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

    Also, Joseph Smith's brother Hiram was a Master Mason. Compare the Masonic legend of Enoch with the Moroni story; golden plates, buried in the earth, wars, destruction, etc...

    February 16, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • pastmorm

      That's why mormons forbid members to belong to the Mason's. They know that their members will notice that all of their "temple rituals" came from Masons. LOL!

      February 16, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
  2. N&W 1000

    Sadly, Mormonism offers a false hope to it's adherents. Why do I say that?

    The LDS Church gives away free bibles, yet freely admit the bible is filled with errors, mistranslated, missing many parts, etc...so if it is that corrupted, WHY give it away in the first place?

    Second, the Church claims that the Book of Mormon is the "most correct of any book on earth," yet, it contains over 20,000 words directly plagiarized from the KJV of the bible, including the italicized words added by the KJV translators in 1611. The BOM allegedly was written hundreds of years BC. How did the KJV verses get into the BOM?

    Lastly, there was a book called A View of the Hebrews, written and published in the decades BEFORE Joesph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon. A View of the Hebrews advanced the notion that Jews were the descendants of American Indians. Sound familiar?

    February 16, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • N&W 1000

      No, no, sorry, American Indians were the descendants of Jews; that is what A View of the Hebrews advanced.

      February 16, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • pastmorm

      That's right! According to mormon beliefs, the Native Americans are actually descendents of a people called the Lamanites that were CURSED with dark skin after they came over with their fellow Jews in boats without windows somewhere around the time of Solomon. Now genetic testing has been done and has disproved this crazy cult belief as we now know that Native Americans are descendents of an Asian culture. Yet the mormons persist in their beliefs, proclaiming science is a lie.

      February 16, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
    • GMH

      So which version is the correct version of the Bible exactly? Every version is filled with errors and has been manipulated and translated at the whim of every church. Let's be realistic and quit trying to claim that one religion has it right and another is a cult. The belief and faith in god are good things. The idea of a church organization is a good one, yet has been poorly executed and will never be rightly enacted in the world due to single mindedness. Not to mention every individuals self proclaimed righteousness because their "religion" is the right one. Live and let live because I'm sure if the Crusades where going on right now that everyone would back that...... we all saw out that worked out.

      February 16, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
  3. N&W 1000

    There is absolutely NO biblical grounds for doing this. There is only one verse in the entire bible, in Corinthians, where Paul notes that the heathen proxy baptize for the dead.

    February 16, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
  4. JnCnde

    I can't believe how misinformed people are here. It's truly disgusting. I suggest people start looking into where they get their information from and the intentions/character of those who submit those half-truths and whole lies.

    February 16, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • pastmorm

      Who are you accusing of lying? The mormons? Well yes...they do that a lot!

      February 16, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  5. Loretta Urrizola

    Yes, they have continued to "Baptize by Proxy" EVERY SURNAME that is given to them by their Church members.
    And yes, on their "Missions", " THROUGHOUT THE WORLD" , they photograph church records and "BAPTIZE" &
    "SEAL"by proxy those names into their Mormon Data.
    I have a print-out of my surname from Spain where all the deceased, with that surname, are "Baptized & Sealed" into the
    Mormon Religion. This is from the "Family History Center" of the Mormon Church where I was doing genealogy about
    fifteen years ago.
    I was totally shocked and angry that the Mormons or any other religion would think they have the right to do this.

    Much to my dismay, I'm certain they still feel they have the right to do this. Disgusting!!
    They need to be held accountable.


    February 16, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • JnCnde

      #1 sealing doesnt mean sealing into the mormon religion. It means sealing with their spouse since mormons believe you must be sealed to your spouse in order to live together with him/her after you die.
      #2 Members of the LDS church can only Baptize those who are part of their genealogy. All other names are simply submitted to their general genological database. So if your so mad I'd go talk to your relative and blame them, not the mormon church for their beliefs. And if you honestly don't believe what they believe, why does it even matter to you? Unless you think somehow God will punish your ancestors for a mormon persons actions. And if so, what kind of God do you believe in?

      February 16, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Phil

      Give me a break. This is much ado about nothing. If you don't believe in any of this stuff and you think Mormonism is a bunch of hooey, then this should have absolutely no significance for you. It's like if I said out loud, "Loretta Urrizola, I now pronounce you a witch!" believing that by saying that that will turn you into a witch. Is that really going to make you a witch?

      As far as Mormons go, it's my understanding that they are trying to "help" these people out. They believe that these people they baptize posthumously are given the option to accept their proxy baptism in the afterlife (which Mormons believe you have to have to get into heaven, much like the Catholics and many Protestant religions believe), so it's not like its something that is "forced" on them.

      Long story short, if you don't believe in Mormonism this should mean nothing to you, especially since they believe they are helping these people.

      February 16, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • pastmorm

      To Phil and Jncnde...Don't lie. Mormons spend hours upon hours finding names and dates of people just to give them to the church for more proxy work regardless of whether they have a families permission or not. And if you want to talk about "sealings" then lets talk about how multiple wives are sealed to one man. Mormons practice polygamy in the spirit world and "heaven." How many wives does Joseph Smith have now? Besides the 13 year old that he married when he was alive and still married to his wife Emma. Man, that's just mental.
      I think the reason people are freaking out about this is because we are all aware of what Romney is and we don't want him to turn our country into a Theocratic Monarchy like Joseph Smith said he would after he declared himself a general. So yea, it means something to Americans. We don't want a major cult leader as the leader of our great nation!!!

      February 16, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
  6. Thomas

    And republicans want a Mormon president. Wow

    February 16, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  7. Michael

    Do people really think that Baptizing for the Dead automatically converts them from one faith to another? My my, that's funny. God is all about free agency. Something done by proxy (in place of) with a belief that the person will be able to choose whether he accepts the baptism in the afterlife (since last I heard, you need a physical body to be baptized) is not going to be forced on them.

    February 16, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • richking

      People beleive a man could walk on water and heal people by touching them because a book that was written thousands of years ago and then 'translated' to their language says so. A book that is very simular to all the other books of it's kind (watch zeitgeist if you don't know what those are). These same people think I'm crazy because I say that Hillary Clinton wants a one world government and I have video proof of it that they can watch... but they won't watch it. Guess the truth is too scary for them. Go to youtube and search: "hillary clinton walter cronkite wfa" – with or without the quotes.

      February 16, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  8. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    February 16, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • richking

      Lies are not healthy for children and other living things. I'm praying for Ron Paul to be president using your God and your religion so it better work.

      February 16, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  9. Dodney Rangerfield

    Oops dunked another one.

    February 16, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  10. krijo

    did not accept african-americans into their "priesthood" until 1978. racist as well and belive women should be eternally pregnant to supply babies for new planets. I wish i was making this up

    February 16, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • re krijo

      You making that stuff up. You should expand your reading material to be a bit more than the anti-mormon websites

      February 17, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  11. shane

    As a member of the church of jesus christ of latterday saints i can tell you why we do baptisms for the dead...its not because we think everyone else is bad..but just the opposite..we believe that heavenly father loves every one just the same and..everyone will have thier work done..baptism marriage for eternity ect..that doesnt mean everyone has to except it..we all have been given free agency to chose for ourselves. that was the plan laid down up in heaven before we came to earth..so whoever did this will be stopped because we are not out to cause pain...thats not what its about

    February 16, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • pastmorm

      LOL. Right Shane. You're only telling the Jewish people that you mormons are better than they are and if they don't become mormon in the "spirit world" then they are not "saved" regardless of the suffering they have endured during the Holocaust for their own precious beliefs. Doesn't that make you feel just a little bit of shame?

      February 16, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • shane

      this is to pastmorm... there are not going to be any mormons in heaven...:) that is what we on earth lable stuff..there is a heavenly father and he has a plan and i dont beleive he just threw us here on earth without any..i think hes smarter than that..i also believe that he judges on facts of truth and whats been placed before each person..i know many that are not so called mormons that will be in better standing at the judgement bar than even me...just being a so called mormon make you better...just the opposite...needless to say the truth will stand nomatter what we say

      February 16, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • richking

      When will people wake up from their blind denial of reality.

      February 16, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • re pastmorm_and_richking

      You mean so that we can be angry, deranged folks living in the twisted place you call reality? no thnks...

      February 17, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  12. krijo

    they have also baptized the Buddha. mormons are disgusting and have no respect for other religions.

    February 16, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  13. dinak

    Yes, it is crazy to think that G-od's chosen people, the Jews, need to be chosen once again by mormons or other Christians for entry into heaven – they are already chosen; if you are a Christian, and believe the bible, then you should know this. I am not a Christian, I am a non-practicing Jew, and I think it is nice that the Mormons, who obviously do not believe the Biblical texts that describe Jews as chosen, conducted a Baptism. It was a loving, giving gesture – it proves they so appreciated and respected those Jews, that they wanted to make sure, silly as it is to actually believe, they went to heaven. I am sure that no Muslim would do anything similar for a Jew or Christian.

    February 16, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Nonimus

      I think the Jews and Christians are singled out, in the Koran, for respect by Muslims because they are "people of the book", i.e. believe in the god of Abraham.

      February 16, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • shane

      Dinak we are a silly people..and we do beleive you are the chosen people and heavenly father will protect you even in the end when all nations rise up and confront you he will be there..but why then do we do temple work for a chosen people? because even a chosen people heavenly father has things that must be in place for the final judgement...even me a non chosen person has to have stuff done 🙂 in the end we are all his children everyone..if you have children you can understand his love

      February 16, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  14. Mark

    They shouldn't be baptizing Chistians or anyone else by proxy. I would never submit my genealogy to their database for that reason.

    February 16, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  15. MadCityBabe

    ....and this all really means what?! Come on>>>>

    February 16, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  16. jclorc2000

    They did it California with the Native Americans who died at the missions. Somehow they got access the the Catholic Churches records from the pre-American settlement period and yes, they apologized then for doing post-death baptisms. But they just keep on doing it like. Don't they realize how offensive this is to people of different faiths?

    February 16, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  17. SophieCat

    You can't trust those Mormons any further than you can throw those Mormons. They will LIE themselves black in the face and then they'll LIE some more.

    Apparently lying by Mormons to non-Mormons holds no spiritual consequence.

    Wonder what else they do to non-Mormons in the belief it holds no spiritual consequence? What, it's only a sin if you do it to your Brother-in-Christ, a.k.a. another Mormon? If you lie or do wrong to your neighbor who is NOT a Mormon, it's OK?

    February 16, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  18. OnTheRoad

    Talk about not telling the truth! The Mormans have been doing this for years. Each time they get caught they say that they are sorry and that it won' happen again. Then what do you know they have lied again! They are doing it again! They will continue to do it over and over and over!

    February 16, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  19. Hypatia

    the sick insensitive arrogance of the Mormons is revolting. They've kept right on doing this, despite any agreement and they need to be held accountable for it.

    February 16, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • dinak

      There is nothing sick or malicious about it – it is a very, very loving gesture. Insensitive – yes. Ignorant – yes. But mean or malicious? No.

      February 16, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  20. GodPot

    So have the Mormons baptised Adam yet? He was a sinner but should get a shot at heaven right? And what about Hitler? Pol Pot? Stalin? Pope John Paul II? Who get's to decide who's worthy of being "inducted" into the Mormon religion?

    February 16, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Not Adam. You have to have a genealogy, don't you?

      February 16, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • pastmorm

      Actually if you look into mormon theology (this is where it REALLY gets odd) Adam was the Arch Angel Michael who ended up being reincarnated as Joseph Smith. You do know that mormons believe in many gods including the fact that they too will become gods themselves.

      February 16, 2012 at 6:09 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.