Tuesday, December 19, 2006

how did this happen?

Simon Wiesenthal, the Holocaust survivor who dedicated the rest of his life to hunting down Nazis, was placed on a list of potential posthumous converts to the LDS faith. His foundation got wind of Wiesenthal's name being on the database and raised holy hell.
"We are astounded and dismayed," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the center's founder and dean, in a written statement. Wiesenthal "proudly lived as a Jew, died as a Jew and demanded justice for the millions of the victims of the Holocaust. . . . It is sacrilegious for the Mormon faith to desecrate his memory by suggesting that Jews on their own are not worthy enough to receive God's eternal blessing."

The Church reacted properly, but they have a massive problem on their hands.
"In accordance with the commitments the church made in 1995, no church ordinance was performed for Simon Wiesenthal and his name was immediately removed from the International Genealogical Index," said Bruce Olsen, press secretary to the church's First Presidency.

Mr. Olsen and his team need to figure out who put Wiesenthal's name on this list, and make a big stink about punishing them. After all, this isn't the first time it has happened:
In a posthumous or proxy baptism, a living Mormon is baptized by full immersion in water in the name of a deceased individual. Such baptism is essential for eternal salvation, the LDS Church teaches, but it takes effect only if the deceased accepts the ritual in the afterlife.
In 1995, several Jewish groups became incensed by the practice when it was discovered that Holocaust victims were among those being baptized by proxy. They drew parallels to medieval crusades to baptize them by force. Not wishing to offend, the LDS Church removed 400,000 names...But thousands of the deleted names somehow kept reappearing on the list, prompting more talks between the LDS Church and Jewish representatives... [and] In 2002, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton met with Utah's Sen. Orrin Hatch to discuss the problem, although neither would discuss it publicly.

That would have been a great meeting to be a fly on the wall on. I bet Orin doesn't really hate Hillary as much as he pretends to on TV. Here is another great quote from Rabbi Marvin Hier, the Wiesenthal Center's founder and dean:
"We believe the only gatekeeper to heaven is a life of good deeds," Hier said. "He was a great Jew and will merit heaven on his own without anybody's help."

Indeed, I think Wiesenthal's deeds and sufferings merit entrance into heaven, even if he doesn't think Jesus was the Messiah. And like I said, the LDS Church has a big PR disaster here that will only get worse if the press find out who did this before Church officials do. It could be that there is some anti-Semite putting these names in the database. Or it could be someone's idea of a big joke. Or it could be a true believer, thinking that he needs to save these souls more than any others. Either way, it is wrong and the Church needs to put a stop to it once and for all. Create a list of "do not post" names of Holocaust victims so that if people try this again (and they will), the Church will be able to catch the wrongdoers in the act.

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