Group creates 'opt out' website for LDS practice of baptism for the dead

This July 6, 2015 file photo provided by The Satanic Temple shows the sculpture an 8½-foot-tall bronze monument featuring Satan was cast from in New York. (The Satanic Temple via AP, File)

(KUTV) The Satanic Temple is creating a database for those who wish to refuse a Mormon baptism for the dead after they die.

The Satanic Temple, or TST, describes itself as "an atheistic religious organization that uses the symbol of Satan to inspire civic justice."

The California-based group announced the formation of the registry called the Baptism Opt Out in a press release in November. It cites recent policy changes by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as spurring the group to create the opt out. The group is known for erecting or requesting statues in locations where religious monuments or statues are present, claiming the same rights as those religious groups.

TST says the Baptism Opt Out registry gives the person the ability to ensure, while they are alive, their religious liberties are upheld.

The LDS church says on its media website that "...proxy baptism for the deceased is a free will offering. According to church doctrine, a departed soul in the afterlife is completely free to accept or reject such a baptism the offering is freely given and must be freely received."

The TST press release specifies that recent changes in LDS policy have spurred the creation of the opt out database. It cites the labeling of "same-sex partners as 'apostates,' meaning forsaken in the eyes of their God," as part of its motivation. It calls the decision to make children of such unions unable to receive a name and a blessing or membership in the LDS church, "vile."

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The Satanic Temple says the church "targets [for proxy baptism] people of any faith or belief system." It also says, "People who have been baptized posthumously include Genghis Khan, former Popes, and those who have died in the Holocaust."

In a statement in 2012, the LDS church said, "The policy of the Church is that members can request these baptisms only for their own ancestors. Proxy baptisms of Holocaust victims are strictly prohibited."

Later in the statement the church admitted some such names have received proxy baptisms, but that it is against LDS policy.

"In a few instances, names have been submitted in violation of policy," the LDS church says on its website. "Whether this is done by simple error or for other reasons, the Church considers these submissions to be a serious breach of protocol."

The LDS church says it reached an agreement with concerned Jews about this issue in 1994.

Xepher Asche, director of communication for The Satanic Temple, San Jose Chapter, indicated the LDS church would need to check with his organization before it performs baptismal rites for the dead for anyone.

"By creating this registry, we have ensured that the LDS Church will need to check in with The Satanic Temple before performing their baptism for the dead, or risk violating the direct wishes of those they seek to convert."

The LDS church has not responded to the registry or the claim that they should check with the TST. According to the LDS church has 148 temples in operation worldwide with 25 more either under construction or announced. Headquarters for the LDS church are in Salt Lake City.

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