Elie Wiesel to Mitt Romney: Get the Mormons to quit with the proxy baptisms

Welcome to all Mormon readers who have found this blog through tag searches and the like.  I’m cool with your faith, but I find the practice of proxy baptism to be troubling.  I stated earlier on this blog that I would refrain from commenting on religion unless real living people were being caused real problems.  This post fits those criteria.

Elie Wiesel has publicly asked Mitt Romney to use his prominence to get the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to end the controversial (and tasteless) practice of proxy baptizing Jewish Holocaust victims.  A fair request, I might add.

Elie Wiesel calls on Mitt Romney to make Mormon Church stop proxy baptisms of Jews from the Washington Post, Feb. 14, 2012

Nobel-laureate Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and a top official from the Simon Wiesenthal Center said Tuesday that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney should use his stature in the Mormon Church to block its members from posthumously baptizing Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

Their comments followed reports that Mormons had baptized the deceased parents of Wiesenthal, the late Holocaust survivor and Nazi-hunter. Wiesel appeared in a church database used to identify potential subjects of baptisms.

For the record, I do understand that in the belief system of Mormons, the act of proxy baptism does not put a hold on the soul of the departed.  They believe that the act simply makes it possible for the dead to convert to Mormonism in the afterlife.  Still, like Mr. Wiesel, I would be pissed if I found that someone not related to me was doing anything related to the souls of my ancestors regardless of my own belief structure.

The Mormon Church has responded saying that it was the act of a rogue believer who committed the proxy baptism despite church policy prohibiting the act for deceased Jewish Holocaust survivors.

“We sincerely regret that the actions of an individual member of the Church led to the inappropriate submission of these names,” spokesman Michael Purdy said in a statement. “These submissions were clearly against the policy of the Church. We consider this a serious breach of our protocol and we have suspended indefinitely this person’s ability to access our genealogy records.”

I acknowledge that it a bit sensationalistic for Mr. Wiesel to call out Mr. Romney on this issue, given that Mr. Romney is primarily a secular leader despite his prominence within Mormon circles.  But I can understand Mr. Wiesel’s anger and need to speak out on such a distasteful practice.  He says the following on that issue:

Romney “is now the most famous and important Mormon in the country,” Wiesel said. “I’m not saying it’s his fault, but once he knows, morally he must respond. . . . He should come out and say, ‘Stop it.’ ”


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