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Question

 

Gramps,

Is it wrong to baptize mentally handicapped children?

Scott

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Answer

 

Hello Scott,

Thank you for your question.

On the Church’s website, there is a specific area dedicated to helping address questions similar to yours called: Disability Resources. Under that title we see Disability Resources FAQ: Doctrines and Policies where we read the following:

Q: What are the guidelines as to whether or not a child with an intellectual disability may be baptized?

 

A: This is a matter between parents, the child, and local priesthood leaders. If the child has a basic understanding of gospel principles and wishes to be baptized, then baptism may be possible.

The answer given above highlights two key points.
1. Accountability – “the child has a basic understanding”
2. Desire – “child…wishes to be baptized”

Both children and adults vary in their intellectual capacity to be held “accountable” and have a “desire” to be baptized. While this threshold may be met by age 8, it may also be delayed until later in life when such a time comes. While each of us has varying capacities, we are still beloved sons or daughters of our Father in Heaven.

Also located on the Church’s website we find an article from the Ensign entitled, “Should mentally retarded children be baptized?“.

Here we read the following from a previous Church Handbook:

Persons who are not accountable and cannot knowingly repent need not be baptized, no matter what their age. They should be included as members of record with the notation ‘Not accountable’ recorded under the heading for baptism. If they become accountable, they can then be baptized.

I hope this gives you some direction with your question Scott.   Warm Regards,

 

Gramps

 

 

 

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