I was a little annoyed to hear it on the radio again yesterday. The Church was apologizing because apparently over-enthusiastic members had performed temple ordinances for recently-departed Jews, AGAIN! This time the situation was particularly egregious because the Jews involved are the parents of the late Nazi-hunter and war-crimes expert Simon Wiesenthal.
Can those who keep submitting these names stop already?
As I understand it, complaints about the baptism of holocaust victims have been made for decades now, and the Church’s policy that they not have posthumous temple work done has been in place for almost as long. But the practice has continued, leading the Church to attempt to filter out submissions of Jewish names in the New Family Search software starting in 2010. The most recent discovery may show that these efforts aren’t 100% effective.
The news reports also indicated that the name of Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel was added to one of the LDS genealogical databases, but, as the Church’s statement on the issue indicates, no posthumous ordinances were performed, and his name would have been rejected if anyone tried.
I must admit to being a little mystified about the reactions of Jews and others to our practice. If you don’t believe our religion, surely you don’t believe our practice has any effect whatsoever! And, if you bother to understand Mormon doctrine about the practice, you know that even Mormons don’t believe that these ordinances have any effect unless and until the person baptized by proxy accepts the ordinance in the hereafter.
But, I do understand one basic thing, some Jews see these ordinances, especially in the case of holocaust victims, as a symbolic slap in the face. For me, and apparently for the Church also, that is enough. If the relatives and co-religionists of these victims don’t want the work done, we shouldn’t do it (unless, a close relative is making the submission — and even then I suggest that the relative consult with the Church on how to handle the situation). We need to remember that we believe in the eternities. If it is right that these ordinances be done, I’m sure the Lord will make it possible at some point in the future. What is clear is that now is not the time. Let us avoid giving offense.
So, I’m afraid I don’t understand why over-zealous members keep doing this. Isn’t the policy well known by now? If not, isn’t the policy that you only do work for your own relatives well known? Aren’t you lying when you submit the names and claim that these are your relatives?
Of course, in some cases that have made the news, the work as been done by someone who IS a relative of the deceased. Most recently, complaints have arisen about the work done for Ann Romney’s father, who, according to these complaints, was a confirmed atheist. But, in that case, Ann submitted the name. To me that makes it a family matter–if Ann’s siblings or cousins don’t like it, they should talk to her. For the rest of us, its none of our business.
Perhaps this incident will help make these Church members stop. As I understand it, the person involved with submitting the names of Wiesenthal’s parents has lost the ability to submit names. I hope that risk will convince members that they can’t continue to do this.
So, to those who are submitting these names, please, stop already.