Mormons search for roots in Cambodia

Story highlights

  • About 12,000 Mormons practice their faith in Cambodia
  • Mormons believe that families can be eternally connected through the practice of posthumous baptism
  • Cambodia's history of civil war and genocide make tracing family genealogy challenging

Matthew D. LaPlante is an assistant professor of journalism at Utah State University.

(Special to CNN)When Eng Bunhuoch joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the late 1990s, there were just a handful of families practicing Mormonism in Cambodia.

Today, the Salt Lake City-based church claims more than 12,000 parishioners in this predominantly Buddhist nation.
That growth has come with a challenge for church leaders, who are now working to encourage fellow converts to engage in what Mormons consider a sacred duty: digging into family history for a Mormon ritual intended to give the dead an opportunity for a better afterlife.