The LDS Church Puts Up a Virtual Firewall to Access of the Names of Holocaust Victims

The following is an excerpt from an AP article posted in the March 8, 2012 edition of the Palm Beach Post News:

SALT LAKE CITY — Mormon leaders have put up a virtual firewall in their massive genealogical database to block out anyone who attempts to access the names of hundreds of thousands of Holocaust victims the church has agreed not to posthumously baptize.

The move comes amid criticism that the Salt Lake City-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hasn’t done enough to live up to commitments to stop its members worldwide from performing the baptism ritual on Holocaust victims and other notable Jews.

The new system will immediately block church members’ access should they try to seek out names of Holocaust victims or other notable figures that have been flagged as not suitable for proxy baptisms. The church said the move is aimed at ending the practice.

But critics say it merely serves to block anyone from monitoring whether the posthumous baptisms continue.

“By not allowing public access to the records, it creates the illusion they have something to hide,” said Jewish genealogist Gary Mokotoff, who was involved in negotiations with the church over ending the practice for the past two decades.

Read the full article.

Another View of Mormon Proxy Baptism of Jews

The following excerpt is from an article written by Jeff Jacoby, a Jewish columnist for the Boston Globe. The article is dated March 1, 2012, and is posted at the website. It’s a different take on LDS proxy baptisms of Jews. Interesting…

Memo to the kvetchers: Get a life — especially when dealing with actions by strangers after death

In a column many years ago, I described how I once attempted to chart a family tree. Most of my father’s family had been killed in Auschwitz, and my efforts to trace their genealogy left me, I wrote, with a family tree that “has stumps where branches ought to be” and “gets narrower, not wider, as it grows.”

A woman phoned me the morning that column appeared. She said she was a Mormon, and wanted to add the names of my father’s massacred relatives — the column had mentioned about 18 of them by name — to the Mormon Church’s vast genealogical archives. I told her that I certainly had no objection. Indeed, I was grateful for any gesture that might help preserve some remembrance of these family members whose lives had been so cruelly cut short.

At the time I knew nothing about “baptism by proxy,” the ritual that Mormons believe gives even souls in the afterlife a chance to accept their faith and thus enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only later did I learn that some Mormons, eager to save the souls of dead Jews, had taken to submitting the names of Holocaust victims for posthumous baptism.

The discovery didn’t trouble me at all. In Judaism, conversion after death is a concept without meaning; no after-the-fact rites in this world can possibly change the Jewishness of the men, women, children, and babies whom the Nazis, in their obsessive hatred, singled out for extermination. I found the Mormons’ belief eccentric, not offensive. By my lights, their efforts to make salvation available to millions of deceased strangers were ineffectual. But plainly they were sincere, and intended as a kindness.

Read the full article.

LDS Posthumous Baptism Controversy Includes Polish Catholic Witness To Holocaust

And the controversy continues…

The following is from an extensive article written by Howard Berkes, and posted at the kuhg Houston Public Radio website.

He wasn’t Jewish and he wasn’t a victim of the Holocaust, but the discovery of Jan Karski‘s name on Mormon proxy baptism records has angered those already upset about posthumous Mormon baptisms of prominent Jews and Holocaust victims.

Jan Karski was a Catholic whose mission for the Polish resistance during World War II included sneaking into the Warsaw ghetto, where he witnessed executions and naked bodies piled in the streets. Then he disguised himself as a Ukrainian guard and infiltrated a concentration camp.

Karski biographer E. Thomas Wood credits the former Polish diplomat with providing the first detailed descriptions of the systematic extermination of Jews to Allied leaders in London.

Wood heard last week’s news about the father and grandfather of Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, whose names were discovered on genealogical records used to identify candidates for the Mormon practice of posthumous baptism.

The week before, the Simon Wiesenthal Center denounced the appearance of the names of Wiesenthal’s parents on Mormon baptism records.

So, Wood asked genealogical researcher Helen Radkey to check the records for Karski’s name, and was shocked to find a baptism and other “ordinances” that confirm the Mormon faith of the deceased.

“I know what his faith meant to him, and I know he would be outraged at this effort to appropriate his mortal soul for another religion,” Wood wrote in a letter to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “This act will bring pain to his Roman Catholic and Jewish friends and admirers around the world, among others.”

Wood called on Mormon leaders to remove Karski’s name from church records.

Read the full article.

LDS Church Apologizes for the Proxy Baptism of Simon Wiesenthal’s Parents.

The following teaser is from an article published February 20, 2012 edition of the Calgary Herald.

LOS ANGELES – Simon Wiesenthal’s parents should not have been posthumously baptized, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has acknowledged. And on Monday, an official with the church apologized.

The uproar began last week when it was discovered that a member of the Mormon Church had submitted for posthumous baptism the names of Wiesenthal’s parents, and that the couple, Asher and Rosa Rapp Wiesenthal, were baptized by proxy last month.

Simon Wiesenthal, who died in 2005, was a Jewish rights advocate and a survivor of the Holocaust. He spent decades hunting down Nazis and bringing them to justice. The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, established in 1977, is named after him.

The Mormon Church member, who is not being identified by the Salt Lake City-based church, used a genealogical database to submit the names for proxy baptism. Such baptisms have proved controversial in the past, and the latest incident was certainly no exception.

Read the full article.

Radkey Goes After Romney

The following excerpt is from a Washington Post article about activist Helen Radkey and her current obsession with going after Governor Romney – attempting to tie him to both the posthumus baptism of off-limits Jews, as well as some of his polygamous ancestors. She makes the news regularly by locating controversial proxy baptisms, and blowing the whistle on them.

My readers all know my opinion about LDS proxy baptisms. I’m a simple man, and simply put, If it’s true, then hallelujah!. Thank you, my Mormon friends. If it’s not true, then what possible difference can it make…

SALT LAKE CITY — Mitt Romney has major headaches named Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.

This month, he also had Helen Radkey.

At 1:55 p.m. on Feb. 8, Radkey, an excommunicated Mormon who spends her days combing through databases at the church’s Family History Library, e-mailed Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, named for the famed Nazi-hunter.

“FYI, discovered today: Posthumous baptisms for the parents of Simon Wiesen­thal,” Radkey wrote. “I am collecting evidence, which will be e-mailed to you, if requested, as long as there is a public stink.”

Now Radkey’s energies are directed at a new area of research, which she hopes will cause a new headache for Romney: the posthumous plural marriages of his ancestors. She calls this “Romney’s polygamy tree.”

More important for her, she found Romney’s depiction of polygamy — he called it “bizarre” and “awful” — in bad taste. “How dare he say that polygamy was horrible when it was what his ancestors believed?” she said. “I believe you should honor your bloodline. I have convicts in my bloodline. I don’t reject them.”

Read the full article at the Washington Post webite. Note that you may have to register (free) and/or sign into the site.