Nobel Prize winner Eli Wiesel reacted with disgust and outrage today in response to a recent article by the Huffington Post that claimed,
“according to a formerly-Mormon researcher, Helen Radkey, some members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had submitted Wiesel’s name to a restricted genealogy website as “ready” for posthumous proxy baptism.”
Former Mormon researcher Radkey discovered last week that both Wiesel’s father, Chlomo Wiesel, who died during the Holocaust in Buchenwald’s crematorium, as well as Wiesel’s grandfather, had been “proposed” for a proxy baptism, as had Eli Wiesel. This practice has been carried on for nearly 100 years, since 1918 when the President of the Church had the genius idea that the entire human race should be posthumously baptized into the Mormon Church.
Nice thought on behalf of the Mormons but a couple of little problems with their latest magnanimous gesture towards Holocaust survivor Eli Wiesel (a gesture they are now blatantly denying)–Wiesel isn’t dead yet and he isn’t remotely interested in himself or anyone in his family being posthumously baptized into the Mormon faith.
When asked for comment, Eli Wiesel vehemently objected,
“I think it’s scandalous. Not only objectionable, it’s scandalous.”
Worse, the ongoing practice is in direct violation of a 1995 agreement forged between the Mormon church and outraged Jewish leaders to discontinue the practice–an agreement that was promptly and conveniently ignored for another 15 years. The practice continued until 2010 when the Church finally agreed to at least cease and desist from proxy baptisms for Holocaust victims.
The Mormon Church has conducted posthumous proxy baptisms on over 650,000 Holocaust victims.
Radkey also discovered last month in this restricted Mormon database that church members in Utah, Arizona and Idaho had baptized the long-dead parents of famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, whose mother was murdered in the Belzec death camp.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center denounced the practice in no uncertain terms, declaring,
“Throughout his life, Simon Wiesenthal especially revered his beloved mother who was deported and murdered at Belzec death camp in 1942. Such actions make a mockery of the many meetings with the top leadership of the Mormon Church dating back to 1995 that focused on the unwanted and unwarranted posthumous baptisms of Jewish Victims of the Nazi Holocaust.”
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, in an interview with The Daily Beast, admitted he personally performed posthumous proxy baptisms in the past.
When asked by NEWSWEEK if he has done baptisms for the dead–in which Mormons find the names of dead people of all faiths and baptize them, as an LDS spokesperson says, to “open the door” to the highest heaven–he looked slightly startled and answered, “I have in my life, but I haven’t recently.”
Huffington Post contacted Romney’s campaign spokeswoman Gail Gitcho for comment on this breaking story.
Instead of an official reply from the campaign, in a rather large oopsie moment, Gitcho accidentally sent the HuffPost’s reporter an internal email suggesting the campaign ignore the request for comment on this story.
Good thinking since ignoring an issue always makes it immediately go away, doncha know, and particularly a story with the gravitas that Eli Wiesel and the Simon Wiesenthal Center bring to the subject of the Holocaust.
Can I just go on the record now and publicly state that I do not wish to be posthumously baptized into the Mormon faith after my eventual demise? I realize, based on the evidence of the last 100 years, that my request will be completely ignored but it’s worth a shot, none the less.