Tuesday, April 12, 2005

John Yewell and the Mormon/Jewish/Baptism Conspiracy

John Yewell is turning the posthumous baptism of Jews into a conspiracy theory. He says the LDS church "notably stopped short of announcing an end to the practice". He also says: "in a religion noted for strict hierarchy and a top-down, patriarchal management structure, it stretches credulity that lower level bishops and other members are not heading [heeding] the directive of church President Gordon B. Hinckley". What Yewell doesn't say is that the church already announced an end to the practice several years ago. Also, while it's true the church is a centralized body, the membership regularly ignores "directives" of the church President, and there is no mechanism for the church to peer over members' shoulders while they fill in geneological forms. The church has always trusted its members to do the right thing and trusted they'll tell the truth about it. Yewell offers no actual evidence (even meaningful circumstantial evidence) to support a conspiracy to baptize Jews. I think this is a situation in which the LDS leadership has been put in an embarrassing position by the actions of some of its more inconsiderate members.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Dexter said...

I think you're overlooking the fact that the presidency of the church made the promise ten years ago, and it falls to them to ensure that the promise is kept. Is there a conspiracy- I doubt it. But simply trusting it's members to do the right thing is an insufficient way of keeping their promise

4/12/2005 03:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and the perfect way to control your parishioners is how...

4/12/2005 03:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

So the church has no way to control the people how come into their temples and participate in their most sacred rites? I guess they're just handing out temple recommends willy-nilly now huh? And cross checking the names that are submitted for this most sacred rite?
I guess you're right, stick your hand in the sand and wash your hands of the whole thing.

4/12/2005 04:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Scuse, me: head in the sand

4/12/2005 04:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Justin said...

So last month we had the Hugh Nibley story. This month we've already had the story of Mormon "fundamentalist" doomsday polygamists and their temple/compound in Texas. And now the national media catches wind of Mormons baptizing dead people?

Who is running the PR show at 50 North Temple these days? The campaign to become another brand of mainstream Christianity isn't being helped when the press keeps focusing on stories about freaky secrets.

4/12/2005 05:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Mark Smith said...

What I don't understand, is why they care? It seems so over sensitive.

4/12/2005 06:22:00 PM  
Blogger Reach Upward said...

As a genealogically active Mormon and a computer programmer, I doubt the LDS Church could construct a gateway that would adequately control names submitted for posthumous temple ordinances. I can think of ways that several checks could be implemented, but those would be far from perfect.

While the LDS Church has a top-down management structure, I am here to tell you that many (even very active) members regularly ignore counsel from their leaders. While the church calls its members saints, it also teaches that every one of them is imperfect. I know many well-meaning members that take certain doctrines to extremes.

Knowing the inner workings of the LDS Church as I do, I have to laugh at the idea of a top-down conspiracy to baptize deceased Jews. What we have here are members with good intentions going too far and a system that is inadequate for controlling the consequences of those actions.

4/13/2005 06:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One other problem is that the original promise dealt with Holocaust survivors & victims. Someone born in 1910 who endured the holocuast could actually have more than 100 direct decendants (and his/her brothers, sisters and cousins could have the same). A Jewish invididual who converts to Mormonism and does temple work for his/her ancestors (this is not unusual) may innocently overlook the fact that the brother of his/her grandpa born in 1910 is NOT a direct ancestor. Or, a second or third cousin or cousin "removed" might find out that their grandpa born in 1910 was posthumously baptized in a mormon temple and get really mad...without realizing that his cousin did so perfectly within the legitmate bounds of the agreement.

In all honesty, scrubbing 400,000 names and only having a few thousand pop back on in the last ten years is a big achievement. I think that some of the leaders of Jewish organizations are grateful and view this as the promise essentially kept.

The best way to manage this is to have a watch dog check the database (which is public) and then notify the chuch when names pop up that shouldn't. Then the church should remove the names. Ironically, one Jewish organization is paying to have this done right now (My source was the recent Tribune article). While I am not sure it is the Jewish organizations that should be the ones that have to do that, people should recognize that it fixing this problem is easier said than done. (I should mention though that I was a little worried about them checking based on Jewish sounding names...it doesn't seem a very accurate way to do it.)

While the headline I read probably overstated to say that this issue had been resolved, I think that the important thing to remember is that both religions mean no offense to the other and recognize that the issue is imporant to both. Anywone familiar with Mormonism will know that there is no connection between their practices and the "forced baptims" that Christians forced on Jews in former times. Temple baptisms are a fundamental tenet of the Mormon faith and I think its significant that the Church has tried hard to respect the wishes of several Jewish organizations.

4/14/2005 04:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Typical Mormon behavior, make good promises then continue their criminal ways. They present a false front (goody two-shoes) then sin like the devil, with total disregard for everything descent and moral, legal too. Never trust a Mormon! I've experience their evilness since I was 9 years old!

8/12/2005 05:52:00 PM  

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