On Tuesday, we published a story based on a letter to the editor of the City Weekly in Salt Lake City that revealed that the Mormon Church has posthumously baptized — a practice referred to as “proxy rites” — a long list of controversial people that ranges from Vlad the Impaler, also known as Dracula, and Adolph Hitler to Bonnie and Clyde and Bugsy Seigel.
While it was bizarre and alarming that Mormons chose to baptize some of the most evil historical figures who have walked the planet, finding the name of Ted Bundy, a relatively recent serial killer, on the list was even more disturbing. Bundy, whose name at birth was Theodore Robert Cowell, joined the Mormon Church in 1974, at around the same time he began the cross-country spree in which he raped and killed as many as 100 women.
Now a source close to the investigation into proxy rites informs us that Bundy, who was executed in Florida in 1989, was given proxy rites by the church less than a year ago, in May 2008. Furthermore, it appears the church scrubbed the record of Bundy’s posthumous baptism last month, around Feb. 11, after his listing in the proxy-rites database was reported in the Salt Lake City media.
We also learned that another serial killer with Mormon ties was given proxy rites. Arthur Gary Bishop, a serial rapist and murderer of underage boys from Hinckley, Utah, was excommunicated by the church prior to his execution in 1988, and has been given proxy rites since.
According to Mormon dogma, proxy rites do not guarantee their subjects entry into heaven. Upon entering the afterlife, the subjects of the rites have the option to accept them or disavow them and, presumably, go to hell.