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Jews ask Mormons to stop baptizing dead

 
 
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2008 08:23 pm
It takes a lot of gall, is all I've got to say.


By DEEPTI HAJELA AND JENNIFER DOBNER
Associated Press
Nov. 10, 2008, 6:21PM1 2

Kathy Willens AP
NEW YORK " Holocaust survivors said Monday they are through trying to negotiate with the Mormon church over posthumous baptisms of Jews killed in Nazi concentration camps, saying the church has repeatedly violated a 13-year-old agreement barring the practice.

Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints say they are making changes to their massive genealogical database that will make it more difficult for names of Holocaust victims to be entered for posthumous baptism by proxy, a rite that has been a common Mormon practice for more than a century.

But Ernest Michel, honorary chairman of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors, said that is not enough. At a news conference in New York City on Monday, he said the church also must "implement a mechanism to undo what you have done."

"Baptism of a Jewish Holocaust victim and then merely removing that name from the database is just not acceptable," said Michel, whose parents died at Auschwitz. He spoke on the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Nazi-incited riots against Jews.

"We ask you to respect us and our Judaism just as we respect your religion," Michel said in a statement released ahead of the news conference. "We ask you to leave our six million Jews, all victims of the Holocaust, alone, they suffered enough."

Michel said talks with Mormon leaders, held as recently as last week, have ended. He said his group will not sue, and that "the only thing left, therefore, is to turn to the court of public opinion."

In 1995, Mormons and Jews inked an agreement to limit the circumstances that allow for the proxy baptisms of Holocaust victims. Ending the practice outright was not part of the agreement and would essentially be asking Mormons to alter their beliefs, church Elder Lance B. Wickman said Monday in an interview with reporters in Salt Lake City.

"We don't think any faith group has the right to ask another to change its doctrines," Wickman said. "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."

Michel's decision to unilaterally end discussion of the issue through a news conference leaves the church uncertain about how to proceed, Wickman said.


Agreement applies to Holocaust victims
Baptism by proxy allows faithful Mormons to have their ancestors baptized into the 178-year-old church, which they believe reunites families in the afterlife.

Using genealogy records, the church also baptizes people who have died from all over the world and from different religions. Mormons stand in as proxies for the person being baptized and immerse themselves in a baptismal pool.

Only the Jews have an agreement with the church limiting who can be baptized, though the agreement covers only Holocaust victims, not all Jewish people. Jews are particularly offended by baptisms of Holocaust victims because they were murdered specifically because of their religion.

Michel suggested that posthumous baptisms of Holocaust victims play into the hands of Holocaust deniers.

"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?" Michel said Monday.

Wickman said the practice in no way impinges upon a person's "Jewishness, or their ethnicity, or their background."

Under the agreement with the Holocaust group, Mormons could enter the names of only those Holocaust victims to whom they were directly related. The church also agreed to remove the names of Holocaust victims already entered into its massive genealogical database.


Catholics withhold registries
Church spokesman Otterson said the church kept its part of the agreement by removing more than 260,000 names from the genealogical index.

But since 2005, ongoing monitoring of the database by an independent Salt Lake City-based researcher shows both resubmissions and new entries of names of Dutch, Greek, Polish and Italian Jews.

The researcher, Helen Radkey, who has done contract work for the Holocaust group, said her research suggests that lists of Holocaust victims obtained from camp and government records are being dumped into the database. She said she has seen and recorded a sampling of several thousand entries that indicate baptisms had been conducted for Holocaust victims as recently as July.

Wickman said lists of names have been entered into the database by a small number of well-meaning members who were acting "outside of policy." He said that church monitors have identified and removed 42,000 names from the database on their own, and that the church welcomes research from others.

Church officials say a new version of the database " called New Family Search " is being tested overseas and should reduce the problems. In the works for six years, the new database will discourage the submission of large lists of unrelated individuals. It will also separate names intended for temple rites from those submitted purely for genealogical purposes, the church states in a letter sent to Michel on Nov. 6.

"The names of any Holocaust victims we can identify in the database are to be flagged with a special designation " not available for temple ordinances," the letter states.

The church also proposes jump-starting a monitoring committee formed in 2005 to review database entries. The committee has met just once since 2005.

In May, the Vatican ordered Catholic dioceses worldwide to withhold member registries from Mormons so that Catholics could not be baptized.

"""

Associated Press Writer Jennifer Dobner reported from Salt Lake City.

 
husker
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2008 08:41 pm
@edgarblythe,
interesting - shakes my head - never knew or that of the mormons doing this
roger
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2008 09:18 pm
@husker,
Shades of the Pagan Baby screw-up.
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2008 09:38 pm
The Mormons are baptizing the dead? The only thing crazier than that is that anyone cares.

ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2008 09:51 pm
@roger,
Ah, I was raised in the days of Pagan Babies..

This practice by the LDS is beyond an eye-roller.

I seem to remember fuzzily that at least in my childhood grammar school years, it was ok to baptize someone's very ill baby without anyone's consent. Since I long ago stopped believing in baptism, that is just a kind of presumptive symbolic aggression to me now. I don't know what I'd think if I still believed in baptism, hard to put myself in that stance. I'd probably still be against it.

On baptizing jewish holocaust victims from afar in time and place, that's almost tragi-comedic in aggressive ignorance and belligerent belief. (channeling Mort Sahl..) It still, even if acted upon, doesn't touch the persons who were victims, but it is beyond comprehension as an insult, to them, to people of jewish heritage, and to others who don't want to see the victims defiled. I do see it as defiling.
0 Replies
 
gungasnake
 
  0  
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2008 10:08 pm
@husker,
The LDS church is living proof that most people don't give a rat's ass over theology.
0 Replies
 
Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2008 11:14 pm
This has been a part of Mormon belief/doctrine almost from the beginning and they see it as an act of mercy. While I do not subscribe to the Mormon belief about that in any way, for the life of me I can't see why anybody else should care. How does it hurt anybody?

roger
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2008 11:37 pm
@Foxfyre,
Once Baptized, I suppose they have to accept Christ as their savior - or else!
husker
 
  1  
Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2008 11:38 pm
@roger,
peer pressure of all the others praying for ya
roger
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2008 12:11 am
@husker,
The point is more what happens after death - if you have been baptised. If you happen to believe all that stuff. I don't, but it seems a damn cruel joke by those that do.
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2008 05:18 am
@roger,
Well, the problem is what Michel himself said, that what happens if a hundred or more years go by, history is less well understood (very possible) and it's believed that the Nazis targeted Mormons rather than Jews.

It's revisionist history, done preemptively. Gawd.

For the definition of chutzpah, this article should be pasted into every dictionary.
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2008 05:41 am
@roger,
Quote:

The point is more what happens after death - if you have been baptised.

Within the last several decades,
many 1000s of people have returned from death
(usually in hospitals; sometimes in morgues)
and described what thay went thru, what thay remembered.
www.IANDS.org

From what I have heard and read,
no one has ever brought up the subject of baptism.
No one was of the vu that its presence or absence was significant.

On the other hand,
hellish experiences were reported by 2 classifications:
atheists and suicides.





David
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2008 07:38 am
@Foxfyre,
You're obviously not Jewish, fox. Neither am I but I have no trouble seeing why someone who is would care.
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2008 08:25 am
@Foxfyre,
Other questions to ask would be, "how does it help anybody?" and "why is the LDS church doing it against the objections of the Jewish community?"
ehBeth
 
  3  
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2008 08:38 am
@Foxfyre,
Foxfyre wrote:
While I do not subscribe to (X) that in any way, for the life of me I can't see why anybody else should care. How does it hurt anybody?


do you recognize this as people's response to you about gay marriage?

(although the question is more likely to be 'how does it hurt you?)

Quite odd to see you here expressing this view on this subject. I would have expected more understanding from you on other people's religious beliefs.
squinney
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2008 08:55 am
@Foxfyre,
Can you imagine if dead Christians were being re-religionized through some ritual into the Muslim faith by their grandchildren or great-grandchildren and then having those Christian names entered into a record of Muslim geneology?

Would anyone care about that?

Try doing that to me after I die and I'll haunt those little grandkiddies forever.
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2008 11:46 am
@ehBeth,
ehBeth wrote:

Foxfyre wrote:
While I do not subscribe to (X) that in any way, for the life of me I can't see why anybody else should care. How does it hurt anybody?


do you recognize this as people's response to you about gay marriage?

(although the question is more likely to be 'how does it hurt you?)

Quite odd to see you here expressing this view on this subject. I would have expected more understanding from you on other people's religious beliefs.
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2008 12:15 pm
@squinney,
Quote:
Can you imagine if dead Christians were being re-religionized through some ritual into the Muslim faith by their grandchildren or great-grandchildren and then having those Christian names entered into a record of Muslim geneology?

Oh I see. So the argument here is that Jewish people are objecting to this on an accuracy of "historic records" basis. Sort of like libel. I can kinda see that.

Can't they prosecute this exactly like a libel case?

OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2008 12:24 pm
@rosborne979,
Quote:

Can't they prosecute this exactly like a libel case?

No.
Thay can.
Traditionally, no cause of action arises from defaming the dead.
OmSigDAVID
 
  0  
Reply Tue 11 Nov, 2008 12:34 pm
@squinney,
Quote:

Would anyone care about that?

Try doing that to me after I die
and I'll haunt those little grandkiddies forever.

Thay might LIKE that, if u have an engaging personality.
"Mommy, the spirit of Jamie Lee Curtis keeps chasing us EVERYWHERE !"
0 Replies
 
 

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