on me for two days and two nights. I thought it very singular, that notwithstanding so much work had been done, and yet nothing had been done for them. The thought never entered my heart, from the fact, I suppose, that heretofore our minds were reaching after our more immediate friends and relatives. I straightway went into the baptismal font and called upon brother McCallister to baptize me for the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and fifty other eminent men, making one hundred in all, including John Wesley, Columbus, and others; I then baptized him for every President of the United States, except three; and when their cause is just, somebody will do the work for them.”

- Prophet Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses, v. 19, p. 229


“This practice [baptism for the dead] is especially offensive to Jews. A highly sensitive vicarious baptism issue erupted publicly in the mid-1990s when baptism for Jewish victims of the Holocaust – some 380,000 of them – created an angry backlash from the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors. The names had all been submitted by nine zealous Mormons who had visited concentration camps and Holocaust museums in Europe. The situation surfaced when Ernest Michel, a founding member of the survivors' organization, discovered in the genealogical library that his parents, both of whom died at Auschwitz, had been given Mormon baptisms. In 1995, after a year of negotiations, the church agreed to remove all such names and to refrain from baptizing deceased Jews unless they were ancestors of living LDS Church members or the church had written permission from all living members of the person's family.”

- Richard and Joan Ostling, Mormon America, pp. 189-190, see “Church to Stop Baptizing Holocaust Victims,” Sunstone, 18:3, no. 100, December 1995