Did Mormons Posthumously Baptize Hitler, Dracula, Ted Bundy and Others?

When Mormon leadership encouraged church members to donate $20 million to the Proposition 8 campaign in California last year — instead of, say, giving the money to feed the hungry or house the homeless — the leaders also invited unwanted scrutiny of the church’s unusual practices and beliefs.

One of the strangest of these is the practice of “saving” dead people through posthumous baptism, which they call “proxy rites.” According to this belief, the dead are not automatically saved. Instead, the rites give them the option to choose salvation in the afterlife.

In a letter to the Salt Lake City CityWeekly last week, researcher Helen Radkey claimed that the list of famous people who have received these rites includes fascists Adolf Hitler, Martin Bormann and Benito Mussolini, Communist dictators Josef Stalin and Mao Tse-Tung; pirates Blackbeard and Jean and Pierre Lafitte; and gangsters Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde and Benjamin “Bugsy” Seigel, who was, of course, Jewish.

Also on the list, according to Radkey, are two infamous serial killers, Vlad the Impaler, whose exploits were fictionalized in the Dracula story, and the only known Mormon serial killer, Ted Bundy.

Bundy raped and killed as many as 100 women on a cross-country crime spree from 1974 to 1978. He became a Mormon around 1974, while he was attending law school at the University of Utah. It’s unclear whether he was excommunicated before or after he was executed in Florida, in 1989, but Radkey says the list of those given posthumous rites includes Theodore Robert Cowell, the name given Bundy when he was born on Nov. 24, 1946, in Burlington, Vt.

The names of those who have received proxy rites are stored in a huge database called the International Genealogical Index (IGI). A search of the online database for Theodore Robert Cowell produced no results, but it’s possible that Bundy’s and the other controversial records are not included in the online database.

It’s also possible, based on their recent behavior, that church officials have scrubbed the records in the week or so since Radkey’s letter was published.

Update: A source close to the investigation says the church apparently scrubbed Bundy’s name from the IGI database after the story was reported in the Salt Lake City media on Feb. 11, 2009. There’s more on the scrubbing here.


  • Ethel
    March 3, 2009 - 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Mormon Vampires? OMGWTF. Where has reason gone?

  • Seventh Child
    March 3, 2009 - 6:58 pm | Permalink

    A relative who converted to the LDS faith “baptized” my father. Apparently,dad, who was an extremely moral, hard working (two jobs for 30 of his 42 working years), kind, generous, funny, sweet man did not live a life WORTHY of heaven because he was not Mormon.

    It’s funny or whacky to think about Vlad the Impaler getting “dead dunked”. But the ritual’s arrogance is truly offensive when it involves someone you loved who faithfully followed the tenets of their beliefs.

  • Nikolai
    March 3, 2009 - 7:12 pm | Permalink

    Wow. That is some SICK $hit. What in the hell kind of weird fantasy world do these people live in anyway???

  • Tom
    March 4, 2009 - 11:16 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if Jeffrey Dahmar has heard about this offer?

  • lmwilker
    March 5, 2009 - 9:30 am | Permalink

    I work in genealogy and I am putting it my will that I renouce any attempts at conversion or baptism after my death by any sect or religion.

  • Julie from Texas
    March 5, 2009 - 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Unfortunately, there are a few Mormons in my family who have taken it upon themselves to posthumously baptize other relatives who believed Mormons are crazy. The Mormons have been doing this ever since they built that temple in Salt Lake City.

    The fact that mainstream media is just now catching on to these well-documented bizarre practices of the Mormons is another reason for me to continue eschewing mainstream media.

  • Stozzel
    March 5, 2009 - 4:38 pm | Permalink

    That’s nothing, I know of another crazy cult that believes in bread and water transfiguring into the blood and flesh of their long dead leader, a man who is said to have raised the dead, could walk on water, and make fish spontaneously multiply. Posthumous baptism seems downright cute in comparison.

    • Fernando figueroa
      February 4, 2019 - 10:20 am | Permalink

      Believe what you want. God have mercy on your soul. Do you doubt that God created the Universe? That seems impossible, doesn’t it? But He did, and all things are, therefore, possible to Him.

  • Seventh Child
    March 8, 2009 - 12:50 am | Permalink

    Most organized religions have elements of dogma that combine mysticism, lore, a leader who is a chosen prophet or THE god and fairy tales. The transubstantiation, the holy books, and both ancient and modern day miracles keep ’em coming on Saturdays/Sundays. The Mormon faith is not a quaint, cute religion. It has just as many odd beliefs as the five major religions of the world. Find out what they believe- history of the world, history of the US, what makes a person “worthy” and what their heaven is. Then find out how family members who choose to leave the church are generally treated.

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  • Evil envoyee
    November 23, 2010 - 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Great! Now I can continue to live my iconoclastic, heretic, hedonistic life with peace of mind, knowing that centuries after my death some Mormon will baptize me and then I will be taken out deep from the Devil’s Cauldron and flown directly into Perpetual Salvation. Though the Catholic Church could still claim “prior art” over my memory, as I was baptized when I was zero years old, and according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Number 1121: “The three sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders confer, in addition to grace, a sacramental character or “seal” by which the Christian shares in Christ’s priesthood and is made a member of the Church according to different states and functions. This configuration to Christ and to the Church, brought about by the Spirit, is indelible, it remains for ever in the Christian as a positive disposition for grace, a promise and guarantee of divine protection, and as a vocation to divine worship and to the service of the Church. Therefore these sacraments can never be repeated.”

    These “moral leaders” never mind Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

    As an afterthought, I can only say that John Lennon was right when he composed “Imagine”. And people still condemns him for saying The Beatles were more popular than Jesus. Indeed they were, and simply because they preached “All we are saying is give peace a chance” instead of “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” as Jesus did.

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