February 15th, 2012
04:21 PM ET
Mormons apologize for posthumous baptisms of Wiesenthal's parents
By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has apologized for "a serious breach of protocol" in which the parents of the late Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal were posthumously baptized as Mormons.
The church also acknowledged that three relatives of Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel were entered into the genealogy database, though not referred for baptism.
Asher Wiesenthal and Rosa Rapp were baptised in proxy ceremonies in temples in Utah and Arizona, according to the database records discovered by researcher Helen Radkey in Salt Lake City.
The Wiesenthal baptisms violated a 1995 pact in which the church agreed to stop baptizing Jewish Holocaust victims.
"We sincerely regret that the actions of an individual member of the church led to the inappropriate submission of these names," said church spokesman Michael Purdy.
"These submissions were clearly against the policy of the church. We consider this a serious breach of our protocol and we have suspended indefinitely this person's ability to access our genealogy records."
Mormons believe that they may be baptized by proxy for deceased ancestors who never had that opportunity.
Church members, however, are supposed to request such baptisms only for their own relatives, Purdy said.
The agreement over Holocaust victims came about after it was discovered that hundreds and thousands of names had been entered into Mormon records.
Jewish leaders said it was sacrilegious for Mormons to suggest Jews on their own were not worthy enough to receive God's eternal blessing. Radkey, who has been tracking Mormon genealogy records for a while for people who ought not to be there, said she inadvertently stumbled upon the Wiesenthal name a few weeks ago. Among others people she discovered had been baptized by proxy is President Barack Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center denounced the baptisms.
Wiesenthal's father died in combat in World War I. His mother perished at the Belzec concentration camp in 1942. Holocaust survivor Simon Wiesenthal died in 2005 after spending years hunting down Nazis.
"We are outraged that such insensitive actions continue in the Mormon Temples," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who participated in many of the high-level meetings between Jews and Mormon officials.
"Such actions make a mockery of the many meetings with the top leadership of the Mormon Church dating back to 1995 that focused on the unwanted and unwarranted posthumous baptisms of Jewish Victims of the Nazi Holocaust," he said in a written statement.
He expressed gratitude to Radkey for "exposing the latest outrage."
Radkey also found the names of relatives of Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, author and Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
"In this case, the Wiesel family names were not submitted for baptisms but simply entered into a genealogical database," Purdy said. "Our system would have rejected those names had they been submitted."
Purdy said it was "distressing" that church members had violated policy and regretted that "an offering based on love and respect becomes a source of contention."
Radkey said the church makes such breaches possible because any member can submit a name not connected to their own family.
"There are way too many entries slipping through the cracks, including Jewish Holocaust victims," she said. "It's (the Mormons') belief to save the dead that is causing the problem."
Wiesel, meanwhile, told the Huffington Post that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who is Mormon, should speak to his own church and tell them to stop the practice of proxy baptisms on Jews.
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.
This is one of the most bizarre doctrines of the LDS Church.
haha whats normal to us is weird to someone else.
So, gay marriage is normal to some people, but your church can't seem to keep its nose out of insisting that that is weird, right? I'm sure you are reciting a line you learned at church, but if you are going to use it, you have to realize it has to apply to everyone, not just defense of your own life.
How do you baptize someone posthumously? Isn't that completely at odds with the concept of the religion? Aren't you supposed to live your life a certain way? You can't do that when you're dead!
Oh... Looks like they failed to mention that they were being baptized as scientologists for their next incarnation. Just another cult.
I'll bet Rick Santorum has some people they could baptize...
Awesome. Maybe if we get a Mormon President we can all be saved.
so one cult did something magical to another cults dead person. While I find the mormons deplorable, even more then most thiests, there is no harm here, since it is all fake, nothing happened.
Amen to that.... (Pun intended)
Even in Death you cannot escape somebody FORCING their religion on you.
But I am afraid with Romney's status, more and more are going to scrutinize the LDS church. Their past is just as sordid as any religion.
Oh I get it a sordid past, somehow comforting, for what born agains?
expecally since the "FLS" is the real mormon church, the other guys follow a watered down neo-version, and it is clear that it is a cult.
Baptism, as all ordinances, of the LDS Church, are only accepted by invitation and never forced on anybody but thanks for the knee-jerk cinicism.
Ahhh, micky..all religions are cults.
You mean, FLDS, Mickey? And no, they are no where near the true church.
So Darrin...isn't that exactly why this article is here, because it WAS forced on people? I don't get it, you sit there and say it doesn't happen, when we're all responding to incidences where it did. Didn't you read the article? You must be Mor(m)on.
I say we bring back the lions. Christians are overstepping their bounds all over the place. Let the lions sort them out.
You mean Christians are getting stepped on all over the place.
agreed, we need to teach all thiests that there time is over, it is time for logic and reason, not stupidity and ignorance. All theism breeds ignorance and hate.
Just lions? You lack vision, my friend.... Two words: Shark Tank.
Something offensive? No way. Really! Wtg church...wtg.
whats normal to us is weird to someone else.
Halp! Clean-cut men in dockers khakis are stealing my soul! Halp! lol!
Burning bushes, Red Sea parting, men walking on water, turning water into wine. These aren't far fetched, but Mormon beliefs are. I love religious myopia.
I think I love you, Jake. One of the most intelligent posts here!!
agreed, all thiesm holds beliefs that are so far from believable that it is so sad that most of the world still buys into the delusions.
Don't they have an ointment for religious myopia?
Micky, I am not delusional. But it is a joke that only Mormonism seems to get hated on. If you don't believe in religion or God, fine, but that doesn't make those who do stupid. Tell me what is wrong with believing in something more than just this human existance...
If you baptize anyone against their will, descendant or not, then you are an arrogant narcissist.?
Delusional members of one religion have goofy ceremony to indoctrinate dead members of a different and equally inane religion. Let me know when something of importance happens.
Wait a second...I forgot to take my pills.
I don't take pils, "haha". I love it when you flaccid-minded believers resrt to underhanded tactics to discredt atheists. Go pray now!
My name is haha. I know everything about Mormons. I know how to discredit them. I don't know how to really do research, though.
My tactics are horrible as well, I'll admit.
Let's be clear – the church didn't do it, individual members did. And those members should be repremanded for it. I have a question thought – what's the big deal if a person doesn't believe in mormon baptism? If mormon baptism doesn't mean anything, all we're talking about here amounts to nothing more than wishful thinking. In that case, sticks and stones...
So if you walked by the gravesite of one of your loved ones and saw that someone had placed Muslim symbols of faith on that site, you'd just walk away and say "what the heck"?
so you wouldnt be mad if some insane zelots desacrated your grave/body? I guess peoples right to spread there poisionous thiesm is more important then peoples own rights to choose the stuff they believe in. Anyway god would not reconize a post death baptism, it would simply be too little too late.
Ralph – I agree it doesn't really mean anything in the real world, but it's obviously upsetting to the relatives. I wonder how Mormons would feel if they found out their dead were being baptized by Pastafarians into the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
This seems really insensitive of them, and I don't get the impression that they feel that bad about it. Jesus asked that we not hide our light under a barrel but make it visible to others. I don't think he asked Christians to shove it down people's throats or burn their retinas out with it. At least, I don't remember that verse if so.
Maybe I should just sit here and think and think and think about the universe. I like yellow flowers.
Wow I cant believe it but CNN censored my comments. I wont repeat them so they wont censor this but i assure you all they were not offensive.
CNN did nothing. You jumped to a conclusion, not knowing facts.
Hint : automated letter string filter. I would bet you $2,000,000 that if you p.u.t–a–m.a.r.k between every letter, it will fly.
Actually it's the proof of Intelligent Design. - "I don't get it, therefore god did it".
I wonder if Brigham Young had the wild three-ways that today's modern Mormon gets to enjoy?
I never said a person censored my comments. Obviously it was an automated filter looking for certain words, I just didnt think that any of the words I used would trigger the filter. BTW the comments showed up for a short time and then got zapped.
But hey thanks for insulting and making fun of me anyway I enjoyed it...I hope someone baptizes your dead relatives :).
There is NO censor. It's a computer program. It has no idea what you said. You can say whatever fucking thing you like. You are paranoid.
Prayer changes things
I agree, prayer does change things. It makes people delusional!
Really? Show me any scientific proof that prayer changes anything except people's hopes. I fail to see how "praying" to a mythical beast solves or does anything except make someone perhaps feel good.
So does farting. Proven too
As I say everytime I see your post, yes it does, it makes them lazy and stupid and removes the ability to think for them selves.
I consider "baptism by proxy" a spiritual desecration of the dead.
And I consider it a useless act, whether the person is alive or dead.
Baptize anyone against their will, descendant or not, then you are an arrogant narcissist.
Since CNN seems to think it's socially responsible to shove religion down our throats by having this hypocritical page called "belief," wouldn't it be fair for them to have a page for non believers too? How about it CNN? Can we have an atheist page too?
Great idea but it will never happen.
Atheism is growing faster than any religion in America. It's only a matter of time until we are the majority.
Wiillie, you make it sound as if athiesm is a religion. I assure you it is not.
It's also against the law to mow your lawn. Did you guys know that? Computers are wonderful.
Someone posted a response with my name, only one Willie per post please!!! Of course atheism isn't a religion, it is a lack of belief. How did you get anything else from my comment?
whos shoveing it down your throat, you clicked on the belief article. And it is for non-believers too, that s why I come here to razz the fools who still believe in an all powerful sky god.
and that is exactly why atheism doesn't get the respect it deserves. For every 10 caring atheists who want to see the world get better, there are always 2 or 3 of you who just want to make fun of others.
Anything in the wrong context will seem strange, Catholic baptism, wearing a cross(symbolizing their God's murder weapon) and Christian sacrament (representing the blood and flesh of Jesus). Its funny with our own people we are so quick to judge them on what they do, but if see a different culture with different customs we think to ourselves "oh how cool, or how fascinating". We just need to respect each other's beliefs, and Mormons need to respect Jewish people's wishes. Its not like the whole Mormons church baptizes in proxy for the Jews, in the article it says that some people did it without authority. What organization has a congregation of perfect members?
I totally agree! Well said.
The United States Government
True. I love how people that won't flip light switches on and off each Saturday and people that talk to their imaginary friend every time they score a touchdown or have a camera pointed at them, think that other beliefs are so cultish and crazy.
Haha Jake I know right, whats normal to us is weird to someone else.
Baptism doesn't hurt...I had one, I was even a baby...I think the Jewish Rabbis should thank the Mormons for their thoughtfulness and then give the Church of Scientology the personal phone numbers of all the parishioners who officiated at the baptismals. Then the Mormons could in turn have a L. Ron Hubbard book burning and in retaliation the C of S guys will have the Mormons declared Suppressive Persons and call them fair game. After that the NRA guys will think it is open season on Morons and attack the Special Olympics and when those guys are messed with a huge amount of advocates and beloved family members get real mad... the gun lobbyist won't be able to breathe under the pressure, which will make them request help from the military industrial complex and then we are war like the middle east...the people in special underwear and those who go to Israel for vacation need to lighten up...Its nothing...nada...stop the sectarian violence...
If the Mormons care so much about Jews who were killed during the Holocaust, can someone please tell me what actions the Mormon Church took DURING the Holocaust? JCT, I'm thinking you'd know.
They got fried along side the Jews. Hitler was intolerant of many religions.
Wow, Mormons are always in the news and are always getting hated on. Why not just leave them alone they are only trying to do their best in their own way. Same with other Christians, Jews, athiests, etc. They are people too.
I didn't mean to put my comment under this one. I meant to put it on its own thing.
Rude, you fool, there were no mormons in europe at the time. And If you look into the mormons and the NPOs they suport (boy scouts for one) they are intolerant of all others.