|LDS Vicarious Baptismal font, Atlanta GA temple|
Yes, LDS church members who hold temple recommends do in fact perform various ordinances for the deceased, in order that in the post-mortal realm they will have an opportunity to be missionized and thus be eligible for higher levels of spiritual progress and heaven. They claim scriptural precedent for this, as they also do for some of their other distinctive Christian doctrines. Consistent with their essential doctrine of freewill, these are not automatic 'conversions.' Freewill is very important in LDS doctrine, and this is no less true here.
Yet the telling problem here in the articles has little to do with the LDS, although the articles betray a fundamental ignorance of LDS theology in multiple ways. The problem lies in not being aware that interaction with the deceased is a fundamental component of much of religion, whether Catholicism, Hinduism, Judaism, Amerindian religion, Vodou or other traditions. Furthermore, sizable populations of Americans across different traditions already claim to have encountered or interacted with other-than-human persons.
|Pew Research, December 2009|
In Catholicism, the laity historically has been regularly asked to unite their prayers with the both the priests and the saints, holy men and women who have moved to the heavenly side of the mystical body of Christ after death. In fact the modern process of sainthood in Catholicism and Orthodoxy depends on Church officials holding priesthood powers to 'work between the worlds' in establishing beatific status. In the LDS community, where the intention is that all worthy men should hold High Priesthood keys and anointments, this power works to offer (not compel) ancestors a chance at Exaltation. In Hinduism, regular prayers and offerings are made on behalf of deceased ancestors (across generations, even). In that scenario, the deceased may either influence the birth of future progeny or even reincarnate themselves within the family--thus its a good idea to be on good terms with them!
|A Hindu prayer for ancestors during an auspicious festival time|
|Fiddler: Sarah retuning from the Dead in Tevye's fake dream|