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The Associated Press is reporting that a Las Vegas man is suing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) over injuries he claims to have received while baptizing more than 200 people at the Mormon temple in Raleigh.

None of the young men and women he baptized had recently professed faith in Christ or sought baptism for themselves. Rather, they were following the Mormon practice of “proxy baptism,” being immersed on behalf of people who are long gone but were never baptized. Mormons put great stock in baptism as absolutely essential for admission to heaven, and believe that the undipped dead can benefit from having a living, will soul baptized in their behalf.

Daniel Dastrup claims in his lawsuit that he suffered severe back injuries while performing about 200 baptisms at the LDS temple in Raleigh back in August 2007. Church officials failed to tell him that the repetitive motions of baptizing 200 people could result in physical injury, he said. Dastrup claims further that when he complained about being hurt, a temple official ordered him to continue baptizing the line of proxies, some weighing up to 250 pounds, and refused to let another person relieve him.

Dastrup says his injuries led to two back surgeries that have left him in severe pain and unable to work or continue his studies in law school. The injuries have also damaged his relationship with his wife, the lawsuit said.

I’ve never been convinced that proxy baptisms could possibly be of any benefit for the dead. Dastrup’s case suggests that they may not be good for the living, either.

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