WASHINGTON (RNS) President Obama met with Mormon leaders Monday (July 20) and received genealogical information about his family.
The president met with President Thomas Monson of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Elder Dallin Oaks, who oversees the church’s genealogical program, along with Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. Reid, a Mormon, set up the meeting, said White House spokesman Jen Psaki.
“I enjoyed my meeting with President Monson and Elder Oaks,” Obama said in a statement. “I’m grateful for the genealogical records that they brought with them and am looking forward to reading through the materials with my daughters. It’s something our family will treasure for years to come.”
A White House spokesman said Mormon leaders presented Obama, whose mother was a Kansan and whose father was a Kenyan, with information about both sides of his family.
Genealogy is central to the Mormon faith because the church teaches that Mormons can be baptized “by proxy” on behalf of their dead ancestors, who can then choose whether to accept the baptism in the afterlife.
“LDS Church leadership has met with previous presidents and presented them with genealogical records detailing their family history,” Psaki said.
The White House did not comment on whether there was any discussion of past reports that Mormons performed a baptism on behalf of Obama’s late mother, Stanley Ann Dunham. His mother was an agnostic, whom the president described in February at the National Prayer Breakfast as “the kindest, most spiritual person I’ve ever known.”
By Adelle M. Banks
Religion News Service
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