Mormons baptizing Holocaust victims

In the Mormon religion, the Baptism by proxy of a dead relative is considered a spiritually fulfilling pursuit. But the North American Jewish community is increasingly distressed by the Baptism of Jews killed in the Holocaust. They've baptized Anne Frank as many as ten times. And the very alive Eli Wiesel is on their list. Now he's appealing to that powerful political Mormon, Mitt Romney to stop what some say is nothing short of forced conversion.



Three of The Current

Mormons baptizing Holocaust victims - Former Mormon researcher

Most religions believe a person's actions in life play some role in determining their place in the afterlife. But some Mormons believe a posthumous baptism can offer a second shot at salvation -- even if you didn't live as Mormon.

So over the years, Catholic saints, Barack Obama's mother, Joseph Stalin, Adolph Hitler and Jewish victims of the Holocaust have all be baptized after their deaths. In 1995, the Mormon church reached an understanding with Jewish groups to remove more than 350,000 names of Holocaust victims from the Church's records.And Church officials made promises that the practice of posthumous baptisms of Jews had come to an end.

But according to our next guest, it's still happening. Earlier this month, Helen Radkey discovered the parents of Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal had been baptized posthumously -- as had Anne Frank.

Helen Radkey is a former Mormon who now researches the records of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and we reached her in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Mormons baptizing Holocaust victims - Bernie Farber

As we said, Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, was listed in the Mormon database as 'ready' for posthumous rites. We aired a clip from Mr. Wiesel on MSNBC reacting to that news.

When it was first discovered that Mormons baptized victims of the Nazi Holocaust, it took two years of meetings with officials from the Church and leading Jewish organizations to hammer out an agreement that the practice would end. But with the promise apparently broken again and again, Jewish organizations are losing faith.

Bernie Farber is the former Chief Executive Officer at the Canadian Jewish Congress. His father was a Holocaust survivor. He joined us in our Toronto studio.

Mormons baptizing Holocaust victims - Mormon, Dennis Brimhall

To respond to these concerns we reached Dennis Brimhall, Managing Director of the Family History Department for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was in Salt Lake City, Utah.

This segment was produced The Current's Kathleen Goldhar.

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Last Word - The Book of Mormon

We've been talking about Mormons and posthumous baptism this morning. The creators of South Park know how easy it is to make fun of this kind of thing, and their new Broadway musical, The Book of Mormon is a huge hit. One song concerns a consensual baptism of a new convert in Uganda. At least the lyrics are about baptism, the song seems to be about something else entirely. On today's Last Word, Baptise Me.


Other segments from today's show:

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