LDS religion and family trees

I recall hearing that the Mormons (LDS) are particularly interested, as an institutuion, in family lineage, history, documenting ancestory, etc. Is this true and what has it to do with their religion, if anythin?

The LDS religion teaches that everyone who is to enter the Kingdom of Heaven must accept the gospel of Jesus Christ and be baptized. Since many people have died without even hearing the gospel while on this earth, they have the chance to be taught in the “spirit world” and either accept or reject it.

After accepting the gospel, they must be baptized, but since that is a “physical” ordinance, it must be done for them by proxy, by a living person.

For this reason, the LDS members gather the names of their ancestors and as many others as possible, so that the work of “baptism for the dead” can be performed. A living person is baptised on behalf of a dead person. Of course, if the dead person has not accepted the teachings of Christ, the baptism will not have any effect, but if he has, it will allow him to be saved in Heaven.

Apparently, this practice was also followed in the early Christian church. Paul used baptism for the dead as an argument in support of belief in the resurrection.

There is a lot more to it than this, but at the risk of being moved to Great Debates, I have tried to answer your question in a factual manner.

Great answer Fat Bald Guy. (Gee, that describes me!) I’m not a member of the LDS, but I have done a lot of genealogy and used their research libraries. There are many Family History Libraries in the US and other countries that have some materials, and people can order microfilm records from the central library in Salt Lake City.

To add a bit, please allow me to quote myself from an article I wrote regarding someone who was posthumously baptized into the LDS Church

‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), commonly known as the Mormons, believes strongly that spiritual life continues after death. Spiritualists and many other religious groups share this belief. The LDS Church has a central belief that Christian baptism can occur and family unity can be preserved after death when covenants and ordinances are made in temples on behalf of one’s ancestors. It is also believed that some deceased, not necessarily ancestors of Church members, can be baptized or have their marriages sealed for eternity. The names extraction program was an activity conducted by the Church for a while that involved completing the LDS ordinances of baptism, endowment and sealing for all people covered by a set of church records (e.g. a church’s baptism register). The bulk of the names in the LDS International Genealogical Index were generated in this manner. (Note that LDS Church doctrine states that the deceased in Heaven possess free will and can decline being brought into the Church. A book on genealogy resources published by the LDS Church states that “Latter-day Saints believe that an ordinance performed on behalf of a deceased ancestor does not limit his or her free agency. The belief is that no one in the spirit world is bound to accept the gospel or the family sealing ordinances. Each person may accept or reject these ordinances. But if this vicarious work is not done in their behalf, they have no choice” ’

[Cites provided upon request. Withheld upon fear of boring you further.]

Marraiges can also be “sealed” for eternity as well.

My understanding is that the names extraction program is not done anymore. I heard/read that there was some furor over people never associated with the Church being baptized, particularly in the case of Jews who were killed in WWII concentration camps :eek: and that now the Church only allows ordnances for ancestors. Thus the need to show familial relationship.

(As an aside, everyone I’ve met at the Family History Libraries has been very nice with no attempts at pushing their religion.)

Mycroft (Also trying to stay out of Great Debates.)

Sort-of related: The New York Times recently ran a fascinating article about Utah having one of the most useful populations for studying genetics in the world, in part because of the Mormons’ magnificent genealogy libraries.

By Accident, Utah Is Proving an Ideal Genetic Laboratory.

Not too belittle the excellent and accurate replies thus far. But, there are several websites now that are affiliated or owned by the LDS. There is a lot of money to be made these days in genealogy. I coughed up for a one year membership awhile back. The full deal with acess to all of their online databases. IIRC it was about a $150. Plus another $20/month to get the “new” updates and extras. They claimed to have several million members at that time. :eek:
I have to admit that they have a lot of data. It helped me in my research immensely. You can do some minor searches for free but it’s nothing like what they’ve got tucked away for the paying members.

The only genealogy website of the Mormon Church is free.

I’ve never paid for access to the LDS genealogy records in over 12 years of family history research - neither online, nor at their local branch. Additionally, I’ve found they are very reasonably priced for a lot of their CDROMs and stuff, so I’m surprised to hear that t-keela paid such a large sum for access to their records. You didn’t get robbed by one of those sites that charge you for access to other site’s information did you?

The LDS family history centers have no charge for access to onsite records (CD-ROMS and such). If you want a microfilm ordered, they charge a very modest fee ($2-3 IIRC). Note: Always order the microfilm and check yourself. The LDS records are heavily polluted by “non-professional” genealogical entries that can’t be trusted to a large extent.

Nice people, nice service, but check every record directly yourself.

While the LDS issues PR about their “baptisms” being voluntary and such, the overwhelming majority of church members think they are performing real baptisms. Whether the deceased is a family member or not, this is just plain bad taste and worse.

True, but my experience is that geneological entries in almost any database have flaws. Part of the problem is people taking the first source they see. I have an ancestor with 4 different listed birthdates on 4 different primary sources. And that isn’t all that uncommon. Also, many “professional” geneologists are far from it. At least the LDS church tries hard to make primary records available for checking.

Agreed, but that’s true in anything in life. If my paralegal, who is very professional, brings me a document, I am going to check every cite no matter how much I trust him. Same with my checkbook, my taxes, or any other data intensive thing. In other words (though I’m not expressing it well), the LDS church’s geneological records should not be singled out as particularly filled with errors.

Ok, define “real baptisms”. I have been a part of numerous proxy baptisms in my life, and strongly object to them being labelled, even by exclusion, as “fake baptisms.” I believe that these baptisms have real power and eternal consequences if the deceased accepts them, the same as my own mortal baptism. How do you define “real baptisms” and what makes these fake?

As far as the idea that somehow the majority of LDS church members have a misunderstanding about proxy baptisms for the dead, all I can say is, cite?

Having spent decades in the LDS church, including decades of LDS church services, sunday school classes, institute classes, seminary classes, private conversations both in person and on-line, all over the U.S. (and including many members from overseas), I have never heard anybody ever express the concept of proxy baptisms that significantly deviates from the cite in Mycroft H.'s post. I have never heard anyone who has been even moderately active in the LDS church for any length of time express the idea that deceased individuals baptised by proxy are bound by the ordinance without their consent.

I obviously strongly disagree. This issue has been hashed out in other threads, and this is probably headed to Great Debates anyway, so I wont try to drag it toward the Pit.

ftg, I do hope that this post is taken in the spirit intended, that I felt that your post unfairly singled out LDS geneological research as somehow especially shoddy and that LDS people don’t understand their own beliefs, and that our proxy baptisms are “fake”. I mean no disrespect, and if you did not either, then I do appreciate your candor.

The LDS owns The site lists its affiliates which are,, and several more. Yes they do have SOME databases that are free. That is the hook. The free data is available at your state home pages if people weren’t too lazy to search. I’m talking about the databases that the LDS has on file that are NOT available to the public via government websites. and its partners were listed among the top twelve sites in the world for the frequency of visits they attract. That usually means big bucks.

The LDS Church does not own or it’s affiliates. The church’s website for geneological research is and the only costs I could find associated with that site were the cost of ordering databases. Even the software was a free download.

It looks like the owners and operators of and it’s associated sites might be members of the LDS church (judging by the stereotype of them living in Provo, Utah and working in Geneology), but there is no claim on the website that they have any professional affiliation with the LDS Church. (Just because they may be Mormons, does not mean the church owns the site. My dry cleaners are owned by a Catholic family, but the Vatican does not own my local dry cleaners). They even use/promote a different program for record keeping (family tree maker rather than the LDS Church’s PAF). I’ve been wrong before. Perhaps I’ve misread things. Try a few searches though and you’ll find several that claim they’re together. I don’t have a problem if they are. I was just saying that I don’t think you get something for nothing.

I’ve got plenty more cites but that ought to at least give me benefit of a doubt.

Let’s try those links again. :slight_smile:

My most recent find. (today’s article) Somebody must read this board.
States that I am incorrect without a doubt as to the fact that the LDS does NOT OWN It is a huge corporation with shareholders that owns several companies.

bolding mine

While it may be true that the business was founded by several LDS memebers run and employed mostly LDS members who were stockholders as well. It would be incorrect to say the LDS itself owned The members of the church own it and several investors. This info. is according to myfamily report.
I stand corrected. So sorry.
I think I’ll leave it there.

Still t-keela, it’s not as bad as I initially thought. You paid a legitimate business for access to records that you found useful. That’s no big deal at all. From what you said at the start, I thought you’d been tricked into paying for access to the LDS records that are available free, which is obviously not the case. It is a good thing to be aware of though - there was a site that was spamming the net several years ago, selling access to it’s database. Not only were they loathsome spammers but they were selling access to websites owned and run by other people, free access sites. I’ve found a link to an article that has more detail.

I hadn’t heard of the arrest before, but I’m overjoyed. I tried to get those guys shut down for a very long time, eventually losing track of them after they closed down the URL that they’d been using at the time.

Ain’t no thang, t-keela, honest mistake based on obviously misleading info.
It’s nice to meet you, love the name, what’s the source?

Especially with the “official” reports by the Mormon News and the Nielson ratings but those quotes are dated. Anyway, nuff 'bout dat…

t-keela? why that’s what I drink of course. Ice cold shots w/ margarita chasers is especially good. I’ve found that a shot every now and then while drinking a glass of iced tea is pretty good too. Especially on a warm summer day. Keep the tequila in the freezer and it goes down like honey.
Pleased to meet you as well. I can’t imagine where reloy3 is from? A variation of Leroy perhaps?

cazzle I wasn’t actually complaining about the price of full membership to the ancestry site. I found enough info. to trace three family lines back to Europe My surname as far as the 15th century. There it breaks down to simply the clan name which can be taken back farther.
It was worth it to me w/ exception to the fact that they’re always prodding you for the update discs. I feel that I paid for a full memebership then that should come with it too. But it’s about the money. I got a lot of stuff from the LDS site but most of the free data is not very informative. Most of it can be found at your local county genweb site and others across the country. There are some message boards that are helpful too. Thing is most of them are a part of the group. :wink:
I’ve been doing this awhile and have my family tree filled out quite nicely. I’ve got copies and originals of marriage license, death, birth, census, military, wills, handwritten letters etc. lots of records, photos, and more. Very little of this stuff came from the website. But it did put me on the right track a lot of the time. I’ve even done some work for other folks.

Sorry about the hijack drhess :slight_smile: Did you get the answers to your OP?

Since the OP has been completely hijacked (mostly by me). :smiley:

Shoot, that will teach me to learn to sound things out. I thought it was a reference to a comic book I have somewhere. There was a race of bird people with a name like t-keela. My bad.

My name does come from Leroy. THere were 3 people in my high school with my unusual first name, including my best friend at the time. People started calling me by my middle name, LeRoy, to differentiate me from the others. Then, one day we were watching a movie called “The Last Dragon” where the main character, named LeRoy was called Reloy by his annoying little brother. After that, the nickname Reloy stuck through high school.
The 3 part comes from the fact that this was the third time I registered on this site. I was Reloy, then Reloy2. After each time, I drifted away, moved, and lost access to my original password and e-mail account. Just poor management skills on my part.

I don’t suppose you’re thinking about the bird-people from the ancient city of Attilan.
Marvel comics and Red Raven? Let’s see the LDS database on that genealogy. It supposedly goes back to Atlantis. Just trying to keep it on topic. :wink:
I think the mods would probably appreciate it if we were to take this to a new thread or just drop it altogether. Sorry guys.
See ya round LeRoy.