THE NEED FOR TEMPLE WORK
For many decades, Mormon fundamentalists did little or no temple work to save the dead even though their leaders claimed to hold the keys necessary to perform these saving ordinances. This inconsistency contradicts Joseph Smith’s teachings regarding the importance of vicarious work in these latter days.
The man who holds the keys of sealing also carries the responsibility to oversee saving ordinance work for the dead. “For him to whom these keys are given there is no difficulty in obtaining a knowledge of facts in relation to the salvation of the children of men, both as well for the dead as for the living” (D&C 128:11).
Joseph Smith wrote: “And now my dearly beloved brethren and sisters, let me assure you that these are principles in relation to the dead and the living that cannot be lightly passed over, as pertaining to our salvation. For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation, as Paul says concerning the fathers—that they without us cannot be made perfect—neither can we without our dead be made perfect” (D&C 128:15).
The Prophet also instructed: “How are they to become saviors on Mount Zion? By building their temples, erecting their baptismal fonts, and going forth and receiving all the ordinances, baptisms, confirmations, washings, anointings, ordinations and sealing powers upon their heads, in behalf of all their progenitors who are dead, and redeem them that they may come forth in the first resurrection and be exalted to thrones of glory with them; and herein is the chain that binds the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers, which fulfills the mission of Elijah.”
Despite this clear emphasis from Joseph Smith, current research suggests that for several decades between 1930 and 1980, fundamentalist leaders never used their alleged priesthood keys to perform saving ordinance work for the dead. In their teachings and practices, fundamentalist leaders have consistently treated proxy work as a non-issue.
 Joseph Fielding Smith ed., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 330.