Polygamous fundamentalists baptized by proxy into LDS Church, researcher says
ReligionNewsBlog.com • Thursday June 4, 2009
“The LDS Church appears to be reinventing its polygamous history”
Prominent fundamentalist Mormons, most of whom were excommunicated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for practicing polygamy while they were alive, have been posthumously re-baptized in LDS temples, a Salt Lake City researcher says.
Helen Radkey said in a new report that she obtained church records on 20 fundamentalists — from murderer Ervil LeBaron to Joseph Musser to Rulon Jeffs — showing that they’ve been baptized and have had their plural marriages “sealed” for time and eternity by proxy LDS members, one as recently as this year.
Radkey, who was briefly a member of the church years ago, has previously delved into LDS proxy baptisms of a range of prominent people, from Adolph Hitler to Ted Bundy to President Obama’s mother, as well as Jews who died in the Holocaust. The later ordinances angered Jewish leaders, who first protested 14 years ago.
The LDS Church teaches that those who have died and are in the spirit world can accept or reject baptisms and other ordinances performed on their behalf by church members in temples. Under pressure from various religious groups for more than a decade, however, the church has reminded members to submit only their own ancestors’ names for proxy ordinances.
Radkey said it’s not clear from the records whether descendants submitted the names of fundamentalists.
But performing the proxy ordinances for men who were booted from the church for clinging to the early Mormon practice of plural marriage shows “polygamy is the going thing in the hereafter,” for the LDS, she said.
The LDS Church officially stopped practicing plural marriage in the 1890s, and today excommunicates those who defy church teaching on the matter.
“The LDS Church appears to be reinventing its polygamous history, as it ushers excommunicated Mormon fundamentalists back into the LDS fold through a postmortem back door,” Radkey wrote in her report.
Polygamy and the Birth of Mormon Fundamentalism
- Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church, described plural marriage as part of “the most holy and important doctrine ever revealed to man on earth” and taught that a man needed at least three wives to attain the “fullness of exaltation” in the afterlife. He warned that God had explicitly commanded that “all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same … and if ye abide not that covenenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.
John Krakauer, Under The Banner of Heaven, Doubleday (July 15, 2003), pages 5, 6.
- However, the god of Mormonism — a religion that, theologically, is a cult of Christianity — constantly changes his mind; reason why the doctrines of the Mormon Church often change (interestingly, whenever doing so is convenient to the Mormon Church).
- The Mormon Church’s rejection (sort of…) of polygamy directly led to the formatation of various sects of Mormonism. Though the the LDS/Mormon Church disavows them, collectively these sects are referred to as Mormon Fundamentalists.
- As a matter of fact, the doctrines and practices of Mormon Fundamentalists are closer to those of the original Mormon Church than are the doctrines and practices of today’s Mormon Church.
“The Most Holy And Important Doctrine Ever Revealed”
The LDS Church happens to be exceedingly prickly about its short, uncommonly rich history – and no aspect of that history makes the church more defensive than “plural marriage.”
The LDS leadership has worked hard to persuade both the modern church membership and the American public that polygamy was a quaint, long-abandoned idiosyncrasy practiced by a mere handful of nineteenth-century Mormons.
The religious literature handed out by the earnest young missionaries in Temple Square makes no mention of the fact that Joseph Smith – still the religion’s focal personage – married at least thirty-three women, and probably as many as forty-eight. Nor does it mention that the youngest of these wives was just fourteen years old when Joseph explained to her that God had commanded that she marry him or face eternal damnation.
Polygamy was, in fact, one of the most sacred credos of Joseph’s church – a tenet important enough to be canonized for the ages as Section 132 of The Doctrine and Convenants, on of Mormonism’s primary scriptural texts.
The revered prophet described plural marriage as part of “the most holy and important doctrine ever revealed to man on earth” and taught that a man needed at least three wives to attain the “fullness of exaltation” in the afterlife. He warned that God had explicitly commanded that “all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same … and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.”
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