Deal on Mormon baptism of Holocaust dead

By Jennifer Lipman, September 3, 2010

16-year-old dispute over the posthumous baptism of Holocaust victims has been resolved after the Mormon Church agreed to monitor its database more closely.

Mormons – members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – have baptised the dead for 170 years, in the belief it secures a place in heaven.

But in the early 1990s it emerged that some Mormons had submitted the names of hundreds of thousands of Holocaust victims to the church’s genealogical database for posthumous baptism , without regard to their religious origin.

In 1995 the church announced that it would end the practice. Despite this, a number of Jews murdered by the Nazis remained on the list, provoking fury in the Jewish community.

Now, however, in a joint statement with the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, the church has announced that a new computer system will be introduced, enabling inappropriate submissions to be deleted.

The new rules also prohibit Mormons from suggesting people for proxy baptisms unless the deceased are direct ancestors.

The statement said: “It is gratifying that the good-faith efforts undertaken over the years to deal with an important issue of sensitivity to the Jewish Holocaust survivor community have eliminated a source of tension between our two groups.”

Last updated: 3:22pm, September 3 2010