17 December 2006

Anger over 'baptism' of Simon Wiesenthal

I’ve written previously (here and here) about the matter of posthumous baptism of Jews – ordinary individuals as well as Holocaust victims – and the continued violations of the Mormon-Jewish Agreement.

Is there a reader of Tracing the Tribe who does not know about famed Nazi hunter and Jewish Holocaust survivor Simon Wiesenthal? The Simon Wiesenthal Center, headquartered in Los Angeles, is an important human rights organization named in his honor.

Born on December 31, 1908 in Buczacz (then Austria-Hungary or Galicia, now in Lvov Oblast, Ukraine), Wiesenthal died in Vienna, at age 96, on September 20, 2005.

Dedicated researcher Helen Radkey, who may be described as a thorn in the Mormon side on this issue, just discovered that Wiesenthal is now included in the International Genealogical Index (IGI), searchable online at Family Search. This is a database of individuals who have had posthumous church ordinances performed by proxy for them, including baptisms, sealings and other rituals.

"I have been checking the IGI since September, a year since his death, and knew that his name would appear and it did. Mormons are supposed to wait a year before performing ordinances for deceased parties," adds Radkey, who was preparing a long report on the Mormon-Jewish Agreement scandal when Wiesenthal's entry appeared around December 11, 2006.

This is not only a violation of the 1995 agreement between Mormons and Jews, claims Radkey, “because Wiesenthal would not have direct family ties with any Mormon, but it is an appalling indignity towards him, his family; the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Jewish Holocaust survivors and the memory of all Jewish Holocaust victims.”

Wiesenthal was a Nazi death camp survivor, and he and his wife Cyla lost 89 family members. He spent his life fighting anti-Semitism and prejudice, documenting the Holocaust’s crimes and hunting down perpetrators still at large.

To see the Wiesenthal IGI entry, click here.

Radkey adds, “Schelly, please be aware that Simon Wiesenthal's name will probably immediately disappear from the IGI once the Mormons find out his name is in that database. So if you tell readers to look for him under Family Search, this may only be for a very limited time."

“What the LDS Church is doing to Simon Wiesenthal should not be tolerated,” stresses Radkey, “and even if Mormons decide to hastily remove Wiesenthal's name from the part of the IGI database that is visible to the public, they will forever keep private records of any LDS proxy temple rites that he may have already been subjected to.”

Radkey’s report will not appear for at least a month. Included will be reports on her extensive research since 1999, including findings on Jewish Holocaust victims of Rome, Italy, who are also listed in the IGI.

Here's the Weisenthal Center's outraged response, which JTA received an early copy of:

SWC CALLS ON MORMON CHURCH TO IMMEDIATELY REMOVE SIMON WIESENTHAL’S NAME FROM DATABASE

The Simon Wiesenthal Center called on the Mormon Church to immediately remove Simon Wiesenthal from its online International Genealogical Index (IGI), which is the Mormon database of posthumous ordinances.

“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,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the Wiesenthal Center’s founder and dean.

“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 G-ds’ eternal blessing, “added Rabbi Hier.

“We therefore urge the Church to remove his name and the names of all other Holocaust victims immediately,” Hier concluded.

117 comments:

  1. Marlene Bishow11:18 AM

    Last week many people were outraged about the conference held in the Middle East to deny the Holocaust. The listing of Simon Wiesenthal's name on the IGI is as outrageous as the conference. Both attempt to revise history.
    The Mormon Church has been called on this issue on many occasions and when they signed the 1995 Agreement, many hoped that they would follow their word and do what they agreed to with respect to discontinuing the practice of posthumously baptizing Jews. Simon Wiesenthal was a great man and a proud Jew, but he should stand no taller than my great grandfather, William Hantman or any of the other good people who lived and died as Jews.
    The SWC has a lot of clout in this world because of the deeds of Mr. Wiesenthal. Perhaps if they take a stand not only to end this defaming practice and call the Mormons to task for this and ALL other violations of the 1995, then maybe this practice will end, but if Jewish genealogists continue to pander to the LDS and give credit to them for their extreme data collection practices, then society will continue to turn a blind eye and this will go on indefinitely.
    I urge the Simon Wiesenthal Center to take on the Mormon Church in a court of law as an interested party and I call upon all Jewish organizations to lend them support - that includes the IAJGS and member societies.

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  2. Anonymous9:27 PM

    If it's any consolation, the Mormon church is a minor and unimportant religious cult. What they do within the confines of their sorry little society does not in anyway affect the world in general. Honestly, no one gives a flying rodent's behind about their delusional doctrine of "dead dunking" and its imagined importance. They can brag about it in their corner of cyberspace, but they simply come off as pre-schoolers babbling nonsense.
    ~ Charles, Buddhist Punk

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  3. lynell dangerfield`12:13 AM

    The "Mormon" church authorities did not put his name on the church site of the IGI. It was a simple individual. We have been instructed to not put names on the registry unless they are our ancesters.

    Please do not be offended by this act. It was done in "Love". This was not done by the leaders of the church.

    lcd

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  4. Anonymous9:33 AM

    Mormon leaders have no sense of decency, decorum or ethics. Since they do not respect others they feel they have the right to do whatever they weant. From day one when founder joseph Smith had himself crowned King of Israel, the Mormon church has trampled other people's beliefs. They should be ashamed.

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  5. Anonymous2:06 PM

    What's the harm in baptising a deceased Jew?

    What's the harm if someone paints a swastika on a Jewish grave? It's just paint. It comes off. And it doesn't hurt the person who is dead.
    -anon

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  6. Anonymous2:10 PM

    Should people stop praying for others as well now? If the Jewish faith doesn't think it is anything but a silly ritual by the Mormon's, why does anyone care? Seems to me that the act that is being undertook is similar to someone praying for someone else. Generally praying for someone else is considered a kindness and sign of respect that someone even thinks you are worthwhile to be thought of. Obviously if the Jewish faith doesn't think this 'baptism' means or does anything, it shouldn't matter. I think we should take more efforts to complain about things that actually are disrespectful and mean spirited.

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  7. Helen Radkey isn't a very good source of information. She has approached the LDS Church some years ago and offered her ongoing services to keep an eye on the Church's proxy work and alert the Church to any "Jewish-sounding" names ("Learning about Jewish names,"according to Radkey, "is a specialized skill, which took me years to develop, and it is not always possible to know by a name if the person was Jewish.") (see http://www.forward.com/issues/2002/02.12.20/faces.html).

    She wanted, according to this article, $30,000 for her work from 1993 to 2003 and to be paid $18 per hour thereafter for her continuing research. The church did not express interest in her offer.

    In short, Helen Radkey has been trying to make money out of this. Isn't that just a wee bit odd? If she really found vicarious baptism to be so odious, why not simply turn over her research? Why make a buck off the names of dead people? At least the Mormons are claiming to use these names out of concern for the eternal souls of dead Jews. Radkey wants to use these names *to make money*.

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  8. Daniel Peterson3:08 PM

    Some very quick observations from a believing member of the so-called Mormon Church:

    (1)

    To Rabbi Hier's remark that "It is sacrilegious for the Mormon faith to desecrate [Simon Wiesenthal's] memory by suggesting that Jews on their own are not worthy enough to receive G-ds’ eternal blessing," I would respond that we Latter-day Saints do, quite unapologetically, insist that Jews "are not worthy enough to receive G-d's eternal blessing" "on their own."

    It's a fundamental Christian belief that nobody is.

    (2)

    I don't believe that I should attempt to dictate Rabbi Hier's theology. Likewise, I don't believe that he should attempt to dictate mine.

    (3)

    For reasons perhaps best known to her, Helen Radkey hates my Church, and is always seeking to do it damage.

    (4)

    The Church cannot realistically be expected to control what individual members do in terms of submitting names for temple work. It can control what information it offers and encourage or discourage certain things, but it cannot systematically patrol all name-submissions to make sure that they're not Jewish or that those who bore the names didn't spend time in a concentration camp.

    (5)

    Systematically barring work for "Jewish names" would bar many seemingly Jewish names that are, in fact, not Jewish.

    (6)

    Systematically barring work for Jews that we Latter-day Saints regard as salvific would itself be an act of racist discrimination.

    (7)

    Systematically barring work for Jews would be an act of injustice towards Mormons with Jewish relatives (e.g., my wife).

    (8)

    It strikes me as odd that Rabbi Hier and many Jews seem to grant the efficacy of vicarious temple service. I would have expected them to simply brush it aside as, at best, well-intentioned mumbo jumbo.

    (9)

    I'm not sure why some Jews appear to be offended by Mormon temple service on behalf of Jews. Jews have precious few friends around the world. They should not be seeking to alienate Mormons, who are deeply philosemitic. Is it really not relevant that Mormons typically treat living Jews well, and are, by and large, enthusiastic supporters of Israel?

    (10)

    If somebody were praying for my conversion, or lighting candles on my behalf, or seeking to baptize me by proxy into some other faith, it wouldn't bother me in the slightest. I would most likely regard it as an act of intended kindness, however I felt about the faith being "offered" to me.

    I'm reminded of a story that I was told many years ago, about Joseph Fielding Smith, a Mormon apostle who ultimately served in the early 1970s as the overall president of the Church, and who was anything but an ecumenist or a theological liberal.

    It seems, if the story is true, that his daughter went to Holy Cross Hospital (a Roman Catholic institution) in Salt Lake City to have a baby. There were complications, and it was feared for a short time that the baby might die. So, as good Catholics are wont to do in such cases, the nurses baptized the baby.

    Elder Smith's daughter was very upset when she eventually learned of the baptism, and expressed her concern to her father.

    "Don't worry, dear," he chuckled. "It'll wash off."

    I'm sure he saw the baptism as a kindly, well-intended action performed by faithful people whose faith he didn't share. That's all.

    I suppose that he could have huffed and puffed and screeched that it was an insult to make his grandbaby a Catholic. But he didn't believe that it was an insult. And he didn't believe that it had made his grandchild into a Roman Catholic.

    (11)

    My father participated, as a member of the 11th Armored Division, in the liberation of the Nazi death camp at Mauthausen, Austria -- the camp in which Simon Wiesenthal was a prisoner. It was a life-transforming experience for my father. His specialty was aerial-reconnaissance photo-interpretation, which was in relatively little demand at the very conclusion of the war, and so one of his duties after the camp's liberation was to photographically document Nazi crimes there. He organized a display of those photographs in the city square of nearby Linz, as an early effort at de-Nazification of the populace, under the title of "Nazi-Kultur." (They are unspeakably horrific and gruesome.) My brother and I have been preparing a complete set of copies of those photographs for donation to the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles.

    I find it deeply ironic, in that light, that my father's, my brother's, and my faith is now being depicted by certain rabblerousers as an insult to the memory of Simon Wiesenthal.

    (12)

    I hope that Jews, of all people, will be very careful not to entertain the kind of religious hatred and bigotry that some will undoubtedly attempt to inflame over this issue (and that is already evident in some of the comments by other posters above).

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  9. Anonymous4:02 PM

    Simon Weisenthal is still a Mormon.

    While the LDS church may have removed his name from the databases they still did his "temple work." That means they have baptised him. He has been ordained him to the LDS priesthood. And very likely a "endowment" marital sealing was performed. The records have changed but until they cancel the ordinances the LDS church still considers them valid.

    Jake

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  10. Anonymous4:58 PM

    After all the huffing and puffing, it would be interesting to see who submitted the name. It was done against specific instructions and guidelines of the church. It is very possible this was done by a nonLDS as a deliberate act to provoke and embarrass the church and elicit some of the negative comments we read here.

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  11. Daniel Peterson5:03 PM

    "Simon Weisenthal is still a Mormon."

    Unless anonymous Jake has been in some sort of spiritual communication with Mr. Wiesenthal, there is no way that he can possibly know such a thing.

    There are several common misconceptions about the Latter-day Saint practice of vicarious baptism on behalf of the dead. Perhaps I can shed some light on them. (Similar considerations hold true for the other vicarious ordinances performed in Latter-day Saint temples.)

    First, those for whom such baptisms have been performed are not included on the membership rolls of the Church.

    Second, vicarious baptism is offered for those who have died, but it is not viewed by Mormons has having any coercive power. A person for whom such a baptism has been performed retains the freedom to accept it or to reject it.

    Third, we do not claim any reliable means, as a Church, to know whether our offering has been accepted or rejected.

    I might add that it does not appear to me that there is any relevant difference between performing vicarious baptisms on behalf of deceased persons and, say, praying for them or lighting candles for them. And praying and lighting candles seem clearly to be morally and legally permissible acts (outside, that is, of totalitarian states).

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  12. Anonymous9:42 AM

    The main difference between "praying for" the deceased and "doing temple work for them" is this:

    Mormon temple work involves researching, using individual names and linking people based on records that may or not be accurate. In other words: snooping and disregarding any religious wishes or emotional ties.

    The Mormon hope is that all the inhabitants of Earth, no matter their religion in life, will become a baptised Mormon, marry someone of the opposite sex, and be "sealed" eternally to anyone they were linked to as parents or children while alive--even if these parent/child relationships were supposed to remain private for personal family reasons.

    No less than this will do.

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  13. Anonymous10:23 AM

    Mr Peterson,

    Your comments here simply show the uncouth nature of members of the Mormon Church. Jews do not need Christ to be saved. God saved them himself as they are His chosen people. Gentiles may need a Christ but not the Jews. Jesus does not meet the criteria of a Jewish Meshiach. The quotes from the Tanakh that are taken out of context do not show that he is the "annointed one" of Israel. So your salvific rites are an affront to anyone of Jewish descent.

    As to people hating your Church, people have good reason to. One is that the Church thinks it owns truth. Second, your Church has ruined many peoples' lives. Gays, lesbians, Mountain Meadow Massacre, polygamy, etc. And the Church will not leave people alone who want nothing to do with it anymore.

    Mr Peterson, look carefully at your religion and really try and see how it is an offense to people. Your mythological beliefs and practices are an affront to many people. Your church is not a restoration of the Church that Jesus' followers set up after his death. And for you to say that Mr Wiesenthal's family should be greatful that your Church is doing this for him "is" an affront and against decency.

    William Wilson

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  14. Gosh, is it just me or does Mr. Daniel Peterson come off sounding like an arrogant boor? Take off the jackboots, jodhpurs and swastika armband, Mr. Peterson, and display some of that respect for others which you and your Mormon church are always whining about not getting. The real Nazis were put out of business a long time ago, but it certainly looks like you and your church are trying to resurrect their rhetoric in this disgusting show of disrespect for the religious convictions of Jewish people.

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  15. Anonymous10:30 AM

    What do you expect from a cult!!!!!

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  16. Daniel Peterson10:57 AM

    It's not at all clear to me that researching, using individual names, and linking people based on publicly available records (even if they may or not be accurate) constitutes "snooping" or is in any way unethical.

    Anonymous Jake seems to be suggesting that prayer for others is alright -- so long as it involves no checking to make sure that one has accurately identified the person one is praying for and so long as it doesn't involve individual names. Otherwise, it too will be damnable and ethically dubious. But this appears to make little real sense.

    Is historical research unethical? Is a biographer engaging in unethical behavior unless she's infallible and her sources inerrant? Does she need permission from all direct descendents before she begins her work? Does a historian need to get permission from all the living relatives of, say, every one of the Founding Fathers in order to be ethically able to "snoop" into their lives? (Biographies and histories are commonly far more intrusive into the lives of their subjects than is the simple Mormon practice of identifying birth dates and death dates.)

    And, yes, our hope is for the salvation of all humankind. I'm not ashamed of that, nor am I embarrassed by it. And I'm not ashamed that we envision salvation in our own way. We allow others precisely that privilege, and claim it for ourselves, too.

    With regard to those here who chide me for my alleged "disrespect," "arrogance," "boorishness," and "uncouthness," and who then proceed to label my Church a "cult," to pronounce my beliefs "mythological," to suggest that their theological views ought to trump mine even within my own faith-community, and to brand me a "Nazi," I really think that any comment from me would be superfluous.

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  17. Anonymous10:59 AM

    I have warned my family that IF they have my deceased daughter baptised into that obscene cult, I will sue them. It's an organization that is sexist, racist, and is not Christian, fundamental or not. These people worship a man, believe the fate of "good" women is to watch their husbands take trophy wives and stay pregnant for eternity. Beyond that, their church in its practices and beliefs are closer to Islam than any western church.

    Their founder was a pedophile (who said an angel with a flaming sword made him have sex with a child) who "married" other men's wives without benefit of divorce; he was a thief, established an organization reminiscent of the SS (the Dante's), committed treason, and if he were alive now, he'd be on the FBI's most wanted list and when caught serving a life sentence.

    Oh, ya'll remember how G*d didn't like golden calves? When I was baptised for the dead (I was 13), it was in a swimming pool held up by golden calves or oxen representing the tribes of Israel.

    It wasn't until the internet though that I found out about the other obscenities committed in their temple, including representing priests of other churches as the devil. We won't talk about the nekkid touching of breasts and loins and blood oaths. THIS is what Mormons call "sacred" not "secret"?

    I left this cult when I was 20 because my conscience could not accept the Mormon view about blacks and about dark skin being a "curse". I also could not accept that the wondrous variety of individual experience, belief and a whole history of the world could not possibly be contained in one of the most narrow-minded "truths" anyone has ever invented. Since I began studying their history and the practices of their leadership, including lying to gain converts and using tax-free dollars to buy power and their despicable practices in forbidding members from reading anything "faith destroying" and spying on students at BYU to insure they don't read anything critical of the church (and they can be punished up to excommuncation and if a student expresses doubt about the church, BYU will kick them out and try to keep their earned credits)--since I've learned more about the church of my youth, I'm convinced they are freedom destroying, power-hungry, controlling cult and associating the name of good people with this mess is a sign of extreme and absolute disrespect.

    BTW, I do NOT believe the Catholic church would baptise a child without parental permission whether that child were in a Catholic hospital or not. I do know something about Catholic policy in this regard, and this sounds exactly like one of Mormonism's faith-inducing lies.

    I would encourage anyone who has any questions about the perversity of this cult to search the internet, but even more, read their books. Even a moderately educated person could not read the Book of Mormon and not gasp at its utter stupidity. Oh, and wait until you get the the Book of Abraham. Jews ought to get a huge kick out of that one.

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  18. Daniel,

    You are correct there is no way to know that Weisenthal is 100% Mormon there is the uncertainty.

    However, I've done baptisms for the dead and on more than one occasion the temple worker came to our group and said "The temple president confirmed to me that 100% names baptised today have accepted the gospel." The other time I recall they said something indicating that almost all had accepted their baptism.

    So it would be more correct to say that the LDS perception is that a greater than 90% likely hood that Weisenthal accepted "the true church". They therefore follow with his fake masonic initiatory, endowment, his LDS priesthood and his "eternal marriage".

    I would be offended too having the name of a respecting family member carried around the temple. A person acting as proxy, wearing funny clothes, getting a "new name", and making promises and marriages like my relative.

    Don't crap on my lawn and argue it's fertilizer.

    Jake

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  19. Anonymous11:09 AM

    "By their fruits they will know them", and since mormons don't have any humanitarians like Wiesenthal, no philosophers--great or otherwise--, no philanthropies, nothing but shopping centers and businesses and endless self aggrandizement, they need to baptise people who wouldn't have joined their church under any circumstances while they lived.

    Can you imagine Thomas Jefferson as a mormon? How about Thomas More? Socrates? Plato? Einstein? There's a really good reason why there are no great minds in mormonism and why they don't publish great philosphical tracts like, say, Theihard. That's because great minds and mormonism would be the perfect oxymoron.

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  20. Daniel Peterson11:20 AM

    I think it's revealing that several of the posters here hold my faith and my Church in unconcealed contempt for reasons quite unrelated to the admittedly difficult and awkward issue of posthumous baptisms for Holocaust victims.

    This is simply a currently useful vehicle for them to express their more comprehensive anger and disdain.

    I trust that reasonable people, Jewish and non-Jewish, who read this sort of thing will know pretty well how to regard it.

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  21. Anonymous11:34 AM

    Daniel Peterson belongs to a cult. He lies when it's convenient for him. The mormon cult was caught with its hand in the cookie jar about 10 years ago when Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton found out her father, a minister, was baptized after his death. It was found out at that time that Jewish holocaust survivors, and some of the perpetrators of the holocaust, were also baptized after death. An agreement was reached whereby the baptisms would all be canceled. This hasn't happened, and once again, the mormons have lied about baptizing holocaust victims and survivors.

    One need only remind Mr. Peterson of his cult's 11th article of faith which says, in short, "We're entitled to worship as we please, and so are you." Well, that turns out to be a lie as well, doesn't it, Mr. Peterson?

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  22. Anonymous11:45 AM

    Let me see. Wasn't the discussion about WHY someone would be mortally offended to have the mormon church appropriating the names of good people and dragging their good name and dignity into the mud of mormonism? Daniel, all the things these people are writing about are the very reasons the rest of the world is appalled by your church's arrogance. There is a reason WHY people don't want their loved one's name associated with your cult of hate and bigotry and slavery of women and children.

    I'd be as outraged if the KKK tried to baptise someone I loved, even after death.

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  23. Jim Huston11:47 AM

    Dr. Peterson;

    Mormonism (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)is continually crying about persecution and discrimination. I have recently read an article which claimed Mormon persecution in Ohio and Nauvoo was the Mormon “Holocaust.” Last night I talked to a young missionary who complained of discrimination because Mormon servicemen did not have Mormon services on a military base which was being called up. The have a base Chaplin who gave Christian services, but not specifically Mormon. The discrimination was specifically against Mormons. They did not have Catholic, Baptist, Evangelical, Jewish or any other services, but the discrimination was against Mormons.

    Mormons are offensive people. The pompous attitude about baptisms for the dead is disrespectful of other cultures and other religions. The idea of a Mormon Holocaust is an affront to every Jewish person, and pretty much every humanitarian in the world. The Mormons killed far more people at Mountain Meadows that the number of Mormons killed in Ohio and Nauvoo. Brigham Young personally killed far more Mormons with his hand cart debacle than were ever killed through persecution. I could give you an exact number for the “Mormon Holocaust”, but my recollection is far less than 200 people.

    Having missionaries pounding on doors is disrespectful. Trying to push your brand of “TRUTH” on people is disrespectful. Not telling people the whole truth about Mormon teachings before they are baptized is not only disrespectful, it is dishonest. If there is any persecution against Mormons, it is well deserved. They have no boundaries and no manners. The disrespect you have shown in your posts is ample evidence of why Mormons are so disliked by others.

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  24. Anonymous12:08 PM

    Daniel C. Peterson continues to battle those in opposition to him:

    "I might add that it does not appear to me that there is any relevant difference between performing vicarious baptisms on behalf of deceased persons and, say, praying for them or lighting candles for them. And praying and lighting candles seem clearly to be morally and legally permissible acts (outside, that is, of totalitarian states)."

    He compares baptizing someone of another faith and adding that person to the numbers of the cult the same as lighting a candle.

    He forgets the words said by a Mormon Cult Worker in the Mormon Temple:

    The first ceremony for the dead in the Temple is that of Baptism. This is performed in the beautiful baptismal font mounted on the backs of 12 full sized oxen, located in the Temple basement. The officiator and the patron are dressed in heavy white jump-suits. There are two or more witnesses observing the procedure. Usually a closed circuit T.V. is used to project the names of the deceased persons on a large T.V. screen. Typically 200-300 baptisms are performed per hour. The baptismal pronouncement is recited in full for each baptism, and the patron is completely immersed.

    "Brother (or Sister) ________, having authority, I baptize you, for and in behalf of________, who is dead, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, amen."

    Then they make that dead person a member:

    This is usually performed at or near the baptismal font, by the same persons who performed the baptism ritual.

    "Brother (or Sister) ________, in the name of Jesus Christ, we lay our hands upon your head for and in behalf of ________, who is dead, and confirm you a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and say unto you: Receive the Holy Ghost. Amen."

    After the Baptism and Confirmation for the Dead are done, the person who is doing work for the dead is ready to be washed with water, anointed with oil and clothed in the garment of the Holy Priesthood. This is the beginning of the Endowment Ceremony.

    THIS IS HOW SIMON WAS MADE A MORMON BY MORMON TEMPLE WORKERS. It is not the same as simply praying for a person or lighting a candle for a person.

    I would like the Jewish Community to see that Daniel C. Peterson, by being employed by the Mormon Church as actually representing the Mormon Church by posting on these Jewish Forums. Daniel C. Peterson WORKS FOR THE LDS CHURCH. He is a paid by the church to write apologetic material. He works for FARMS and is also employed as a professor for the LDS Church owned Brigham Young University.

    To see posts about Daniel C. Peterson go to:

    http://www.mormoncurtain.com/topic_danielcpeterson.html

    To see more about how Mormons baptise without permission:

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  25. Daniel Peterson12:12 PM

    anonymous: " Daniel Peterson belongs to a cult. He lies when it's convenient for him."

    There are many factual errors in this and other posts above, but I won't bother to deal with them. I'm quite happy to have such posts on display for their tone and their approach, and quite content that their tone and approach be compared to mine.

    What fascinates me about the statement quoted above is its absolutely perfect illustration of the logical fallacy known as "poisoning the well," right down to the historical origin of the phrase "poisoning the well" as a description of a logical fallacy. (Ironically, the phrase "poisoning the well" ultimately derives from the medieval European rumor that the black plague was caused by Jews poisoning town wells -- a myth that was used as to justify their persecution.)

    The phrase was first used in its relevant sense by John Henry Newman during a controversy with the Protestant clergyman Charles Kingsley. Kingsley said, in effect, that, as a Roman Catholic priest, Newman was obliged to lie, and that, therefore, nothing he said could ever be trusted. Here is a quotation from Cardinal Newman's famous Apologia Pro Vita Sua:

    "[W]hat I insist upon here . . . is this unmanly attempt of his, in his concluding pages, to cut the ground from under my feet;—to poison by anticipation the public mind against me, John Henry Newman, and to infuse into the imaginations of my readers, suspicion and mistrust of every thing that I may say in reply to him. This I call poisoning the wells.

    "'I am henceforth in doubt and fear,' he says, 'as much as any honest man can be, concerning every word Dr. Newman may write. How can I tell that I shall not be the dupe of some cunning equivocation?' …

    "Well, I can only say, that, if his taunt is to take effect, I am but wasting my time in saying a word in answer to his foul calumnies . . . We all know how our imagination runs away with us, how suddenly and at what a pace;—the saying, 'Caesar's wife should not be suspected,' is an instance of what I mean. The habitual prejudice, the humour of the moment, is the turning-point which leads us to read a defence in a good sense or a bad. We interpret it by our antecedent impressions. The very same sentiments, according as our jealousy is or is not awake, or our aversion stimulated, are tokens of truth or of dissimulation and pretence. There is a story of a sane person being by mistake shut up in the wards of a Lunatic Asylum, and that, when he pleaded his cause to some strangers visiting the establishment, the only remark he elicited in answer was, 'How naturally he talks! you would think he was in his senses.' Controversies should be decided by the reason; is it legitimate warfare to appeal to the misgivings of the public mind and to its dislikings? Any how, if Mr. Kingsley is able thus to practise upon my readers, the more I succeed, the less will be my success. . . . The more triumphant are my statements, the more certain will be my defeat."

    I might add that some of the folks appearing above are known to me as vitriolic (and even somewhat obsessive) critics of my faith. They have no demonstrated sympathy for Judaism and, in fact, I rather suspect that one or two (at least), if prodded, would reveal the same contempt for Judaism and believing Jews that they exhibit for Mormonism and believing Mormons.

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  26. Mr. Peterson,

    It appears that you are in open rebellion against your file leaders. The First Presidency several years ago agreed to halt the practice of baptizing Holocaust survivors and Nazi perpetrators.

    Yet you have been advocating the opposite. You said:

    "Systematically barring work for Jews that we Latter-day Saints regard as salvific would itself be an act of racist discrimination.

    (7)

    Systematically barring work for Jews would be an act of injustice towards Mormons with Jewish relatives (e.g., my wife)."

    With these comments, you are showing disloyalty to the Brethren who lead the Church. You are contradicting the Church's official policy promulgated by its prophets, seers, and revelators who have said the following:

    "'In 1995 we made an extraordinary gesture of goodwill to our Jewish friends by recognizing special sensitivities over Holocaust victims,' Elder Christofferson said.

    At that time, some 380,000 names of Holocaust victims were removed by the Church from display in the public database known as the International Genealogical Index, or IGI, which is freely available to researchers on the Internet. Church members and other genealogical enthusiasts often use the IGI in gathering data on their ancestors.

    In addition, he said the Church had over the years removed from display in the IGI the names of deceased Jews when they had been made known to Church officers. A letter from the governing First Presidency of the Church was read in Sunday meetings worldwide in June 1995, urging Church members to submit for temple ordinances the names of their own ancestors, and not the names of deceased celebrities or Jewish holocaust victims."

    Be careful, Bro. Peterson. Apostasy is a punishable offense. You may be in danger of a church court for going against the Brethren. I've heard that the "Strengthening the Members Committee" monitors web sites searching for wayward members who may be in need of the loving hand of church discipline to bring them back into conformity with orthodoxy.

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  27. John Riler12:26 PM

    The LDS church should be left alone to practice its religion just as every other religious sect. According to its own doctrine, the LDS church believes candidates that are baptized for the dead (I Cor. 15:29) can either choose to receive it or reject it in the world to come. Thus, it might be reasonably viewed as freedom of choice for the person who has passed on. In short, what if the deceased want the ceremonies performed on their behalf? Should they be denied?

    But, too, what if they don't wish the ordinance performed? They have the freedom to reject it.

    Finally, what if this entire thing is a Mormon fantasy? What is the ultimate harm? What good can be accomplished by telling the Mormons they shouldn't do something they believe God has told them to do? Why should only Jews have the right to opt out? What if Jehovah's Witnesses object? And Baptists? And how far are we to go in stopping them? Enact laws?

    This is really mountain out of mole hill stuff.

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  28. As a Latter-day Saint, I certainly qualify as what Daniel Peterson referred to as philosemitic.

    I’ve attended a non-sectarian Jewish institution for five years of graduate study. I hold a Master’s degree in ancient Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and am a doctoral candidate in Hebrew Bible.

    Contrary to the misinformed comments attached to this story, Latter-day Saints do not rewrite history through rituals performed in behalf of the deceased.

    We do not view, nor do we refer to those who have received this ritual performance of kindness, as “Mormon.”

    In reality, Latter-day Saints do not baptize the dead—we are baptized for and in behalf of the deceased.

    From our perspective, the ritual performance only holds validity if the person at some point chooses of his or her own free will to accept the gift.

    Unfortunately, as many of the comments now posted have so clearly illustrated, this world is filled with far too much hatred directed against those who profess the religious beliefs of the “other.”

    Given my familiarity with the Jewish community, I suspect that when properly understood, most Jews would assume a position regarding this LDS ritual closer to the one advocated by Krister Stendahl (retired Bishop of Stockholm and professor emeritus of theology at Harvard) who openly referred to this LDS practice with “holy envy.”

    If our views are correct, then we have given someone a very precious gift; if our beliefs are wrong, then our ritual performance carries no validity and we have performed a worthless act with the kindest of intent.

    --David Bokovoy

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  29. As a Latter-day Saint, I certainly qualify as what Daniel Peterson referred to as philosemitic.

    I’ve attended a non-sectarian Jewish institution for five years of graduate study. I hold a Master’s degree in ancient Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and am a doctoral candidate in Hebrew Bible.

    Contrary to the misinformed comments attached to this story, Latter-day Saints do not rewrite history through rituals performed in behalf of the deceased.

    We do not view, nor do we refer to those who have received this ritual performance of kindness, as “Mormon.”

    In reality, Latter-day Saints do not baptize the dead—we are baptized for and in behalf of the deceased.

    From our perspective, the ritual performance only holds validity if the person at some point chooses of his or her own free will to accept the gift.

    Unfortunately, as many of the comments now posted have so clearly illustrated, this world is filled with far too much hatred directed against those who profess the religious beliefs of the “other.”

    Given my familiarity with the Jewish community, I suspect that when properly understood, most Jews would assume a position regarding this LDS ritual closer to the one advocated by Krister Stendahl (retired Bishop of Stockholm and professor emeritus of theology at Harvard) who openly referred to this LDS practice with “holy envy.”

    If our views are correct, then we have given someone a very precious gift; if our beliefs are wrong, then our ritual performance carries no validity and we have performed a worthless act with the kindest of intent.

    --David Bokovoy

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  30. Anonymous12:30 PM

    As a former Mormon and one who is well familiar with the antics of Dr. Peterson (and his like-minded cronies in the Mormon apologetics industry), allow me the following observations.

    1. Experience shows that there is nothing, and I mean nothing, in the Mormon past or present, in its history, or in its culture that Dr. Peterson and his ilk will not excuse, rationalize, downplay, explain away, dismiss, or ignore, as a means to support pre-determined conclusions that the Mormon Church is the ONLY "true and living church" (common Mormon phraseology) on the earth. This includes, among other things, Joseph Smiths' lying and philandering, murder of innocents, Gordon Hinkley's repudiation of long-held "divine" teachings, racism, sexism, homophobia, anachronisms and blatant errors in divine texts, wholesale plagiarism in divine texts, uncharitable practices and statements of "divinely inspired" men, personality cults, etc., etc. In short, many, many things that decent and moral people (including Mormons in other contexts) find objectionable.

    2. Dr. Peterson's response shows in plain black and white the reason why people take exception to his cult (yes, Mormonism is a cult--I, sadly, am a former cultist). His response almost literally dripped with arrogance, condescension, and lack of empathy. He may not find it offensive for organizations to which he objects (or which run contrary to his heritage, culture, beliefs, etc.) to induct him into membership post-mortem, but can he really not see how others might find this offensive? A profound lack of propriety and sense of boundaries is a tendency among Mormon faithful. Common decency all too frequently places a distant second to advancing the interests of the institution or to members' felt rights to foist their religion on others.

    3. Dr. Peterson's objection to the fact that other posters pretend "to suggest that their theological views ought to trump mine" is laughable given his earlier comment "I would respond that we Latter-day Saints do, quite unapologetically, insist that Jews "are not worthy enough to receive G-d's eternal blessing" "on their own." Peterson "unapologetically" states that his theological views trump everyone else's (they need Mormonism to receive God's eternal blessings), and then he acts self-righteously wounded when he gets back in kind. Now you folks get a sense of the sort of drivel those of us who interact with Mormon apologists have to suffer through on a routine basis.

    It is telling of Dr. Peterson's character that he believes his charging in here in a huff full of arrogance and condescension, and without a smidgeon of empathy, is actually helping Mormonism's cause. But don't be offended, he treats all of us unworthy to receive God's eternal blessings on our own the same way.

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  31. Daniel Peterson12:45 PM

    I have not sought to personalize this "conversation," although I know the names and identities of at least two of those who have been posting here besides myself (and the employer of one of them). But it seems that others do want to make it personal. Nonetheless, I need to correct some assertions made about me here.

    Yes, I'm "employed by the Mormon Church" in the indirect sense that I'm a professor of Islamic studies and Arabic in the Department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages at Brigham Young University, which is owned by the Church. I do not, however, "represent" the Church. I'm at home. This is my Christmas vacation. I represent myself. I receive not a dime of salary, from either the Church or the University, for writing "apologetic material."

    I'm also, contrary to assertions above, neither a Nazi nor a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

    (If I had been attempting, via posting under false personas, to make myself look better by contrast, I don't think I could have improved on some of the comments made by others above.)

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  32. Anonymous12:58 PM

    >
    If our views are correct, then we have given someone a very precious gift; if our beliefs are wrong, then our ritual performance carries no validity and we have performed a worthless act with the kindest of intent.

    doesn't matter. you already promised not to baptise these people, and you did.

    but oh i guess it's ok to 'lie for the lord' right? ;)

    the lds church pretty much makes me want to vomit.

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  33. Kim B1:24 PM

    With all due respect, Schelly Talalay Dardashti's claim that the LDS Church is in violation of the 1995 agreement seems to be making a misleading claim.

    The agreement outlines a number of policies and procedure relating to the LDS practice of proxy baptism as it relates to Jewish Holocaust victims. The agreement specifies that the LDS Church would:

    -- Remove the names of know Holocaust Jewish victims from the IGI. (The LDS Church met this condition.)

    -- Provide a list of removed names for verification. (Which the LDS Church did.)

    -- Reaffirm to members and officials the already existing policy against knowingly submitting known non-related Jewish Holocaust victims for proxy baptism. (The LDS Church has fulfilled that obligation.)

    -- Publish the policy in relevant LDS Church publications. (The LDS Church has done that.)

    -- Based on an agreed upon procedures, and on an regular basis, remove any further inclusions in the IGI that are in violation. (The LDS Church has done that.)

    The fact is, the LDS Church has lived up to the obligations of the 1995 agreement.

    The agreement simply did not envision that no person with a Jewish-sounding name would ever receive proxy baptism. The agreement fully understood that mistakes would be made, and allowed for a mutually-recognized procedure for correction.

    I suspect that the Jewish community activists who negotiated the 1995 agreement now want even more concessions from the LDS Church. As such, they are engaging in a public relations campaign to portray the LDS Church as being in violation of the 1995 agreement. This may be a deliberate gambit aimed at forcing a reopening of negotiations on this matter.

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  34. inland emperor1:26 PM

    equality, your points are valid but they fall on deaf ears. Br. Peterson has the classic Mormon view that the ends always justify the means, even if it means acting like a boorish religious bigot. He is an embarrassment to the church.

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  35. Anonymous1:48 PM

    It is intensely frustrating and sad that some members of the Mormon church cannot and will not see how offensive it is to baptize dead people into their church. Regardless of them insisting this is some sort of "gift" they are giving, they have been told REPEATEDLY that this is an offensive action by them, and that they should NOT do it. They don't only baptize the Jews either, they baptize anyone who's name they can come up with, regardless of said person's religion or opinions of the Mormon church. If someone does not want to be a member of the Mormon church in life, then who is anyone to assume they would want it in death?

    The Mormon practice of baptism for the dead is absolutely disrespectful to the dead, no matter how they try to convince the World that it is a "gift". It may be technically meaningless, but symbolically, it is unquestionably offensive and wrong. (BTW - I am not ex-Mo or Jewish, just someone who sees the disrespect as it is)

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  36. Daniel Peterson1:49 PM

    The issue, of course, is not my "character" or lack thereof. Nor is it the truthfulness of Mormonism or its falsity.

    Anyone who holds to View X, to the extent that it differs from View Y, regards View Y as mistaken and actions taken on the basis of View Y as misguided. Obviously, non-Mormons will regard Mormonism as more or less false and the actions mandated by it as more or less wrong-headed. And Mormons will reciprocate that favor.

    But that isn't the point.

    It would be wonderful if issues like this could be discussed empathetically, without animus, hatred, and not-so-hidden broader agendas, and if people who really have no dog in the race at all but simply want to score a public point or two against a faith they probably once cherished but now bitterly reject would restrain their urge to agitate and inflame. I assume that Jews who are concerned about this matter are, overwhelmingly, sincere people of genuine good will. I can assure them that faithful Mormons are, too.

    And we are anything but anti-Semites or Jew-haters.

    In that light, incidentally, it occurs to me that, since my place of employment has been raised and since I've noted in response that I'm an Arabist, it might also be worthwhile (in order to better identify myself now that I have been made an issue here) to point out that I'm also the editor-in-chief of an on-going series of dual-language publications of the Medical Works of Moses Maimonides, distributed through the University of Chicago Press.

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  37. Though I am increasingly at the margins of the Mormon community, I would like to apologize for the abuse of Simon Wiesenthal's memory.

    A couple of years ago, I shared David Bokovoy's opinion that proxy baptisms for the dead cannot possibly be harmful. Unfortunately, this attitude is self-serving. Rather than respecting the pain that people feel when their family members are listed on the roles of another religion, we assume that any complaint can only be ill informed and continue to do what we wanted to do anyways.

    As a Mormon convert I had this discussion with my grandparents. They did not want their ancestors and siblings to be associated with Mormonism in any way. The view that the ritual was invalid until the spirit of the deceased accepts did not appease any of my non-Mormon relatives. They felt that Mormons disrespected not only their dead but also themselves.

    The best way to avoid this problem would be for Mormons to limit the performance of proxy ordinances to our own ancestors. Redefining the religious identity of strangers without their consent or including their descendants is an imposition. It's almost as inappropriate as preaching to small children without the consent of the parents.

    Mormons should neither impose their rituals on outsiders nor should we discount the pain that our actions are causing as ill informed.

    Mormon leaders have acknowledged as much with respect to Holocaust victims. It is unfortunate that Mormon members feel the need to come here and defend our failure to keep these commitments as virtuous.

    It is true that the submission to the database are anarchic and difficult to control. Nonetheless, Simon Wiesenthal's case was predictable. Therefore Mormon leaders are responsible for leaving a system in place that is not sufficiently safeguarded.

    Hellmut Lotz

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  38. scarecrowfromoz2:03 PM

    Daniel Peterson said: I do not, however, "represent" the Church. I'm at home. This is my Christmas vacation. I represent myself. I receive not a dime of salary, from either the Church or the University, for writing "apologetic material."

    Sorry, as am employee of BYU, you DO represent the LDS Church. If you don't believe this, then look no further than Jeffrey Nielson, a BYU professor who was fired earlier this year for his stance on gays being in opposition to the LDS Church.

    Daniel Peterson can't hide behind the excuse he represents himself, and not the church's stance. IF he is not fired for his lunatic postings here on a public forum, it can only mean ONE THING....the LDS Church believes and fully supports his rantings, otherwise they would fire him, he same way Nielson was fired.

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  39. Daniel Peterson2:13 PM

    Several implications of Herr Lotz's letter (refreshingly on topic and substantive) need to be corrected:

    Mormons never list those for whom vicarious baptisms have been performed on their "membership rolls."

    We don't "redefine" anybody's "religious identity." Nor do we claim the ability or the authority to do that.

    We do not believe that our rituals "impose" anything on anybody. They may be accepted or rejected.

    There is no real evidence, so far as I can see, that the Church has violated the agreement of 1995 or the agreement of 2000.

    And, finally, I (for one) don't for a moment discount the pain, anger, irritation, outrage, etc., that at least some in the Jewish community may feel over this issue. Nor, so far as I can tell, do the leaders of my church, who are sincere and well-intentioned people. But, amidst all of the emotions, it would be helpful if the issue could be precisely defined and accurately understood. That's one of the reasons that the bitter and inflammatory irrelevancies of many of the posts here are so unhelpful and unproductive.

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  40. Anonymous2:13 PM

    Ah, Daniel Peterson "knows" who two of the posters are AND he knows one's employer.

    Does this sound just a bit like big brother is watching and subtle intimidation techniques. Actually, it sounds not so subtle. It sounds an awful lot like a threat.

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  41. Some Schmo2:18 PM

    LOL...

    Ahhh, Danny boy... it never ends with you, does it? Being persecuted is a full time job, isn't it? I mean, as soon as business slows down, here you come to add more fuel to the fire.

    It's fun to see you haven't changed. Good stuff.

    And yeah, I have to agree with those who say, "Who cares? It's just a bunch of mormon mumbo jumbo. It's entirely meaningless."

    Oh well, people will believe what they need to believe to survive. See Dr. P's posts for the latest example.

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  42. Daniel Peterson2:23 PM

    It would be interesting to know how many of those posting such angry notes here are actually Jewish. (I happen to know that several of them are ex-Mormons, brimming with the bitterness that tends to characterize apostates of all types, who actively post on a message board for angry former Mormons; if they have any kind of Jewish background, I'm unaware of it.)

    I'm guessing that the opening comment was probably written by a Jew; certainly, it was written by someone with a claimed Jewish great grandfather.

    But, for all I know, that may be the only one.

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  43. The real reason this rite is performed is because the dead are the only ones who don’t tell Mormon missionaries to take a hike. The living are not buying into LDS doctrine so that leaves the dead as the only remaining pool of potential converts. Smells like desperation to me.

    SP

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  44. Daniel Peterson2:49 PM

    I want to thank some of my old pseudonymous and anonymous fans for showing up here and making even a mendacious Big Brother wannabe thug like me look good by comparison.

    I think, though, that I need to apologize to any real Jews who may be watching this increasingly undignified spectacle. Intelligent discussion of this topic is possible, and I can promise that most if not all believing Mormons will listen carefully and with considerable sympathy to Jewish concerns. But, given the crowd who've actually shown up here, the chances for such a conversation seem to be vanishingly small on this thread.

    Such discussion would probably best be conducted face to face, in any event.

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  45. Jim Huston2:52 PM

    A very brief response to Dr. Peterson:

    Dr. Peterson is a professor at BYU. As a professor at BYU and involved in Mormon apologetics, he is not expected to publish or participate at the level that would be expected from a professor at another university. He has his class teaching load, but other than that, he spends his time writing and supporting Mormon apologetics. This allows him to say that he is paid by the university rather than as a paid apologetic. Dr. Peterson commented on how much incorrect information was contained in the posts above, but neglected to identify any of the incorrect information. This is a typical tactic of Mormon apologists. He further intimated that the character of the people posting here was in question, and made a couple of statements specifically about posters. This is ad hominem, which is another typical Mormon tactic.

    His job in this is to take a disgusting, disrespectful Mormon practice and try to make it sound as if there is nothing wrong with it. This is part of the Mormon practice of "Lying for the Lord." Before I get a bunch of protests from Danny and the others, Google it and find out that it is a practice of the Mormon Church which they refuse to admit and recognize. Another practice is "Milk before the Meat" which is similar. Using this they justify not giving answers to direct questions and trying to redirect people who ask questions that make them look odd and look like a cult. Before I am jumped on about this, listen to Robert Millet's training of missionaries at BYU. It is an accepted practice that is taught to missionaries.

    In addition to this, there is the "Only True Church", by which they believe they have the right to impose their beliefs on everyone else and they believe they are the "Chosen people" having been adopted into the House of Israel (House of Judah) through the power of God, so they essentially believe they are the true Jews and they will become Gods in the next life.

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  46. Anonymous3:13 PM

    What a very odd direction the discussion took. Bishow, as far as I can tell, is the only one with a dog in the hunt on the Jewish side, whilst Peterson and Bokovoy are the only ones on the Mormon side. Everybody else seems to have some inapposite axe to grind.

    Perhaps the best thing would be actually to look at the relevant agreement, examine how Wiesenthal's name came to be listed, and determine whether there was any breach of the agreement. Let's not go getting our panties in a wad over this issue. As far as I can see, the Mormons seem to be decent enough folks, and I see nothing here that would amount to them acting otherwise than in good faith.

    Let's not get sidetracked by the sideshow, shall we?

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  47. Daniel Peterson3:27 PM

    "Dr. Peterson is a professor at BYU. As a professor at BYU and involved in Mormon apologetics, he is not expected to publish or participate at the level that would be expected from a professor at another university."

    Whew! That's a relief. I'm glad I'm following this thread!

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  48. Anonymous3:34 PM

    Mr Peterson,

    I practised Judaism. I have friends that are Jewish and within the past year have attended Jewish Synagogue. I have studied not only Judaism but also first century Christianity and Messianic Christianity. I have also studied Eastern Orthodioxy in depth, theologically and ethnographically. I am also a former Mormon (including being a temple worker).

    You may believe what you want but Mormon practices in the area of proxy baptism for the dead are offensive to those who do not have any attachments to the mormon church.

    William Wilson

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  49. Some Schmo3:35 PM

    "I want to thank some of my old pseudonymous and anonymous fans for showing up here and making even a mendacious Big Brother wannabe thug like me look good by comparison."

    See what I mean about believing what you need to?

    Too funny.

    I will say that I have no doubt the good "doctor" really does believe he "look[s] good by comparison."

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  50. Anonymous3:43 PM

    In response to Hellmut Lotz, I too feel bad over the fact that feelings have been hurt due to this issue, hence, my participation in the blogg.

    I honestly believe, however, that these emotions stem primarily from misunderstanding and misrepresentation.

    As an illustration of the power of misrepresentation concerning LDS temple worship, consider the comment posted by Anonymous who said:

    “Oh, ya'll remember how G*d didn't like golden calves? When I was baptized for the dead (I was 13), it was in a swimming pool held up by golden calves or oxen”

    Rather than the golden calf mentioned in Exodus 32, the baptismal font used in LDS temples mirrors the molten sea that “stood upon twelve oxen, three looking toward the north, and three looking toward the west, and three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east” associated with Solomon’s temple in the Hebrew Bible (1 Kings 7:25; JPS)

    Clearly, the reality of the issue proves far less dramatic than the misrepresentation. In truth, the same observation applies to the issue of LDS temple rituals performed to honor the deceased.

    When misrepresented, these rituals carry the potential to shock and cause feelings of resentment.

    In the hopes of promoting understanding, I’ll speak personally and state that I’ve really missed my recently deceased Grandfather during this holiday season.

    Notwithstanding my religious convictions, any religious group—Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, etc., that wishes to perform prayers and/or rituals in behalf of my Grandfather with the belief that those rituals will assist him in his current state if he so chooses to take advantage of the performances, will be met with considerable love and appreciation on my part.

    Though I carry strong feelings regarding the efficacy of my own religious views and practices, I would feel a deep sense of love and gratitude for any group who cared enough about my deceased Grandfather to perform such a kindly act, which, according to their belief system, could benefit him if he so desires.

    Sincerely,

    --David Bokovoy

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  51. Daniel Peterson said:

    "Intelligent discussion of this topic is possible, and I can promise that most if not all believing Mormons will listen carefully and with considerable sympathy to Jewish concerns."

    Daniel Peterson, in this same thread, said:

    "Helen Radkey hates my Church, and is always seeking to do it damage."

    And:

    "I might add that some of the folks appearing above are known to me as vitriolic (and even somewhat obsessive) critics of my faith. They have no demonstrated sympathy for Judaism and, in fact, I rather suspect that one or two (at least), if prodded, would reveal the same contempt for Judaism and believing Jews that they exhibit for Mormonism and believing Mormons."

    And:

    "I have not sought to personalize this "conversation," although I know the names and identities of at least two of those who have been posting here besides myself (and the employer of one of them)."

    No, you never tried to personalize the conversation. No, no, of course not. Up is down. White is black. A tapir is a horse. A cumom is an elephant. Baptism for the dead is just mumbo-jumbo (but essential for everyone's salvation). Brother Peterson, I think you somehow disembarked before your train reached its intended destination: Wonderland.

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  52. Gary Woller3:59 PM

    I think what Daniel Peterson appears to have a difficult time grasping is the principle that people find it offensive and dishonorable to the dead (to their memory, to their heritage, to their person, etc.) to induct them post-mortem into an organization that they would have rejected in life, or in many cases, that they would have found morally objectionable in life. What stands out in his comments is the lack of empathy, and moreover, a lack of effort toward empathy. The question is not whether Peterson, or the Mormon Church, finds necro-baptisms objectionable, it is whether those being so baptized would have found it objectionable and whether those left to carry on their legacy and memory find it objectionable. That should be the standard in question, not whether this comports with Mormonism's own idiosyncratic ethos (typically limited to what benefits the well-being of the institution).

    Peterson says he wants constructive dialogue, but such dialogue is not possible without a good-will demonstration that Peterson acknowledges and accepts the specific objections by the Jewish community and the basis for those objections. I do not see this. Nor do I see this in the LDS Church policy response to Jewish objections. Instead, what I see is a pragmatic concession to public pressure and a clear sense that absent such public pressure, LDS policy would not change one iota. Peterson and the LDS Church appear to see no ethical implications in this practice, only the practical implications for bad PR should it not respond to the public pressure.

    If they did see the ethical implications, they would be less willing to necro-baptize every and all names it can get a hold of, regardless of the beliefs, values, and such that defined the person in life. The concerns raised by the Jews could just as easily be raised by any group or any person using the same or similar rationales. That the Mormon Church makes no distinction in baptising them suggests that it considers such ethical questions immaterial, whereas many of us believe that they are if fact material.

    So, in the spirit of dialogue, I'll ask Dr. Peterson to articulate what he sees the ethical issues at stake including his specific response to the clearly stated objections of the Jewish Community and the rationales underlying them, as well as the general implications for this extended to all other groups or persons.

    That said, here are a couple of related comments.

    First, it will help Dr. Peterson if you cease and desist from playing the "bitter apostate" card. If you are sincere in your desire not to personalize this debate, it will help if your actions are consistent with your words. Implying that former Mormons are bitter (and therefore less than rational) detracts from the credibility of your appeals for reasoned dialogue.

    Second, while true that the dead technically have a choice to accept or reject Mormonism, it helps to understand that Mormon doctrine holds that those who did not accept the Mormon Church in this life spend time between death and resurrection in a "spirit prison" where they are administered to by Mormon missionaries. Presumably, Mormonism will be the only officially endorsed religion in the hereafter, so it is not as if the dead will have a smorgasbord of choices. They will surely understand that if they don't accept Mormonism, it will not go well for them in the eternities. So, assuming Simon Wiesenthal has been visited by now by Mormon missionaries in spirit prison, he will see the writing on the wall, and Mormons will by and large assume he will accept it. So while technically he has a choice, in practice, he really doesn't have much of one (unless he willfully and knowingly rejects God and his eternal truth, knowing that the result will be eternal condemnation).

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  53. Anonymous3:59 PM

    I have read all of the posts on this issue and I am aghast. All I can say is Dr. Peterson is very lucky that Concentration Camps are currently out of fashion. I fear the current posters would gladly intern Dr. Peterson along with all other Mormons.

    How quickly we forget.

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  54. Anonymous4:06 PM

    It would be interesting to know how many of those posting such angry notes here are actually Jewish. (I happen to know that several of them are ex-Mormons, brimming with the bitterness that tends to characterize apostates of all types, who actively post on a message board for angry former Mormons; if they have any kind of Jewish background, I'm unaware of it.)
    Wow. Your posts seem just as "angry" or "bitter" as theirs. Does repeating your pronounced adjectives for their unsubstantiated feelings make you feel better? I hope so. Quit acting like a jackass.

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  55. Anonymous4:20 PM

    The only way for you evil ex-mormons to get into heaven now is by blood atonement. Golly we just want the Jews to get into the Celestial Kingdom like all of us. We are the only true church on the face of the earth. No other religion has had the holy priesthood given to them from angels to Joseph Smith to authorize others into entering the highest level of heaven. Just because you anti-mormon/ex-mormons will never go to heaven as sons of perdition, doesn't mean you should try to keep our Jewish brethren from achieving eternal glory at the right hand of God & Christ.
    Those who leave the church can never leave it alone! Please nevermind ex-mormons. They are under Satan's power for not living up to every promise they made in the temple.

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  56. Anonymous4:37 PM

    It took me more than 30 minutes to read this thread. Can't imagine how long it took all you folks to write this crap. Get a life! No wonder the productivity of the American worker is so low.

    65,000 children starved to death today. Don't you people have anything better to do than bash eachother?

    Idiots.

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  57. Anonymous6:04 PM

    Daniel Peterson, answer two questions:

    1. Does not your 11th Article of Faith say, in short, "We're entitled to worship the way we choose, and so are you"?
    2. Did not the mormon church agree to stop and reverse the baptisms of Jews who either died during the Holocaust or are survivors who died afterwards?

    These should be fairly simple to answer with one word each: YES or NO.

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  58. Anonymous6:47 PM

    One has to be little to belittle.

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  59. Anonymous7:15 PM

    By Rabbi Shmuley Boteach

    Jewish officialdom is up in arms, the Mormon Church is on the defensive and frankly I don't give a damn. I refer of course to the controversial Mormon practice of baptizing deceased non-Mormons into their faith. In 1995, the Mormon Church agreed to stop posthumously baptizing dead Jews. But according to Ernest Michel, a former executive vice president of UJA-Federation of New York who helped broker the 1995 agreement, the church has rebuffed attempts to remove Jewish names from its database of 400 million and has violated the agreement.
    That may be so. But what a waste of time for everybody involved. It seems incredible that at a time when more Jewish civilians are dying that at any time since the Holocaust, and with the Jewish community in general and the state of Israel in particular needing all the allies they can get, we would waste our time with such trivialities.
    I could not care less if the Mormons baptize me after I'm dead. It won't affect me. I'll always be a Jew, in this life and the next. If this is part of Mormon practice and belief, and they do it in the privacy of their own ritual, and it doesn't affect me in the slightest, why should I care? People's beliefs are their own business. It's how they treat others that is everyone's business. What I care about is how much the Mormons support Israel today, not what they do with Jewish souls in what they regard as the afterlife. Far from being my sentiment alone, this is a pivotal Jewish teaching: It is the action (and not dogma) which is most important.
    In my first few years as rabbi at Oxford University, I befriended a doctoral student by the name of Michael Taft Benson, whose grandfather, Ezra Taft Benson, was president and prophet of the Mormon Church at the time. Not only did Mike become and remain one of my dearest friends, he served as vice president of my L'Chaim Society and regularly brought groups of hundreds of Mormon students to our Sabbath dinners to learn more about Judaism. A great lover of Israel who has visited there more than 10 times, Mike chose to write his doctoral thesis on Harry Truman's support for the creation of the Jewish state. Through Mike, I was granted a meeting with the current president and prophet of the Mormon Church, Gordon B. Hinckley, who is Mike's grandfather-in-law. We spoke about Israel, his admiration for the Jewish people, and the Mormon dedication to Israel's prosperity and survival. I am regularly invited to address Mormon audiences in Utah who thirst for knowledge of all things Jewish and who treat me like a wise elder brother. Mike even arranged for me to launch my book "Judaism for Everyone" at the University of Utah, and he and I are currently planning a Jewish studies center for Snow College, where Mike serves as president. After meeting with Jonathan Pollard at federal prison in Butner, N.C., it was Mike whom I called to ask for his support in meeting the two Utah senators on Pollard's behalf. He quickly arranged for me and Esther Pollard to meet with Sens. Hatch and Bennett of Utah, who received us most graciously.
    The Mormons are our brothers; the Christians are our kin. So long as they support and defend the Jewish people through their current persecution, that will always be so, whatever their beliefs, and we owe them our gratitude.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the author of 14 books, including "Private Adam: Becoming a Hero in a Selfish Age."

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  60. Jim Huston7:35 PM

    Danny,

    So are we. You have a sense of humor with regard to your acedemic achievement. My wife is faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her father was a professor of Victorian Literature at both US and UK universities. I have reviewed the history of publications and your peer review in your field and found it greatly lacking. I am happy for you that BYU is so understanding. The US welfare system only allows 5 years of non-activity. BYU evidently has no limit. From what I can find you have recently released one book which is a review of literature with no new research. There is nothing significant for years prior to this. There is also no significant peer review. You have however released a number of non-related apologetic documents. my spouse on the other hand is expected to do regular peer review, participate in writing grants and write authoritative papers in her field. She is spending the Christmas holiday writing grants to support her department. How much time do you spend on that? I can't see that you spend much time.

    This has nothing to do with the topic at hand. This has nothing to do with the Mormon lack of respect for other cultures and people. This has only to do with your incredible bias twords the defense of Mormon practices, no matter how disgusting and offensive the practices are.

    It is nice to see the Mormon Church is supporting you in such a fashion. I guess that this would be considered acedemic welfare.

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  61. I apologize if I put words into your mouth, Dr. Peterson. Do you mean to argue that there is nothing to worry about proxy if one only understands proxy baptisms properly?

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  62. By reading this comment you have now been given a baptism of spirit into the new faith of The Church of Those Who Have Read the Writing of Tsuzuki. The . is our sacred symbol. Use it at the end of every sentence.

    Now, do you feel violated yet?

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  63. Anonymous1:47 AM

    Thanks to reading Dan Peterson's bigotted comments about Jews, I have cancelled my baptism and put a restraining order against the LDS members in my area. I also want to make it clear that my Catholic ancestors are NOT to be dunked, and if I find out people desecrated their memory, I will sue.

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  64. Jim Huston6:40 AM

    Danny;
    We are happy you are on this thread as well. You have a sense of humor with regard to your academic achievement. My wife is faculty at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her father was a professor of Victorian Literature. I have reviewed the history of publications and your peer review in your field and found it greatly lacking. I am happy for you that BYU is so understanding. The US welfare system only allows 5 years of non-activity. BYU evidently has no limit. From what I can find you have recently released one book which is a review of literature with no new research. There is nothing significant for years prior to this. There is also no significant peer review. You have however released a number of non-related apologetic documents. My spouse on the other hand is expected to do regular peer review, participate in writing grants and write authoritative papers in her field. She is spending the Christmas holiday writing grants to support her department. How much time do you spend on that? I can't see that you spend much time.

    This has nothing to do with the topic at hand. This has nothing to do with the Mormon lack of respect for other cultures and people. This has only to do with your incredible bias towards the defense of Mormon practices, no matter how disgusting and offensive the practices are.

    It is nice to see the Mormon Church is supporting you in such a fashion. I guess that this would be considered academic welfare.

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  65. Anonymous8:17 AM

    Can the Mormon church please explain why it CONTINUES to baptize Jews and non-Mormons after death, after they have been asked and TOLD repeatedly not to do it? They have been told repeatedly that it is deemed disrespectful to both the dead, and the family and loved ones who remain in this life! Reading through this thread, I keep seeing the practice excused and downplayed, yet the bottom line is the Mormon church has been told repeatedly to cease and desist. What part of STOP are they not getting? To say the main Church does not have knowledge of all baptisms for the dead is a poor excuse, since every member of the church should be well aware of the 1995 agreement.

    For the record, I am Catholic (yeah, the Great Abominable, Whore of All the Earth Church) and I find the Mormon practice of baptizing the dead to be both disgusting and disrespectful to the dead. To compare the ceremony involved with such baptisms to say, lighting a candle in a dead person's name, is utterly silly. There is NO comparison, and I know of no other religion that has the audacity to baptize non-members and add their names to the books. These necro-baptisms may be meaningless as far as what other religions believe, but they are still disrespectful on a symbolic and spiritual level. I know that Pope John Paul II was baptized by the Mormons, and the Catholic Church was polite about it, but that doesn't make it okay that it was done. Most Catholics have little knowledge about what the Mormon Church really is, or what it does, so we are able to dismiss their silly rituals, but that doesn't mean we appreciate our Pope (or any of our people) being added to the Mormon lists of post-death converts.

    Again, if the Mormon church has been told repeatedly to leave the Jewish dead alone, why are they continuing their offensive baptisms? How offensive to claim the Jews (or anyone) NEEDS the Mormon Church to be acceptable to G_d and His eternal blessings? It is plain and simple, a sacrilege to continue to do these baptisms. We should all be allowed our own beliefs in life, AND in death. To assume otherwise is offensive to the dead, the living, and to G_d.

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  66. Anonymous9:35 AM

    The Jews for thousands of years called gentiles filthy (acutally this is still prevalent Jewish thought, hence why "born Jews" ahve more rights and are accepted as fully Jewish, while converts are not), wouldn't eat with them, called themselves God's chosen people, commited unheard of slaughter of on entire populations of people. They have quite unapologetically pronounecd themsevles God's chosen, and favored before God. To them they are the only ones close to God, the only ones to receive a reward. They have no right getting al huffy over this baptism for the dead nonsense. It's no more offensive than calling yourself God's chosen people, and the gentiles filthy.

    Lighten up people, every religion thinks they're right and the others are wrong. Every religion thinks they have the "truth" and the way and others don't. The only difference here is Jews kept it to themselves while reviling those around them, and the LDS want to share it with everyone.

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  67. Anonymous10:25 AM

    "The Jews for thousands of years called gentiles filthy (acutally this is still prevalent Jewish thought, hence why "born Jews" ahve more rights and are accepted as fully Jewish, while converts are not), wouldn't eat with them, called themselves God's chosen people, commited unheard of slaughter of on entire populations of people."

    I think you should learn more history. The Jews have been a force for ethics, civilization, learning, health and hygeine for centuries while their neighbors were -- well, decidedly less prepared to live a better life. Focusing on the "Joshua option" forced upon our ancestors by the insanity surrounding them as somehow defining Jews today is unfair in the extreme. Jews are not what Joshua was apparently compelled to become.

    "They have quite unapologetically pronounecd themsevles God's chosen, and favored before God. To them they are the only ones close to God, the only ones to receive a reward."

    That's simply not true. Please provide support for such an outrageous statement, preferably from the Tanakh, Talmud or some other source that we can all agree would be authoritative.

    "They have no right getting al huffy over this baptism for the dead nonsense. It's no more offensive than calling yourself God's chosen people, and the gentiles filthy."

    While this may well be true (and I could give a crap about Mormon posthumous baptisms), you unfairly tar Jews when you make such statements. Look to your own opinion on whose views are more or less filthy.

    "Lighten up people, every religion thinks they're right and the others are wrong. Every religion thinks they have the "truth" and the way and others don't."

    Finally, something we can agree on! Thank you.

    "The only difference here is Jews kept it to themselves while reviling those around them, and the LDS want to share it with everyone."

    I shall reserve comment while I think about what exactly that just meant.

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  68. maklelan2:23 PM

    This whole discussion seems to have gotten way out of hand before certain things could be established: 1) What exactly does the 1995 agreement say, and 2) what exactly are the conditions surrounding the baptism on the alleged behalf of Mr. Wiesenthal?

    One person has offered their understanding of the content of the agreement, and it appears the LDS church has done nothing wrong. Others continue to assert that the LDS church is maliciously and intentionally violating the agreement in a desperate act of pseudo-self preservation. I can't imagine a more ridiculous statement, but why can't these people explain in exactly what way the LDS church is violating the agreement? And when they do it, it would be appreciated if they could avoid the fallacy of equating the actions of one independent member with the official actions of the president of the church.

    People keep insisting that proxy baptism in some way adds someone to the membership of the church. This is completely and totally false, and yet people continue to appeal to that same emotion.

    If a temple president came in and said all the baptisms were accepted in the spirit world then that temple president is out of his mind.

    I agree with Dr. Peterson that most of the litany being regurgitated here appears to be from non-Jewish ex-Mormons and others vehemently opposed to Mormonism in all its manifestations and wherever they can find an arena.

    My last thought is this: I'm a convert to the LDS church, and my dad is of another faith. My dad loves me a lot, and he respects my beliefs, but disagrees with a few fundamental points. If he died and a year later I decided I wanted to be baptized on his behalf I would not really be able to muster one ounce of concern for what his church thought about my decision. I feel family comes first, and so does my church. I don't condone seeking out members of the Jewish faith outside of one's family to baptize, but if my dad was Jewish would I really have someone beating down my door in the name of Judaism for being baptized on his behalf after he died?

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  69. Anonymous6:35 PM

    mr. peterson, I ask you again:

    1. Does not your 11th Article of Faith say, in short, "We're entitled to worship the way we choose, and so are you"?

    2. Did not the mormon church agree to stop and reverse the baptisms of Jews who either died during the Holocaust or are survivors who died afterwards?

    These should be fairly simple to answer with one word each: YES or NO.

    To this, I add a third question: since the mormon church said it would stop necro-baptizing Holocaust victims, and to that I include the survivors, why are your people still necro-baptizing Holocaust victim including, but not limited to, not only Simon Wiesenthal, but Anne Frank?

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  70. Biblionaut6:37 PM

    How exactly does the LDS practice of vicarious baptism for the dead “revise history?” We make no claim that the people in question ever were anything other than what they were, nor do we deny or attempt to change any part of their life experience or history. It seems to me that what is truly outrageous is comparing baptism to the dead to denial of the holocaust. Making such a comparison is defaming to the LDS religion and a gross misrepresentation of our attitudes and beliefs.

    I found it rather surprising to see our genealogical research referred to as “extreme data collection practices”--collecting the names and data regarding births, marriages, and deaths of dead people is hardly extreme. A single-paragraph biographical sketch typically contains far more data than our genealogical records ever would.

    You are right that the LDS Church has agreed to discourage baptism for the dead in behalf of Jews to whom its members are not personally related. I am LDS and can tell you that the LDS Church has upheld its agreement and made it very clear to us that we are not to do that. However, the Church cannot control the actions of each and every one of its members. What has happened here is that a person has, of his or her own accord, put in the name of Mr. Wiesenthal. That person ought not to have done it, but I can see no logical reason why the LDS Church should or could be held responsible for it—an individual Mexican illegally crossing the border does not amount to the nation of Mexico invading the United States.

    I would be very interested to see on what grounds someone might take legal action against the LDS Church in this matter. As far as I can tell, the Church has broken no law and has upheld the agreement it made to discourage vicarious baptisms in behalf of Jews. I cannot imagine a judge doing anything other than summarily dismissing the case or, at most, finding the Church to be “not guilty.”

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  71. Anonymous6:44 PM

    "Anonymous said...
    It took me more than 30 minutes to read this thread. Can't imagine how long it took all you folks to write this crap. Get a life! No wonder the productivity of the American worker is so low.

    65,000 children starved to death today. Don't you people have anything better to do than bash eachother?

    Idiots.

    3:37 PM"

    It took me awhile to read this thread as well, but I am currently off work, and wondering what the above anonymous angel did today to make sure even one person didn't starve.

    Hypocrite.

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  72. Daniel Peterson6:48 PM

    (1)

    I wish your wife all the best, Mr. Huston, with her grant proposals.

    It's true that I'm not spending much time writing such proposals at the moment, because, fortunately, my indolence is being directly supported currently not only by "academic welfare" (as you put it) from my own university but by a grant given through the Library of Congress, as well as a grant from the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Science and grants from three private U.S.-based foundations.

    I'm not sure why you think that any of this might be relevant to a discussion of vicarious baptisms performed on behalf of Jewish dead.

    (2)

    As for the rest, I see no evidence (with the exception of Marlene Bishow's opening post and one other anonymous post, immediately above as I write) that any actual Jews are paying any attention here, let alone participating in this discussion, but I can't imagine that they would find much to interest them in discussions of my deplorable character or, even, of my idiotic religious beliefs.

    I'm sorry that my presence here seems to have attracted the people that it did. No Jews or Jewish genealogists deserved to be exposed to this display.

    (3)

    If any Jews are actually reading this, though, I hope that they won't assume that all of the posts above that seem to be coming from believing Mormons actually are from believing Mormons. Nothing would be easier for an anonymous person seeking to make Mormons look bad than to post a transparently over-the-top comment. Skimming hastily through the posts above -- much of what I see doesn't appear to be worth careful reading -- I suspect that at least one or two come from fairly unsubtle and unsophisticated agents provocateurs who want to portray Mormons as anti-Jewish. But who knows?

    Best wishes to all.

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  73. Anonymous10:11 PM

    if an ansistor would like to put there relitive on the list it is not anybodies place to be offended, i find that people that are offending are often a cult member...

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  74. In the hopes of promoting understanding, I’ll speak personally and state that I’ve really missed my recently deceased Grandfather during this holiday season.

    David,

    I can appreciate these heartstring moments toward a deceased grandparent, a loved one passed. I am not Catholic but this morning I light a candle intending sending warmth your way. And to your Grandfather, should that be possible.

    Willing peace to you and yours, fellow traveller,

    Deb

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  75. Anonymous1:34 PM

    Perhaps Peterson's underlying hostility to Jewish people can be explained by this teaching from early Mormon leader and prophet Brigham Young:




    In the Journal of Discourses the following statement by Brigham Young concerning the Jewish people is recorded:

    ". . . You may break their iron bands, and set them at liberty, and but few of them will receive the Gospel.

    Why is this? Because their fathers heard the Gospel, and most of them rejected it; and the curse of the Almighty is upon them, and upon their posterity until they have wrought out their salvation by suffering; for the last shall be first, and the first shall be last. A nation which has had the privilege of receiving the everlasting covenant, and has rejected it, will be saved in the kingdom of God, but it will be among the very last which will receive the Gospel. Perhaps you will marvel at this. It is no marvel to me, because I perceive natural principles and sound reason for all these providences of the Almighty. All His providences to His people upon the face of the whole earth, are perfectly philosophical. Then recollect, there is a chance for all who are honest in heart. What shall we do with those who are dishonest? Let them remain with the good until the time comes to cast them away, and gather out the good.

    We might say much on this point, showing you why things are as they are concerning the inhabitants of the earth receiving or rejecting the Gospel. Do you suppose they believe in Jesus Christ at Jerusalem? Can you make a Christian of a Jew? I tell you, nay. If a Jew comes in to this Church, and honestly professes to be a Saint, a follower of Christ, and if the blood of Judah is in his veins, he will apostatize. He may have been born and bred a Jew, have the face of a Jew, speak the language of the Jews, and have attended to all the ceremonies of the Jewish religion, and have openly professed to be a Jew all his days; but I will tell you a secret--there is not a particle of the blood of Judaism in him, if he has become a true Christian, a Saint of God; for if there is, he will most assuredly leave the Church of Christ, or that blood will be purged out of his veins. We have men among us who were Jews, and became converted from Judaism. For instance, here is brother Neibaur; do I believe there is one particle of the blood of Judah in his veins? No, not so much as could be seen on the point of the finest cambric needle, through a microscope with a magnifying power of two millions. This is a secret that you will perhaps find out, in a coming day, to your satisfaction. The Lord knew how to preach to the Jews, and told them what the truth was. You may as well undertake to command the most degraded of these Indian tribes, and give them arms and accoutrements, and try to put them through the regular military exercise, as to preach to the Jews to make them believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Jerusalem is not to be redeemed by the soft still voice of the preacher of the Gospel of peace. Why? Because they were once the blessed of the Lord, the chosen of the Lord, the promised seed. They were the people from among whom should spring the Messiah; and salvation could be found only through that tribe. The Messiah came through them, and they killed him; and they will be the last of all the seed of Abraham to have the privilege of receiving the New and Everlasting Covenant."

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  76. This discussion has caused quite a stir on numerous message forums, so I thought I would take a peek and see what all the fuss is about. For those who know me, I have been an open critic of many of the things Professor Peterson has said and done in the past, particularly on Islam related issues.

    However after reading through all of these posts I can honestly say that Dan is undeserving of the tremendous amount of disdain that has been exhibited here. Dan may be a lot of things but I do not believe he is dishonest.

    It seems clear to me that much of the fuss here is based on a misunderstanding of the proxy baptisms in the LDS Church. Having this ordinance done posthumously doesn’t mean a name has just been added to the Church rolls. It doesn’t mean the Church believes that is one more person who is a “Mormon” in the hereafter.

    The purpose of this ordinance is to merely open a door for someone. It is ultimately up to that person, dead or alive, to walk through it. Latter-day Saints believe that eventually everyone who has ever lived will have this ordinance performed on their behalf. According to LDS belief, the brunt of this work will be taking place after Christ returns.

    Mormons are also encouraged to research their family genealogy and perform work for their own descendants. Naturally this will include people who were Jews. To demand that the Church completely overhaul its system to accommodate those who seem to be doing little more than projecting their own animus towards the LDS faith onto their deceased loved ones…

    Well, shouldn’t we at least try to understand what it is that has caused some to freak out? Nobody is being added to Church rolls. None of these deceased persons are considered “Mormon” by anyone – you certainly don’t see LDS claiming Hitler is a born-again Mormon.

    Anyway, I just wanted to drop in say that I think this argument is silly, and Dan is getting a bum rap.

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  77. Anonymous8:36 AM

    Thank you Deb.

    Posts such as yours and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s have provided an important foil for the religious animosity witnessed throughout this thread.

    As has been emphasized, Latter-day Saints reading the blogg should not assume that the anger directed towards them throughout the thread derives from the Jewish community.

    Given my background, many of my closest friends are now Jewish. As an instructor and TA at Brandeis, I have taught several classes with Israeli students. These people represent some of the finest individuals I have ever known.

    I hold a deep personal respect for all of my Jewish professors.

    In all sincerity, one would be hard pressed to find anyone with a greater love and admiration for the Jewish community than this Latter-day Saint.

    Peace and Happiness to All,

    --DB

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  78. Gary Wolller9:19 AM

    This discussion has gone in many different directions, but I have yet to see Dr. Peterson address the critical question related to the appropriateness of baptizing deceased persons into an alien religion, one which in life they almost certainly would have rejected and in many cases found morally objectionable.

    No one, I think, disputes the argument that such an act does no "real harm." After all, the person is dead and quite beyond any feeling on the issue. But then this same argument could be applied to all sorts of acts committed on dead persons. For example, grave robbing for medical study (a common practice in years past) inflicts no harm on the dead, yet nonetheless has traditionally invoked much public outcry, in part for similar reasons regarding dishonoring of the dead and emotional distress imposed on living loved ones.

    This is perhaps an extreme example. As has been pointed out, baptism for the dead is largely symbolic, yet this does not mitigate the real emotions felt by those left behind. (Anyone who is even remotely aware of the world around him/her is cognizant of the extreme potency of symbolism in how we understand, shape, and react to the world. Try burning a US flag at a Legionnaire's rally while arguing that it is a symbolic act imposes no real harm on anyone, and thus they should not get upset by it.)

    One can easily find or imagine other examples of acts, physical or symbolic, done to the dead invoke moral outrage. Thus, the argument by itself that necro-baptisms are OK "because the dead do not know better anyway" is a morally vacuous one.

    I am one of the ex-Mormons Peterson refers to. (Actually, I am still officially member but is a committed non-believer. No doubt Peterson considers me among the “bitter” apostates, as he does most all ex-believers who now take moral or other exception to Mormonism. Also, the implied suggestion continuously bandied about by Dr. Peterson that ex-believers are, naturally, unreliable is ridiculous on its face.) Yet, having spent nearly 40 years in believing activity in the Mormon Church, I am as well-qualified as Peterson, or others, to comment on it. This issue matters enough to me that I have placed explicit instructions in my will that I am not to be buried in my temple clothes nor is anyone to perform any post-death Mormon rites on my behalf. (I intend to resign my membership in the near future.) I feel passionately that to cloak me in death in the vestments (physical or symbolic) of a religion and belief system I rejected so thoroughly in life dishonors me as a person and dishonors my memory by portraying me as something I was not. It is easy, therefore, for me to imagine that others might feel the same way about themselves and their loved ones. Empathy, perhaps, comes easier to those on the outside looking in than on those comfortably ensconced on the inside. (My experience of 40+ years in Mormonism has taught me that empathy is not, very generally speaking, one of Mormonism's strong points. Almost everything is filtered through a very narrow, self interested lens of Mormon dogma and culture.)

    As to Peterson's repeated emphasis on the paucity of Jewish responses to this thread, this is a red herring. One need not be Jewish to feel offense at this practice (just as one need not be black to feel offense at racism). I imagine that some Jews will be offended; others not offended, for mixed reasons. What should happen in this case is an open, honest dialogue about the practice and why people feel the way they do and the relative moral weight of the different feelings and perceptions. Yet, Mormonism (and Peterson) has no interest in a real dialogue of this nature. It will do what it wants to do, make strategic retreats when adverse public attention merits it, but will not once stop to seriously reflect on issues at stake. Believing that one speaks and acts for God is a powerful deterrent to critical self-reflection.

    Finally, to re-emphasize, baptisms for the dead do not imply that the beneficiary is "Mormon" per se. He/she is not added to the roles of the Church. Nonetheless, it is largely assumed within the Church that those receiving these rights will accept them (and as I pointed out in an earlier post, will have little practical choice but to accept them, given that Mormonism will be the only officially endorsed religion--being preached by direct representatives of God--in the hereafter with the implications for rejection well-known). Wiesenthal may not be counted a Mormon on the Church's temporal roles, but he is all but considered a Mormon on the Church's eternal roles.

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  79. Anonymous11:01 AM

    "Thanks to reading Dan Peterson's bigotted comments about Jews, I have cancelled my baptism and put a restraining order against the LDS members in my area. I also want to make it clear that my Catholic ancestors are NOT to be dunked, and if I find out people desecrated their memory, I will sue."

    What a crank. This anti-mormonism stinks just as bad as antisemitism anyday.

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  80. Daniel Peterson12:19 PM

    My "underlying hostility to Jewish people"?

    Good grief.

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  81. Anonymous8:36 PM

    "Perhaps Peterson's underlying hostility to Jewish people can be explained by this teaching from early Mormon leader and prophet Brigham Young"

    How dare you slander a man of whom I myself have heard the Jewish Rabbi of the Salt Lake City congregation Kol Ami praise as an individual whose feelings of brotherly kindness towards Jews allowed in 1873 for the formation of the first formal Jewish congregation in Utah, even when Jews struggled with anti-Semitic agendas witnessed throughout most of the United States.

    The quote in question of course simply reflects Brigham Young’s 19th century opinion that based upon the scriptural grounds that "the first shall be last, and the last shall be first,” the conversion of the Jewish nation would not occur before Christ's second coming. I can assure you that as a 19th century Christian, Brigham was not alone in this opinion.

    To paint Brigham Young as an anti-Semite, however, based upon his interpretation of this New Testament passage is a gross act of intentional slander.

    When it comes to Brigham Young’s interactions with the Jewish community, one should note that whereas Jews often suffered from anti-Semitic actions throughout most of the United States, the Hebrew Benevolent Society was formed in Utah in 1864.

    The group held religious services in the LDS Masonic Hall in the spring of 1866. The year 1866 also marks the date for the first Salt Lake cemetery deeded to the Jewish community by Brigham Young.

    Also, in 1867, Jews observed High Holyday (Rosh Hashonah [New Year] and Yom Kippur) in the Seventies Hall at the special invitation of President Young.

    Brigham Young was a Christian man of the 19th century, but like his LDS contemporary Orson Hyde for whom the State of Israel has erected a monument, Brigham held the Jews in high regard.

    --David Bokovoy

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  82. Anonymous12:14 PM

    Thanks a lot for what You are doing!Information, that I managed to find here
    is extremely useful and essential for me!With the best regards!
    David

    ReplyDelete
  83. Member of Peterson's ward12:29 PM

    Baptisms and temple work for the dead conducted by mormons in their temples serve one purpose and one purpose only.

    To keep the tithing dollars rolling in.

    Mormons are not allowed to go to their own temple unless they maintain a yearly tithe of 10% on their annual income.

    Further, mormons are told that they are required to spend time in the temple doing these posthumous works for the dead. Additionally, their children are expected to be inducted into the fold of temple mormons and be married in the temple. The only way for parents to actually attend their son or daughter's wedding is to be an active member who is a 10% tithe payer.

    So there you have it, mormons are told that temple works for the dead is required for their own salvation, but they must pay 10% of their annual income FIRST.

    The holocaust list was low hanging fruit for the name harvesters that work for the mormon church, whose job it is to keep new name flowing in to keep up the charade of "there is much work for the dead that requires your service(and tithing)"

    Dan Peterson has too much at stake to admit the whole thing is abased on perpetuated fraud. His job, his wife and three sons who will be required to serve mormon missions. He has defended the mormon church for much of his life and for him to publically deny mormon theology would an admission of a life wasted.

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  84. Daniel Peterson12:26 PM

    I suppose that some clarifications might help anybody who happens to be looking in on this "discussion":

    (1) My job doesn't depend upon my defending the Church. Not a dime of my salary -- the "academic welfare" to which Mr. Jim Huston likes to refer -- comes from defending the Church. If I never wrote a line on any Mormon topic, my job would be completely unaffected.

    (2) I don't consider all unbelievers or even critics "bitter," and I've never said that I do. In this context, I was referring to some of the folks who have appeared here on this thread to (quite irrelevantly) criticize me and badmouth Mormonism in general. (I think their bitterness and anger are quite obvious.) The topic of this thread was, and should be, the question of posthumous baptisms on behalf of Jewish dead, and particularly on behalf of those who suffered in Nazi concentration camps. That I'm a shameless mercenary hack, a pathetic excuse for a scholar, a wildly dishonest cultist, a useless drone, and just generally contemptible is all, no doubt, very interesting, but not clearly relevant to the actual question at issue here.

    (3) With respect to "baptizing deceased persons into an alien religion, one which in life they almost certainly would have rejected and in many cases found morally objectionable," Latter-day Saints actually don't believe it possible to baptize a deceased person into an alien religion (or any other religion) against his or her will. A vicarious baptism can be offered to such a person, but that person retains, and will always retain, full agency to accept or reject the offer.

    (4) However stupidly and absurdly, Mormons do not agree that "the person is dead and quite beyond any feeling on the issue." That is why, if the hypothetical deceased person continues to reject Mormonism and perhaps even to find it "morally objectionable," he or she can refuse the offer of baptism, just as he or she did in life. Since, however, we are foolish enough to believe that life and freedom continue beyond the grave, we cannot know what attitudes a deceased person may now entertain. Hence, we have seen it as our mission to offer vicarious baptism to all, without exception.

    (5) That said, both the leaders of the Church and its general membership are eager to establish and maintain good relations with the Jewish community (as with other communities), and, I'm confident, will do what we can (without fatally compromising our own most sacred beliefs and commitments) in order to avoid causing pain or giving offense.

    Best wishes to all. I hope that everyone is having a pleasant holiday season. (I have been.)

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  85. Anonymous1:16 PM

    To David Bokovoy:

    you say, and I quote:

    "In reality, Latter-day Saints do not baptize the dead—we are baptized for and in behalf of the deceased.

    From our perspective, the ritual performance only holds validity if the person at some point chooses of his or her own free will to accept the gift. "

    The truth is, the fact that you even do the baptism, knowing that the dead person is unable to accept or reject the gift, is anathema. A dead person is just that: dead. How dare you even begin to think that a person who lived as a Jew, suffered as a Jew and died as a Jew would want to be anything but a Jew?

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  86. Anonymous1:24 PM

    Mr. Peterson, you say, and I quote:

    "And we are anything but anti-Semites or Jew-haters."

    If that was the case, then you wouldn't be saying that Jews are unworthy of getting into heaven, since we have already been promised that, and you wouldn't be necrobaptizing Jews who have died. Simon Wiesenthal is the just latest example of the mormon cult being caught in its lies.

    And for a third time, I ask you the following:

    1. Does not your 11th Article of Faith say, in short, "We're entitled to worship the way we choose, and so are you"?

    2. Did not the mormon church agree to stop and reverse the baptisms of Jews who either died during the Holocaust or are survivors who died afterwards?

    3. Since the mormon church said it would stop necro-baptizing Holocaust victims, and to that I include the survivors, why are your people still necro-baptizing Holocaust victim including, but not limited to, not only Simon Wiesenthal, but Anne Frank, on several occasions?

    The first two questions should be fairly simple to answer with one word each: YES or NO. The third one should be fairly simple to answer with the truth.

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  87. Jim Huston1:43 PM

    This is something I wrote on Mormon Baptisim for the dead for another forum about 6 months ago. I am an accountant. Here is Mormon significance and Baptism fot the dead by the numbers.

    Mormon Significance
    In the world Christians are the largest group with approximately 33% of the total. This is over 2 Billion adherents. Mormonism is 12 Million if you believe their figures, and closer to 4 Million people that would consider themselves to be Mormon.

    Translating this (using 2 Billion Christians and 6 Billion world population for simplicity), at 12 million members, Mormons are .6% of Christians and .2% of the world population. That means 6 in 1,000 Christians and 2 in 1,000 thousand world population. This is considered an insignificant sample by any standards.

    If the 4 Million number is used, Mormons are .2% of Chrisitans and .067% of the world population. This means 2 in 1,000 call themselves Mormon and 6.7 in 10,000 world population.

    People in the Corridor don't seem to understand how truly insignificant they are. If we are all God's children, and the Morg really has a corner on "TRUTH" wouldn't he be trying to save more than 6.7 in 10,000?

    There are currently approximately 6.5 Billion people on the earth. There are approximately 4 Million active Mormons. Estimates of how many people have lived on the earth are around 100 Billion. There are 21 births per 1,000 population in the world. This means 136.5 Million new births per year worldwide.

    http://www.ibiblio.org/lunarbin/worldpop
    http://members.bellatlantic.net/~bjmcg/story2_peple_lived.html
    http://www.prb.org/datafind/prjprbdata/wcprbdata6.asp?DW=DR&SL=&SA=1
    http://www.math.hawaii.edu/~ramsey/People.html

    Baptism for the Dead
    If you assume half of the active members are temple recommend holders(it is not that high), and attend the temple regularly. The half is reducing the number for children, people who don’t have recommends and don’t attend the temple. The most I could see being active, recommend holding, temple going members at less than 2 Million.

    If we give them the 2 Million and assume that they each attend the temple 12 times per year, it would take 271 years to necrodunk the people living today. It would take 4,167 years to necrodunk everyone that ever lived.

    If they only try to necrodunk the people being born, or the people who die, it would take over 5.5 years for every year of births/deaths.

    Each name is necrodunked, goes through the additional steps of initiatory and endowment. Many are then sealed(Mormon marriage) to a spouse. It is not a short process.

    And – they recycle names. There have been many cases identified where the names went through the process multiple times.

    They are falling further behind every day. It is such a ludicrous task.

    There should be no excuse for including names of people and families that object. These names are easy to get, and therefore cheap. Mormonism is all about the money. Pay, Pray and Obey. They have more assets than most of the Fortune 100 corporations. As you can see from the posts, they arrogantly believe they are the most important group, having rights to do what they want in spite of the feelings of anyone else. While being disrespectful they contine to say that they are respectful and considerate of others.

    In their corporate holdings, they own or partially own TV, Radio and Newspapers across the country. They have a well paid PR department and are paying a separate PR agency. Gordon B. Hincley was the head of the Mormon PR department for about 40 years. They try very hard to keep things quiet and if they can't they try to put a positive spin when they are caught in the wrong.

    The book, "The Mormon Conspiracy" details how the Mormon Church wants to have and has influence much greater than a population of that size should have. It is one of their key priorities for the estimated 6 Billion dollars of annual donations. This does not include their vast for profit corporate earnings.

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  88. Daniel Peterson2:06 PM

    "The truth is, the fact that you even do the baptism, knowing that the dead person is unable to accept or reject the gift, is anathema. A dead person is just that: dead."

    That is your belief. It isn't ours. We believe that the dead are still actually alive. (We're not alone in this belief. Many others, including more than a few Jews, believe the same.) Thus, we believe that dead persons are indeed capable of either accepting or rejecting the gift.

    It makes little sense to expect us to act on the basis of your assumptions rather than our own.

    Again, though, I have to say that, for at least a few of us no doubt benighted souls, it's a little bit difficult to see how anybody is injured (particularly if the dead are, as you say, truly dead) if, in the privacy of a Mormon temple, somebody is immersed in water while a very brief formula is recited that includes the name of a dead person.

    I realize that there are people who say that this offends them deeply, and I have no reason to doubt their word. But I do find the reaction just a bit puzzling.

    How dare you even begin to think that a person who lived as a Jew, suffered as a Jew and died as a Jew would want to be anything but a Jew?

    We have no interest in taking away anyone's Jewishness. (This would be a very interesting topic to discuss, but, presumably, not here, and certainly not with angry ex-Mormons and anti-Mormons rather than with actual Jews.) Nor do we believe in stripping anybody, Jewish or otherwise, of the agency to choose. The decision to accept or reject is the individual's. It isn't mine, and it isn't yours.

    The 11th Article of Faith of my church does indeed say, effectively, that we're entitled to worship the way we choose, and so are you.

    It is not my understanding (though I'm prepared to have it demonstrated otherwise, on the basis of the text of the agreement) that my church agreed to stop and reverse the baptisms of Jews who either died during the Holocaust or are survivors who died afterwards. We have members of our church who are related to Holocaust victims and Holocaust survivors, for instance, and I do not believe that we ever agreed to hinder their right to perform religious rituals on behalf of their family members. The agreement was, as I understand it, considerably more limited than that.

    The leaders of my Church have made efforts to meet the concerns of some in the Jewish community regarding this issue. I believe, knowing them and based upon what I've read, that those efforts (perhaps imperfect) have been made in good faith. I'm aware of nothing to indicate that the Church has deliberately violated its agreements in this matter, nor even, really, of any actual evidence that the Church has inadvertently violated its agreements.

    When I said in my opening post on this thread that Jews are indeed unworthy of getting into heaven on their own, I was simply (if perhaps a bit flippantly) offering a specific application of my Christian faith, which, in this regard, is very mainstream, and which is that nobody (including Buddhists, Muslims, agnostics, Catholics, Mormons, and Jains, and emphatically including myself) is worthy of entering heaven on his or her own. I think it quite absurd to suggest that affirming Christianity, as such, is an intrinsically anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish act. (I will not for a moment deny, of course, that Christians have been guilty of many such acts, but simply being a Christian is not one of them.) Jews are, of course, entirely free to reject Christianity and to deny the notion of Jesus as Savior. But they should not demand that I do so, any more than I should demand they they accept my beliefs.

    Incidentally, I think the use of such terms by some posters here as necro-dunking is significant. Such demeaning language is characteristic of internet diatribes from certain fairly bitter ex- and anti-Mormons, but I doubt that it has much currency among Jews (who, I hope and trust, understand that contemptuous rhetoric is, to say the best of it, unhelpful in interfaith discussions). I came across a reference, the other day, to the consecrated wafer in the Roman Catholic mass as a "religious snack." Such language, I think, speaks volumes about how those who use it should be regarded. (And, once again, I'm confident that Jewish readers here will be well aware how such rhetorical practices can be turned against their religion and culture. I doubt that many of those who have mobilized themselves here to malign Mormonism do so out of any concern or respect for Judaism.)

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  89. Jim Huston2:32 PM

    Here you go Danny;

    I know you are well aware of the text of the agreement. It is really quite disingenuous to claim you are not. The agreement is well known and as a professional apologist, it would be something you would be familiar with. Is this a case of "lying for the Lord"


    April 28, 1995
    News Release -- Salt Lake City, Utah and New York, New York
    Joint News Release by The Church of The Latter-day Saints and The American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors

    The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints and the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors have reached an agreement over the issue of the posthumous baptisms of Jewish Holocaust victims by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The final agreement will be signed at the New York Office of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on Wednesday, May 3, 1995, at which time a press conference will be held by the leaders of both groups.

    "The issue came to the attention of the Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors as a result of an article in a Jewish newspaper which stated, correctly that a Jewish Holocaust victim who was killed in Gurs (France) concentration camp was posthumously baptized by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," said Ernest Michel, Chairman of the World Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and an authorized representative of the American Gathering.

    As a result of this article, Mr. Michel in behalf of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, initiated discussions with the Church which extended over a period of several months.

    "From the very beginning these discussions were conducted in a positive and friendly manner," Michel said. "They concluded in today's agreement between the Church and the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors," he added.

    In a statement issue today, the Church agreed, among other actions to be taken, to remove from the next issue of its International Genealogical Index the names of all known Jewish Holocaust victims who are not ancestors of living members of the Church. The American Gathering agreed to communicate with and inform major Jewish organizations as to its agreement with the Church. Four other major Jewish organizations have also approved this agreement.

    "For more than a century the First Presidency of the Church has taught that members of the Church have a solemn responsibility to identify their deceased forebears and to provide temple ordinances for them regardless of ethnic background or origin," said Elder Monte J. Brough of the Church's Presidency of the Seventy and executive director of its Family History Department.

    "However, in violation of Church policy, lists of Jewish Holocaust victims and other non-related groups and individuals have been submitted for temple ordinances. The First Presidency directed in March 1991 that temple ordinances for Jewish Holocaust victims be discontinued," Elder Brough said.

    "Unfortunately, subsequent submissions of lists of Jewish Holocaust victims were made by certain individuals and posthumous baptisms in contravention of Church policy occurred," he added.

    As a consequence of these discussions and the First Presidency's directive, the Church has agreed to:

    Remove from the next issue of the International Genealogical Index the names of all known posthumous baptized Jewish Holocaust victims who are not direct ancestors of living members of the Church.

    Provide a list of all Jewish Holocaust victims whose names are to be removed from the International Genealogical Index to the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Commission, the N.Y. Holocaust Memorial Commission, the Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles and Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, Israel, and confirm in writing when removal of such names has been completed.

    Reaffirm the policy and issue a directive to all officials and members of the Church to discontinue any future baptisms of deceased Jews, including all lists of Jewish Holocaust victims who are known Jews, except if they were direct ancestors of living members of the Church or the Church had the written approval of all living members of the deceased's immediate family.

    Confirm this policy in all relevant literature produced by the Church.

    Remove from the International Genealogical Index in the future the names of all deceased Jews who are so identified if they are known to be improperly included counter to Church policy.

    Release to the American Gathering The First Presidency's 1995 directive.

    The First Presidency reaffirmed that the Church, in accordance with past policy, will continue to make its family history records available to the public regardless of religious or ethnic affiliation.

    Also from NPR
    Morning Edition, April 12, 2005
    · The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints makes another attempt to address concerns of Jewish groups who complain that Holocaust victims are showing up on Mormon baptism rolls. Mormons believe that after death, baptisms save souls. Ten years ago, Mormon leaders agreed to try to stop this practice. Now, they vow to try again.

    From Tracing the Tribe
    This is not only a violation of the 1995 agreement between Mormons and Jews, claims Radkey, “because Wiesenthal would not have direct family ties with any Mormon, but it is an appalling indignity towards him, his family; the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Jewish Holocaust survivors and the memory of all Jewish Holocaust victims.”
    http://tracingthetribe.blogspot.com/2006/12/anger-over-baptism-of-simon-wiesenthal.html

    CNN December 11, 2002
    SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (AP)

    -- Mormon and Jewish leaders met Tuesday in New York City to discuss the Mormon church's apparent breach of its agreement not to posthumously baptize Holocaust victims and other deceased Jews.

    Salt Lake Tribune Oct 9, 1999
    Four years after the LDS Church agreed to stop posthumous baptisms for Jewish Holocaust victims, ( more ) perhaps the best - known of death camp martyrs -- Anne Frank and members of her family -- continue to pop up in Mormon temple and genealogical records.

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  90. Jim Huston3:01 PM

    I think it is very interesting that Dr. Peterson can call foul because of my use of the term Necro-dunk. I am sure he would also be very offended by the use of Morg and Morgbot as well as the Holy House of Handshakes, but he has no problem trampling on the traditions and desires of an entire race of people.

    Danny, this is simply post-modernist interpretations, like on the FAIR board. There is no offence intended here, it is simply redefining words to mean what we want them to.

    You speak of bitterness and anti-Mormon diatrides. Again you are sinking to ad hominem. Please address where we have mis-stated facts. My last point was exactly what you asked for. I think the following selection is pretty clear:

    Reaffirm the policy and issue a directive to all officials and members of the Church to discontinue any future baptisms of deceased Jews, including all lists of Jewish Holocaust victims who are known Jews, except if they were direct ancestors of living members of the Church or the Church had the written approval of all living members of the deceased's immediate family.

    Do you have a comment on these quotes?

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  91. Daniel Peterson3:42 PM

    Dear Mr. Huston:

    I expect that others will be as impressed as I am that you continually refer to me as "Danny" and that you habitually suggest that I'm a liar. You're correct that I find name-calling unproductive and, generally, juvenile.

    Mr. Huston: I know you are well aware of the text of the agreement. It is really quite disingenuous to claim you are not. The agreement is well known and as a professional apologist, it would be something you would be familiar with. Is this a case of "lying for the Lord"

    Actually, I've never read the text. Do you perhaps know where I might find it? I see no quotations from it in your post. Instead, I see secondary sources. I would like to see the text of the agreement itself. (Nonetheless, below, I will respond to the secondary sources that you cite.)

    I'm also, as I've pointed out two or three times above, not a "professional apologist." I will happily trade the portion of my annual salary that I receive for defending my faith for the current contents of your wallet.

    As I understand it, the Church agreed to remove the names of known Jewish Holocaust victims who are not ancestors of living Church members from its International Genealogical Index.

    Do you have any evidence that the Church did not make a good-faith effort to do so? (Evidence that some names of Holocaust victims survived on the IGI, or were added subsequent to the 1995 agreement, will not be sufficient to demonstrate that the Church made no such effort, unless it can be shown that doing so would be reasonably easy and 100% successful.)

    The Church also agreed to provide a list of all Jewish Holocaust victims whose names were to be removed from the International Genealogical Index to the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Commission, the New York Holocaust Memorial Commission, the Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles and the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, Israel, and to confirm in writing when removal of such names had been completed.

    Do you have any evidence to suggest that such a list was not provided and such notification not given? If you do, we can discuss this aspect of the topic further.

    The Church furthermore reaffirmed its preexisting policy on ordinances for Holocaust survivors and victims and agreed to issue a directive to all officials and members of the Church to discontinue any future baptisms of deceased Jews, including all lists of Jewish Holocaust victims who are known Jews, except if they were direct ancestors of living members of the Church or the Church had the written approval of all living members of the deceased's immediate family, and to confirm this policy in all relevant literature produced by the Church.

    Do you have any evidence to suggest that the Church did not, in fact, issue such a directive and/or that it has failed to confirm the policy in relevant literature published subsequently? (If you do, we can discuss this aspect of the issue further.)

    Significantly, the Church also agreed to remove from the International Genealogical Index in the future the names of all deceased Jews who were so identified if they were known to have been improperly included counter to Church policy.

    Do you have any evidence to suggest that the Church has refused to remove such names? (If so, we can discuss this further.)

    Incidentally, doesn't the apparent inclusion of this corrective mechanism in the agreement seem to indicate that both the Jewish and Mormon signatories to the agreement recognized a realistic possibility that such names would sometimes be wrongly submitted and improperly included, counter to Church policy? And, if they recognized that fact in their agreement, doesn't it seem that, by itself, the submission and inclusion of Holocaust-related names in the IGI, cannot be taken as a violation of the agreement?

    In the particular case of the appearance of Simon Wiesenthal's name in the IGI, has the Church refused to remove his name? Is there any evidence that the Church, as a Church, deliberately included his name in conscious violation of its 1995 agreement?

    (For the record, I'm told by a normally trustworthy friend that there may, in fact, have been no baptism performed on behalf of Mr. Wiesenthal at all, and that his name may simply have been submitted to, and to have appeared in, the International Genealogical Index. I can't say whether or not this is true. I might also add that, so far as I'm aware, nobody knows who submitted his name. It's not impossible that it was submitted by a family member. It's not even altogether impossible that it was submitted by someone seeking to embarrass the Church. In any case, it has evidently been removed, in precise accord -- so far as I can see, thus far -- with the 1995 agreement.)

    Moreover, the Church agreed to release the First Presidency's 1995 directive to the American Gathering.

    Do you have any evidence suggesting that the Church refused to release that 1995 directive? (If so, we can perhaps discuss that.)

    Finally, the First Presidency reaffirmed that the Church, in accordance with past policy, will continue to make its family history records available to the public regardless of religious or ethnic affiliation.

    Do you have any reason to believe that the Church has violated this part of the agreement by barring some people from the use of its records on the basis of their religious or ethnic affiliation? (If so, we can discuss this.)

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  92. Daniel Peterson4:03 PM

    Mr. Huston: "Danny" is "trampling on the traditions and desires of an entire race of people."

    Would this be, perhaps, by editing and publishing bilingual editions of the medical treatises of Moses Maimonides, the greatest of medieval rabbis, and distributing them through the University of Chicago Press? Would it be through my involvement in the publication (by E. J. Brill, in the Netherlands) of an electronic database of the Dead Sea Scrolls? Was such "trampling" perhaps the motivation for my two lengthy periods of residency in Israel? Did it show up during my participation in Jewish-Christian-Muslim "trialogues" held in Graz, Austria, and Jerusalem, Israel?

    Attempts to paint me here as an anti-Semite who holds Jews and Judaism in contempt seem, to me at least, transparently ludicrous and malevolent.

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  93. Anonymous said...
    Can the Mormon church please explain why it CONTINUES to baptize Jews and non-Mormons after death, after they have been asked and TOLD repeatedly not to do it?


    I can explain why. They do not care. They will do what they want, when they want.

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  94. I am outraged by the Mormon Idiot, Daniel Peterson, and his insensitivity to this issue.

    Unite, and call and write your local Mormon authorities on this jackass. Like most cults, they hate bad PR>

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  95. Anonymous7:41 PM

    Hey all you Jews,

    I just want you to know that it has been revealed to me that the spirit of the deceased Simon Weisenthal actually did accept the baptism performed on his behalf in the LDS temple.

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  96. Anonymous8:56 PM

    My great great great great (several greats) grandfather joined the Mormon church in Denmark as a young twenty something in the mid-late 1880s. He left behind all of his family, a fair amount of farm land, and modest wealth to come to America/Utah and to join with the Mormon Saints. His father told him that when he joined the Mormons, he would essentially be disinherited--perhaps further sealing his decision to leave the life he had and adventure to the U.S..

    In comeing to Utah, he endured many hardships on the journey--losing a child with his new bride, enduring persecution not only for his religion but also because of his poor english and scandanavian strangeties. Nonethless, he persevered and made it. He went on to settle in Sanpete County Utah with other Danes and helped build one of the finest Mormon churches in terms of woodwork ever seen as well as the Mormon temple in Manti (where baptisms and other ceremonies for the dead are performed.)

    How would my family feel if were to one day learn that a devil worshiping cult had dug up their great great granpa's name, and performed some goofy, seceret ceremony using his name to bring them into their fold by painting his name in blood on the backs of nearly naked teenage girls and boys while they endulged in an orgy?

    What if it wasn't a devilish cult, but instead a some popular gay organization who decided that he was gay. In so doing, the organization proxy married him to some living gay guy in a special ceremony to some transvestite who liked his name and lifestory--and had the "marriage" published for the public to view anytime they looked up my ancestors name in their popular research portals. Would my family enjoy knowing that some living, dirty gay guy gets joy out of thinking of my ancestor as his spiritual gay lover with whom he can have spiritual sexual relations for ever and ever?

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  97. Jim Huston9:07 AM

    The secondary reference provided was the Mormon Church's statement of what was contained in the agreement. It should therefore be relatively accurate unless you feel that they were lying in the press release. If you feel that way we can discuss it.

    Here is a link to a paper written by Helen Radkey that shows that the Mormon Church routinely violates it's own policy. Included in the article is a letter from a General Authority stating the Mormon Church does not perform ordinances for famous people unless specifically requested by family members. The case used was Hitler who had no children, so therefore, no descendants.
    http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/hitlertemplework.htm


    I also provided three news sources from three different periods of time since 1995 showing that the practice has continued. There are many, many more, but three are sufficient to illustrate the practice continues. With the vast resources of the Mormon Church and the level of record keeping which they demand, I can’t believe that the practice could not be stopped. In these sources the 1999 baptism of Anne Frank and her family is discussed. This is another famous person who died in the Holocaust and Mormon ordinances were performed. The Mormon Church has removed the indicators of temple baptism and endowment from the records, which are publicly available on the Internet making it more difficult to identify when Mormon ordinances have been done. The evidence I have shown, as well as the removal of access to the indicators for vicarious ordinances on the on-line records indicates that a good faith effort has not been made to stop the process.

    There is no way of proving a negative as you are well aware, but the evidence is there that the practice has not stopped, they have just made it more difficult to find out where and when it was done. Removing easy public access to the ordinances is particularly telling. Proving the Mormon Church is not acting in good faith can only be show through their continuation of the practice.

    Here is a paper from the Jewish perspective from the initial agreements, by one of the people involved in the agreement. The following quote is interesting to me. It shows the unwillingness of the Mormon Church to discontinue the practice.

    Starting in about 2000 activist researchers claimed that the LDS Church was not honoring its commitment to the Jews, for they continued posthumous baptism of Holocaust victims and others. Investigation by me verified that information. I notified [Ernest] Michel who evaluated the evidence and he agreed with the conclusion. Since 2004, Michel has had a dialogue with the Church but the matter is still unresolved as of the summer of 2006.
    http://www.avotaynu.com/mormon.htm

    Here is an interesting AP release April 10, 2004 that explains that the Mormon Church did not agree to remove the names:
    In a Nov. 14, 2003, letter from church Elder D. Todd Christofferson to Michel, a copy of which was sent to Hatch, Christofferson said the church did not agree to find and remove the names of all deceased Jews in its database.
    From the agreement- the Mormon Church agreed to remove the names:
    Remove from the next issue of the International Genealogical Index the names of all known posthumous baptized Jewish Holocaust victims who are not direct ancestors of living members of the Church.
    Remove from the International Genealogical Index in the future the names of all deceased Jews who are so identified if they are known to be improperly included counter to Church policy.

    Don Evans, Mormon Church spokesman:
    Evans agreed that permission should be obtained from an immediate family member before conducting the ritual, "but ordinarily, we have not asked for permission."

    A very large block of names was added to the database through name extraction without any review or attempt to comply with the agreement.

    The agreement was made in the same manner as the 1890 Manifesto on polygamy. The Mormon Church had no intention of living by the document. It is the same as the letter from the First Presidency read periodically from the pulpit, stating that the Mormon Church will not be involved in politics, but then funds and supports the defeat of the ERA the agenda of the International Year of Women and gay marriage. They support these while denying that they are supporting the activities. Joseph Smith lied about polygamy for years. Gordon B. Hinckley has lied in interviews, saying, “I don’t believe we teach that anymore, I don’t know much about that” when asked about a fundamental doctrine of the Mormon Church. Researchers in connection with the Mark Hoffman affair also documented his lies to police and prosecutors. He is quoted as saying that he didn’t know Hoffman, even though there was evidence of meetings and phone calls. He also said he didn’t know anything about the Kinderhook plates, when this was something Hoffman had offered him. Saying what is convenient – “Lying for the Lord” is a common practice and has been a part of Mormonism from the beginning. Removing access to the ordinances performed on familysearch.org is just a way to make it more difficult for people while they continue the practice.

    I think it is also very interesting that on familysearch.org, people who use the database are asked to submit their family tree. I cannot find anyplace on the site that tells people that by submitting to the IGI, their family members will receive vicarious endowments in the Mormon Church. Do you think this is a simple oversight on the part of the Mormon Church, or do you think is simply not giving all of the necessary information to the people?

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  98. Daniel Peterson11:06 AM

    Mr. Jim Huston: The secondary reference provided was the Mormon Church's statement of what was contained in the agreement. It should therefore be relatively accurate unless you feel that they were lying in the press release. If you feel that way we can discuss it.

    I don't, of course. But you were claiming that, as a "professional apologist" (which I'm not), I should be familiar with the actual text of the 1995 agreement and that, if I say that I'm not familiar, I'm probably lying. And now it seems that you yourself haven't seen it.

    Mr. Jim Huston: Here is a link to a paper written by Helen Radkey that shows that the Mormon Church routinely violates it's own policy. Included in the article is a letter from a General Authority stating the Mormon Church does not perform ordinances for famous people unless specifically requested by family members. The case used was Hitler who had no children, so therefore, no descendants.

    So you do, in fact, believe that the sheer existence of violations of a policy, in a case where millions of people are in a position to comply with or fail to comply with that policy demonstrates that the Church itself deliberately violates that policy. That seems quite a leap.

    I wonder, incidentally, who it was who submitted Adolf Hitler's name to the IGI. A friend tells me that, when an attempt was made to identify the submitter, the name and address given on the submission form proved to be fictitious. I don't know whether that's true or not, but it wouldn't altogether surprise me if it were.

    Mr. Jim Huston: With the vast resources of the Mormon Church and the level of record keeping which they demand, I can’t believe that the practice could not be stopped.

    Thus, even though, by your own showing, the 1995 agreement signed by both Mormon and Jewish leaders seems (by its creation of a mechanism for the deletion of improper submissions and the correction of unacceptable inclusions in the IGI) to have recognized that improper name-submissions and -inclusions would occur, you believe that the improper submission and listing of names in the IGI demonstrates that the Church is deliberately violating the 1995 agreement. Your logic eludes me.

    Mr. Jim Huston: Here is a paper from the Jewish perspective . . . Starting in about 2000 activist researchers claimed "

    I'm not sure that there is such a monolith as "the Jewish perspective," and I'm always just a little bit leery (and not only on this subject) of accepting the opinions of "activists" at uncritical face value. Yet that is precisely what you seem to do: In this dispute, the judgments of the "activists" are to be taken straight, while anything that the Church says is to be discounted as dishonest. Most observers, I think, would see that as neither fair nor reasonable.

    My own assumption is that both the leaders of my Church and mainstream Jewish leaders are people of sincere good will. I don't always make that assumption with regard to activists and agitators, who may have a hidden agenda. I'm told (but cannot, at this point, verify) that leaders of the Church approached Helen Radkey, asking her to help them to develop a method to more effectively identify Jewish Holocaust victims and survivors in the IGI, but that she declined to speak with them. If that is so, one has to ask what her real or primary motivation might be on this issue. (Actually, since she has a fairly lengthy track record of showing up in expressly anti-Mormon publications -- evangelical Protestant, mainly -- I think I have a good sense of her motivation.)

    Mr. Jim Huston: Here is an interesting AP release April 10, 2004 that explains that the Mormon Church did not agree to remove the names:
    In a Nov. 14, 2003, letter from church Elder D. Todd Christofferson to Michel, a copy of which was sent to Hatch, Christofferson said the church did not agree to find and remove the names of all deceased Jews in its database.
    From the agreement- the Mormon Church agreed to remove the names:
    Remove from the next issue of the International Genealogical Index the names of all known posthumous baptized Jewish Holocaust victims who are not direct ancestors of living members of the Church.
    Remove from the International Genealogical Index in the future the names of all deceased Jews who are so identified if they are known to be improperly included counter to Church policy.


    I assume that you've noticed that finding and removing the names of all deceased Jews in the IGI database would be a rather distinct action from removing the names of all known posthumous baptized Jewish Holocaust victims who are not direct ancestors of living members of the Church and who were improperly included contrary to Church policy from the IGI. The Church agreed to do the latter. It did not agree to do the former.

    As your overall remarks make clear, your accusation of lying here against me and my church is merely part of a longer litany of bitter complaints and angry accusations. (Over on your home message board a few weeks ago, I noted your wife's mock-lament that, as a result of your crusade against the Church, she was becoming a widow and you were wearing out the keyboard of your computer, posting everywhere and anywhere you could to attack your former church and faith.) Perhaps some of the Jewish readers of this thread (if there actually are any) will want to discuss your various accusations with you here on a blog devoted to Jewish genealogy. Personally, I'm not interested.

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  99. Daniel Peterson11:26 AM

    Robert: "I am outraged by the Mormon Idiot, Daniel Peterson, and his insensitivity to this issue.

    "Unite, and call and write your local Mormon authorities on this jackass. Like most cults, they hate bad PR."


    Robert has also been corresponding with me directly, calling me "anti-semetic" [sic], "arrogant," "offensive," "disrespectful," and a "racist," pronouncing Mormons in general "racists" who are members of a "cult" and are "incapable of Christian compassion or sensitivity," and informing me that he is "disgusted by you people for being so hateful towards Jews."

    "You need to be respectful," he advises me.

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  100. Jim Huston11:41 AM

    Dr. Peterson;
    One time I suggested that you were aware of the content of the agreement. You may not have read the actual agreement, but you were aware of the terms as released in a press release by the Mormon Church in 1995. Saying that you have not read the agreement was to lead people to believe that you did not know the content with any level of detail. That was disingenuous. Saying that I am continually calling you a liar is incorrect. I said that not acknowledging you knew the content was disingenuous and asked if you were “Lying for the Lord.” That is the only time lying was even mentioned in connection with you. Saying that I “habitually” call you a liar is a bit of hyperbole.

    As far as calling you Danny, that started almost a year ago when you were a regular lurker and sometimes poster on the Recovery from Mormonism board. I don’t have a lot of respect for your credentials and even less for you as a person. We have been on opposite sides of discussions like this many times. There is nothing derogatory in calling you Danny, you just don’t like it. You would prefer that I recognize your august designation of Doctor. Sorry, when I do recognize the title, it is not in a complimentary manner. I agree with you, using a name that I know you dislike is juvenile.

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  101. Jim Huston12:22 PM

    Dr. Peterson;

    you have commented on a number of items I quoted, would you care to comment on this?

    Don Evans, Mormon Church spokesman:
    Evans agreed that permission should be obtained from an immediate family member before conducting the ritual, "but ordinarily, we have not asked for permission."


    This seems to be a very clear violation of the agreement. A Church spokesperson admitted that it is not being done.

    Here is a quote from the press release. Please note that the release says that the Church will discountine baptisms of deceased Jews, with the Holocaust victims being a subset of that group.

    Reaffirm the policy and issue a directive to all officials and members of the Church to discontinue any future baptisms of deceased Jews, including all lists of Jewish Holocaust victims who are known Jews, except if they were direct ancestors of living members of the Church or the Church had the written approval of all living members of the deceased's immediate family.

    You have yet to address this.

    The article I suggested was written by one of the members of the Jewish delegation who worked out the agreement with the Mormon Church. His article documents how uncooperative the Mormon Church was until it started getting bad PR. It includes letters written to and recieved from Mormon leaders.

    This article was originally published in 1995 in the Avotaynu. The world's largest circulation magazine devoted to Jewish genealogy. The group could hardly be considered activists. If you add the rest of the quote Gary Mokotoff [the author] and Ernest Michel reviewed the evidence presented by the activists and concluded it was correct. Would you consider Gary Mokotoff and Ernest Michel to be unreliable sources for information? You seem to be very selective in what you respond to. I remember a similar discussion on FAIR the night I was permenantly banned.

    On a side note, you are evidently still spending a lot of time on the Recovery from Mormonism web site to know who my wife is. Why would you spend this much time on a site dedicated to helping people disengage from Mormonism? I know how much time you spend on FAIR and on blogs like this. No family life?

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  102. Jim Huston12:31 PM

    Another brief comment:

    DCP:
    (Actually, since she[Helen Radkey] has a fairly lengthy track record of showing up in expressly anti-Mormon publications -- evangelical Protestant, mainly -- I think I have a good sense of her motivation.)


    As a Mormon apologist, we all know your motivation. Should we discount your remarks in the same manner? You both have an agenda. Hers is to show the non-compliance of the Mormon Church and yours to defend the Mormon Church's actions at any cost.

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  103. Daniel Peterson12:32 PM

    Mr. Jim Huston: One time I suggested that you were aware of the content of the agreement. You may not have read the actual agreement, but you were aware of the terms as released in a press release by the Mormon Church in 1995. Saying that you have not read the agreement was to lead people to believe that you did not know the content with any level of detail.

    It was meant to lead people to believe that I have not read the agreement. Which is precisely true. I don't favor arguing about whether an agreement has or has not been broken when no party to the discussion has actually read the agreement. My academic training and specialty focuses on the careful reading and explication of primary texts. That was a deliberate choice on my part, because I dislike sloppy discussions based on inaccurate readings and hearsay.

    Perhaps you don't find such things problematic.

    Mr. Jim Huston: That was disingenuous.

    It was not disingenuous. But your continued accusation is duly noted.

    Mr. Jim Huston: Saying that I am continually calling you a liar is incorrect. . . . Saying that I “habitually” call you a liar is a bit of hyperbole.

    You're right. You probably take breaks for meals.

    Ordinary readers of this thread are presumably unaware of the obsessive crusade that your wife says you're on.

    Mr. Jim Huston: I don’t have a lot of respect for your credentials and even less for you as a person.

    D'oh! What a shocker!

    Mr. Jim Huston: We have been on opposite sides of discussions like this many times.

    Actually, I don't think we have. I noticed your wife's claim, a month or two ago, that I was obsessively stalking you all over the internet. Truth be told, I don't recall having ever noticed your name to that point. You two give yourselves too much credit, I think. But it plays well, I suppose, on your home message board.

    Mr. Jim Huston: There is nothing derogatory in calling you Danny, you just don’t like it.

    Right. Using diminutive or very familiar names to refer to people who don't use them themselves, whom you don't know personally, and for whom you have no respect (e.g., a political liberal calling George Bush "Georgie" or a political conservative referring to Senator Kerry as "Johnny") doesn't convey even a smidgin of disdain. Uh huh.

    The lack of civility shown by you and others here has, I suspect, not helped your case against the Church in the eyes of any outsiders who may have been looking on. What seems so wildly rebellious and daring on your home message board may not play particularly well outside of the Compound.

    Mr. Jim Huston: You would prefer that I recognize your august designation of Doctor.

    Actually, I don't much care about that, one way or the other.

    Mr. Jim Huston: I agree with you, using a name that I know you dislike is juvenile.

    True. It is.

    But this is all beside the point.

    You haven't even begun to demonstrate a deliberate policy, on the part of my church, to violate its 1995 agreement with various Jewish groups. Nor has there been any evidence to demonstrate that the Church promised to remove all Jewish names from the IGI, to forbid vicarious ordinances on behalf of Jews, or to "cancel" any that have been performed.

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  104. Daniel Peterson1:18 PM

    Mr. Jim Huston: you have commented on a number of items I quoted, would you care to comment on this?

    Don Evans, Mormon Church spokesman:
    Evans agreed that permission should be obtained from an immediate family member before conducting the ritual, "but ordinarily, we have not asked for permission."


    I would love to see the full context of his remark.

    There is a considerable distance between acknowledging a gap between the ideal implementation of a policy and its reality in practice, on the one hand, and, on the other, declaring that there has been deliberate, cunning, sneaky, and dishonest institutional violation of an agreement. I'm perfectly willing to grant the former. Since I have every reason to believe the leaders of my Church sincere and well-intentioned, however, I'm quite doubtful about the latter. (Heck, even if they were just cynically obsessed with PR, as some of your co-detractors have claimed, it's doubtful that they would have deliberately violated a very public agreement: Out of all of the hundreds and hundreds of millions of names for whom temple ordinances can be performed, Jewish Holocaust victims and survivors represent only a small proportion. Catastrophically high potential cost, little gain.)

    Mr. Jim Huston: This seems to be a very clear violation of the agreement. A Church spokesperson admitted that it is not being done.

    Incidentally, how do you explain that apparent frank admission from Don Evans in view of your conviction that we Mormons believe in shamelessly "lying for the Lord" without conscience whenever it suits our nefarious purposes?

    Mr. Jim Huston: Here is a quote from the press release. Please note that the release says that the Church will discountine baptisms of deceased Jews, with the Holocaust victims being a subset of that group.

    Reaffirm the policy and issue a directive to all officials and members of the Church to discontinue any future baptisms of deceased Jews, including all lists of Jewish Holocaust victims who are known Jews, except if they were direct ancestors of living members of the Church or the Church had the written approval of all living members of the deceased's immediate family.

    You have yet to address this.


    That statement emphatically does not say that the Church would discontinue baptisms on behalf of "all Jews."

    Mr. Jim Huston: You seem to be very selective in what you respond to.

    I am. I don't consider myself the slave or full-time servant of any critic.

    The simple fact is that I'm not an authority on the 1995 agreement or its implementation or lack thereof. I'm not a "professional apologist," as you have claimed, I'm not a spokesman for the Church, and, however "disingenuous" you may find my saying so, I've never seen the text of the agreement. I don't run the Family History Department of the Church, and have no particular ties with it. I've never submitted a Jewish name to the IGI. I've never, so far as I'm aware, received or performed any ordinance on behalf of a Holocaust victim or survivor, and most likely not even for a Jewish person.

    I came on this thread as a private member of the Church who sought to explain to Jewish participants here how I, as a member of the Church, view the issues involved in this matter. I had thought it might be possible to have a relatively short, mutually respectful, and charitable conversation with Jewish people here. Instead of interacting with Jews, though, I've been followed over here by angry and personally hostile ex-Mormons like yourself (and worse).

    Mr. Jim Huston: On a side note, you are evidently still spending a lot of time on the Recovery from Mormonism web site to know who my wife is.

    With the search functions there, I need only spend a few minutes from time to time. Very efficient. It wasn't difficult at all.

    Mr. Jim Huston: Why would you spend this much time on a site dedicated to helping people disengage from Mormonism?

    As I've said publicly, and even in print, on several occasions, I find your home board fascinating, psychologically speaking.

    Mr. Jim Huston: I know how much time you spend on FAIR and on blogs like this. No family life?

    Very good family life. Happily married, excellent relationship with my children and extended family, son on a mission in Japan, wonderful Christmas, etc. Thanks for your concern.

    Mr. Jim Huston: As a Mormon apologist, we all know your motivation. Should we discount your remarks in the same manner?

    ROTFL. You and your co-detractors routinely do! And then some.

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  105. Jim Huston2:51 PM

    To me, and apparently to the Jewish delegation involved in the agreement, felt that the agreement was for all Jews. In reading this excerpt, that is what it sounds like to me.

    Reaffirm the policy and issue a directive to all officials and members of the Church to discontinue any future baptisms of deceased Jews, including all lists of Jewish Holocaust victims.......

    From your posting, I am assuming that you do not feel the press release does not constitute promising to discontinue any future baptisms of deceased Jews.
    Interesting, I can't see how you could get another interpretation.

    The quote I gave that you are questioning came from the Jewish News of Phoenix in which a group of Jewish leaders are proposing a suit againts the Mormon Church for failure to comply with the agreement. Here is quotes from Evans, since you wanted more.

    According to Don Evans, the Arizona spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "in the next life, there is no such thing as Mormon." "Mormon" refers to the name of the earthly church, he noted.

    The ritual of posthumous baptism is an earthly ordinance, "a proscribed ceremony from God."

    "Baptism is the key to get into heaven," said Evans. "Millions of people never have the opportunity. We believe that the ordinance must be done on their behalf on the earth."

    Whether or not the spirits of the deceased accept "the gospel" is up to them, he added.

    "It is pure speculation" whether or not proxy baptisms have occurred since 1995, Evans stressed.

    "If so, they happened accidentally," he said.

    An "accidental" baptism could occur if Mormons obtained names of the deceased from microfilm and baptized all of them before checking beforehand if there were any Jewish names on the list, he explained.


    I also assume that you do not feel the article by Gary Mokotoff on the background of the agreement and the Mormon Church's lack of cooperation is worth your time.

    I guess that shows you for who you are.

    For people who are interested, here is the link again:
    http://www.avotaynu.com/mormon.htm

    Here also is a series of newspaper articles and commentary about the number of requests since the agreement and the Mormon reluctance to change their practice.
    http://www.jewishgen.org/InfoFiles/ldsagree.html

    Dr. Peterson. Let's turn this around. I have shown you a number of articles and proofs that the practice continues. Can you provide any documentation, other than the canned official statements that there HAS been a good faith effort? You are asking for proof of a negative. I have provided quite a bit of documentation, but you know that proving a negative is next to impossible. Please show me the documentation that shows there has been a good faith effort.

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  106. Anonymous2:58 PM

    I don't care about Mormon "baptisms for the dead" in the large sense because I know it's so ridiculous. In the smaller sense religions should be called on to be respectful of others (both living and dead). It hurts some people when they think that they or their loved one wasn't good "just the way they were."

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  107. Anonymous11:16 AM

    To David Bokovoy:

    When I was baptised for the dead at the Logan Temple, I was told by one who was herding us through the process that these were "golden calves representing the 12 tribes of Israel." I remember it distinctly because it put the first of many questions in my head about mormonism. I had just watched The 10 Commandments and it had made an impression on me. I remember thinking, "Huh? I thought G*d didn't like golden calves and if The Cross is idol worship why the golden calves." I had several discussions about this with my parents and Sunday school teachers. I am not mistaken about what I was taught. (If it was incorrect, maybe that's because you people don't have educated clergy---just people with "callings"--no education necessary.)

    BTW, it's vastly ironic that it was a Dr. Peterson from Utah State (professor of psychology, I think), who helped release me from the mormon cult. I had many, many questions, most of which my family and bishop and seminary teachers didn't even understand, let alone answer. I finally made an appointment with Dr. Peterson who sat on the High Counsel. He did understand my questions, and bless his honest heart, he told me that if he were my age, he would leave also, but he had family--a wife and children--who would be hurt if he followed his own conscience.

    I never looked back and honestly never really paid much mind to the mormon church for 40 years. I then found out that my father was a pedophile and my very large mormon family knew it. I found that the local Patriarch was a pedophile and most of the community knew it. I found that a member of the stake presidency was a pedophile and a lot of people knew it. I found that the sexual molestation was reported--and ignored. I began research mormonism in an effort to understand HOW this affrontery to all decency could have thrived in a community with 95% mormons. I now understand. I now also understand that my community and my family are not unique in mormonland. I think my anger escalated to absolute outrage---almost the same sort of outrage I remember the first time I read of how Jews trying to escape Germany were denied entrance into civilized "Christian" countries--my outrage was close to that when I read (Mark Peterson or Packard) one of your general authority's prouncing at one of your general conferences that women who had be sexually abused/raped/molested by their priesthood bearing, high-office holding fathers needed to get over something that was an incident during the second semester of the first grade. That statement was made just 16 years ago, and indicated that the sexually sick men who perverted and stole the innocence of children and enslaved women during the first century of your church hadn't changed in the least.

    Anyone who wants an insider's look at what the first half of mormonism was like need only examine Warren Jeff's practices and life amongst his followers. Except that I actually think it was worse for the women and children of early mormons.

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  108. Anonymous11:25 AM

    To Daniel Peterson:

    "I'm also, contrary to assertions above, neither a Nazi nor a member of the Ku Klux Klan."

    This is illustrative of how mormon sophism works. I never said YOU were KKK, Mr. Peterson (although your church has an illustrious history of the worst kind of racism imaginable). I said baptising someone into your cult would be like baptising a loved one into the KKK. I didn't refer to you personally, but tried to demonstrate how very offensive your necro-dunking is. I did not say either you or your cult was the KKK, just that necro dunking is so abhorent it would be like the KKK signing up deceased loved ones, thus smearing their good names.

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  109. Jim Huston3:16 PM

    Dr Peterson;

    I have provided a number of sources showing that the Jewish people feel that the Mormon Church is not operating in "good faith." What evidence do you have that shows that they are? Have the names stopped going on the IGI? If the names go on the IGI, isn't the intention to perform ordinances? Please provide the sorces for the things you are claiming.

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  110. Daniel Peterson5:34 PM

    Mr. Jim Huston: I have provided a number of sources showing that the Jewish people feel that the Mormon Church is not operating in "good faith."

    I rather doubt that "the Jewish people" have an official view on this topic. What you mean to say, of course, is that certain Jews feel this way.

    But feelings -- as you and your co-detractors here, of all people, would hasten to inform me in other circumstances -- do not constitute evidence.

    Mr. Jim Huston: What evidence do you have that shows that they are?

    I have the evidence of personal acquaintance with many of them, which leads me, very strongly, to give them the benefit of the doubt -- particularly when, as in this case, no actual evidence has been supplied to indicate that they're not. If you have any evidence that they are acting in bad faith, surely now is the time to present it.

    I can also see no serious motive for them to deliberately violate the agreement. As I said above, doing so creates a huge ratio of risk to benefit, so that even a cynical and unprincipled person of the type you presume me and my leaders to be would see no particular reason to violate the agreement.

    Mr. Jim Huston: Have the names stopped going on the IGI?

    Apparently not, though I would be surprised if the rate of entry of such names has not slowed considerably.

    But, as I've already pointed out, the 1995 agreement, signed by both LDS and Jewish representatives, foresaw the likelihood of Jewish names being improperly entered into the IGI, and, quite expressly, set up a mechanism to remove them -- a mechanism that appears to have worked as it was intended to in the the case of Simon Wiesenthal. Thus, the mere fact that some names have been improperly entered into the IGI by no means demonstrates that the Church intentionally violated the agreement.

    Mr. Jim Huston: If the names go on the IGI, isn't the intention to perform ordinances?

    Presumably.

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  111. Anonymous9:19 PM

    If the Church believes that baptisms for the dead are necessary for the salvation of souls, why would they agree to exclude anybody from the practice?

    I don't understand at all. It seems like an awfully strange PR strategy. The agreement seems, further, to be a tacit admission by the Church that there is something potentially offensive about the practice, even if not intentioned, and that Mormons now have to answer to. Quite a logical and theological can of worms that was opened. This kind of debate seems a foregone conclusion, in hindsight.

    As an aside, and as an observer with no dog in this fight, I find the criticism of Dr. Peterson's contributions awfully strange. Particularly Mr. Huston's.

    He is, as you (Mr. Huston) point out repeatedly, an academic. As such, why would you expect him to speak to the contents of material he's never seen? Or to respond to poorly worded, obviously inflammatory "bait" questions? If you can dismiss his academic merits because you've read his CV, surely you might have something to say if he stooped to the level of a blogworld bar room brawl?

    Anyway, it's impossible to determine any academic's true contributions to his or her field by a cursory glance at any list of publications. Even if Dr. Peterson has gone soft, as you claim, I don't know that you can blame that on his particular institution. There's nothing unusual about academic welfare -- it's called "tenure."

    Becky

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  112. Daniel Peterson9:47 PM

    I note with some pleasure that this thread seems to be dying down. That's good. It has had little value.

    Still, though, there is one clarification that I think I need to offer.

    In my first post here, I commented, among other things, that "Jews have precious few friends around the world."

    I see on at least two zealously anti-Mormon message boards that that comment is being taken as clear evidence of my alleged anti-Semitism.

    I suspect that Jewish readers here (if there are any) will have taken it in the spirit in which it was intended, which was precisely the opposite of the way in which my detractors here and elsewhere have wanted to see it.

    As an Arabist, I'm painfully aware of the virulently anti-Jewish propaganda and attitudes that have been spreading for years throughout the rapidly-growing and rapidly-radicalizing Muslim world. As someone who has lived in Europe, travels there frequently, and tries to keep up on intellectual, cultural, and political trends in several of the European languages, I'm also acutely aware of the rise of (real) anti-Semitism there, and of the often somewhat irrational hostility to Israel that seems to be running rampant not only among skinheads but also among some of the elite political, cultural, and intellectual strata. I've also noticed a rise in anti-Semitism in certain portions of the African-American community. I find this all deeply distressing.

    That was what I had in mind.

    Anything but "anti-Semitic" . . . as I trust Jewish readers of my comments here to understand.

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  113. Anonymous9:40 PM

    I am a Christian, as was my father, and I was appalled to see his name listed on the IGI. I thank you for bringing it to my attention. I cannot even think of a word that would properly describe how revolting the LDS policy is, it is so egregious. Keep fighting, okay? You are doing a service for all of us, Christians, Jews, EVERYONE.

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  114. Anonymous3:06 PM

    I think that two vital things have been left out of this argument.

    The first being that in all of the faiths mentioned, respect for your fellow humans ranks right near the top... Something about "love thy neighbor?" I will admit I do not know a great deal about the mormon faith, but it is my understanding that it didn't completely get rid of the "old" bible, and, last time I checked, that little line is in there... If you love your neighbor, it requires being willing to accept them for who they are -- whether their decisions in life match yours, or not... You know, it's something about "casting the first stone..."

    Secondly, the Mormon church is a religious establishment that started, and is based, here... in the US... Last time I checked, we had some rules about freedom of religion -- meaning that we, as individuals, get to decide for ourselves which religion we should follow. Overstepping and circumventing those ideals only deteriorate our society further.

    In my readings on this topic, I found an idea that sums it up for me...

    Jewish people don't want to fear Mormon baptism, any more than a Mormon would like the idea of being posthumously resigned from the church.

    I'm not anti-anyone, but I think that this boils down to a matter of respect. In this case, I think everyone needs to check themselves. Pray for each other, but don't arrogantly assume that you know better.

    -- Kam K.

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  115. I apologize in advance for the length of this post. I’ll have to break it into multiple entries to get it all to fit. I've read this topic with no small degree of fascination. Clearly some contributors have axes to grind with the LDS church that have nothing to do with the Wiesenthal situation. Others exhibit obvious personal dislike for Dr. Peterson. It seems likely if he wrote the sky is blue and grass is green a good many here would attack him for lack of sensitivity towards the color blind.

    At the same time, Dr. Peterson is absolutely aware of the depth of hypocrisy within the organization of our church, (yes, I am also quite solidly LDS.) It would be fair to say that everyone of any stature whatsoever within either the LDS church's education system, or members who are professional historians having anything at all to do with church history, is well aware of the requirement to voice only "approved" opinions or risk the consequences. Having worked with many LDS historians I can say from personal experience that privately, amongst themselves, and then only in very guarded fashion, subjects are discussed which would never be acknowledged publicly.

    To say that as an organization the LDS church does not hide or obscure inconvenient information is to be either disingenuous or completely blind and ignorant of what is plainly before us. If Dr. Peterson wishes to stay out of the fire he will never post some of the private, professional conversations he no doubt has with other professional LDS educators and historians on a forum such as this.

    That is not to say that much of the anti-LDS trash expressed by people with personal axes to grind isn't just that...trash. But it would be foolish not to acknowledge that in certain respects we LDS are our own worst PR enemies. We're fallible people and our leaders (yes, even Joseph Smith) are equally fallible. We like to point that out when our leaders say it; that they're "just men", but that's little more than lip service. Should one point out any specific way in which a leader acted or spoke as "just a man", disciplinary action is usually not far distant.

    Put another way, we like to say it, but we don't really believe or accept what those words actually mean, and neither do many of our leaders. As our organization approaches its 200th anniversary it is evident we have become an institution and a dogmatic one at that. This is hardly surprising. It is difficult to think of any large organization that hasn't become a dogmatic institution given sufficient time. As with all dogmatic institutions, protection of the institution has become almost the sole purpose of the power structure that governs the institution. At that point, "truth" is often sacrificed for the greater good of that protective function.

    Religious institutions are not the only ones prone to this problem. One look at our current US political system should convince any rational being it has also slid far down this same slope. What began as a government devised to promote "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" for all people devolved into circles of power and influence that serve only themselves and the inner elite cronies.

    So yes, as an LDS member I freely admit our organization has serious problems. Having so stated, there are still countless people of genuine good will, working for the betterment of their own lives and the lives of those they can touch. There are leaders who devote their lives to those for whom they have responsibility, often at great personal sacrifice.

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  116. The concept of baptism (and associated ordinances) for the dead is an example of acts designed to benefit those for whom they are performed without in the slightest obligating the individuals for whom they've been performed to accept them. I believe Dr. Peterson has expressed this idea several times, worded in different ways. There is no payday involved in this for LDS members. There are no tangible rewards; no trophies for the one who performs the most vicarious ordinances. Instead there is much work, research and time, voluntarily offered up by those LDS who engage in the work. The only thing they have to look forward to is that perhaps one day they will meet those for whom they have done this work and be told, "thank you." That's it. That's the only pot of gold at the end of this vicarious rainbow.

    And, as Dr. Peterson and others also point out, if we're wrong; if our LDS faith turns out to be nothing but fairy tales, we won't even have that to look forward to. For those rabid LDS detractors, please keep in mind that we LDS don't have absolute proof we're in the right with our beliefs. We have faith, not metaphysical certitude. All the efforts we make on the behalf of others; all the sacrifices they entail; all the work they require; all of these are offered up based on nothing more substantial than personal faith that it's the right thing to do. That seems pretty selfless.

    It should also be pointed out that these practices are religious, not legal in nature. The US is a land in which each is or ought to be free to exercise his or her faith in good conscience, and within bounds that do not infringe into the legal system. In no way do vicarious ordinances encroach into areas of legality, nor is there physical harm perpetrated on anyone, nor in most cases, does anyone outside of the immediate ordinance even know this work has been done. In most instances no case can even be made for causing some sort of emotional suffering.

    Vicarious ordinances are considered by LDS to be a commandment from God. You may not believe this, but we LDS do. What would it say of our faithfulness if we refused to follow commandments just because others of different beliefs do not accept them as commandments? What an incredibly anemic faith that would be.

    To those who are rabid I would say, look at it from the LDS viewpoint for a moment. See the good intentions behind the actions. If you are incapable of viewing it this way, even for a few moments of reflection, it suggests your objections have less to do with vicarious ordinances and more to do with systemic hatred of all things LDS, in which case be honest and admit it. Stop hiding behind facades of equanimity and tolerance while carrying out your general crusade under the guise of attacking a particular practice or doctrine.

    Christianity (as it exists today) generally has an intolerant attitude towards other beliefs, even other Christian beliefs. It is odd that many Christians write “anti-Mormon” books, “anti-Catholic” books, “anti-this-or-that” books, and yet think themselves to be acting as Christians even as they do it. One can usually find an entire wall of “anti” books in any Christian bookstore explaining why Mormonism is a cult, why Jehovah’s Witnesses are a cult, why Catholics are quasi-pagan. But I would challenge anyone to go into any LDS bookstore and find even a single “anti” book about any other religion. You may not like our religion, and our church may have serious organizational problems, but this “anti” diatribe so prevalent in much of Christianity today is not something we participate in as many other Christians do.

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  117. And we LDS should also take a step back and look at what others are telling us. Our organization does use manipulative, guilt-based tactics to get the result desired. There exists the unspoken notion that the end justifies the means. We do this among ourselves and we all experience this sort of thing regularly. None of us like it but each of us puts up with it because of that dogmatic idea that to speak up in protest is somehow "disloyalty" to our leaders. Those not of our beliefs have no such fears in that regard. It should come as little surprise when they speak up and let us know that often our methods are not appreciated. To “support the brethren” at the expense of the truth is to support neither the brethren nor the truth.

    Personally, most of us would not care at all (I know I wouldn't) if upon our deaths someone of another faith performed ordinances in our behalf in their religion. Who cares? We don't believe those would have any binding effect anyway, so to us it's a non-event.

    But to some other people it's not. Logical or not, to some people it matters. Perhaps we should take a step back and consider the entire matter pragmatically.

    If our theology is correct, everyone without exception will at some point be given the opportunity to be included in all necessary ordinances, either in this life or hereafter. No one gets left out. No one CAN be left out or it makes God a respecter of persons. So this really is a case of "no child left behind."

    If there's no possibility of missing anyone, then the importance of doing this becomes one of our being obedient to the commandments to perform vicarious ordinances. In other words, if we fail to do the work the consequences will fall on our heads. We should then ask ourselves, is there some way we can be obedient to these commandments, still doing the work, still making the efforts, and at the same time avoiding offending those who, whether logical or not, are going to be offended if we perform ordinances for their family members? It simply does more harm than good to alienate people from us when it is so unnecessary. I fully agree that in taking offense they are not reacting logically, but being offended is an emotional reaction, not a rational one, so it's illogical on our part to look for logical reactions from those who are offended. What they feel is what they feel and they're telling us that. To the degree we dismiss it we will only drive them further and further away. If we vicariously baptize someone's Uncle Bob, perhaps Uncle Bob on the other side of the veil will accept that work and we will have helped that person. But is it a worthwhile deal if in the process we alienate a dozen of Uncle Bob's family members who are still living? Is that really the trade off we're aiming for?

    If memory serves, I believe the church's genealogical archives house some 2 billion names in total. Not all of these have had ordinances performed, that's just the raw number of names of which we have some record. But for the sake of argument let's say that all 2 billion had their ordinances performed. At the rate we are performing these ordinances we aren't even beginning to keep up with the current birth rate let alone make any serious dent in the numbers of people who are deceased. Our best efforts still leave us in severe deficit.

    Would it not make more sense then to concentrate our efforts on our own families and leave others who are completely unrelated to us out of the picture for the present? These others will be caught up in time, perhaps at a point when those who now object will either agree it makes no difference to them any longer. We can still be engaged in the work for our own ancestors with more than enough work to do without risking offense to others. This seems to me a better approach.

    Again, I apologize for the length of this, and thank you for reading this far (if anyone actually makes it this far!)

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