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. skytag

    Why do they even care? How does it hurt anyone?

    February 16, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  2. myklds

    In the article:

    "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."

    What for? When the article also said:

    "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."

    I smell somehting fishy. It could be 2 varieties of Tuna. It can either be Newtuna or Satuna, OR both.

    February 16, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  3. crappyname

    One more note, the king james version of the bible has had entire chapters removed and thousands of passages altered, remember king james used this as a tool in his reign. So you cannot quote the bible as proof. Also have you ever noticed how all of their holidays and special events were stolen from pagans. Christmas and easter to be precise. By the way Christ was born between july and september, that is when lambs are born in the middle east. So if you are relying on the bible you are already screwed, it is incorrect and not complete. Sorry Christians.

    February 16, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • UcraP

      Feel sorry for youself, you po.or soul.

      February 17, 2012 at 1:49 am |
  4. Mom2inNYS

    WOW. The Jews are wasting their time? This their faith and belief and fighting against what they feel is sacreligious and are willing to fight for their beliefs the good for them. How dare anyone assume the rights of a deceased person. I am an atheist but I respect the beliefs of many. No one has the right to take that away. No one.

    February 16, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • FedUpWithReligiousBattles

      My way of thinking is this: Why do the religious leaders get their panties in a wad over someone Praying for someones soul? Isn't that sort of thing All Good? Way past time to stop killing and hating because someone doesn't believe what another believes. If there is a God or ______ ( insert your deity of choice) why would (it, he, she) condone your hating posture? Stop the rhetoric and all play together for______ ( insert your deity of choice) sake.

      February 16, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  5. crappyname

    First off Christianity is one of the oldest scams known to man. Give me ten percent and i will guarantee you a place in the celestial kingdom. Being a former mormon (born into this cult) I can tell you that these people are the most bigoted, arrogant and unmoral people on the face of the earth. Yes, I held the Melchizedek priesthood and my troubles started when I refused to teach that christ visits all people on all planets. Umm, I am sorry if you believe in the bible it states that the christian God created the heavens and the earth not earth's. Also the ten commandments state that you shall not put any other gods before him, he is acknowledging that there are more than one god. The bible also makes no amendment for baptizing people after they are dead. And yes black people were not allowed to possess any priesthood until the early 80's, they believe that black people are the cursed people. My wife is hispanic and if I had a dollar for everytime I had walked into a chapel and had them stop talking and stare and talk about us behind our backs. These people are the worst of the worst, This is why they were forced to Utah, because they make jehovah's witnesses look reasonable LOL. The doctrine in its original state is very believable, the problem is everyday almost they change it to fit their needs. P.S. folks jesus practiced Judaism, he was not christian. So their savior doesn't even believe the crap they shovel. They flip flop on every thing they stand for, take california's prop. 8, they funneled millions in to it, then less than 1 year later the president of the church says " we must love everyone including gays". They bend their religion based on public opinion. And if you think I am kidding move to Utah for 3 months, I lived there for several years because of work and it was ridiculous (and I was a mormon at the time). This is just one of many reasons that we do not need one of these psycho's in the white house. Actually my move to Utah was the beginning of the end of my journey in cultism. I am positive now that this religion is a man made lie to bilk suckers out of their possessions. Look at Romney, he is one of the dirtiest politicians out there, how do you think he got so rich, Lying, cheating and swindling the people that is how. There will I am sure be many cultist's that will reply to me saying that I am a liar and i don't understand the church and i am just mad for whatever reason but I left voluntarily, I have seen bishops steal money from the fast offerings and seen bishops turn hungry people away because they were not members of the church, even though the church's welfare system says that the bishops are to turn noone away hungry. I have seen stake presidents knowingly allow church members to discriminate against people other than white. The saying "if it sounds too good to be true it probably is definitely applies here. If you are interested in knowing more from the inside send me your e-mail address and I will certainly fill you in. You have been warned.

    February 16, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • UcraP

      The sad thing is nobody can tell that you are lying just to further your own political agenda.

      February 16, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • My Take


      Good thoughts. But if you want to post this again, please break it up with paragraphs and better spacing - our eyes, they bleed.

      (check out the original article for spacing tips for a comfortable reading experience)

      February 16, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  6. TK

    Damned for all eternity with a load of Mormons? I'd rather cease to be and return to the void.

    February 16, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  7. answer

    the practice comes from this scripture in the Bible: 1 Corinthians 15:29: "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?"

    Mormons believe Paul was teaching the Corinthians about resurrection and used their practice of performing ritual baptisms for the deceased as an argument for those in the congregation who believed there was no resurrection—"why do baptism for dead people if they cease to exist after death because it would have no purpose?"

    from Wikipedia: Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that baptism is a prerequisite for entry into the kingdom of God as stated by Jesus in John 3:5: "Except that a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (KJV).

    The LDS Church teaches that performing baptisms for the dead allows this saving ordinance to be offered to those who have died without accepting or knowing Jesus Christ or his teachings during their mortal lives. It is taught that this is the method by which all who have lived upon the earth will have the opportunity to receive baptism and to thereby enter the Kingdom of God.

    The LDS Church teaches that those in the afterlife who have been baptized by proxy are free to accept or reject the ordinance done on their behalf. Baptism on behalf of a deceased individual is not binding if that individual chooses to reject it in the afterlife.

    my view is if you don't believe as Mormons do, why do you even care? Do you care if a Catholic prays to Mary and lights a candle on you behalf? What about if a Bhuddist Monk chants and spins a bell for you or a Navajo medicin man makes a sand painting?

    seriously?! who cares. i would think it should be taken as it is offered—in all cases. any of these rituals are just a sincere gesture of concern. you don't have to believe, but throwing back is really ignorant IMHO.


    February 16, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • Andy Anderson

      It's ridiculous, that's why.

      February 16, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • Response

      I hate to but I couldn't agree more what you've said. VERY WELL PUT.

      February 16, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Response

      My reply was for the original poster. NOT to the NUMBSKULL who thinks that anything doesn't agree with is ridiculous.

      February 16, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  8. carrickbender5150

    Should this not suprise anyone? Having read many of their religious texts, as well as other literature that is of a educational and editorial nature about the Mormon faith, I can understand the draw to Mormonism. Very male dominated, subservience by women, the social structures that are far reaching and imho, are great in theory. The problem that I find with Joseph smith, along with many other self styled prophets, is that he used the word of go to subdue women, blacks, Indians, all of which did not bare whitness to the vision of a manifest destiny"-esque faith that drew many adherents since.

    February 16, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  9. patNY

    Mormonism is a magic underwear cult plain and simple that should lose its tax exmpt status for financially bank rolling Prop. 8!

    February 16, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • More-mans


      February 16, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  10. Wow

    It's sad to see a set of people doing things to others who never wanted/asked for it because they think they're right. Its seems incredibly arrogant.

    February 16, 2012 at 12:53 pm |

    this would prolly affect me if jesus was real, but everyones brainwashed so yea, we will never evolve from this worthless society of people with all these brainwashed religious idiots, read a book and google stuff and maybe you will learn some stuff. im outy

    February 16, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  12. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    February 16, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • Qwerty

      If you don't believe in Mormonism then why be offended? Mormons don't consider the people they baptize for the dead "mormon." They simply do it to give these people a CHOICE. If they want it, great. If not, great. I simply can't comprehend why Jews are so offended by this. If Jews want to do some kind of ritual after I'm dead to give me a chance to accept Judaism, GREAT!

      February 16, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • Andy Anderson

      If prayer changes things, then why won't God heal amputees?

      February 16, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • just sayin

      The knowledge to "heal" amputees is rapidly approaching. The Bible tells us the last enemy to be defeated will be death, as with regeneration still in the future, but closer than it was. Instead of whining about what we do not have, how about thanking God for what we do have. Join as a Christian in prayer and we will all work together for the knowledge that will complete our human journey.

      February 16, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  13. James Romer

    Ok jews give it up already. It's time to move on. Don't we have better things to do like raise money for poor children living in dumps in thailand than argue about something so small. Do something productive and learn to be diverse. This is as bad as a black person coming to a family whose grand parents were slaves and asking for an apology. It sickens me. You dont see me asking white people for an apology for taking my ancestors lands. Grow the heck up people. Were all here together for the long run so lets learn to get along and be diverse.

    February 16, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Linann

      J Romer- When you die, I wish to cast a spell and call you Wiccan.

      February 16, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
  14. El Flaco

    So, has that proxy baptism, which convinced the Mormon God to take the Jews into Heaven, now been canceled? Were the Jews that had been in Heaven for a few days evicted when the Mormons removed their names from a computer hard drive?

    These theological issues must be addressed.

    February 16, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  15. Blasphemy

    If the Jews are mad at the Mormons I might vote for Mitt after all.

    But that would be biting my nose off to spite my face.

    February 16, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  16. John Olenski

    Dear Mr. Gilgoff, At some point in your report you spelled Mr Wiesenthal's name as Wiesel and continued to make the mistake throughout the rest of your article. I would consider fixing this before you yourself outrage some people.
    John O.

    February 16, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • Carl

      The report addreses two separate people: Elie Wiesel and Simon Wiesenthal, both of whom are Jewish survivors of the Holocaust.

      February 16, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • Esmeralda

      John O – Elie Wiesel is a different person from Simon Wiesenthal. Mr. Wiesel is a Holocaust survivor, an author and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Read the article, again, and you will learn about Mr. Wiesel.

      February 16, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Josh

      Simon Wiesenthal and Elie Wiesel are two different people.

      February 16, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • sam

      Y U no read gud?

      February 16, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • phip

      Because it would be impossible for there to be more than one Jew in the world. Especially more than one with a last name starting with 'W'. Duh...qualify your argument.

      February 16, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • More-mans

      John 0. = Stupid!

      February 16, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  17. They Believe In Differences

    Then again the Mormons believe there is a different Jesus. http://carm.org/hinckley-says-mormons-believe-different-jesus How can there be if their religion is supposedly based on Christianity which is about the One and Only begotten Jesus Christ who is the Son of God!

    February 16, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • me

      that's the stupidest, most ignorant thing i have read today.

      what you think Mormons believe Son of God is a guy who lived down the street fron Jesus of Nazareth. Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Baptist, Muslim, etc. all believe in the same man, they just have different beliefs surrounding the individual. if you believe Jesus is the Son of God, you are a Christian period. if a muslim believes Jesus was a prophet, well they are not a Christian, but they do not believe in a different Jesus, just different things about he same Jesus.

      stop being such a hater trying to rip everybody else down because they are or believe different than you.

      February 16, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Kirk Harrington

      Wow–you took that one out of context. Maybe you should attend a Mormon meeting and decide if we worship the same Jesus or not. Please!

      February 16, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • just sayin

      Mormons are not Christians. The Jesus Christ of Mormonism is not the Christ of Christianity.

      February 16, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      @just sayin' knows jesus, and jesus has appointment just sayin' to talk for Him. That's why he's able to pass judgement on you inferior mormons.

      February 16, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
  18. Jade

    They shouldn't be able to perform proxy baptisms at all! If the person they are concerned for didn't get baptized in their life or asked for it before death, that should be the end of it!

    February 16, 2012 at 11:33 am |
  19. yannaes

    I will be in Krakow on the 9th of March. Tell Joseph I will un-baptize them.

    February 16, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • jstdontri

      Super duper!!! lol

      February 16, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
  20. countrycook

    Did you know Mormons don't believe in Jesus virgin birth ? That Jesus and Satan are brothers ? That all blacks are cursed and come from Satan ? My question...how could anyone believe this nonsense ?

    February 16, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • Erky

      They believe their nonsense for the exact same reason you believe in your nonsense. So God had his own son ritualistically murdered so that he could negate a rule that he made up, because a man and rib-woman ate a piece of fruit they were not supposed to. They only did it because a talking snake told them to, and the all knowing, all seeing God never saw that one coming, and lost his temper and had them thrown out of a magical garden. As a result all humans will be thrown into a lake of fire and tortured forever, unless they believe that God had his son ritualistically murdered to cleanse their sins. Makes perfect sense.

      February 16, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • To Know About

      For more on these important issues, go to The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry Know that there are Strong differences in Mormon and basic Christian beliefs!

      February 16, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • EnjaySea

      countrycook, you are absolutely correct. This is why I don't believe in any religious doctrine whatsoever. I don't find a shred of plausibility in any of it.

      February 16, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Kirk Harrington

      We do indeed believe that Jesus came from a virgin birth. We know the King James Bible is true and thats in there. Even the Book of Mormon teaches this. Your second comment I'll give you...unfortunately, they don't get along very well. We believe earth life is just an extension of the eternal family that existed prior. This was revealed to Joseph Smith. The third statement you say about blacks is WAY FALSE and misinterpreted. This is not something that is taught in the church and there are many African American members who would tell you otherwise.

      February 16, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • andymosity

      Kirk, doesn't the Pearl of Great Price (considered scripture to LDS) teach that people with black skin are so because of Gods punishment to Cain and all of his descendants for killing Abel? Doesn't the Book of Mormon teach that Indians originated from Jewish settlers in the Americas that wandered away from the Lord? 1 Nephi 12:11 says that as the Jews wandered away in unbelief, "they became a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people." 1 Nephi 13:15 praises future Americans as being "white, and exceeding fair and beautiful, like unto my people before they were slain."

      February 16, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • I'm sure they are

      hey there... Kirk Harrington
      Get a brain. Joe Smith was a fraud. Nowadays he would be sitting in jail next to Warren Jeffs.

      February 16, 2012 at 2:37 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.