Mormon church apologizes for baptisms of Simon Wiesenthal’s parents

The Mormon Church has apologized for posthumously baptising the parents of Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that

An LDS Church member last month posthumously baptized the parents of Simon Wiesenthal, a Holocaust survivor and Jewish rights advocate, and the Los Angeles center named for him is incensed.

“We are outraged that such insensitive actions continue in the Mormon temples,” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the Wiesenthal Center’s associate dean, said in a statement on the group’s website. “Such actions make a mockery of the many meetings with the top leadership of the Mormon church.”

According to the BBC

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spokesman Michael Purdy said the Church’ s leaders “sincerely regret” the actions of “an individual member”. […]

Mr Purdy told the Associated Press news agency that the church considered the act “a serious breach of our protocol”.

According to Mr Purdy, the names of the Wiesenthal family were simply entered into a genealogical database by one person.

“We have suspended indefinitely this person’s ability to access our genealogy records,” he said.

Baptism for the dead‘ is one of many un-biblical practices of the Mormon Church — which, theologicaly, is considered to be a cult of Christianity.

Christian website CARM explains that in this practice “individuals go to their local Mormon temple, dress appropriately for a baptism, representatively adopt the name of a person who has died, and then the Mormon is baptized in water for that deceased person. This way, the dead person has fulfilled the requirements of salvation in the afterworld and can enjoy further spiritual benefits in the spiritual realm.”

CARM shows that the Mormon rite is based on a Bible verse that has been taken out of context.

The Salt Lake Tribune says

Gary Mokotoff, a Jewish genealogist in New Jersey who has been using the church’s massive records collection for decades, is cautiously optimistic about the religion’s response. In fact, he was told in writing that the church also suspended access for the culprit’s wife.

In 1992 Mokotoff, then president of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies, tried to persuade the LDS Church to remove the names of Holocaust victims from its International Genealogical Index.

The LDS Church has repeatedly promised to do so, but names have continued to appear in the database, and the controversy over the practice continues.

The Mormon/Jewish Controversy” chronicles the controversy between leaders of the Jewish faith and of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regarding the Mormon practice of posthumously baptizing deceased Jews into the Mormon faith.

In December, 2006 the LDS church complied with a request that Simon Wiesenthal’s name be erased from its genealogy database for posthumous baptism.

The BBC says

Evidence that Wiesenthal’s parents had been baptised was found by Helen Radkey, a researcher and former Mormon, AP reported.

She regularly checks the Church’ s database, and also recently found the names of Nobel laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and several family members on the Mormon list.

“None of the three names were submitted for baptism and they would not have been under the Church’ s guidelines and procedures,” said Mr Purdy, the Mormon Church spokesman said.

Rabbi Cooper said any further discussion of the problem was useless.

“The only way such insensitive practices would finally stop is if church leaders finally decided to change their practices and policies on posthumous baptisms, a move which this latest outrage proves that they are unwilling to do,” he said.

The Catholic Church has also objected to posthumous baptisms of its members.

Research resources on the LDS Church

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