Here it is again. The LDS Church has once again been confronted with concerns from the Jewish community over the Church’s inclusion of Holocaust victims and survivors in the LDS International Genealogical Index.
On Monday, as reported by the Los Angeles Times, the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles demanded the LDS Church remove the name of late Jewish leader Simon Wiesenthal from the Index. The name was only recently discovered in the Church’s database, which is used for tracking vicarious LDS temple ordinances performed by Church members in order to enable deceased persons to become Mormons in the afterlife.
The LA Times reports:
“We are astounded and dismayed that after assurances and promises by the Mormon Church that Mr. Wiesenthal’s life and memory, along with so many other Jews, would be trampled and disregarded,” Rabbi Marvin Hier, the Wiesenthal Center’s founder and dean, said in a statement.
“Simon Wiesenthal was one of the great Jews in the post-Holocaust period. He 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. 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 added.
The “assurances and promises” to which Rabbi Hier referred are those made (and allegedly broken) by the LDS Church over the last eleven years. In 1995 Jewish leaders and LDS Church representatives met and signed an agreement which sought to prevent the names of Holocaust victims being included in the Church’s genealogical index. In 2002 that agreement was reaffirmed by both parties. In 2003 Jews accused the Church of not honoring the agreement. In 2004 this accusation was restated. In 2005 Jewish leaders met with LDS representatives to express their dismay that the Church had broken the agreement; which the Church denied. In May of 2006 the Jewish community raised the issue again; and now, in December 2006, the name of Simon Wiesenthal is found in the Index. No wonder Rabbi Hier is upset. (For more information on the history of this issue see Mormons Should Try Walking in Jewish Shoes.)
KSL TV out of Salt Lake City, Utah reports:
An official statement from the LDS church says: “In response to a request by the Simon Wiesenthal Center and in accordance with the commitments the Church made in 1995, no Church ordinance was performed for Simon Wiesenthal and his name was immediately removed from the International Genealogical Index.”
There are hundreds of readers’ comments about this story posted on the KSL web site. Many people seem to think the whole story is just persecution against the LDS Church. They think the Jewish community is over-reacting and should get over it rather than give the media something else to criticize involving the LDS Church. One person on the KSL web site remarked to someone with a differing opinion, “What was a positive story for the Church, you are turning into a negative story…” So the LDS Church accidentally baptizes in behalf of Jewish Holocaust victims — “Who cares?” they ask.
The Jewish community cares. Rabbi Heir is quoted in the KSL report:
“We do not charge this was done maliciously.” “But their good intentions is considered by others insulting because to people in our community, it sort of says, ‘We’re the gatekeepers of heaven.'”
According to second LDS President Brigham Young, the “gatekeepers of heaven” are angels who stand as sentinels, requiring “key words” and “signs and tokens” from any who wish to pass by them to gain eternal life (Journal of Discourses 2:31). The only place one can learn the required key words, signs and tokens is in a Mormon temple. And the only people admitted to Mormon temples are worthy Mormons.
Furthermore, Brigham Young taught,
“…no man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith. From the day that the Priesthood was taken from the earth to the winding-up scene of all things, every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith, junior, as passport to their entrance into the mansion where God and Christ are…” (Journal of Discourses 7:289).
So Rabbi Heir is right. The LDS Church does seem to believe it is the gatekeeper of heaven.
But read and understand the wholly trustworthy assurances and promises of Jesus:
“I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep… I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. …I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:7-9)