President’s Late Mother Improperly, Posthumously, Baptized as a Mormon

By Gorman Gorman

May 5, 2009 6:53pm

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints confirmed Tuesday afternoon that someone improperly, posthumously baptized the late mother of President Obama into the Mormon faith.

Last June 4 — the day after then-Sen. Obama secured enough delegates to win the Democratic presidential nominee — someone had the president’s mother Stanley Ann Dunham, who died in 1995 of cancer, baptized.

On June 11, she received the endowment.

The White House had no comment.

The baptism and endowment which appear on FamilySearch.org, the LDS Church’s genealogical site, were first reported by John Aravosis at the liberal Americablog.

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."

For almost two centuries, Mormons have performed baptisms on behalf of deceased relatives, but church members are counseled to request temple baptism only on behalf of their relatives. To do so for those who are not relatives is contrary to Church policy, officials of the Mormon church said.

The Provo Daily Herald notes that the LDS Church "has run afoul of Holocaust groups multiple times," because of efforts by Mormons to posthumously baptize Jews killed during the Holocaust. "Leaders said in November that they are making changes to their massive genealogical database to make it more difficult for names of Holocaust victims to be entered for posthumous baptism by proxy."

Those changes are specific to victims of the Holocaust, however, and would not have affected the baptism of the late Mrs. Dunham.*

- jpt

* This post has been updated.

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