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Mormon Baptism Targets Anne Frank -- Again

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A photograph of Anne Frank.
A photograph of Anne Frank.

Anne Frank, the Jewish girl whose diary and death in a Nazi concentration camp made her a symbol of the Holocaust, was allegedly baptized posthumously Saturday by a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to whistleblower Helen Radkey, a former member of the church.

The ritual was conducted in a Mormon temple in the Dominican Republic, according to Radkey, a Salt Lake City researcher who investigates such incidents, which violate a 2010 pact between the Mormon Church and Jewish leaders.

Radkey said she discovered that Annelies Marie "Anne" Frank, who died at Bergen Belsen death camp in 1945 at age 15, was baptized by proxy on Saturday. Mormons have submitted versions of her name at least a dozen times for proxy rites and carried out the ritual at least nine times from 1989 to 1999, according to Radkey. But Radkey says this is the first time in more than a decade that Frank's name has been discovered in a database that can be used both for genealogy and also to submit a deceased person's name to be considered for proxy baptism -- a separate process, according to a spokesman for the church. The database is only open to Mormons.

A screen shot of the database sent by Radkey shows a page for Frank stating "completed" next to categories labeled "Baptism" and "Confirmation," with the date Feb. 18, 2012, and the name of the Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Temple.

As The Huffington Post has reported, Mormon posthumous proxy baptisms for Holocaust victims or Jews who are not direct descendants of Mormons has continued, despite church vows to stop such practices.

Negotiations between Mormon and Jewish leaders led to a 1995 agreement for the church to stop the posthumous baptism of all Jews, except in the case of direct ancestors of Mormons, but Radkey says she found that some Mormons had failed to adhere to the agreement.

The name of Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel was recently submitted to the restricted genealogy website as "ready" for posthumous proxy baptism, though the church says the rite is reserved for the deceased, and Wiesel is alive. Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, was among a group of Jewish leaders who campaigned against the practice and prompted the 2010 pact by which the Mormon Church promises to at least prevent proxy baptism requests for Holocaust victims.

Wiesel last week called on Republican presidential candidate and Mormon Mitt Romney, a former Mormon bishop who has donated millions to the church, to speak out about the practice.

The Romney campaign has previously refused to comment and referred The Huffington Post to the LDS church. HuffPost emailed a church spokesman for comment Tuesday, but did not immediately receive a reply.

Radkey's discovery of another possible proxy baptism for Frank follows an apology from the Mormon Church last week for recent posthumous baptisms of Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal's parents.

Radkey noted that the latest baptism of Frank by proxy is especially egregious, because she was an unmarried teenager who left no descendants. Mormon officials have stressed that church members are only supposed to submit the names of their ancestors, in accordance with the agreements.

"The security of the names submissions process for posthumous rites must be questioned, in view of the rash of prominent Jewish Holocaust names that have recently appeared on Mormon temple rolls," Radkey said about her latest find. "This one sailed straight through, with Anne's correct name in their 'secure' database."

Radkey said she expects once word gets out that church officials will scrub the records as they did with Wiesel and Weisenthal's parents.

The Mormon Church responded later Tuesday in a statement by spokesman Michael Purdy, sent to The Huffington Post: "The Church keeps its word and is absolutely firm in its commitment to not accept the names of Holocaust victims for proxy baptism."

"While no system is foolproof in preventing the handful of individuals who are determined to falsify submissions we are committed to taking action against individual abusers," the statement says, "It is distressing when an individual willfully violates the Church’s policy and something that should be understood to be an offering based on love and respect becomes a source of contention."

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated that as the HuffPost has reported, the practice of Mormon posthumous proxy baptism has continued, despite church vows to stop. The correct, more specific reference is to incidents of posthumous proxy baptism for Holocaust victims or Jews who are not direct descendants of Mormons, which the Mormon Church has vowed to stop.

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