Elie Wiesel: Mormon baptism of Holocaust victims ‘scandalous’

DOUG MILLS ASSOCIATED PRESS Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel called on GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney to denounce his church’s … Continued



Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel called on GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney to denounce his church’s baptism of Holocaust victims.

“I think it’s scandalous. Not only objectionable, it’s scandalous. . . I wonder if as a candidate for the presidency Mitt Romney is aware of what his church is doing. I hope that if he hears about this that he will speak up.”

-Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel on February 14, 2012, addressing the controversial Mormon baptism of deceased Holocaust survivors. It was recently revealed that a Mormon church member had posthumously baptized the parents of Simon Wiesenthal, the late Holocaust survivor and Nazi-hunter.

Read more in the Faith 2012 Quote Archives.

  • Sajanas

    It is scandalous, but I think the posthumous baptism of *anyone* is just as scandalous. Its no different than nailing crosses, cresents, stars of david or any other sort unasked for religious symbol on top of a grave. Sure, the church should feel free to work on genology if they want to, but its really just a cheat out of the problem of what happens to everyone who died before they had a chance to judge a revelation, and a very full of itself way of doing so, because it presumes that all these dead people would accept such a baptism if it was offered to them.

    Perhaps there needs to be another list of people who would never, ever accept LDS baptism.

  • paulserrano

    I am honestly at a complet loss as to why this is so ‘scandalous’ !!! Who cares is someone on the other side of the planet is ‘baptising’ my dead parents? Does it affect me in any practical way? Does it alter my memories of them, or change anything about them? NO. If in the mind of some LDS member my dead parents need to be “saved” be my guest – someone else’s idea of what salvation means to someone who is already dead is MEANINGLESS in the grand scheme of things – as if their were not a million other far more pressing things in the world that we really SHOULD be offended about – LDS wants to baptize the dead? Knock yourselves out – my parents, my grandparents, feel free to waste your time anyway you like.. sheesh!!! Why do people pick such inane topics to get bothered about???

  • Horatio5

    The concept is quite simple: Baptisms are performed on behalf of others who are free to accept or reject it. As the old hymn said–“No one will be forced into heaven.”

  • ccnl1

    Since there never were a real Adam and Eve, Garden of Paradise or talking serpent, there never was any original sin i.e. baptism is a silly superstition that even the Catholic church is slowly coming to grips with.

    From the white board notes of a Catholic Professor of Theology:

    “The story of Adam and Eve is only symbolic.

    Yes, this story was composed in the 900s BCE and functions as an etiology (explanatory myth) . In the 900s Israel was self ruling, under King David and Solomon. The people were no longer at war and the question” Why are we not happy?” may have been asked. The short answer is sin. (Look at 1 Kings 11 for some clues into why the story depicts Eve sinning first and then tempting Adam [Solomon]).

    Original sin is therefore only symbolic of man’s tendencies to sin.

    Yes, I teach Original Sin as symbolic of the sins of our origins – in our
    families and in the broader society, both of which affect each person
    profoundly. The “sins of our origins” approach helps to account for certain
    patterns of sin in particular families and societies.

    Baptism does not erase original sin since the sin does not exist. Yes, the old “laundry of the soul,” approach to Baptism is no longer accepted.

    Infant Baptism is only a rite of initiation and commits parents and godparents to bringing up the child in a Christian home.

    Yes, but, since baptism is now celebrated at Sunday Eucharist, all the members of the parish family are encouraged to pledge their support and care for the faith life of the newly baptized. (A manifestation of this is
    persons volunteering to teach other people’s kids the basics of Catholicism.)”

    As per National Geographic’s Genographic project:

    ” DNA studies suggest that all humans today descend from a group of African ancestors who about 60,000 years ago (added note: bible time has Adam living about 6000 years ago) began a remarkable journey. Follow the journey from them to you as written in your genes”.


  • DavidBriscoe

    This is not a political but a religious issue — one between Mormons and God. It’s a case of Mormons’ best intentions being misinterpreted. What might be scandalous to a devout Mormon is that church leaders are making a political promise not to baptize a certain group of people based on ethnicity or religious affiliation. Mormons clearly believe, based on scripture, that baptism is necessary for anyone to live in the highest kingdom with God in the hereafter. Ordinarily baptismal ordinances, like all other activities in the Mormon temples are considered sacred and not discussed, even among church members outside the Temple. I’m sure the church and Romney would much rather keep it that way.

    I suppose it’s too much to think anyone would be happy to be considered worthy of heavenly blessings by any church — just in case one of them actually might be onto something. If you don’t believe the Mormons are, the word is not “scandalous” but “silly.” What’s scandalous is that you would condemn and show anger towards anyone for trying to give you or your dead relatives blessings they believe are profound and real without at least acknowledging that they have worthy intentions.

    Should Romney be asked about his personal stand on the oddities of his faith? Sure. It’ll test his mettle as a Mormon and a creditable presidential candidate.

  • FreetoThink

    The only thing sillier than baptizing dead people is being upset about it. I can understand that the Mormon practice is disrespectful. It says that their beliefs are correct, and the beliefs of the deceased were not. But isn’t every religion disrespectful of the beliefs of every other religion? Why get upset about that.

  • Sajanas

    Its worth remembering that, for a long time, the Jews had to worry that their Christian servants would baptise their children, and that many nations had laws that a Christian child could not be raised by a non-Christian, and so they would be taken away. It is all a little silly, but it certainly evokes memories that are deadly serious to Jews who know their history.

  • amelia45

    It is an insidious path to silent acceptance of the little thing to day to silent acceptance of worse things tomorrow.

    Mormons devalue Jews as human beings when they do this.

    Just as Catholic hospitals, if given recognition as a “religious employer”, will be insulting the Baptist doctor, Methodist nurse, and Muslim accountant when they insist that they live by Catholic faith tenets.

  • amelia45

    I don’t want it to be a political issue.

    Right now it is an issue of society accepting – or not – that it is okay to insult one religion when practicing your own. The least the Mormon’s could do is keep this buried in the deepest basement of their most sacred temple.

    It is insulting to the Jews.

  • JoeBerlin1

    The idea that Baptisms by proxy are somehow unusual or unorthodox once again reveals a disturbing level of historical/religious ignorance. Taking advantage of that ignorance is even worse. Baptism for the dead was practiced in the early Christian Church and was a popular topic among early Christian writers. LDS Church leaders have been highly diligent in teaching its members not to baptize deceased Holocaust survivors. And many complex safe guards have been instituted. Enemies of the Church are well aware that it is still possible to slip names past well intentioned members and have them entered into the Temple. This deceitful practice has been well documented, and is incredibly easy to research. Those who have been guiltily of these infractions in the past have both caught and banned from Church property and web-sites. Amazingly, the press seldom interviews these individuals. Because the Church will not “lock-down” its members or services, the idea that breaches can be totally blocked defies common sense. The implication that the Church supports an attack upon the principles of accountability that they teach is outrageous. Worse yet, is that suggestion that some politician can answer for people who have set out to intentionally tarnish the reputation of his faith is both offensive and dishonest. Elie Wiesel’s accusations are an affront to truth, diligent research, and honest accountability; the very principles that Simon Wiesenthal stood for. Attacking a person or group because of intentional misunderstanding and/or easily rectified ignorance is simple religious bigotry, and we all know where that can lead.

  • gregegger

    You gotta love a religion that has the audacity to baptize Jews. If I recall right, there are about 28,000 archeological confirmations of the Hebrew Bible. And……….ZERO archeological confirmations of the Book of Mormon. Secret ceremonies, false history, claim to be the true faith, adjustable theology, etc, etc, etc,…. It’s no wonder the Mormon’s are leaving their church by the thousands.

  • Beaker3

    I suppose that explains why the LDS Church is building, on average, 1.7 new chapels per day to handle their numbers. Wait! New buildings every day, designed to serve 400+ people, and yet they are losing “thousands?” Nice try, gregegger.

  • charminman2

    As I understand it, it is not the Mormons who are publishing this practice in an insulting fashion. They are keeping it sacred. Others, probably totally lacking understanding, are ferreting it out, and whether taking offense or not, are publishing it in an insulting fashion. You think they are above making this a political issue?

  • peaceman2

    Just checking to see how all my activist and other Mormon hating friends are coping with this…. I’m sure some of you are secretly happy this person has gone against LDS teachings and has done this, it makes it easier for you to paint Mormons as “sick” “obscene” “freaky” “hateful” etc….. carry on… but he may have been a liberal, you never know ; ) what then? Ya’ll liberals are the “obscene” ones? Or suppose he is a gay Mormon? Then all gays are “sickos”?

    Hmmmm, does it work both ways? Just askin.

  • peaceman2

    Baptizing people not related to LDS is offensive to Mormons as well as Jews.
    However, I think people are getting a little carried away with taking offense at things they don’t understand.

    It is sad that one person can break down relationships between millions of people. Mormons have a longstanding policy against Baptizing Jews (not from discrimination since many Jews request it). And we usually get along well.
    I don’t condone in any way what this person did and am glad he has been blocked.

    Baptism for the deceased is an ancient teaching, and many Christians still practice rituals for the deceased. I understand that Jews have also, in times past, and presently offer certain prayers. I hope that Jewish people understand that the Mormons I know would be honored if Jews were to perform rites for them. That goes for anyone with good intentions, Muslim, Catholic, Buddhist etc.
    I love all and hope we can all be friends, under one God (even atheists can be friends under God ; ))

    Rites for the deceased are intended as acts of love, to seal families, but when someone intentionally goes against Church teachings on a sensitive issue it hurts all of us.
    I’m sorry this person has done this.

    Also, I hope everyone understands that there are many people out there who delight in stirring bad feelings against Mormons. Those who hate us have intentionally misrepresented the purposes of rites for deceased persons. These rites are meant to turn the hearts of the Fathers and Mothers to the children, as Malachi taught.

    Please understand:
    1 Mormons are opposed to the Baptism of anyone who is not an ancestor to a Mormon.
    2 Mormons do not believe that Holocaust victims are suffering in Hell or purgatory and that Baptism, like indulgences for the deceased, helps reduce their suffering. Mormons understand that all will be rewarded according to their works. No kind, good person will ever suffer in the next life, regardless of religious affiliation. All are in Paradise and will go to Heaven.

  • peaceman2

    I’m not sure if there are any archaeological confirmations of the Biblical reality of Jesus Christ, Son of God. I’m pretty sure that, besides the Spirit, the Book of Mormon, with its many evidences, is the strongest witness to the truth of the Bible. : ) It is a wonderful book and you should read it.

  • Secular1

    This whole thing is really one of the more looniest of mormon beliefs. So according to their con-man founder, it does not matter, howevera person lived, as long as some one baptizes them posthumously then he has a free ticket to the delusional land called heaven. Whereas a non-mormon, otherwise leading an impeccable life would be denied entrance into the delusion land, if nobody baptizes him postumously. Does anyone think this is how the your sky dady wants it. BTW are there any statuttes of limitations on posthumous baptism. Like baptism has to be performed within 1000 year of 500 years, or 5 years, etc. Now supposing if the person is baptized after he starts his eternal stay in yes that place hell. Does he then gets transferred to heaven? how do all these logistics work. Can someone elaborate. Or does one agree with me that this is looniest nonsense that there ever was?

  • Secular1

    Your statement that there is a ban on baptizing the haloucast victims being posthumously baptized only make the whole proxy baptisims boatload of horse manure. What is teh rationale for not baptizing the haloucast victims? This is really a stupid arrogant crap. The church banned the baptisms for haloucast victims is due to the outrage that was previusly expressed. SO as usual the elders got a new revealation, as in 1968. When things get too hot for their beliefs the elders get new reevlations to get them out of the pickle. That begs the question if their sky daddy is so fickle that he changes his mind often whenever his proteges run into trouble. STUPID!! STUPID!! STUPID!!!.

  • coltakashi93

    Alone among major Christian denominations in the US, Mormons believe that Jews who have lived good lives, along with Christians who have lived good lives, will live eternally in heaven. For Mormons, baptism is an entry to a higher level of heaven. No one is coerced to be baptized, either in mortal life or after. Mormons believe that the spirits of the deceased can choose for themselves whether to accept a vicarious baptism or not. It is merely an offer that can be rejected.

    In contrast, the official doctrines of most Christian denomiinations state that persons who do not express faith in Jesus as the Messiah or Christ before their own death will not be saved, and will therefore suffer eternally in hell. That includes all Jews. And they offer no way for deceased Jews to be saved from hell.

    So most Christians teach that all deceased Jews are suffering in hell for eternity. Mormons, in contrast, teach that good Jews are not in hell and will live in heaven alongside righteous Christians. Mormon vicarious baptism is merely an offer to deceased Christians and Jews to receive an even greater level of heaven, which they can reject.

    Which of these views is more respectful of Jews? How can Jews condemn Mormons when most Christian denominations teach that ALL dead Jews are burning eternally in hell?

  • coltakashi93

    You are WRONG. Mormon doctrine is that people of all religious faiths who try to live good lives will ALL have an eternal life in heaven, and will be resurrected. Mormon baptism is NOT a division between heaven and heall, it is a division between a degree of heaven and a higher level of heaven. Mormons also believe that “hell” is a place where the spirits of persons who committed real evil will be forced to confront the nature of their actions, and comprehend the suffering they have caused. They will be unable to escape their own conscience for a thousand years. But after suffering for their own evil, they will finally be resurrected and receive immortality in a condition that does NOT involve further suffering. Mormons believe that the suffering of those in “hell” will be self-imposed, and that those who repent and seek forgiveness of their acts can be forgiven, through Christ’s atoning sacrifice.

  • coltakashi93

    Baptism of Holocaust victims by non-family members violates a long-standing LDS Church policy that people who died within the last century who are NOT family of the person submitting the names for the ordinance are NOT to be baptized vicariously, precisely because it could have an adverse emotional impact for living relatives.

  • coltakashi93

    Mormons do not “devalue Jews”. Mormons believe, even without baptism, all good Jewish people will live in the same heaven as good Christians. However, most Christian denominations teach that people who do not accept Jesus as Messiah before death are condemned to suffer in heall for eternity.

    Mormons: Jews live in heaven.
    Christians: Jews burn in hell.
    Who is more respectful of Jews?

  • ronaldwhitmer

    So the Hateful Christian Bigots afraid of a MORMON who may become President…(Heaven forbid.)….actually give a standing ovation to a Serial Adulterer-Newt Gingrich in the South Carolina Debate for blaming John King for asking a question about one of Newt’s former Mistress/wives claiming he asked for an “open marraige” which he was at the time actually engaged in by CHEATING on his wife although it may not have been OPEN to her yet…The Anybody but Romney -Mormon Hating Bigots many of whom are Evangelicals who claim to be so PIOUS and Righteous….they are the ones who put forth stories like this one to discredit Mitt Romney. They would rather have a Serial Adulterer….Barabas…. in South Carolina than a man who is faithful to his wife of 42 years. They hold a SECRET meeting of Evangelical Leaders in Texas with ONE PURPOSE….TO DERAIL THE MORMON. This Anti-Mormon Bigotry is Pathetic. It is UN-American. It is hateful and very Anti-Christian.

    As far as Mormon’s doing Baptisms “on behalf of the dead”….GIVE ME A BREAK.
    All they are doing is saying a prayer for the Dead person in their name. One Mormon baptizes another Mormon and says a prayer mentioning the dead person’s name….WHOOPEE

    My Catholic friends say prayers for me all the time because they are AFRAID I am going to Hell. I am not offended by that.

    Get over your Bigotry America.
    Mitt Romney according to Jack Welch former CEO of General Electric “Is the Most Qualified Person In MY LIFETIME to Run for President”.
    Jack Welch is NOT Mormon.

    We are $16 Trillion in debt. That is 16 THOUSAND BILLION!
    We need Mitt Romney to help turn our Economy around and deal with our Debt!

    Stop being a Bigot and Be and AMERICAN.

  • MrPM

    In this case, the Wiesel family names were not submitted for baptisms but simply entered into a genealogical database. Our system would have rejected those names had they been submitted.