Jews Again Try to Dictate Mormon Religious Practices

by Jack Young

13 April 2004

It has been a subject of ongoing conflict between Mormons and jews for some time now, but it was only yesterday that I read the following headline in the Sunday Bakersfield Californian: "Mormons continuing baptisms of Jewish Holocaust victims: Group asks Hillary Clinton for help to bar members of LDS church from practice." (R. Brooks: note how the words "Jewish" and "Holocaust" are capitalized and the "church" in "LDS church" is not!) Even though, as I say, the conflict is not a new one, I was nevertheless struck by the sheer chutzpah involved in asking a United States Senator to do something in clear violation of the First Amendment's prohibition of Congress to make any law abridging free exercise of religion.

The group is identified in this Associated Press article as the "New York-based World Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors" and they are said to be "outraged" at the supposedly continuing posthumous baptisms into the LDS faith of "Jewish Holocaust victims." It is a practice of Mormons to conduct proxy baptisms for the dead, and in fact that is one of the primary purposes of our temples, some 117 or so of which now dot the globe at latest count. While this practice is regarded as "strange" by the majority of mainstream Christians (not to mention jews), it was apparently practiced by some of Jesus' earliest followers and is even alluded to by Paul in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 15:29). To me, if you take Jesus at his word that all of us must be baptized to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, posthumous baptism by proxy is the only way possible to be fair to the billions who in life never had the opportunity to hear the Christian message. Mormons, unlike many so-called Christians, do not automatically consign all of these unbaptized billions to hell. But my point here is not to discuss theology -- just to note that Mormons perform these ceremonies as acts of love toward their ancestors, not out of any desire to make any deceased person a Mormon against his will. (It is also part of Mormon doctrine that the deceased person being baptized by proxy has the free agency to accept or reject this baptism.)

Most Christian and other religious sects simply ignore these LDS sacraments, accept them as a religious practice they don't agree with, and leave it at that. My own father, for example, was born and baptized Catholic, but the Catholic Church never tried to stop me when I personally performed a proxy baptism for him in the Oakland Temple. Likewise with my maternal grandparents, both of whom had been Methodists during their lives. I haven't even heard, in fact, that Muslims have ever objected. Oh, yes, this Mormon baptism for the dead can sometimes cause certain problems within families, but never to the extent of involving two prominent U.S. Senators in unconstitutional behavior.

But leave it to the jews to create a problem where none existed previously. Leave it to the jews to attempt to dictate to other religions what they should believe and how they should practice their beliefs. Just like they tried to tell Mel Gibson how to interpret Christian scripture, they are now trying to tell the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints whom they may or may not perform ceremonies for. No doubt armed with plenty of New York lawyers named Goldstein and Silverberg, jews in 1995 persuaded the LDS Church to sign an "agreement" not to baptize any more of the jewish so-called "Holocaust victims." As far as I know, there has been a good-faith effort on the part of Church leaders to live up to this agreement. I can remember several times hearing official statements from LDS General Authorities read from the pulpit proclaiming in no uncertain terms that members were not to submit names of jewish "Holocaust victims" for baptism ordinances.

But this official position of the Church and a general compliance by members has not been enough to satisfy the jews. Some 400,000 names of "Holocaust victims" (considerably short of six million, I should note) have already been removed, but now they want the Church to go through all of the millions of names in its database and weed out any who might have been jewish and might have died in a concentration camp. Frankly, I would never have wanted to offer salvation to any of these dead sheenies in the first place. It was only liberal, mushy-headed Mormons who had been indoctrinated to feel guilt for the holohoax who did this sort of thing, and perhaps it serves them right to discover that their efforts at do-gooding were unappreciated by the beneficiaries. "'It's ridiculous for people to pretend they have the key to heaven,' said Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles."

And I say it's ridiculous and outrageous for people to try to dictate to others what they should believe. It's also ridiculous for the perpetrator to pretend he is the victim, as jews constantly do.

Reading between the lines in this story, however, I was encouraged by signs that our Church leaders may finally be developing some spinal tissue, if nothing properly describable as vertebrae. Elder D. Todd Christofferson is quoted as saying "That would be an impossible undertaking" when asked to remove the names. He further stated that "any further actions would constitute an intolerable burden on the legitimate exercise of our most fundamental religious beliefs."

Well said, Elder Christofferson. Is it perhaps too much to hope that Senator Orrin Hatch will show the same resolve in his private talks on the matter with Witch Hillary?



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