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15 February 2012

Mormons Still Baptizing Dead Jews Despite Agreements to End Practice

February 15, 2012

Daily Beast

Jews and Mormons are once again battling over Mormons’ posthumous baptisms of Holocaust victims, and it’s not the last time the groups will spar.

The Church of Latter-day Saints apologized Tuesday for posthumously baptizing Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal’s parents amidst much Jewish vitriol. But despite more than two decades of negotiations and agreements between the two groups to prevent such baptisms of dead Jews, the practice persists.

These by-proxy ceremonies (where the living dip themselves to represent the dead) are so integral to abiding Mormon life that, as one Brigham Young professor and practicing Mormon put it, “I don’t see any way that we can ever ultimately say we’re not going to do it for people.” But LDS leaders continue to make promises to Jewish leaders that they do not keep. A combination of philosophy and technology may be to blame.


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Mormon church in USA apologizes for posthumous baptism of Jews

February 15, 2012


The Mormon church has apologized for the posthumous baptism by its members of the parents of famed Nazi hunter and Holocaust survivor Simon Wiesenthal. The posthumous baptisms were performed in Mormon churches in Utah, Arizona, and Idaho, according to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization named after the man who hunted down more than 1,000 Nazi war criminals including Adolf Eichmann in the years following the Holocaust.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in its written apology on Tuesday, suggested that the action was the work of one member who they said has since been disciplined.

“We sincerely regret that the actions of an individual member of the Church led to the inappropriate submission of these names,” Michael Purdy, a spokesman for the Church, said in a statement e-mailed to Reuters. “The policy of the Church is that members can request these baptisms only for their own ancestors. Proxy baptisms of Holocaust victims are strictly prohibited,” he added.


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Mormon Church apologises for posthumous baptisms of Holocaust victims

February 15, 2012

Telegraph (United Kingdom)

The baptisms “by proxy” were performed last month in Mormon temples in Utah, Arizona and Idaho, according to the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organisation named after the man who hunted down more than 1,000 Nazi war criminals in the years following the Holocaust.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center told Reuters the baptisms were “unacceptable,” adding that people who lost everyone and everything and were murdered for being Jewish during the Holocaust should not have their souls hijacked by another religion.

The Mormon Church, formally called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, permits dead people to be baptised into the religion, with the belief that the dead person “in the next life” can then choose to accept or decline the baptism. In these baptisms, a current Church member is baptised on behalf of a dead person.


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Mormons baptise parents of Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal

February 15, 2012


Jews Asher and Rosa Rapp Wiesenthal were baptised in proxy ceremonies in the US states of Arizona and Utah in January, records show.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spokesman Michael Purdy said the Church’ s leaders “sincerely regret” the actions of “an individual member”.

The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center denounced the news.

“We are outraged that such insensitive actions continue in the Mormon temples,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, a spokesman at the centre.

The Mormon religion allows baptism after death, and believes the departed soul can then accept or reject the baptismal rites.


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Mormons apologize for posthumous baptism of parents of Jewish rights advocate Wiesenthal

February 14, 2012

Washington Post

Mormon church leaders apologized to the family of Holocaust survivor and Jewish rights advocate Simon Wiesenthal after his parents were posthumously baptized, a controversial ritual that Mormons believe allows deceased people a way to the afterlife but offends members of many other religions.

Wiesenthal died in 2005 after surviving the Nazi death camps and spending his life documenting Holocaust crimes and hunting down perpetrators who remained at large. Jews are particularly offended by an attempt to alter the religion of Holocaust victims, who were murdered because of their religion, and the baptism of Holocaust survivors was supposed to have been barred by a 1995 agreement.


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Mormon Church apologizes for posthumous baptisms

February 15, 2012

Los Angeles Times (California)

The Mormon Church apologized Tuesday for a “serious breach of protocol” after it was discovered that the parents of the late Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal were posthumously baptized as Mormons. The church also acknowledged that one of its members tried to baptize posthumously three relatives of Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.

The efforts, at least in Wiesenthal’s case, violated the terms of an agreement that the church signed in 1995, in which it agreed to stop baptizing Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Wiesenthal and Wiesel gained fame for careers spent grappling with the legacy of the Holocaust, Wiesenthal by hunting down war criminals, Wiesel by writing books that became part of the canon of 20th century literature.

Coming at a time when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is in the public eye as perhaps never before, the revelations could prove embarrassing — and, conceivably, influence perceptions of presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s faith.


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Mormonism Talk at UC Davis: Informative or Offensive? (POLL)

February 14, 2012

Davis Patch (California)

An event about Mormonism that’s being put on by the Agnostic & Atheist Student Association at UC Davis has become a source of online tension.

Vote in the poll below this story to weigh in.

The event, which is titled, “How to Get into Heaven (According to Mormons),” will be presented by Ted Cox, an ex-Mormon turned atheist. The Facebook page for the event has become a landing place for contentious debate about the presentation. Here’s the description:

“Ted Cox returns to Davis for an entertaining, informative, and provocative presentation on his insider experience as a Mormon. You’ll learn the four secret handshakes to get into heaven, the real reason Mormons didn’t ordain black priests, and why Mormons can’t tell you what goes on in the temple.”


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Author: Media missing real story about real Mormons

February 14, 2012

Salt Lake Tribune (Utah)

Matthew Bowman has a message for the U.S. media: Don’t judge Mormonism by “The Book of Mormon” musical or the LDS characters in Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America.”

Both plays offer simplistic, one-sided views of the Utah-based faith but from opposite poles, argues Bowman, author of the newly released one volume history, The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith, in Slate magazine.
“Both the riotous musical and Kushner’s brooding black comedy present faith defanged,” argues Bowman, who teaches American religious history at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia and is associate editor of Dialogue: a Journal of Mormon Thought.

The musical’s Mormons “offer no challenge to modern American life,” he writes. “Their beliefs are patently ridiculous, amplified and exaggerated in the song “I Believe” to emphasize Mormons’ apparent utter detachment from reason and rationality.”

Likewise, Kushner’s “contemporary Mormons are the grim storm troopers of American capitalism,” Bowman writes, “unthinking servants of all that is wrong with the status quo, barely conscious of their own once marginal heritage.”


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Old church gets new life as apartments

February 15, 2012

San Antonio Express News (Texas)

A Mormon church building in Provo is getting a new life as a high-end apartment building.

Developer Greg Soter tells KSL (http://bit.ly/x8YWdv) he plans to renovate the old Provo 4th Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints into 15 modern, single-bedroom apartments.

Built in 1915, the brick, piqued-roof building was used as a church until about 30 years ago. Since then the building has been a private school and a wedding reception center.

Renovation work on what Soter calls the “Old Chapel Apartments” is set to wrap in August.


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Developer plans to give historic Mormon chapel new life as apartment building.

February 15, 2012

The Republic (Indiana)

A Mormon church building in Provo is getting a new life as a high-end apartment building.

Developer Greg Soter tells KSL (http://bit.ly/x8YWdv) he plans to renovate the old Provo 4th Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints into 15 modern, single-bedroom apartments.

Built in 1915, the brick, piqued-roof building was used as a church until about 30 years ago. Since then the building has been a private school and a wedding reception center.


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Judge says evidence of additional sexual conduct by Mormon marriage counselor not admissible

February 14, 2012

The Republic (Indiana)

A judge will not allow prosecutors to admit additional evidence of sexual misconduct against a 57-year-old man accused of posing as a Mormon marriage counselor.

Arturo Tenorio of Kearns faces two felony forcible sexual abuse charges. Police say Tenorio counseled couples referred to him through a Utah County bishop from a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints congregation.

He has pleaded not guilty to charges involving two women, who police say were sexually abused during individual counseling sessions.

Prosecutors sought to admit evidence of sexual misconduct against two other adult women not named as victims.


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Utah’s Olympic Legacy: How Utah’s Image has Evolved

February 15, 2012

KUER (Utah)

In the early 90’s, a tourist from Germany was riding a ski lift in Park City as he confidently proclaimed that Utah would never host the Winter Olympics. “Because of the Mormons,” he said. Less than ten years later, Salt Lake City welcomed the world for the Games. In the process, the way the world sees Salt Lake City has changed. Just as important, the way Utahns see themselves as also evolved.

While Mitt Romney saw his job as primarily to get the 2002 Winter Games on a sound financial footing, he was also challenged from time to time by a perception that he – and the organizing committee he led – was dominated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Romney tried to counter the perception that these would be the “Mo-lympics” with a glass of champagne. Actually, he was drinking orange juice, but sparkling wine filled every other glass at a news conference in March of 2001.


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Christian churches’ teachings do vary

February 15, 2012

Redding Record-Searchlight (California)

A few items to correct from the Saturday letter by David Spagnola about the Mormons not having Christian doctrine. First, there are many different Christian churches. All have different teachings about Jesus. Otherwise, why would there be so many of them?

The scriptures studied by the LDS faith are

1. The King James Version of the Bible,

2. The Book of Mormon,

3. The Doctrine and Covenants, and

4. The Pearl of Great Price.

We believe all these to be the word of God. The books, Epistles and other documents in the Bible are mostly the record of the tribe of Judah. The Book of Mormon is the record of the tribe of Joseph.

Now, I’m not a scholar, but I believe the word “bible” means library. So, the bible is of many different books and letters and authors. The Book of Revelation’s warning of adding or subtracting from the book is for the Book of Revelation itself only. Not the entire Bible. Otherwise, the Bible would have to be cut off at the Book of Deuteronomy, which has the same warning, but that is for the book of Deuteronomy only; then there would not be any scriptures in the Bible past Deuteronomy.


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Arts & Humanities Reviews, February 15, 2012

February 14, 2012

Library Journal

With two Mormons among recent GOP presidential hopefuls, interest in Mormonism is at a new high. For readers looking for a historical introduction, there is no better book than this. Bowman (religion, Hampden-Sydney Coll.) manages the nearly impossible–he is both fair and objective. He clarifies that his book is a work of considered synthesis of other scholarship. He doesn’t overlook the heroic or the tawdry. He covers the famous trek west and such controversial topics as the origin of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith’s polygamous relationships, and Mormon ideas on race, all with appropriate detachment. He also covers contemporary topics of the modern Mormon church with riveting prose. Appendixes explain the structure of the church and offer brief biographies of the cast of characters. The bibliographic essay is a great starting place for further pursuing the topic and could serve as a syllabus for a Mormon history course.
Because Bowman writes so well, the general adult reader will find this as appealing as the scholar. Both believers and nonbelievers will be satisfied.


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Cal adds TE Harrison Wilfley to class

February 14, 2012


Coach Jeff Tedford announced in a statement that tight end Harrison Wilfley (Orangevale, Calif.,) has signed a national letter of intent, bringing the school’s recruiting class to 20.

Wilfley last played at American River College northeast of Sacramento in 2008 and 2009 before going on a Mormon mission to Uruguay. He played high school ball at Casa Roble High School.


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Mark Cook: Next Susan G. Komen race may be more red and blue than pink

February 13, 2012

The Tennessean

Vanderbilt University put itself on the front line of the culture wars when it ruled that registered student religious organizations must be open to all students and cannot require that their leaders hold specific beliefs.

That could affect the Christian Legal Society, Beta Upsilon Chi, Graduate Student Fellowship and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

The latter organization provoked a bit of controversy back in 1996 at Page High School after revoking athlete of the year honors to a student who had been an officer for two years because the student was a Mormon. Mormons consider themselves Christians, but many Christians reject several Mormon doctrines.


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Christian radio in southern Utah

February 14, 2012

One News Now

The leader of southern Utah’s first FM Christian radio station hopes the Bible will be taught and broadcast throughout the region that is mostly Mormon.

For years, the congregation at Calvary Chapel in Cedar City, Utah, hoped to use the radio as a means to broadcast sound biblical teaching to the region’s majority Mormon population. They began purchasing airtime on local radio stations and submitted applications to various FM frequencies.

Even though they had to compete with roughly 3,800 nationwide filings, the congregation was granted a construction permit in January 2009. Now, almost three years later, 88.9 Crossover FM is on the air.


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Jon Heder: ‘Dynamite’ team loved making cult hit

February 15, 2012

Boston Herald (Massachusetts)

The Oregon-bred actor is a rarity in Hollywood, in that he’s a devout Mormon. In fact, the idea for the original Napoleon film started when he and the director, Jared Hess, were students at Brigham Young University in Utah.

“Everybody involved loved it,” Jon told us yesterday at a Fox press junket at the Omni Parker House. “It really was a labor of love. People did not do this for a paycheck. They did it because they loved the script.”


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Salt Lake Acting Company: Dottie:The Sister Lives On!

February 14, 2012

Salt Lake City Weekly (Utah)

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to Spanish Fork, she’s back. Two years after taking the Salt Lake City stage by storm, Sister Dottie S. Dixon returns, offering more lessons on life, love and being the proud mother of a gay son.
That was a fairly radical concept for a character when actor Charles Frost developed her for KRCL’s RadioActive, and later into the original 2009 play The Passion of Sister Dottie S. Dixon. Sister Dottie became a way to explore the tension between good-hearted, well-meaning Mormons and the teachings of their church that didn’t always feel quite as good-hearted and well-meaning. And if it could be done while offering humorous jabs at clichés about Utah Mormon life, so much the better.
The Salt Lake Acting Company’s Chapel Theatre offers the perfect intimate venue for the partly interactive show, and to find out what everyone’s favorite sister has been up to. (Scott Renshaw)
Dottie: The Sister Lives On!


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Marilouise Montgomery: Let us show some respect

February 15, 2012

Redding Record-Searchlight (California)

In the Feb. 11 Record Searchlight, David Spagnola writes that Mormon doctrines are unchristian. My Webster’s New World Dictionary says unchristian means “outrageous” or “dreadful.”

I think Mormons are nice people, not dreadful. I think calling people unchristian is not accepting them as they are, and not respecting their differences.

Different people have different views on the same thing, and God does not say we all have to believe the same way. He accepts us as we are.


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