The Mormon Church Posthumously Baptized Obama’s Mother

Author: September 16, 2012 5:01 am

President Barack Obama’s mother was posthumously baptized by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on June 4, 2008. That’s the day after Obama won enough delegates to get the Democratic nomination. Graphic below of the LDS information regarding her:

She was born Stanley Ann Dunham, and died in 1995 at the age of fifty-two of cancer. Throughout her life and after her death, she has been described as an atheist, agnostic, or secular humanist. Above all, she was a self-proclaimed spiritual, yet remained skeptical on religions as a whole.

The Huffington Post had the following to say:

The baptism was first reported by AMERICAblog’s John Aravosis, who found an ordinance record on the Mormon genealogical Web site, FamilySearch.org.


Mormon Church spokeswoman Kim Farah said that “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.”

According to “doctrinal background” from an LDS spokesman, “well-meaning Church members sometimes bypass this instruction and submit the names of non-relatives for temple baptism. Others — perhaps pranksters or careless persons — have submitted the names of unrelated famous or infamous people, or even wholly fictitious names. These rare acts are contrary to Church policy and sometimes cause pain and embarrassment.”

This is certainly not the first brush with controversy the Mormon church has had with this practice, and definitely won’t be the last. An article published in February by Addicting Info addresses the issue of Mormon baptism of Jews:

Last Tuesday, the Mormon church apologized for what it termed a ‘breach of protocol’ after certain baptisms were brought to light. Two of these were for the parents of Simon Wiesenthal, a Nazi hunter and speaker on the horrors of the Holocaust. Another baptism was for three relatives of Elie Wiesel. Wiesel, perhaps the more famous of the two, is the author of Night, an amazing memoir that records his experiences as a child in the concentration camps. He has also written other books where he has grappled with the meaning of the Holocaust and the challenges facing Jews in the 20th century.

A third was for Anne Frank, the most famous Holocaust martyr in literary history – and Alois Hiedler, the Jewish father of Adolf Hitler. And, while we are at it, Hitler himself.

The Mormon Church agreed in 1995 to stop baptizing victims of the Holocaust. A second pact was signed in 2010. However, the practice continues in defiance of the official stance, prompted by zealous believers who stand in as proxies for the people being baptized. While most of these people are antecedents of the Mormon church members, some are not. According to the Washington Post, ‘the LDS Church interprets the phrase “direct ancestors” to include all descendants of an ancestor and had done so for decades prior to the ‘95 agreement. So a church member can baptize his 3rd great-grandfather and all of the descendants of that 3rd great-grandfather, even though he/she is not a direct descendant as that term is generally used.’

Unfortunately, it is very unlikely that unwanted baptisms will stop.

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3 Comments

  • GodlessLiberalAtheist

    Methinks this was an attempt to get Obama mad and dissing Mormonism – an attempt to help Mittens

  • Because the Mormon Church was started by a good natured and philandering charlatan, and continues today for reasons unknown, its baptisms mean nothing. I agree with Mark Kendrick, it holds absolutely zero weight. People can take it as an insult, get all upset about it, or give it the attention it deserves, none. I think there are bigger issues at stake with the Mormon Church. Some of which are its followers are like sheep and likely will vote for Romney. Women are second class citizens but are told they are equal, but just have a different role. Their “place” is to have more and more children and to raise them. The men have the “priesthood” and are the head of the family. Women cannot hold the priesthood; nor could blacks until 1978. The polygamist part is still a tenet of the church, except it is in the afterlife, where the man will rule his own planet and his wives will produce more and more spirit children to populate the planet(s).

  • As a genealogist, I am greatful that the LDS shares its records to encourage the documentation of ancestors, which then can be used for their baptism of the dead ritual. As an atheist, I know that ultimately this practice has no impact on the dead ancestor; however, it is certainly an insult to those living descendants not of the LDS faith. The LDS must change their policy and only allow baptisms of direct ancestors rather than any collateral ancestors. The practice of including so-called collateral ancestors can be stretched to include anyone and everyone since DNA testing can show a relationship far beyond what paper and historical documentationm can show. Unfortunately, religious faith being what it is, I do not foresee the LDS changing their practice. Maybe we should just ignore it knowing that it is a meaningless ritual of a religious cult.

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