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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Mormons Still "Baptizing" Jewish Holocaust Victims

"The Baptism" by Piero della Francesca, 1442.

Want proof of the emotional impact of religious ritual? This week saw the resurgence of a powerful conflict that reaches deep into the beliefs of two religions. At a press conference in New York, it was revealed that Jewish and Mormon leaders are still intensely at odds over an ongoing Mormon practice of "baptizing" Jewish victims of the Holocaust by using Mormon stand-ins to convert the deceased Jews to Christianity.
A Jewish Holocaust-survivor group wants the Mormons to stop. "We ask you to respect us and our Judaism just as we respect your religion," Ernst Michel, honorary chairman of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors, wrote this week to Mormon leaders. "We ask you to leave our six million Jews, all victims of the Holocaust, alone. They suffered enough."

Leaders of the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) say they’ll alter their genealogical database to reduce the chances of Holocaust victims being “baptized,” but there are no guarantees.

Reuniting in Heaven

Mormons believe the only way families can be reunited in heaven is for all members to be baptized, making them Christians. So, for more than a hundred years, Mormons have used family genealogies to retroactively baptize deceased persons from all over the world, from all religions. The Mormons do this by having living Mormons stand in as a proxies for the deceased persons and immerse themselves in baptismal pools. Then the Mormons regard the dead people as Christians, regardless of what their religions may have been when they were alive.

Jewish leaders say the practice is especially upsetting when applied to Jewish Holocaust victims, who were murdered because of their non-Christian religious beliefs. They want the Mormons to stop baptizing the Jewish victims and "to implement a mechanism to undo what you have done."

Mormons Refuse to Stop

Mormon leaders say nobody ~ Jewish or otherwise ~ has the right to demand that the Mormons change their posthumous baptism practices.
"We don't think any faith group has the right to ask another to change its doctrines," Mormon Elder Lance Wickman told reporters this week in Salt Lake City. "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."

Jewish leaders persuaded Mormon leaders in 1995 to limit the proxy baptisms for Holocaust victims. Mormons supposedly removed about 42,000 names from the database. But since 2005, independent researchers monitoring the Mormon genealogical database say a number of the names have been placed back on the database along with new entries of Jews from Holland, Greece, Poland and Italy.

Click here for the complete Associated Press article.


1 comment:

ludmil said...

"Can you imagine a world without countries or religions" John Lennon 1971