by Howard Berkes
(NPR) Mormons around the world are getting this warning Sunday: Stop posthumous baptisms of "unauthorized groups, such as celebrities and Jewish Holocaust victims."
"Our preeminent obligation is to seek out and identify our own ancestors," says a letter to be read in every Mormon congregation. "Those whose names are submitted for proxy [baptisms] should be related to the submitter."
Mormons who continue to embarrass the faith by submitting the names of celebrities and Holocaust victims for the proxy baptism rite will lose access to the Mormon genealogical records, the letter warns. "Other corrective action may also be taken," it says.
The controversial practice has even touched the presidential campaign of Republican Mitt Romney, a faithful Mormon. Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel called on Romney to denounce inappropriate baptisms after discovering Wiesel family members had been posthumously baptized.
Romney's campaign referred questions about Wiesel's statement to the Mormon Church...
Mormon policy, as the letter restates, is to confine the baptisms to ancestors, but as recently as 2009, one of the highest-ranking leaders of the church indicated otherwise.
Quentin Cook is one of the faith's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the group at the top of church leadership. During a tour of a new Mormon Temple in Draper, Utah, Cook described the posthumous baptism practice and belief.
"We concentrate first of all on our ancestors and then for the people in the world at large," Cook told NPR...