Edward Davies, Ann Romney’s father, was an atheist who was also strongly anti-religion. By the time he died, he was the only member of Ann Romney’s immediate family to not convert to Mormonism.
Fourteen months later, in 1993, he was baptized in a special ceremony at a Salt Lake City church. This practice requires a living person who has already been baptized to undergo the immersion in water again on behalf of the dead. No word on who this person might have been in Davies’ case.
Information on the ceremony was listed on a genealogical database, and another entry on Ancestry.com detailed a separate sealing ceremony that linked Davies to his wife in death. Two Gawker readers confirmed the data.
Baptism of the dead is encouraged by the Church of Latter-day Saints, as it is seen as essential to salvation. But the LDS Church has been criticised for it often. After coming under fire in 1995, the Church agreed to stop baptizing Jewish Holocaust victims posthumously. It had already added tens of thousands to its baptism registry by that time.
Romney’s faith has done little to damage his quest for the presidency so far. But the issue pops up once in a while, most recently after Romney’s tax returns showed a $4.1 million donation to the Church. There’s also evidence to suggest that anti-Mormon sentiment could have given votes to Newt Gingrich in South Carolina.
When Newsweek asked Romney whether he had performed any proxy baptisms in the past, Romney responded “I have in my life, but I haven’t recently.”