Mormons apologize for posthumous baptisms of Wiesenthal's parents
Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal.
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.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Judaism • Mormonism

soundoff (2,053 Responses)
  1. T$T

    MILLIONS TO BE ASSASSINATED FOR THE SAKE OF $$$ LIABILITIES (mk-ultra, chip implants, electroshocks etc. performed on them) AND NEW WORLD ORDER(multiculturalism = terrorism) POLITICAL AGENDA KNOWN AS "YOU ARE NEXT"(financial liabilities are 2 expensive for the government and it is cheaper to get rid of you instead) !!!

    NOW YOU KNOW WHAT ORWELLIAN UNITED STATES CONGRESS(USSR#2 which consists of lawyers or what are liars and physicians...lawyers, so crime per physicians can get away with it) AND OTHER GOVERNMENTS WORLDWIDE ARE SO BUSY WITH WHEN PLAYING/CLOWNING(acting) IN FRONT OF CAMERAS ONLY HOW SOMETHING HAVE TO BE DONE(deliberately omitting/delaying facts of genocide as seen on this complain) ROMNEY'S FATHER ALIKE WHO EXCELLED AFTER GM WAS DELIBERATELY BANKRUPT(LIKE AMERICA TODAY = success based on deliberate sabotage = known as grand treason) !!!



    February 15, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • Matthew

      broken record. reads like spam.

      February 15, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
  2. Ben

    As a law enforcement officer I look for inconsistencies in people's stories. LDS spokesperson, Michael Purdy, exposes inconsistencies in his attempt to protect Mormon Church behavior. To deflect blame he states that ONE individual Mormon caused the problem but later said that "church MEMBERS (more than one) "had violated policy". He also stated "the Weisel family names were not submitted for baptisms but were put in a database. Are we to believe that these two lists are mutually exclusive of each other? If they are, why are peoples dead relatives being baptized as Mormons from names submitted to a Mormon geneological database?

    February 15, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • JCT

      If you are a law enforcement officer, you should also realize that a comment here and a comment there means nothing until you have the full report from both sides. I am a law student and I also analyze people's statements.

      February 15, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • Hiernonymous

      Ben, one of the problems with this mentality is that people who are trying to be absolutely truthful will still have inconsistencies in their statements. Memory is imperfect, the mind focuses on what the speaker considers to be the focus of a statement, etc. The interrogator's game of 'gotcha' is very useful as a tactic for flustering or intimidating an individual, and as such can be useful in extracting information or confessions, but as a tool for detecting falsehood, it's of limited utility.

      February 16, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
  3. Matthew

    Salvation does not require Joseph Smiths Golden Tablets.

    Seek truth!

    February 15, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
  4. BJ

    Why should the Mormons be allowed to have secret marriages & baptisms in proxy for ANYONE else without their permission?! How dare they think they know best & are able to choose for ME what I rejected in life. My grandmother was a wonderful Christian woman who lived her life the way she wanted. After her death my Lutheran/turned Mormon family had her married & baptized as a Mormon. They put Mormon symbols on her gravestone. They entered her name in their church rolls as being a Mormon. This is why they are so interested in geneology- to get the info to do their dirty work! This is why they will always be considered a cult.

    February 15, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • cigarsmoker

      you dang liberal! get back in line and shut-up!

      February 15, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
  5. Spud

    @JCT, the verse referenced Is Paul's explanation of pagans who practice baptism of the dead, not Christians.

    February 15, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
  6. WDinDallas

    Wonder if it was like those Marines baptisting the dead muslims.

    February 15, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
  7. Murph

    Note to Mormons: Stop baptizing dead people. You don't have their consent and it's just wrong. Not to mention that it's mighty presumptuous of you to believe that some human ritual is going to impress God.

    February 15, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
  8. rs1201

    As an American Jew, I'm offended by the arrogance of Christians who believe to this day that Jews need salvation. Let me make it crystal clear to you morons...we do not!!! We're perfectly happy with our beliefs and let me remind you that our beliefs have been the same for the last almost 6000 years...you've desperately tried to annihilate us in concentration camps, crusades, and whatever else you morons thought of to hurt us...it hasn't worked...there is nothing on this earth that would make me forsake my beliefs as a Jew!
    Now...as to this story coming up around election time...I'd like to know whether democrats and anti-Romney people had something to do with this which they must know would infuriate the American Jewish Community.
    Well...they failed...as angry as I am at these ignoramuses in arizona and utah...I'm still going to vote for Mitt Romney...he's the best candidate for our country and will get us back on track.

    February 15, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • commencents

      Ummm....jews killed Jesus the Christ. Where is your prophet? Any coincidence Jews haven't had a prophet for 2000 years??? Now the largest growing sect of your religion is the Messianic Jews.

      February 15, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • cocoloco

      The Mormons are not Christians! They are a fanatic religious cult! #2 The Jews are in big trouble with Yahweh! Just read the New Testament and try to understand the Old. That's it. Take it or leave it! When you die you will find out! Some of us have decided to believe Jesus while alive! The Jews killed their Messiah! Bottom line! Turn or burn!

      February 15, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Bannister

      Frankly, I'm offended by the self-righteous hypocrisy of Jews who preach "diversity" and "tolerance" in this country and then use American money and BLOOD to defend the theocratic, authoritarian state of Israel.

      As far as the Mormans "baptizing" non-Christians – who the hell cares? Personally, I think it's ridiculous, but If you don't believe in Christianity, then why should it affect you at all? If a bunch of African witch doctors tried to bless the dead spirits of my ancestors, I would just laugh. Or, I'd smile and accept it as a kindly gesture.

      You are right about one thing though – it probably WAS some crafty Democratic operatives who dredged this up story just in time for the election season. And those crafty Democratic operatives were probably....you guessed it...Jews!

      February 15, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • juanmoretime

      I was raised catholic, my ancestrors were sephardic jews, who were forced to convert. Mormons are not considered christians by catholics or protestants. They have the bible, but they also have their own version in The Book of Mormon, which historicaly compared to the bible's 5 books of Moses and new testament, is a bunch of made up lies. They are NOT christian, it's a cult.

      February 15, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • juanmoretime

      I apologize for "commencents", ignorance JEWS DID NOT KILL CHRIST this lie was propagated throughout christendom for centuries. Empires have come and gone, jews have been massacred throughout history, but they have survived as a people.
      Let's remember that ignorance begets bigotry and bigotry begets violence/

      February 15, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • juanmoretime

      "Bannister" Israel is theocratic? Another ignoramus commenting. Go to any city in Israel and you will not only see synagogues and mosques, but christian churches of all denominations. The kenneset has represenatives of several religions not only jews.
      Now you want to know what a theocracy looks like? Go to Iran or Saudi Arabia.

      February 15, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
  9. JCT


    Maybe stop blindly following your pastor and educate yourself! Amazing things happen when you do–remember to ask God if it is true, because regardless what you may think, your pastor is not as good as God is.

    February 15, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • Four Jumps to Insanity

      At least the pastor is real.

      February 15, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • Test

      Salvation does not require Joseph Smiths Golden Tablets.

      February 15, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • Spud

      Follow Jesus Christ and God's true word, the Bible. Not Joseph Smith.

      February 15, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • cocoloco

      Mormons have ¡another testament! According to the real Holy Scripture, the Bible, only one testament is allowed, not the Old or the Mormon testament, but the NEW TESTAMENT! Read and understand the Book of Hebrews!

      The Mormon's God is the devil just as Joseph Smith has already being judged and is paying for his wickedness. That's all and simple: Believe in the Bible, the New Testament or nothing! There is no new revelation, and your baptism is worthless because it is not authorized by God but by your man-made religion from the 1800's, just like the Seventh Day Adventist, the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Christian Science and the Morons!

      February 15, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
  10. john

    u r pathetic

    February 15, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
  11. Machiavelli

    Baptize the Dead??? I guess you have to keep an eye on your cemeteries now. Maybe they really aren't watering the grass like you thought was happening. And they thought that my century was messed up, wait till I tell Lorenzo De Medici he won't believe it!

    February 15, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  12. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    Proven .

    February 15, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • John Tighe

      There is no god. This is proven by Catholic priests raping children, and the Vatican covering it up.

      February 15, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • Mike

      No God because Catholic priests abuse kids? Seriously? That's your proof?
      Nice try though.

      February 15, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • UncleM

      Prayer proven not to work.
      God made up.

      February 15, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
  13. lovethedifferentcommentsystemsCNN

    lmfao, romney will do this to everyone if he is elected!

    February 15, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • Truthship

      If Romney wins Republican nomination it would be interesting if Obama asked Mitt how he explained his support for the black mans Mormon ‘Mark-of -Cain’  when he was on his LDS mission in the 1960’s.  Google Mormon ‘Mark of Cain’ Watch Mitt flp flop like a fish.

      February 15, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  14. SurfDog

    Posthumous baptism is non- biblical, and is only practiced by the mormon cult. Just bizzare.

    February 15, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • JCT

      Ever read 1 Corinthians 15:29 KJV in context? Probably just spewing what your pastor told you in church...this sounds like a familiar argument that is made...hmmmm...I think it goes like this, "Mormons just blindly follow their leaders".

      February 15, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Walter Tory

      29 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?

      February 15, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
  15. Fact!

    Turn your life over to Christ, he will change your heart and life for the better

    February 15, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • JCT

      I am a Mormon and I completely agree with ya!

      February 15, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • Four Jumps to Insanity

      It's ALL in your head. You are "turning your life" over to what your brain tell you you should. It's all about brain chemistry. Nothing more.

      February 15, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
  16. Shleprock

    Let me get this straight:

    We have some people who believe in a bunch of stuff from 3000 years ago, mostly unverifiable, we'll call them Team J.
    We have these other people, Team M, who believe most of the stuff that team J believes, but, they also believe 2 big additional things:
    FIRST, that 600 or so Team J people got on a boat and found America, and that most Team M'ers are actually descendent from these 600 Team J people. But, Team J doesn't believe this, because they think it was made up by this guy Joseph.

    SECOND, Team M people also believe in this guy Christ who said he was the son of God, who Team J don't really dispute existed, but to Team J, Christ was just another guy (a Team J guy to boot) and isn't really the son of God.

    Anyways, Team M, believes that throwing water on people and saying some stuff makes people go to heaven, but Team J doesn't believe that, they think you go to heaven if you devoutly believe in all the Team J stuff but NOT any of the Christ stuff or the 600 Team J people went to America stuff. Now, Team M worries that Team J people aren't going to heaven, so Team M people pretend to be dead Team J people and throw water on each other.

    OK, if that's all true, if Team J people don't believe that throwing water actually does anything, why would they be mad at Team M people for pretending to be dead Team J's?

    February 15, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • howlyn

      Because it is minimilizing the beliefs of a group of people. Because it is a public slap in the face to all Jews. Because it reeks of intolerance. That's why.

      February 15, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • rs1201

      you missed your lithium today didn't you...

      February 15, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • with you on this one

      I agree...I don't believe in any of this religious hoo-ha, but really, I can't see where it hurts anything. The people are dead, it makes the Mormons feel good, and I'm thinking the Jewish person has way too much time on her hands. Go help living people – live your religion – take care of the homeless, do something for the community, do something positive – but searching records to see if someone did something that can't hurt/has no real impact? Get a life.

      February 15, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • cocoloco

      Go back to bed!

      February 15, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • Richard

      I am a devout mormon and this made me laugh out loud several times-very funny!

      February 15, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
  17. Truthship

    You-tube Bill Muher 'Unbaptizing the mormon dead' on his comedy show. Its a hoot. ( Bill Muher has Jewish heritage too )

    February 15, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
  18. Truth

    Jesus is who he said he was.

    February 15, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • Four Jumps to Insanity

      Jeebus is said to have said a lot of stuff. You have no idea what he said.

      February 15, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • Mike

      Actually, when asked if he was the son of God, Jesus said, " it's you who say I am" ( paraphrased a bit)

      February 15, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
  19. howlyn

    Mormons represent a cult. The only thing missing is the Kool Aid. They are sinister nontheless.

    February 15, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • Kel

      It's not a cult. I used to Mormon. I don't believe in God anymore, I don't like a lot of things about the Mormon church, but it's not a cult.

      February 15, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
  20. Hippypoet

    Prayer changes things....

    February 15, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
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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.