After Anne Frank baptism, Mormons vow to discipline members
A picture of Anne Frank, perhaps the most famous victim of the Holocaust.
February 22nd, 2012
05:11 PM ET

After Anne Frank baptism, Mormons vow to discipline members

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - Reacting to a report that well-known Holocaust victim Anne Frank had been baptized by proxy in a Mormon temple, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says it is committed to disciplining members of its church who conducted such baptisms, which violate church policy.

Word of the Frank baptism came a week after the issue of Mormon posthumous proxy baptism of Jews attracted national attention. This controversy surfaced after it was reported that the dead parents of Jewish Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal had been baptized in a Mormon temple.

The church apologized for that baptism, blaming it on a technical glitch in its system for submitting names for posthumous proxy baptism.

“It takes a good deal of deception and manipulation to get an improper submission through the safeguards we have put in place,” LDS Church spokesman Michael Purdy said in a statement Tuesday, responding to the report about the Anne Frank baptism.

Explainer: How and why do Mormons baptize the dead?

Though the church regularly conducts proxy baptisms for dead, in what it calls an attempt to give everyone a chance to accept salvation through Jesus, it has a 1990s-era policy against conducting such baptisms for Holocaust victims.

The policy was adopted after complaints from Jewish groups, which said it was offensive to conduct Mormon baptisms for Holocaust victims who were killed because of their Jewish faith.

“The Church keeps its word and is absolutely firm in its commitment to not accept the names of Holocaust victims for proxy baptism,” said Purdy in his Tuesday statement.

The church said it is “committed to taking action against individual abusers by suspending the submitter’s access privileges,” the statement continued. “We will also consider whether other Church disciplinary action should be taken.”

According to Helen Radkey, a former Mormon who tracks Mormon posthumous proxy baptisms, the one for Anne Frank was conducted on Saturday in the Dominican Republic.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Judaism • Mormonism

soundoff (1,379 Responses)
  1. tv

    Have they baptized Hitler, Dahmer, Capone, Berkowitz or the likes?

    February 23, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • R. J. A.

      Not yet...but if you look below, I've already baptized Attilla the Hun and Ghengis Khan.

      February 23, 2012 at 9:10 am |
  2. TG

    Only living persons are to be baptized, for just before Jesus ascension to heaven, he gave the command to his eleven faithful apostles: "Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them.....teaching then to observe all the things I have commanded you."(Matt 28:19, 20)

    The word "baptize" means to "immerse, submerge".(Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible) It is derived from the Greek verb bapto, meaning "dip".(John 13:26) Thus, proxy baptisms are not vaid, for the person who is baptized has to make an informed choice as to whether or not he or she desires to do so, to accept the responsibility of following in Jesus "footsteps".(1 Pet 2:21)

    This responsibility involves making known "the good news of the kingdom"(Matt 24:14), of which Mormons have not followed Jesus pattern.(Luke 8:1) They teach that the "kingdom" will be earthly, whereas Jesus taught that it is a heavenly government.(Matt 10:7)

    They also teach that God is an "exalted man" in heaven (Joseph Smith), with Mormon prophet Lorenzo Snow later saying: "As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may become." This contradicts the Bible, for Psalms 90:2 says that God is "from everlasting to everlasting."(King James Bible)

    And those who have the privilege of being selected to go to heaven, serve in an official capacity as "kings and priests"(Rev 1:6), not as equals to God, but as 144,000 individuals who recognize that God, whose name is Jehovah, is the Grand Creator of all the universe, with these ones casting their crowns before God's throne, saying: "You are worthy, Jehovah, even our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created.”(Rev 4:10, 11)

    February 23, 2012 at 9:09 am |
    • R. J. A.

      TG....christians, jews, mormons and muslims all worship the same god. My question is, which followers will be "saved?" Since each religion claims the others are "doing it wrong," which ones will god save? Who is going to heaven, christians, jews, mormons or muslims? (and you can only pick one because, according to each of them, only one can be doing it "right.")

      February 23, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • Daniel

      As far as being baptized for the dead, that's a total waist of the living person's time. Your not helping those souls who have gone on before. The Word of God says "As the tree falls, so shall it lie" Ecclesiasties 11:3 Choices about eternity are made by the individual while they are living. Baptism is essential for salvation "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." God only gave us one plan of salvation, it's outlined by the Apostle who was given the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. In Act's 2:38 Peter proclaimed it very boldly when he said "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."

      February 23, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • The message was very clear

      Read Corinthians 15:29

      February 23, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Bar Mitzvah

      @ Drew, you would have to study for a Bar Mitzvah in THIS life 🙂
      You would have to read/chant your portion of the Torah in Hebrew-then you party.

      If we all took our view of the "Almighty" and realized that within each of us is the same spark that ignited life here on earth-maybe the word tolerance and teaching "do not do what is hateful unto you, unto others" " would be more prevelant.

      In the meantime in the USA a country with separation of Church and State, there is total polarization between "believers" VS non believers ENOUGH already. Where are we back in the Crusades? Inquisition, Trail of Tears, Shoah, Cambodia yada yada yada.
      Presently human beings are being butchered in Syria, their corpses thrown in the street. Who cares right? Murder one person you murder a thousand in the name of whatever you worship.

      I am so tired of all this C**** haven't we learned anything in the past 4000 years?
      Guess not. Call it the human condition.

      February 24, 2012 at 9:04 am |
  3. Dee

    Baptism by proxy? After you're dead? Who are they charging for this? It must be for money, because there is absolutely no other reason to do it. Well, except maybe for publicity – and they are certainly getting that. Baptism should be a personal choice, or at least a choice made by parents of an infant. So, since there is no one still living who could have made that choice for these people, that baptism means absolutely nothing.

    February 23, 2012 at 9:09 am |
  4. Lee

    If a Catholic prays for my soul after I die, it won't hurt my feelings.

    February 23, 2012 at 9:08 am |
  5. VinoBianco

    so, what do they think this accomplishes? the sudden transfer from someone who has been hanging out in hell for a few decades being moved into heaven? really? how old are we? what century is this?

    February 23, 2012 at 9:07 am |
  6. bas

    Since Jews do not believe as Mormons do, they should not have a problem with what the Mormons do. To get upset over what someone of another faith does in accordance with their own beliefs only suggests that you believe the other person might be right. Too many people spend way too much time looking for ways to be offended!

    February 23, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      No, its suggests its insulting as hell to the person in question and their family.
      sorry you dont see that.

      February 23, 2012 at 9:09 am |
    • garc

      And yet I suspect you would be enormously bothered by Muslims gathering to pray for forgiveness of the dead after a Christian death.

      February 23, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • Drew

      I agree. If the Jews want to throw me a Bar Mitzvah, all the more power to them. Go for it!

      February 23, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • jon

      That's an ignorant statement. European Jews that were killed in the Holocaust held onto their faith stronger than I could say most people in modern society would. If it was a matter of LIFE OR DEATH, would you give up your religion? There are millions of Americans who would (and yes, I'd include those looking forward to being abducted by flying saucers in the Mormon religion) who wouldn't think twice about ditching their religion to save their own hides.

      At the barrel of a gun, there's no such thing as freedom of religion, unfortunately.

      February 23, 2012 at 9:49 am |
  7. Jeepers

    I'm not Jewish or even religious at all and this story offends me. They were doing it to Holocaust victims? What hubris.

    February 23, 2012 at 9:06 am |
  8. LoriPinCO

    I hope the Mormon church is serious about this...with Anne Frank and all the other Jews who were holocaust victims, they have gone too far! I am not Jewish, but this is just wrong...no other religion does this that I know of, so who are the Mormons that they think they can do this? This whole practice is so wrong on so many levels! I think those Jews who have gone before know God...and are with Him after all they went through here.

    February 23, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • R. J. A.

      Hey, it only took Christians 72 years or so to help an eastern european jew.......better late than never I suppose. However, I'm guessing Anne Frank would have rathered some type of intervention BEFORE she was found.

      February 23, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • Lucy

      Way to dis the Christians who risked their lives to hide her.

      February 23, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • being realistic

      Forgive the Mormons because they were drunk at the time. Those hypocritical freaks

      February 23, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • Bhoss

      If you truly believed that doing an ritualistic act would save someones soul for all of eternity, why would it matter what others thought? If you offended them here it is a small price to pay for eternity in heaven. Unfortunately they believe they are doing the right thing. if you agreed with them they you would support this. if you do not believe what they do then their ritual should not matter at all.

      February 23, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • R. J. A.

      Sorry...should have clarified....way for WESTERN christians to finally intervene. Thank you for illustrating my oversight.

      February 23, 2012 at 9:14 am |
  9. BethTX

    Sop, does she also get a proxy pair of magical underwear?

    February 23, 2012 at 9:04 am |
  10. mannycl

    I think CNN should not waste time reporting stupid things.

    February 23, 2012 at 9:04 am |
  11. danbracewell

    I'm not quite sure how LDS is going to get around this. According to their beliefs, everyone will get a chance to accept the gospel in the spirit world if they did not get a chance during their days on earth. You cant baptize a spirit, so this is why there are temple baptisms by proxy. If everyone gets a chance, then this means the victims of the holocaust as well.

    February 23, 2012 at 9:03 am |
  12. Joseph form Michigan

    Post-life, sham baptisms of anyone is just silly. Baptism is for the living. However, if we view this as a ritualized form of prayer, then anyone and everyone who prays for those who are past on is a good thing...Right?

    February 23, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • Bhoss

      the root word of christian is "Christ" if you believe in Jesus Christ as the son of god then you are Christian. Jews (as far as i know) believe that Jesus existed but he is not the son of god, hence they are not christian. They believe what is written in the old testament. Christians added to the bible with the partial life of Jesus Christ. They added the new testament. Mormons took those teachings and added the book of mormon. Stories from after Jesus's death and the trip to the Americas. i think your statement is uneducated.

      February 23, 2012 at 9:21 am |
  13. Mark H

    Most religions require a leap of faith to believe in something you can't prove. Mormonism asks you to believe in something that has been proven false. 100 % false. Book of Mormon – a fake. Book of Abraham – a complete and utter fraud.

    February 23, 2012 at 9:02 am |
  14. R. J. A.

    There. I did it. I just baptized Attilla the Hun and Ghengis Khan. Done deal. No "take-sies-back-sies"

    February 23, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • BethTX

      But I had my fingers crossed, so baptism bounces back on you! Ha!

      February 23, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • R. J. A.

      Hey! BethTX....THAT's no fair! That wasn't in the manual!

      February 23, 2012 at 9:09 am |
  15. RickK

    Mormonism was started as a money-making scheme by the charlatan Joseph Smith after he failed at being a dowser (magical treasure finder). He found a bunch of sad, lonely outcasts desperately looking for something to believe, and voila! – the Mormon Church was born. So retroactive baptism doesn't seem so outlandish when you know the sordid origins of the Mormon church. Doesn't it make you wonder if all major religions started this way – a charismatic guy and a bunch of needy people?

    February 23, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • Bhoss

      my question is, How do you know? were you there or are you repeating what you hear or read? because if your correct why is your acquired "knowledge" any more valid then theirs?

      February 23, 2012 at 9:24 am |
  16. jamesnyc

    I am glad the Mormon Church is being respectful. The problem with organized religion sometimes is the overreaching arrogance of the lay people (and clergy) in their assumption of what is best for an individual.

    February 23, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • CM

      The only way I'd become a Mormon would be over my dead body...oh, well I guess they realize that is how the majority of people feel. And therefore the tradition of post-humous baptism fits in for the LDS faith. How desperate is this? I am a baptized Catholic. I love my faith. It is not a gift or an act of love to rip someone from the faith they lived while here on Earth. It wasn't their choice to begin with and there is a reason for that.

      February 23, 2012 at 9:18 am |
  17. R. J. A.

    I love how religions can just make stuff up as they go. "Suuuuure, you can baptize someone AFTER they've died. We do it all the time!" This is from the same church that made up its own version of Christianity. Mormons, Scientologists, Christians, Muslims, Jews....they're all the same. It's so funny how they each try to point at the others and make it seem like they're the crazy ones!!

    February 23, 2012 at 9:00 am |
  18. Windsoc

    I believe the Mormons have good intensions. It seems that they are making an effort not to offend others and rightly so. It’s kind of a slap in the face to people who have died for a belief to be essentially told that what they died for is invalid. The Mormon who sneaked Anne Franks’ name into the system should be dealt with appropriately and it sounds like that’s what will happen. Here’s a thought I had however. If the Mormons are right and you do get to heaven through a proxy baptism, then thank goodness they’re doing all that work to get us all in. If they’re wrong then, who cares? They’re just wasting their own time and not hurting anyone. They should just not tell anyone which dead people they’re not getting anywhere, and they’d be pretty easy to ignore.

    February 23, 2012 at 8:59 am |
  19. Beth

    This isn't mine originally, but its a wonderful sentiment to keep in mind.

    Relgiions are like penises.
    Its fine to have one.
    Its even fine to be proud of yours.
    But it is not ok to whip it out and stick it in people's faces.
    And it is never ok to force it on children.

    February 23, 2012 at 8:59 am |
  20. LATerry

    Mormons aren't Christians for the same reason Christians aren't Jews. Each of these religions has different sets of sacred texts, even if there's some overlapping.

    February 23, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • R. J. A.

      But yet they all worship the same God. Interesting, isn't it. Which ones do you think God will "save?" Christians, Jews and Mormons. And you can only pick one, because, according to each sect, only one of them is doing it "right."

      So, who does God "save"? Chrisitans, Jews or Mormons? (and don't forget muslims, because they worship the same God too).

      February 23, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • ARGH


      Honestly, we're not sure yet on "who does God "save"?" It could be Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Taoists or Islam. It could be all of them since they are all worship the same God.



      February 23, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
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