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Should Romney Tell Mormon Church to Stop Proxy-Baptizing Jews?

Keep a close eye on this issue, because if Mitt Romney wins the nomination it’s going to be a big component of Democratic attacks. Elie Wiesel has been a longtime critic of the Mormon Church’s proxy-baptisms of Jewish Holocaust victims, a practice the church has now officially prohibited. But apparently there was a breakdown in the safeguards used to prevent Holocaust victims from being entered into the Mormon Church database, and the deceased parents of Simon Wiesenthal, the notorious Nazi-hunter, were recently proxy-baptized:

Nobel-laureate Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and a top official from the Simon Wiesenthal Center said Tuesday that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney should use his stature in the Mormon Church to block its members from posthumously baptizing Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

Their comments followed reports that Mormons had baptized the deceased parents of Wiesenthal, the late Holocaust survivor and Nazi-hunter. Wiesel appeared in a church database used to identify potential subjects of baptisms. …

Romney “is now the most famous and important Mormon in the country,” Wiesel said. “I’m not saying it’s his fault, but once he knows, morally he must respond. . . . He should come out and say, ‘Stop it.’”

As a Jew, getting “proxy-baptized” by the Mormon Church seems akin to somebody casting a magic spell on you or sticking needles in a voodoo doll. But for historical reasons, the practice is seen as disrespectful to Holocaust victims from a symbolic perspective, and the church has rightly promised to avoid it.

It’s an issue Democrats will undoubtedly raise if Romney’s the nominee, as it’s a way to bring up the unorthodox practices of the Mormon Church under the auspices of religious tolerance and respect for Holocaust victims.

So why hasn’t Romney come out and condemned the baptism of the Wiesenthal parents yet? He has every reason to do so. The church has already officially prohibited them, and Romney’s family has a history of standing up to controversial practices in the Mormon Church.

Then again, he may be nervous about drawing attention to his Mormon faith during the primary out of concern GOP voters will hold it against him. There’s also this:

The practice of baptizing Holocaust victims has long been offensive to Jews. After years of negotiations, Mormon officials have prohibited posthumous baptisms of Jewish Holocaust victims.

There is no indication that Romney has ever been involved in the proxy baptism of a Holocaust victim. Asked if he had ever participated in posthumous baptisms, Romney told Newsweek in 2007 that “I have in my life, but I haven’t recently.”

Again: There’s “no indication” that Romney’s been involved in proxy baptisms of Holocaust victims. But that doesn’t mean it’s never happened. If Romney comes out and condemns them, and it’s later revealed he was involved – that would be a big, big problem.



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