Thursday, May 10, 2012

LDS Members Performed Proxy Baptisms On Members Of The Dutch Royal Family

A Dutch media outlet has revealed that proxy baptisms for the dead have been performed on deceased members of the Dutch royal family. On May 8th, 2012, Trouw reported that proxy baptisms were performed on Prince Claus, Prince Bernhard and Princess Juliana, among others.

It appears that the proxy baptisms took place long before the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued their latest crackdown on the practice on February 29th, 2012, sternly admonishing Church members to restrict such baptisms to their own family lines, and promising sanctions against members who don't observe such restrictions. The baptism of Prince Claus reportedly took place at the LDS temple in the Brazilian city of Campinas in August 2004.

While there's been no official reaction from LDS Church Headquarters in Salt Lake City, Hans Boom, who is identified as the spokesman for the LDS Church in the Netherlands, suspects that this was done by overly enthusiastic members. It could also have been motivated by the theological view that "the noble and the great" will be chosen to take on leadership roles or become "rulers in the Church of God" (see Abraham 3:22-23) But Boom says he can’t imagine why there would be objections to posthumous baptism, since it is a gesture of love. The baptisms are not binding upon the deceased person unless he or she accepts it in the spirit world; consequently, they are not added to the Church's membership rolls.

While the Dutch source expresses no editorial outrage over the practice, one by-product is that it could hinder the Church's efforts to expand their genealogical database. Although the Church has offered to scan all documents in every provincial archive in the Netherlands at no charge, not all the regional historical centers have accepted the offer. For instance, the Gelders Archive allows church members to scan documents, but the Utrecht Archive does not. The Overijssel Archive is still undecided. Any further backlash over proxy baptism could persuade others to refuse Church access to genealogical archives. The information would still be ultimately available, but only to individual members on a piecemeal basis.

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