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. N&W 1000

    There is NO biblical command or instruction to practice baptism for dead people.

    Paul mentions it, the only time it is mentioned in the bible, in Corinthians, as a practice of the heathen.

    February 15, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
  2. Really?

    People are saying Romney is cruel to animals because he strapped his dog to the top of his car (WITH a wind-shield might I add)!?? My parents drove us to a Lake 6 hours away and we rode in the back of the truck the whole time. One of my favorite childhood memories. Not safe, but seriously fun. I'm pretty sure the dog enjoyed it too.

    February 15, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • N&W 1000

      That beats what Chevy Chase did to his dog in Vacation.

      February 15, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
  3. Timothy

    Just another Mormon Pinky Promise, they will be right back at it, this is at least the third time that the Mormons have been caught baptizing Jewish Holocaust victims – – they will do it again. Mormons have no respect for another religiion's dead, since ROMNEY believes THE MORMONs are the only true religion.

    Pinky Promise – Mormons at their word? Jewish voters take the appropriate action and vote against Mormon Romney, who was asked to apologize, but he is hiding again. Embarrassed to be a Mormon AGAIN.

    What is worst, these dead baptized Jewish Holocaust victims were forced into Mormon Heaven with both Josef Mengele, the Angel of Death, and Adolf Hitler Himself. Some respect for the Jews who Hitler killed.

    NoMormonInWhiteHouse blogspot com

    February 15, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • Joan

      Absolutely the best comment on this topic ever!

      February 15, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
  4. Susan

    Lol Mormons are such freaks.

    February 15, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
  5. Meh

    WHEW! Real glad that was all finally cleared up LOL

    February 15, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
  6. Joe Talmud OÇonnor

    The Mormons need to STOP baptizing NON MORMONS period. What is the matter with these people?

    February 15, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
  7. wherestheproblem

    If you don't believe in the Mormon religion, and think that everything they do isn't what god wants, then why in the world would it matter to you if they are baptizing in the name of dead people or planting a flower named after dead people? Focus on you own religion or lack thereof, and stop worrying about and bashing others.

    February 15, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • Timothy

      It is called having respect for the dead.

      Don't see anyone running out and burning down the Mormon Temples at Satanic sites do you? If Mormons can baptize someone's family member, why can't one burn down a temple to prevent the baptism – kidnapping by the cults of ancestors spirits.

      Romney and the Mormons are low lifes. Unfortunately, this is America and we can burn down the Temples, but we can register our disgust at the Romney Mormons when we vote.

      Mormons go home.

      Too bad Missouri rescinded their extermination order – Missouri knew low lifes.

      NoMormonInWhiteHouse blogspot com

      February 15, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • shawn

      I agreeeeeeeeee

      February 15, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • blessings

      True, but don't mess around with my religious beliefs (respect them) and I won't mess with your religious beliefs (will respect them).

      February 15, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
  8. Aerosol

    How does the LDS church feel about animal cruelty?


    February 15, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
  9. Tare

    Most important is simply that they believe that they can do so!! Give me a f'in break! Another fine example of egomania gone wild. God will probably forgive you, but get real. You are not that important. You are not that powerful.

    February 15, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
  10. BJ

    Anytime you put your info into Ancestry.com you are giving them the info they need to have you & all your family married & baptized into the Mormon faith. My sisters converted to Mormonism. They spend HUGE amounts of their time on this. This is not a "mistake"........it's what they do.

    February 15, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
  11. N&W 1000

    It really takes a bunch of weirdos to baptize for dead people.

    February 15, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
  12. Aezel


    February 15, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
    • Aezel

      Mormon unbaptism begins @ 3:50 LOL.

      February 15, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • Four Jumps to Insanity

      Do we wear black or white ?

      February 15, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
  13. Pilgrim1

    They aren't sorry. They're only saying they are to give Mitt a chance!

    February 15, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • SurRy

      Exactly. Just like the commercials that began to run last year...I'm a ...whatever, and I'm a mormon. All part of the Romney campaign.

      February 15, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • Timothy

      I'm a Mormon: John Wayne Gacy – Serial Killer, Pedophile – baptised Mormon after death

      I'm a Mormon too: Timothy McVeigh – Oklahoma City Bomber – baptised Mormon after death.

      I'm a Mormon too: Ted Bundy – big-time serial killer – baptised Mormon after death.

      There is no standard to get baptised into the Mormon Cult at all. Serial killer,murderers, pedophiles, rapists. Mormons have baptised them all.

      Romney's Mormon Church, he has probably baptised Richard "the Dick" Nixon personally in the Temple, his idol. Take the White House at any cost, at any lie, vote for Romney.

      NoMormonInWhiteHouse blogspot com

      February 15, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
  14. teaformorons

    latest breaking news: Honest mistake by one the church members but Hitler, Ghengis Khan and "Attila the Hun" are now mormons ! Welcome to the family folks.

    February 15, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
  15. John Tighe

    The mere existence of Christianity proves there is no god.
    How do you like that?
    Christianity is "Judaism 2.0", meaning that there was something wrong with the first version.
    If there was something wrong with the first version, then god made a mistake, and gods don't make mistakes, so there is no god.

    February 15, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • N&W 1000

      You really sound like some kind of nut.

      February 15, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • blessings

      John, John, John. You don't really believe that, do you? If you do, you are misinformed, but you have a right to your unbelief. Just don't belittle others' beliefs.

      February 15, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
    • md2205

      By the way, what were the Jews chosen by G-d for? Just to be favorites? The answer is that it is their job to teach the world by example or by direct teaching the way G-d wants everyone to live – why He created the world. He included the first few stories in the Bible to show the world why the Jews are needed. The first person, Cain, killed his brother. Then the generations before the flood goofed up by stealing from each other and G-d had to send a flood. Then they wanted to fight G-d during the times of the Tower of Babel and G-d had to disperse everyone. Then He had to overthrow Sodom and Gemorah because of the way they were acting. So G-d created the Jews to help the world come to a better place, to stop stealing, cannibalizing, murdering, and etc. G-d gave all people seven commandments to follow to make the world a good place to live. They are: To believe in One G-d, not to blaspheme Him, not to murder, not to steal and kidnap, not to do adultery, etc., not to eat the limb of a living animal (animal cruelty) and to set up effective courts of justice. We can make this world a better place to live, a place where G-d Himself will want to show Himself, and where He will "feel comfortable", if we increase in acts of goodness and kindness.

      February 15, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
  16. jo an

    I'd think the Mormons would be asking the JEWS to put in a good word for them...

    February 15, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • evensteven

      It's a standoff between Jews and Mormons. They both consider themselves "God's Chosen People."

      February 15, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • Joe Christianson

      Jews do not look for converts and just want to be left alone. Sorry, and as Jesus and EVERYONE in the bible was Jewish they can believe what they want and be left alone.

      February 15, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
  17. BJ

    I think the conversation shouldn't just be that they are doing this to the Jewish.......they are doing it to all of us. They are also having proxy marriages, not just baptisms. You don't have to be Jewish to be outraged. We all deserve decency & respect for who we are & what we believe. These people set themselves up as judge & jury & tell us that what we believe is wrong & they will right that wrong for us. How arrogant! People do not stand for the desecration of the dead. Is this not worse?

    February 15, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
  18. Mama

    Wow! I'm laughing so hard I'm gonna wet my pants!! Isn't there something more important to be in a frenzy about? The murders of little children or something? Who cares if you're baptized after you're dead? Will you care when you're dead? Get a grip!! I'm sure you have better things to do all night than sit like a couch potato on your computer eating Twinkies and complaining about something so trivial. Hence, I'm off to more important things.

    February 15, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • marsh

      Why are you in such a tizzy?

      February 15, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
    • blessings

      Really bothered you, uhhh?

      February 15, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
    • youretheproblem

      I care.

      February 15, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
  19. Dan

    What sucks is that this is probably a non-story, other than a Mormon is running for President. Way to go media!!! Moni Basu/CNN are as bad as it gets. Playing politics and using everyone's religion to do it.
    Could you imagine a report coming out on CNN about a half Black Kenyan, who angered a whole bunch of Jews. Not on CNN.

    February 15, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • blessings

      Poor Dan.

      February 15, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • Elaine Cantalupo

      This isn't a media action, this is something so disrespectful of the religious faith of people who are not Mormons and who's families did not give the Mormons permission to steal the souls of their beloved deceased family members. What kind of freak religion believes in rebaptizing long dead people acrossed the world and making them Mormons? This is an insane act by what sounds like insane people. I know several people are Mormons and I cannot believe they believe in this total disrespect of millions of Holocaust victims. CNN is simply reporting news and this is news so they are doing exactly what a legitimate news organization is supposed to be doing, unlike you who would rather ridicule the family members who are incensed by what is being done to them. You obviously have no faith nor love of your ancestors, so to you it means nothing.

      February 15, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • youretheproblem

      It's not a non-story. It's desecration of someone else's relatives. It's a multiple repeat offense.

      February 15, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
  20. htaagency

    I am sorry for the actions of this person as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I know that the leaders of the church are wonderfully sensitive to the beliefs of others and that they have only the highest and best intentions for their members. They are inspired men (and women) who act and speak according to the word of God.

    I am nonetheless pleased to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have been blessed countless times by the spirit of truth, kindness, compassion, and freedom which I have experienced among the worthy members of the church. I am also pleased to read the Book of Mormon which I know, for myself, to be the word of God.

    February 15, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • The Phist

      No. Your church pokes and prods just to see how much it can get away with. Your church is garbage. Your religion is garbage. Your beliefs are stupid. Open your eyes. The book of mormon was written by a con artist that was proven to be a fraud. How stupid does one have to be to believe in the book of mormon?

      February 15, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • oopsies

      I am also a member of the church and agree with everything you just said.

      February 15, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • mormon and not sorry

      Phist, you clearly don't know anything about the foundation of the church. The Book of Mormon was NOT written by Joseph Smith but translated, and I know that it is true.

      February 15, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • N&W 1000

      The very first version of the BOM listed Joesph Smith Jr. as the author.
      The very first version of the BOM promised the Indians that if they would convert to Mormonism, their skin would turn white.
      The very first version of the BOM contained over 20,000 words plagiarized directly from the KJV of the bible, even down to the italicized words.
      This first version was preserved by Wilford C. Woodruff, an LDS member and apologist for the church, I have seen it myself.

      February 15, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • mormon and not sorry

      i'd like to know how somebody with a third grade education WROTE all that. regardless of what the first version said, he is not the author.

      February 15, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • N&W 1000

      The King James Translators, working between 1603-1611, inserted words into the text of scripture to better describe and make meanings clearer. In order to be honest to the reader, they italicized these words.
      How did these words, from the 1611 KJV of the bible, end up in a book (BOM) supposedly written hundreds of years BC?
      Plagiarism, that is how.

      February 15, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • fp737

      Wow, Phist – – you ought to do something about the hate that is eating you alive. Personally, I hope that when I'm dead, that Jews, Buddhists, Atheists, Christians, or yes, Mormons would think enough of me to put in a good word in whatever way they see fit.

      As I understand Mormon belief, the practice of proxy baptism for the dead has Biblical reference, and is performed with the understanding that the recipient is perfectly free to reject such offering. At least since they, like most other religions proclaim theirs to be true, they provide a way for everybody to partake if they choose.

      Contrast this with Muslims, who claim their Allah is the only dude, don't proselytize, and then condemn and kill non-believers. I'd go with the Mormons any day.

      February 15, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • Aerosol

      How does the LDS feel about cruelty to animals?


      February 15, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • N&W 1000

      Take the word "Lucifer."
      Rendered from original Hebrew, i.e., Light Bearer, into Latin by Jerome, as Lucifer, kept in the text by the KJV translators.

      The BOM was allegedly written in Reformed Egyptian, a language we have never seen an example of.

      How did a Hebrew phrase, rendered into Latin, and kept by the KJV translators in 1611, end up in the BOM, allegedly written hundreds of years BC?

      February 15, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • Susan

      I have been blessed countless times and I didn't have to be a mormon at all. Very cool.

      February 15, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • N&W 1000

      The REASON it matters is, the LDS Church offers FREE copies of the bible to anyone.
      But, they will be honest and tell you they believe it is filled with error, mistranslated, missing many plain and precious doctrines.
      The BOM, on the other hand, is "The most correct of any book on earth..."
      IF the bible is filled with errors, WHY give it away to people?

      February 15, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • Know What

      Joseph Smith perhaps had only a 3rd grade education, but he was in his 20s when he came up with the story, and had been up and down the block being exposed to all sorts of weird religious 'thinkers' (& I use the word loosely). Plus, he did not "write" the BOM at all.... he dictated his fantasy story first to Martin Harris (the lost 116 pages), and then to his (first?) wife who wrote it down.

      February 15, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • md2205

      You are fortunate not to be Jewish. In that case, your experience with Christians would be one of murder, torture, persecution, forced ghetto-living, not being allowed to make a living, expulsion from many countries without being able to take any property... and so on. What, they aren't quite the loving souls you find them to be, eh?

      February 15, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
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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.