Jews Demand Mormons Stop Proxy Baptisms of Concentration Camp Victims

180px-saint_remigius_baptizes_clovis_i_detailHolocaust survivors are trying to negotiate with leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints to stop posthumous “proxy” baptisms of Jews killed in Nazi concentration camps. In these ceremonies, a person stands in for a victim and goes through the submerging rite.

Thirteen years ago, the Mormons agreed to stop the baptisms of Holocaust survivors, but their names were found in a massive genealogical database by people monitoring the process under a prior agreement.

Ernest Michel, honorary chairman of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors, said that they want more action, demanding that the church also “implement a mechanism to undo what you have done.” He added that “Baptism of a Jewish Holocaust victim and then merely removing that name from the database is just not acceptable.”

The 1995 agreement limited the use of proxy baptisms of Holocaust victims but did not end the process which is deeply engrained in the Mormon faith. Mormon have long baptized non-Mormons in proxy ceremonies.

I must confess that I am not sure why it matters what another religion purports or believes about your conversion. Michel explained that he wants the process “reversed” because “They tell me, that my parents’ Jewishness has not been altered but … 100 years from now, how will they be able to guarantee that my mother and father of blessed memory who lived as Jews and were slaughtered by Hitler for no other reason than they were Jews, will someday not be identified as Mormon victims of the Holocaust?” That seems a bit of a stretch.

Since 2005, ongoing monitoring of the database has revealed resubmissions and new entries of names of Dutch, Greek, Polish and Italian Jews. The church says that lists of names have been entered into the database by people acting “outside of policy” and that they have removed 42,000 names from the database on their own.

The Vatican has also objected to the proxy baptism of Catholics, telling Catholic dioceses worldwide to withhold member registries from Mormons so that Catholics could not be baptized.

For the full story, click here.

18 thoughts on “Jews Demand Mormons Stop Proxy Baptisms of Concentration Camp Victims”

  1. One interesting outcome of the Latter Day Saint’s habit of having a proxy baptised in the absence of the deceased is that eventually they may evolve an aquatic Mormon.

  2. Mike Spindell: “Most non-Jews knowledge of Judaism comes from the Christian translation of the Torah, which they call “The New Testament.” New Testament is actually derogatory from a Jewish perspective because it is a statement that Judaism is obsolete. ”

    Sorry don’t mean to correct you but I think you meant the Old Testament.

    The New Testament is purley a Christian document and has no place in the Jewish bible.

    The Torah, (the Pentateuch) is the 1st of 3 books in the Hebrew Bible, (Tanakh) and comprised the first 5 books of the Old Testament, hence Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

  3. I’m confused. If the Jew’s don’t believe the Mormon religion, why would it matter to them what ritual’s they practice in the privacy of their own temples?

    I mean, if it bothers the Jew’s so much that mormons are pretending to baptize by proxy members of the Jewish religion, wouldn’t that mean they actually believe the baptism is actually real, and doing something?

    Mormon’s baptize by the dead by proxy based on a obscure passage of scripture in 1st Corintians. (“Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?” 1st Corinthians 15:29).

    Based on this scripture and what they believe is divine revelation, mormons believe that they can be baptized for a person who has passed on, and that person living in some sort of spiritual world, will have the opportunity to either accept or reject that baptism.

    So if a person doesn’t believe in the mormon spirit world, or that mormons have any authority from God, then why would it bother them what they’re doing in their private temples?

    If it’s not real, then it doesn’t mean anything.

    For one to be offended by it, wouldn’t they first have to believe that the practice is somehow based in reality?

  4. srl3 has clearly drank the mormon kool-aid. of course the mormons are trying to buy up souls.

  5. This was an interesting piece of history I just learned about.

    “The thirteenth-century was a period of frequent Christian attacks on other religions in polemical treatises. The Dominican order in particular dedicated much effort to learning Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic in order to mine original source material from the Talmud and Qur’an for use in argumentation. In contrast to the twelfth century, when Western Christians began translating original texts in order to refute them, thirteenth-century Aragonese Dominicans such as Paul Christiani and Raymond Martini and Italian Dominican Riccoldo de Monte Croce began appropriating original source material in Hebrew and Arabic not only to destroy it in argumentation, but to invoke it as authoritative proof of certain arguments in favor of Christianity. The use of original languages became increasingly precise in the writings of Martini and Monte Croce and often involved extensive citations accompanied by careful translations. By the early fourteenth-century, the use of original source material became so important that writers like Alfonso of Valladolid, a convert from Judaism, wrote voluminous anti-Jewish polemics in Hebrew and based his arguments almost exclusively on Hebrew sources, while Dominican Alfonso Buenhombre fabricated imaginary dialogues between Jews, Muslims, and Christians–which he claims to have discovered in Morocco and translated from Arabic–in defense of Christianity. Later converts to Islam such as Anselm Turmeda similarly based their refutations of Christianity on citation of original Scriptural passages from the Bible. In some polemics, the appropriation of original source material, especially that drawn from religious scriptures, even led to the Christian use of Qur’anic citations against Jews or Muslim use of Hebrew scriptures in defense of Christianity. The borrowing, stealing, and manipulation of original source material characterizes late-medieval polemical writing in the Western Mediterranean region and exemplifies how the construction of religious identity in a multiconfessional society depended on the authority gained through control of original scriptural sources.” “In this lecture, we will survey the variety of medieval uses of original material in polemical writing, especially in the twelfth to fifteenth centuries in the Iberian Peninsula and Maghreb, with specific attention to odd variations on the standard patterns including the Christian citation of Qur’anic material against Jews in Judeo-Arabic script, the Hebrew translation of Christian Gospels, and the fictional fabrication of sources and polemicists on all sides as a strategy in inter-religious debate.”

  6. As a committed Jew, although a Deist in outlook, I have some very strong reactions to this continuing controversy. From my perspective this is not only disrespectful, but is a continuation of a lack of understanding of what Jews feel. I must say that I write this as a Jew, whose parent’s best friends were overwhelmingly pious Italian-American Catholics. So I spent many holidays in these homes and while we didn’t give, or get, Christmas presents, we sere there to help them celebrate and enjoy their beliefs. I say this because the following should not be implied as anti-Christian.

    It is disrespectful to the memory of those who died in the Shoah to use their life records to redefine their religion. Most non-Jews knowledge of Judaism comes from the Christian translation of the Torah, which they call “The New Testament.” New Testament is actually derogatory from a Jewish perspective because it is a statement that Judaism is obsolete. That Christians should have the right to see it that way is undisputable, but please understand that Jews see it differently. The English and Latin translations of the Torah have been done from a Christian perspective, which is of course reasonable, but they are not representative of what the Torah is actually saying to Jews or a Jewish translation from the Hebrew/Aramaic. It is also interesting that Fundamentalists primarily use the “Old Testament” as the source for their prejudice (homosexuality for instance) but canonically insist that the Gospel made these beliefs obsolete.

    For instance SRL23 states above:

    “Or more offensive than the Jewish claim that they are God’s “chosen” people?

    My guess though is that his/her understanding of “chosen” people probably comes from his reading of the Christian Bible, rather than actual Jewish belief in what that concept means. Besides the Torah there are voluminous Jewish writings (Mishnah, Gommorrah,etc.) that define Judaism and present a quite different view of “chosen” people.

    Because Jews are a minority we have generally been defined by other religions that in effect have co-opted our Torah to add age to their own later religions, Judaism is probably between 3,500 to 3,000 years old, but in that co-optation have naturally disparaged the source religion as being superceded by their new improved versions. Millions of dollars are being spent by Baptists in their “convert the Jews” campaign

    Mormonism even has “good” Jews and “bad” Jews coming to America around 600 BCE, fighting an apocalyptic war won by the “bad” Jew and now claim to have reclaimed and superseded the heritage of the “good” Jews.

    Islam also has co-opted the Torah and likewise teaches a replacement theology. It is no coincidence that the Mosque of Omar was placed on Temple Mount and the non-Koranic claim of Mohammed’s heavenly ascent from that site, was a religious and political statement of Islam’s supremacy.

    All of this is fair game in the world of religion and everyone is entitled to their own religious beliefs and the feeling that theirs is the road to truth and God. I practice Judaism because I am comfortable with it and approve of much of its ethical content. However, while I do believe that there is a creative force in the Universe, I believe it is folly for human’s to believe that they can understand it. So that’s why I am also a Deist. While my attitude is “live and let live” towards other beliefs, I don’t think that exerting public approbrium towards those who would use Holocaust victims for their own purposes is out of bounds.

  7. rafflaw:

    Is this belief anymore disrespectful than the evangelical christian that believes that everyone (Jews, Muslims, Hindus or atheists) that does not accept their version of Jesus Christ goes to Hell? Or more offensive than the Jewish claim that they are God’s “chosen” people? I could go on. My point is not to argue the superiority of a belief, or even to argue that the controversial beliefs/practices of another faith have to accepted by others. What I read on this post was misunderstanding about the practice itself. I just think that if we are going to criticize or opine about something we should at least know what it is and why it is done.

  8. SRJ23:

    Via these Baptisms do these souls get the right to have their own planet too? If so sign me up. I’ll take Saturn. I like those ice rings.

  9. SRJ23,
    I don’t care what the Mormon’s real “intent” is in making these obtrusive post-mortem baptisms. I agree with Jill that these actions are disrespectful of other religions.

  10. Elliot,
    “If memory serves, the reason these “baptisms” are performed is to increase the number of Mormon souls vs the number of non-Mormon souls. This would be in line with the emphasis on very large family size, which is to try to make sure of catching each available soul out of the ether for Mormonism.”

    That is incorrect. The purpose of these Mormon proxy baptisms for the dead is to ensure that everyone will have the chance to accept or reject baptism.

    The Mormon faith, like many Christian faiths, states that baptism is an essential ordinance for everyone to progress in the next life. Mormons believe that those who have died without the opportunity to choose to be baptized or not can accept or reject a baptism performed on their behalf by the living. According to Mormon theology, this avoids the somewhat depressing conclusion, that has been taught throughout history, that those that are unbaptized are eternally damned.

    It has nothing to do with swelling the ranks of the Mormon Church. Mormons are emphatic that those baptized by proxy do not automatically become Christians or Mormons. Rather, they believe that the dead will now have a choice. This is centered in a doctrine that God will give everyone the opportunity to believe and be baptized if they so choose.

    Many may believe this to be a silly and controversial practice, and all are entitled to their opinion. I just thought it would be best to clear up the motivation behind Mormon baptisms for the dead.

  11. If memory serves, the reason these “baptisms” are performed is to increase the number of Mormon souls vs the number of non-Mormon souls. This would be in line with the emphasis on very large family size, which is to try to make sure of catching each available soul out of the ether for Mormonism. There is some hazy idea of running the planet because of it.

    I just realized how outlandish that must sound if you hadn’t grown up around it.

  12. Sally,

    You’re talking about religion, what seems obvious to you is heretical to others. I’m sure you believe things that are as absurd to me as baptism of the dead is to you (and me).

    I agree with Jill, to me this is one of the more odd manifestations of the emphasis on “conversions” that is prevalent in some forms of American Christianity. I do give them credit, postmortem conversions are less annoying then being witnessed too while alive.

  13. I feel this way every time a religious person wants to pray for me because I’m an atheist. Those prayers are about as effective as these baptisms.

    It does seem very disrespectful, not to mention presumptuous of Mormons to do this. It’s also arrogant. Perhaps everyone could start the process in reverse, turning Mormons into Catholics, Jews, Zoroastrians, etc. and send them letters saying they are no longer Mormons, now they are (_______). This might be an effective way to stop the action.

  14. Gyges, what I’m basically saying is that

    You can’t lose 50 lbs for your overweight friend, they have to do the work themselves. I can’t say, well now that I lost that 15 lbs for Betty Lou, now maybe she’ll fit into that size 2 dress she’s been eyeing.

    Things don’t work that way. Otherwise I’d have lost my last 10 lbs of baby weight because my friend runs marathons

  15. Sally,

    According to YOUR beliefs, baptism doesn’t mean anything if the person isn’t present. Theological statements are only self evident to the people who agree with them.

    Remember all religions are equally weird to the people who don’t practice them.

  16. The more I hear and read about the Church of the Latter Day Saints, I become more and more upset. Here they have an agreement to refrain from an activity that is clearly upsetting other religions and they keep on doing these “baptisms”. This is the same religion whose members put vast amonts of money towards passing the gay marriage ban in California. What is the benefit to the Mormons for doing these rituals? Are they claiming that it benefits the person who was killed 60 years ago? At the same time, I am confused why anyone would care what the Mormons are doing. I used to think us Catholics do and believe in some strange things. I am not so sure anymore.

  17. Baptism means nothing if the actual person isn’t doing it themselves.

    Besides, you aren’t saved from hell by just being baptized.

    They’re just doing it because they know it upsets them.

    Ever notice that if you take that extra “m” out of Mormon, you get moron?

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