Jewish outrage after Mormon posthumously baptises parents of Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal
Posthumous baptism is common among Mormons
Claim some people never got chance to convert
Wiesenthal’s mother Rosa died at Belzec in 1942
By Mark Duell
Last updated at 6:57 PM on 14th February 2012
A Mormon has left the Jewish community incensed after ‘insensitively’ posthumously baptising the parents of a famous Holocaust survivor.
Asher and Rosa Wiesenthal, long-dead parents of the late Simon Wiesenthal, were baptised in a common practice offensive to many Jews.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center was left ‘outraged’ and said the actions make a ‘mockery’ of many meetings between Mormon and Jewish leaders.
Rosa Wiesenthal died at the Nazi death camp at Belzec, Poland, in 1942, but Asher was killed years before in action as an Austrian soldier in 1915.
The Mormon Church is coming under more scrutiny thanks to Broadway show The Book of Mormon and Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.
‘We are outraged that such insensitive actions continue in the Mormon Temples,’ Wiesenthal Center associate dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper said.
Rabbi Cooper said the faiths have been meeting since 1995 over the ‘unwanted and unwarranted posthumous baptisms’ of Holocaust victims.
‘The only way such insensitive practices would finally stop is if Church leaders finally decided to change their practices and policies,’ he added.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints often holds posthumous baptisms and says those who have died can choose to accept or deny it
They say it’s done because many dead people did not have the chance to be ‘baptised by proper authority during life on earth’
This is a major issue in the Jewish community because many Jews in the past have been forced to convert to Christianity or murdered if not
Mormon officials have apologised for what happened and said the actions by an ‘individual member’ were ‘against the policy of the Church’.
‘We have suspended indefinitely this person’s ability to access our genealogy records,’ a Mormon spokesman told the Salt Lake Tribune.
Expert Jewish genealogist Gary Mokotoff, of New Jersey, said he was told by the Church that the member’s wife has also had access suspended.
He spent years pushing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to remove names of Holocaust victims from its genealogical index, reported the Salt Lake Tribune.
A new computer system now requires Mormons to avoid submitting names of Holocaust victims for baptism unless they are their direct ancestors.
Mr Wiesenthal died in 2005 aged 96 and was a top Jewish rights advocate in his life after surviving several concentration camps.
‘We are outraged that such insensitive actions continue in the Mormon Temples’
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Wiesenthal Center
He spent his life documenting the crimes committed by Nazis and hunting perpetrators, including top SS official Adolf Eichmann.
The baptism of his parents was discovered last month by activist and ex-Mormon Helen Radkey, reported the Huffington Post.
Mr Romney helped baptise his staunch atheist relative Edward Roderick Davies, father of his wife Ann, years after the man had died in 1992.