This should come as no surprise.
Researcher Helen Radkey has recently discovered records in the Mormon Church’s genealogical database indicating that proxy baptisms for deceased holocaust victims continues, despite promises—and even formal agreements—consented to by the LDS Church.
The latest controversy is over the posthumous baptisms of the parents of famous holocaust victims’ advocate Simon Wiesenthal. The Jewish human rights center named for Mr. Wiesenthal issued a statement that clearly expresses frustration with the LDS Church:
“We are outraged that such insensitive actions continue in the Mormon Temples. Throughout his life, Simon Wiesenthal especially revered his beloved mother who was deported and murdered at Belzec death camp in 1942. Such actions make a mockery of the many meetings with the top leadership of the Mormon Church dating back to 1995 that focused on the unwanted and unwarranted posthumous baptisms of Jewish Victims of the Nazi Holocaust,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and who participated in many of the high-level meetings between Jews with Mormon officials.
“We note that these rites were undertaken and confirmed in Mormon Temples in Utah, Arizona, and Idaho. Further meetings with Church leaders on this matter are useless. The only way such insensitive practices would finally stop is if Church leaders finally decided to change their practices and policies on posthumous baptisms, a move which this latest outrage proves that they are unwilling to do. We are grateful to activist Helen Radkey for exposing the latest outrage.”
According to The Salt Lake Tribune, the “Mormon church apologize[d] for baptisms of Wiesenthal’s parents,” though an explicit statement of “We’re sorry” was not reported.
LDS officials in Salt Lake City were quick to apologize Monday, saying that the Utah-based faith “sincerely regret[s] that the actions of an individual member … led to the inappropriate submission of these names,” which were “clearly against the policy of the church.”
“We consider this a serious breach of our protocol,” spokesman Scott Trotter said in a statement, “and we have suspended indefinitely this person’s ability to access our genealogy records.”
So after 15 years of broken promises to the Jewish people, the Mormon Church regrets that its protocol was breached. I doubt that this brings much comfort to those deeply wounded by the continuing LDS baptisms of their beloved deceased family members, especially when considered in light of a 2007 statement made by Church spokesman Mark Tuttle. When responding to reports that the Church had “apologized” for the Mountain Meadows Massacre, Mr. Tuttle clarified, “We don’t use the word ‘apology.’ We used ‘profound regret.'”
As I’ve said before, proxy Mormon baptism of Jewish Holocaust victims is a very complicated issue. I understand the position of the Jewish community in regards to their deceased ancestors, and I understand the position of the LDS community in regards to their perceived religious duty. There is no easy solution that will fulfill the wishes of everyone. But one thing seems clear: When the Mormon Church makes promises it will not or cannot keep, in the words of Rabbi Cooper, “This wound remains open.”
The promise to the Jewish community about baptism is one empty promise coming out of Mormonism. Another–one that I find deeply troubling–is this: All men (in the company of their spouses) may follow the same path to Godhood as the God of this world, Heavenly Father, has done; the same as all Gods have done before Him.
“We believe in a God who is Himself progressive, whose majesty is intelligence; whose perfection consists in eternal advancement — a Being who has attained His exalted state by a path which now His children are permitted to follow, whose glory it is their heritage to share” (James Talmage, The Articles of Faith, p. 430).
“The Lord created you and me for the purpose of becoming Gods like Himself; when we have been proved in our present capacity, and been faithful with all things He puts into our possession. We are created, we are born for the express purpose of growing up from the low estate of manhood, to become Gods like unto our Father in heaven. That is the truth about it, just as it is” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 3:93).
“Here, then, is eternal life–to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 346-347).
According to the Bible, this is a promise that cannot be kept (e.g., see Isaiah 43:10; Isaiah 44:8; Isaiah 46:9; Malachi 3:6; Psalm 90:2)–and its failure will cost those who trust in it their very souls.
I plead with those who cling to Mormonism’s empty promises to turn from them and instead place your faith in the One True God–the One who promises eternal life to all who trust in Him (John 3:16). With full confidence, place your faith in the One whose promises cannot fail.
For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him. That is why it is through Him that we utter our Amen to God for His glory. (2 Corinthians 1:20)