Mormons 'baptize' Simon Wiesenthal

JTA/December 18, 2006

The Simon Wiesenthal Center called on the Mormon Church to remove its Nazi hunter namesake from the church’s online database of posthumous baptisms.

Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Wiesenthal Center, made the urgent request after being informed by Salt Lake City researcher Helen Radkey that Wiesenthal’s name had been added about a week ago to the Mormons’ International Genealogical Index.

“We are astounded and dismayed that after assurances and promises by the Mormon Church, Mr. Wiesenthal’s life and memory, along with so many other Jews, would be trampled and disregarded,” Hier said.

Wiesenthal “proudly lived as a Jew, died as a Jew, demanded justice for the millions of the victims of the Holocaust and, at his request, was buried in the State of Israel,” he said.

“It is sacrilegious for the Mormon faith to desecrate his memory by suggesting that Jews on their own are not worthy enough to receive God’s eternal blessing.”

Hier also urged the Utah-based Church to remove the names of all other Holocaust victims from the list.

Many Jews, including Holocaust victims, have been found on the index.

Mormon officials promised in 1995 to stop the practice of posthumously baptizing Jews, but did not. They reiterated the pledge in 2000.

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