Mormon church in USA apologizes for posthumous baptism of Jews

By Reuters Staff
February 15, 2012

(Holocaust survivor and Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal in a 1995 file photo. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger)

The Mormon church has apologized for the posthumous baptism by its members of the parents of famed Nazi hunter and Holocaust survivor Simon Wiesenthal. The posthumous baptisms were performed in Mormon churches in Utah, Arizona, and Idaho, according to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization named after the man who hunted down more than 1,000 Nazi war criminals including Adolf Eichmann in the years following the Holocaust.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in its written apology on Tuesday, suggested that the action was the work of one member who they said has since been disciplined.

“We sincerely regret that the actions of an individual member of the Church led to the inappropriate submission of these names,” Michael Purdy, a spokesman for the Church, said in a statement e-mailed to Reuters. “The policy of the Church is that members can request these baptisms only for their own ancestors. Proxy baptisms of Holocaust victims are strictly prohibited,” he added.

Wiesenthal’s mother Rosa died at the Belzec concentration camp in Poland in 1942. His father, Asher Wiesenthal, died during the First World War.

Read the full story by Mary Slosson here.
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One comment

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This is offensive to Mormons as well as Jews. It is sad that one person can break down relationships between millions of people. Mormons have a longstanding policy against Baptizing Jews (this is not discrimination since many Jews request it). This is supposed to be an act of love, but when someone intentionally goes against Church teachings on a sensitive issue like this it hurts all of us.

I apologize to all.
Also, I hope everyone understands that the bad feelings against Mormons are stirred by those who hate us. The anti-Mormons have intentionally misrepresented the purposes of Baptism for deceased persons.

Please understand:
1 Mormons are opposed to the Baptism of Jews.
2 Mormons do not believe that Holocaust victims are suffering in Hell or purgatory and that Baptism, like indulgences for the deceased, helps reduce their suffering. Mormons understand that all will be rewarded according to their works. No kind, good person will ever suffer in the next life, regardless of religious affiliation. All are in Paradise and will go to Heaven.

3 Baptism is not done to anyone, LDS believe that people are free in the next life to choose, just as they are here, and Baptism for the deceased gives them the opportunity to make a decision, it does not make anyone Christian or members of the Church. Even without it they can still make choices in belief.

Many Christians still practice rituals for the deceased. I understand that Jews have in times past. I hope that Jewish people understand that the Mormons I know would be honored if Jews were to perform rites for them. That goes for anyone with good intentions, Muslim, Catholic, Buddhist etc.

Posted by peaceman2 | Report as abusive