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Will Mother's Baptism Come Up At Obama's Mormon Meeting?

(CBS/Dan Baruch)
Updated 3:35 p.m. ET

President Obama will meet Monday afternoon with Thomas Monson, the head of the Mormon church, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).*

The chair of the church's genealogical committee, Elder Dallin Oaks, will also be present at the meeting, CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller reports. According to the White House, LDS leaders have in the past offered presidents detailed records of their family history.

But there is a bit of family history that might be glossed over at the meeting: The posthumous baptism of the president's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, into the Mormon faith.

Dunham died of cancer in 1995. Blogger John Aravosis, using the LDS Web site, discovered records earlier this year indicating that someone had baptized Dunham into the church on June 4th of last year, the day after Mr. Obama secured the Democratic presidential nomination.

The church later confirmed that the baptism had taken place, but said that it had been improper; LDS spokeswoman Kim Farah emailed a statement to news organizations saying that baptizing the dead "is a sacred practice to us" but that "it is counter to Church policy for a Church member to submit names for baptism for persons to whom they are not related."

"The Church is looking into the circumstances of how this happened and does not yet have all the facts," she added. "However, this is a serious matter and we are treating it as such." The White House declined to comment on the issue at the time.

Indeed, the church says that while posthumous baptisms are longstanding practice, church members are only supposed to request the baptisms for relatives. Yet that did not stop someone from performing the baptism and temple rites for Dunham at the LDS temple in Provo, Utah, according to the Provo Daily Herald.

These so-called "baptisms of the dead" have prompted anger from Jewish groups objecting to the baptism of Jewish Holocaust victims into the Mormon faith. The church announced in November that it is changing its geological database to make posthumous baptisms of Holocaust victims more difficult.

Mormons believe that souls cannot enter heaven without being baptized and undergoing other sacraments.

*UPDATE, 3:35 p.m. ET: The president issued a statement following the meeting that, unsurprisingly, made no mention of his mother's baptism.

"I enjoyed my meeting with President Monson and Elder Oaks," he said. "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."

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