Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Caught again!

The mormon practice of baptism for the dead often is a controversial one, and in the past it has caused a ruckus among the Jewish community because mormons have seen fit to baptize Holocaust victims, who were murdered for being Jewish. Several times in the past, the mormon church has promised to stop baptizing Holocaust survivors only to be caught with Holocaust survivors on their rolls for temple work. Now the Jewish community has broken off talks, figuring that they were wasting their time...

Jewish group wants Mormons to stop proxy baptisms

Associated Press Writers

NEW YORK (AP) -- Holocaust survivors said Monday they are through trying to negotiate with the Mormon church over posthumous baptisms of Jews killed in Nazi concentration camps, saying the church has repeatedly violated a 13-year-old agreement barring the practice.

Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints say they are making changes to their massive genealogical database that will make it more difficult for names of Holocaust victims to be entered for posthumous baptism by proxy, a rite that has been a common Mormon practice for more than a century.

But Ernest Michel, honorary chairman of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors, said that is not enough. At a news conference in New York City on Monday, he said the church also must "implement a mechanism to undo what you have done."

"Baptism of a Jewish Holocaust victim and then merely removing that name from the database is just not acceptable," said Michel, whose parents died at Auschwitz. He spoke on the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Nazi-incited riots against Jews.

"We ask you to respect us and our Judaism just as we respect your religion," Michel said in a statement released ahead of the news conference. "We ask you to leave our six million Jews, all victims of the Holocaust, alone, they suffered enough."

Michel said talks with Mormon leaders, held as recently as last week, have ended. He said his group will not sue, and that "the only thing left, therefore, is to turn to the court of public opinion."

In 1995, Mormons and Jews inked an agreement to limit the circumstances that allow for the proxy baptisms of Holocaust victims. Ending the practice outright was not part of the agreement and would essentially be asking Mormons to alter their beliefs, church Elder Lance B. Wickman said Monday in an interview with reporters in Salt Lake City.

"We don't think any faith group has the right to ask another to change its doctrines," Wickman said. "If our work for the dead is properly understood ... it should not be a source of friction to anyone. It's merely a freewill offering."

Christians recognize the need to evangelize Jews, no different than any other group. But we also realize that given the history of Jews especially with regards to the Holocaust and the Inquisition (neither of which we perpetrated by Christians). The mormon church could halt the baptism of Holocaust victims by insisting it's members stop adding the names, but given their focus on the un-Biblical practice of proxy baptism for people who had no interest in being mormons in life, it is unlikely that it will ever truly stop. The only consolation I can offer to Jews who had family members die in Auschwitz and Treblinka is that proxy baptism has no basis in Scripture and is nothing more than a show. I doubt that will be much consolation though.

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