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.
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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.
The Mormon church is a cult. It is time for the United States to invade Utah and restore democracy. The insurgents will fight for years, but God is on our side.
Spoken like a true Supremacist.
the Mormon church is a church of Christians who believe in and love God, not a cult. I can guarantee that if you and your other idiotic friends were you get the whole world to attack the LDS church, God would NOT be on your side. He wouldn't be on your side if you attacked the Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Catholics, or anyone else either. He loves all His children. If you do not believe this, you do not understand the nature of God.
Zip, you have a very odd idea of democracy.
Why would any "church" believe they have the right to baptize anyone who is dead. Also, I believe this "church" also routinely baptizes friends and family members who do not go to their "church", but family members who do attend can request this.
Read the book "The Mormon Murders" You will not believe the truth about this church.
Agree that it's outright creepy and deplorable.
On the other hand though, plenty of infants are baptized by members of other sects. It's not like the wee babies made a conscious decision about whether they wanted that baptism either...
That is completely false. Please speak to someone who is actually a member of the LDS church before making ignorant presumptions.
Personally, I find the idea that ANYONE can be baptized or married "by proxy" after his or her death, without his or her consent, to be deeply disturbing. Granted the deceased person him or herself isn't harmed, but it just seems like a tremendous presumption.
We believe that once you die, you can no longer do these ordinances for yourself. Because of this, we do proxy work for the dead to give them the opportunity to choose what we believe to be the true church. If, however, they do not believe in the LDS faith, then the baptism doesn't matter. We're not presuming anything about the dead person, only that we want to keep their doors open if they choose to accept our faith after this life. We do not think these people were wicked and these ordinances are not 'binding' if the individual doesn't accept them.
How very weird and creepy. What kind of goofball would even dream this whole scheme up in the first place?
The kind of goofball who believes everyone deserves an equal chance.
A point I've made about a thousand times by now: if the dead person does not accept our faith, the baptism isn't recognized. We just give them the opportunity if they choose to become members.
Anonymous, for god's sake, they're dead. Their decision-making is seriously impared due to that small but important detail.
Fanatical right wing Christians have twisted the issue forcing their religion on all of us by making a false claim that Christianity is under attack. You can worship as you please just as all other faiths are allowed to worship. But do not force others to abide by your faith. Faith is a personal issue and should not be in politics in governance. Taliban is doing the same and so we are no different then Taliban or Islamist extremists.
what is this "we" stuff?
I don't pull that nonsense.
No one is forcing anyone here. Members of the church believe that those who we baptize by proxy have the choice whether or not to acknowledge the baptism. It is an act of love to give them the choice to choose the LDS church if they would like. Without proxy baptisms, that would be impossible. That being said, we do not believe that these people are wicked or damned. Please understand that this mistake is not condoned by members of the church, but that the action of baptism of the dead is not forceful on anyone.
Anonymous, the act of 'baptising' a Jew in and of itself is offensive. Your faith's lack of understanding of this is concerning. Let me explain this in a way in which you may comprehend: if there were a ceremony in which you and your Mormon family could be made members of the Hebrew religion and this ceremony were performed without your knowledge or permission, how would you like that?
It's arrogant and self-righteous to do this without the permission of others, period. It's an issue of control and it's wrong, no matter how Joseph Smith felt about it or what he said or wrote when he was alive.
What's the concern if they don't believe it has any relevance to their own faith? Just more ink on paper, an act that gives some a 'feel good' about helping others, and an opportunity for theocratic supremacist to claim that they have been violated. Should no one offer prayers for those that are perceived to need a little boost from Deity; real or not?
It's contrary to beliefs of the Hebrew religion, Mike. That makes it very wrong, does it not?
This is only one tactic that the Mormon church uses to enlarge its membership numbers, and likes to keep secret. This is not a religiion but a cult based on Joseph Smith (who was a con man) saying he saw 'golden tablets' and had visions. They also believe that Jesus came to North America – show me the proof.
To assume that anyone has the right to change a person's religion for them by baptizing the dead of another faith is disgusting. Let each believe what they wish and stop trying to change history.
I think it is worth pointing out that Joseph Smith's gold tablets are no less plausible than the supernatural claims made by any religion...
That is such B.S., the dead are not numbered among the living in the membership count.
I think it is pretty disgusting that you people call us a cult, Wendy. What gives you the right?
By definition, a cult is a following of a Preacher by virtue of his charisma. As I recall, Jim Jones wasn't a Mormon. And many of the Evangelical churches have their strength of following depending on the Preacher's ability to woo them. Perhaps their conference should include the ? Conference of Cult Leaders.
Voters should know that Romney is a Bishop in this church...........what ever happened to separation of church and state???????????????
mollyd – What does that make Obama or Santorum? Obama's decrees and Santorum's conformity doctrine.
I'd like to respond to what you said one by one.
We do not use this to 'enlarge our numbers,' as you said. The membership records and numbers released only count those living members of the church.
I do not believe in this church because of Joseph Smith. He has nothing to do with it. I believe in this church because of Jesus Christ and the spirit I receive when I pray. You can reject that Joseph Smith, a poor uneducated farmboy, translated golden plates to publish the Book of Mormon, but I cannot. If Joseph Smith had written the Book of Mormon, it would not read the way it does. The book truly is a record of people living on the Ameircan Continent during the time of Christ. Might I add that Moses also received tablets from the Lord and many, many prophets in the bible had visions. Does God love His people today any less than those during biblical times?
We do not believe Jesus came from North America. That is a very ignorant statement. We believe that after he was resurrected he visited the people living on this continent, because he loved them just as much as he loved the Jews.
And to your last point: we are not trying to 'change history' or force anyone to join the LDS church. We believe that when we do proxy baptisms for the dead, those who have died can make the decision whether or not to acknowledge the baptism. It is an act of love, giving them the opportunity to choose what we believe to be the true gospel of Jesus Christ if they would like. However, if they do not agree and do not believe in this church, the baptism has no binding power. We are not forcing anyone into anything.
That being said, I am sorry that this was overlooked by whoever did the baptisms. I am certain they did not know what they did was wrong, but that doesn't mean I condone it. When someone asks us to keep their relatives out of our records, we respect their wishes.
Please don't make accusations against any church unless you've actually spoken to members of that church, not just read what people against the church say about it.
Do you only apologize to Jews? Did the Jews apologize for the killing of Christ, the last I heard the Jews are saying the one who ordered his death was a convert to Judaism.
Christ was a Jew. ZOMG!!!
What an idiot you are! Jesus was a Jew.
Jesus was a Jew and He was crucified by the *Romans* who at that time were occupying Jerusalem.
I love the way they worked Romney's name into this article. I guess the mainstream media's campaign to re-select O b a m a is in full swing!
Don't act like you're naive. Romney has held several high leadership positions with the Mormon church. It's pretty relevant.
Not much has ever kept any conservative from questions about the current President's faith. Seems like that's always been fair game for the GOP. You can't set a bad example, and then complain when it comes back to bite you.
Romney is a Bishop in this church............he is fair game...........and a moron, by the way...........
I don't understand what the big deal here is? I grew up in the LDS church, and my family is still very much invovled. Although I don't really attend church and everything like that anymore, unless you actually know a couple people who are Mormon, don't talk about how evil or cult-ish they are. The people I look up to most in my life are devout in the teachings of the church, and they still accept me and love me. Growing up Mormon and gay... is contradictory. But they all still love me. My point is, the church encourages its members to be very selfless, and accepting of things that it doesn't believe. Now of course, every religion has "good" and "bad" people. Give them a break. I'm sure I can find plenty of nasty Jews, just like I know plenty of nasty Mormons.
I have, in fact, participated in these baptisms for the dead. I've never really stopped to think about how odd it sounds, and you're right. It does sound.. weird? But A) if you don't believe in it, then who cares, jokes on them for wasting the time to do it, and B) the church doctrine (if I'm not mistaken) supports that anyone baptized posthumously can disregard it. Ignorance is debilitating. If I found out that the church of the Twilight Saga (which I consider a cult:) baptized me, even though I'm alive still, I would think it was thoughtful of them. I would find it very refreshing that others have found solace in something, and moreover that they want to help others find it, too. I would follow-up my own thoughts with something like.. "weird". But I'd get over it.
As a gay person how would you feel if they tried to pray you strait after you die?
If someone thinks it will make me feel better, I would say do it! I like to do things that I think will help other people.
MB – I am glad your Mormom family is still accepting of you. But to say that this is "weird" and to get over it shows that you really don't get how significant this is. Would it be okay with you if after you were dead a proxy baptism were held and you were to go into the records of another faith? For those who believe their faith is the core of who they are this is truly disrespectful and dishonoring.
So you'd be willing to be put back in the closet after you die?
mormon, evangelical, etc. it's all the same crap. Islam, Christianity and their various sects, cults have been destroying the world's cultures, and the civilization itself. It's sick. Islam's destruction is more in-your-face kind, while christanity stuff is glossed over.
Okay- agreed, that the Mormon church by definition may be a "cult" but the negative rhetoric should be removed from that word then.
Wendy- Like I said, if the most ludicrous church in the world added me to their records, so be it. I don't believe in their church anyways. My beliefs are my own. So what if my name is on a piece of paper somewhere stating I was something I wasn't.
Will- I don't consider that being put back in the closet. Even if that were "putting me back in the closet", the people that know me and care about me, knew who I was when I was alive. Just because John Doe wanted me to be straight didn't change my reality on earth.
Will – Would you really care if you didn't believe in life after death?
Gay people have fought and died for the right to be accepted and remembered for what they feel is right. Your words are beyond hypocritical and down right disrespectful to those who made it OK for you to come out. MB, you obviously have difficulty understanding what has been said here. Perhaps you should buy a thinking cap that fits.
Yes. Simply because it would be disrespectful to my legacy. The world doesn't end when I die and I want to be remembered for who I was, not for what someone else wishes I were.
LDS????? You need help. Cults are unhealthy.
I don't want to be remembered for being gay. There is so much more to me than that. In fact, who cares if I'm gay. And besides, like I said, who cares what "other people" remember me as. I'm just hoping I make a lasting impression for the ones that I want to remember me at all. Stop choosing to be offended.
You sound like someone who is still in the closet, only stating that your gay on websites with an alias.
It's lovely that you would think it is nice of the Twilluminati to have taken the effort to posthumously baptize you, but perhaps the fact that you haven't thought of how someone ELSE would like it if a religion were imposed on their body after death. The Romneys posthumously baptized Mitt's father in law, who just happened to be a staunch Atheist and according to contemporaries would have loathed the gesture. I personally would be offended by it as well. Let me lay as I lived, not how you would have had me live.
If anyone is shocked by this, they need not be. Churches think they are above the law. Always have and always will.
The mere fact of this apology proves that our church does not think we're 'above' the law. This was a mistake. When we're asked not to baptize someone, we respect that request. That being said, people are not perfect and mistakes happen.
After all the controversy over whether or not Barack Obama was a Muslim, it turns out he was a Mormon...
We'll all be Mormon some day by virtue of all this posthumous baptizing. Other religions are just sore they didn't think of it first.
You've won this round, Mormons!
What are you talking about, Rick?
A.) There is NO such thing as "god".
B.) Religion is for the living, NOT the dead.
C.) Baptism is an exercise in futility and folly of weak minded people with no aspirations for themselves in life.
D.) Still no "god".
E.) Judaism is the single biggest reason for wars on Earth. Stop it already!
F.) Hitler was crazy as hell, but there is still no "god".
G.) WHY ARE WE READING THIS FODDER?
Wow, because you trolled that onto a cnn religion blog IT MUST BE TRUE. No brain. Still no brain. Still no brain.....
I'm sorry you have such a sad life.
And who are you so that we would believe you there's no G-d? god?
Atheist troll fail.
Evangelical atheism make you happy, does it, Mistamista? Your religion is lame.
Freedom of religion also means freedom from others forcing their religion upon one another. Somehow that right seems to escape a great many people in this country these days. Why is that?
As a Christian I find this to be deeply disturbing.
Actually, as a "christian", much of what you say can be disregarded entirely as there is no basis in reality for much of what your religion claims. Finally! You're FREE!
Not just in this country. Look at what tactics missionaries use in developing countries- there's nothing godly or spiritual about it. But yes, it's Americans money, donations that helps that kind of exploitation. French journalist Francois Gautier has written a lot about it. Just google Francois Gautier christian missionaries.' These people are screwing up cultures and societies in the name of religion. It's sickening!
As a member of the Mormon church, I feel obliged to tell you the reason we practice baptism of the dead. It is not because we think people weren't righteous or that we need to 'save' them. It is an act of love, giving those who do not have a body the opportunity to be baptized into and join the LDS church if they so choose. We do not 'force' anyone to be a member of our church and would never do so. When asked by relatives of the deceased not to do the work, we respect their wishes.
That being said, the church is made up of people, and people are not perfect. I am certain that whoever submitted these names was unaware that what they were doing was wrong. As a member of the LDS church, I find it sad that this sign of respect (not doing proxy baptisms for jewish holocaust victims) was violated. But please know that we do not think these people were wicked.
Mercy me! I've been waiting all my life for someone like Mistamista to bring me to the light! Evangelical atheism has saved me! Oh, thank it for opening my eyes! I'm happy and full of delight now! All my problems are solved! I'm so pleased, thank you, thank you, how did I live without the answers? [/sarcasm]
Kid, if you think you're going to persuade anyone with your lameass comments or your lack-of-charm personality, don't hold your breath. You'll turn blue and die before you have any converts. Showing respect for others and their ideas is the only way to get any from other folks.
Romney a Mormon and a supporter of Mormon church. He has donated millions every year and will continue to donate millions as it appears on his tax returns. I wonder how the Jews plan on supporting Romney or they will support Obama. They have a problem with both candidates. Maybe they can ask "Ronald McDonald" Donald trump to get back in the race or get Sarah Palin back in the circus of clowns.
A whole lotta smokin' hot blonde babes in that cult. To bad they're about as smart as a bent stick. No wait, maybe that's a good thing!
1. The universe needs a cause. Wrong. Study some Quantum physics.
2. The universe was created by an "intelligence". Wrong. What's "intelligent" about Leukemia ?
3. The "intelligence" is a person. It's the ONLY thing ancient humans can imagine it to be. Why not a digital information system ?
4. That person is Yahweh Sabaoth, the "1000 years in the making", (evolved), "god of the armies".
Multiply those 4 VERY improbable factors, and you get about a .000000000001 probability that YOUR god is real.
So sad, too bad.
Disobedience led to sin, sin to imperfection, imperfection to death. The human mind is designed to take in endless information, and it could, if people were not destined to die from birth. If we don't die from accidents, incidents or disease...old age will do the job. We could have lived forever, but chose to believe that we could live without God's rules. The day is fast approaching, when all these things will be made right. Prepare to meet your maker...
Oh my goodness, this genius has proven it! Where is your nobel prize? Seriously, what a ridiculous and disjointed argument.
I feel sorry that you live such a lonely, sad life.
Without imperfection, there would have been no sin. So sad too bad. Cut off by your own process.
Animals die. Do animals sin. So sad. Too bad.
Hey Chain, I didn't choose any of that. Would you think it fair if you were hauled off to prison because somebody stole somebody else's mammoth bone 20,000 years ago?
If people were destined to die from birth, sin did not cause death......... So sad. Too bad.
Prepare to meet your maker...
That's what they've been saying for 200 years, including you Jesus. It didn't happen like he said, ("this generation will not pass away"......). and it never will. So sad. Too bad.
2000 years. So sad. Too bad.
this is so so stupid... the people are dead. Being baptized is nonsense on its own but the whole idea of having your sins washed away is king of moot if the PERSON IS DEAD.
I read that if you dig up a Mormon and pour a can of Coke on them you can posthumously un-baptize them.
...OK, I just made that up. I didn't actually read that anywhere. But you did.
Denver2.... are you high?
Have you ever really looked at your hand, man? No, I mean *really* looked at it? Man?
or just stupid?
I don't feel stupid...
We believe that life goes on after we die, and we still have the opoprtunity to repent of our sins. This is a gesture of love to those who have died to give them the opportunity to be baptized in the LDS church if they so choose. If they choose that they do not believe in this church, then the baptisms might as well not have happened. Please understand this is nothing more than a gesture of love.
Bring back the Inquisition. And start with the LDS cult
Why don't we just start with you, Jack. It's your idea.
Three words: freedom of religion.
And go ahead and try, if you want to dstroy the most charitable organization on the planet.
US is just like Iran, Afghanista, Sudan- just the type of religion and amount of money differs. The fanaticism, ignorance, and stupidity is same, but just more disturbing given the resources!
This is the most insulting comment I've ever read. Actually speak to people who are members of this church before making ignorant, idiotic assumptions.