LOS ANGELES • In yet another public relations embarrassment for the Mormon Church, a Utah researcher has discovered that slain Jewish journalist Daniel Pearl was posthumously baptized last year in a serious breach of church protocol.

According to records, Pearl was baptized “by proxy” last summer in the Twin Falls temple — much to the surprise of his parents, who learned of the event this week.

Twin Falls temple officials were looking into the matter Wednesday evening and could not confirm or deny Pearl’s baptism.

Reached by phone, Pearl’s mother, Ruth, said she and her husband were dismayed when informed of the ceremony by a reporter from the Boston Globe, which first reported the news. According to the paper, the researcher is Helen Radkey, an excommunicated Mormon who combs through church archives.

“We realize that the Mormon ministers who baptized our son posthumously meant to offer him salvation in the most honorable way they know how,” she said in statement. “To them we say: We appreciate your good intentions but rest assured that Danny’s soul was redeemed through the life that he lived and the values that he upheld. He lived as a proud Jew, died as a proud Jew and is currently facing his creator as a Jew — blessed, accepted and redeemed.”

Pearl, who was raised in Los Angeles, was working as a Wall Street Journal reporter when he was kidnapped and killed by terrorists in Pakistan in 2002.

In a video that his captors forced him to record just before his execution, he professed his faith, saying: “My father’s Jewish. My mother’s Jewish. I’m Jewish.”

His parents later released a book titled “I Am Jewish,” which contains a collection of essays by Pearl.

Posthumous baptisms are common in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, generally referred to as the Mormon Church. The purpose of the sacrament is to ensure that ancestors can join church members in the afterlife.

Individual Mormons submit to the church the names of persons they wish to have baptized. Then a baptism is performed “by proxy,” meaning another person stands in for the dead.

Names are supposed to be submitted with the permission of family members, said Del Traveller, area spokesman for the church. If Pearl’s name ended up at the Twin Falls temple, it could have been because the submission was made elsewhere, processed in Salt Lake City and then sent to Twin Falls to disperse the volume.

The practice has long stirred controversy, leading to a 1995 agreement between Jewish faith leaders and the Mormon Church that was supposed to prevent the baptisms of Holocaust victims.

Church rules stipulate that only direct descendants of the dead can submit their names for the sacrament.

But incidents have cropped up over the years.

In 2009, the church acknowledged that it had baptized President Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, after her death. And just this month, officials were forced to apologize after they learned that the parents of the late Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal had been posthumously baptized. They also admitted that three dead relatives of Holocaust survivor Elie Wisesel were almost baptized, as well.

Messages left with a church spokesman were not immediately returned.

In an earlier statement, the Mormon Church said the incidents involving Holocaust victims were serious breaches of protocol by overzealous members of the church.

“It takes a good deal of deception and manipulation to get an improper submission through the safeguards we have put in place,” a spokesman wrote in a statement. “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.”

 

Times-News writer Andrew Weeks contributed to this report.

(27) comments

Lincount

I don't think he was a holocaust victim. In any cases descendants of Holocaust victims as far as I know can submit names. And on the family search website you can submit names of friends with verbal permission from closest of kin, Undivorced spouse, Parents, Siblings, children.

If somone thinks it's a fluke why not laugh it off. If true would they want to accept it? In any case you are not forced to accept an act of love anymore than someone is forced in mortality to be baptized into the lds church or any other church.

TwinFallsPaul
TwinFallsPaul

The Bible teaches that salvation is the work of God and not man. The Mormon gospel is no gospel. It is not the gospel of freedom through Christ, it is a gospel of servitude and obligation to a religious organization. How can the (bodily) dead serve and obey the religious obligations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints? I respect that the LDS church members are doing what their faith teaches. But please be honest enough to admit that this is not the practice of the Christian faith.

margi83301

Lincount, you don't think he was a Holocaust victim? You should probably either read the whole story or look up the names involved if you're not sure but want to comment on a story.

dlux511

This article scratches a couples of "itches"...again the age-old question of salvation, redemption, right-standing with God when this journey is over. By baptism in the LDS Church? By being Jewish? By what we do or don't do? How about an acknowledgement of my inability to accomplish this and looking up to the plan of God, Who created us to know him.
Isaiah, chapter 53 in the Old Testament of the Bible explains the upcoming mission of Jesus Christ, and the Gospels of the New Testament(Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)explain God's provision for salvation in detail. Jesus puts it this way:"I am the Way, the Truth and the Life....no one comes to the Father but by Me(John 14:6)". Take a look....

LocalGuy
LocalGuy

Lincount,

You evidently don't understand how offensive it is to a family that isn't Mormon, that a teenage girl in a cult ritual is baptized for a name on a piece of paper. It is an unholy act, and an invasion of privacy. It is happening here in Twin Falls, and at every temple. It is just one of many huge differences between Mormonism and Christianity. I for one believe that a "light" be shined on these rituals that everyone should know "the works" you do there.

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the Light.

IdahoHeathen
IdahoHeathen

In my Heathen faith an important ceremony is the "Naming Ceremony" where a man or woman takes on a "Folk Name" - a Northern European ancestral name with no foreign (i.e. NOT Arab/Roman/Hebrew/Christian) influence. If we were to posthumously have a Naming Ceremony for a bunch of famous Jews and Christians to give them Heathen names I bet people would be angry. Perhaps I should gather my Kindred so we can have a Naming Ceremony for Joseph Smith and Brigham Young so they can be Posthumous Heathens? Oh, wait... we don't try to force our ways on others because we can accept that ours isn't "The Only Way" so we would never do such a thing. Never mind.

generaleyes13

This article appears more to be an opinion piece than serious journalistic reporting. It contains one major flaw:
The article claims the baptism was a "serious breach" of the Mormon church protocol. However, the information provided does not support that conclusion. The article establishes 1) holocaust victims may only be baptized if the surviving descendants approve and 2) breaching that is a "serious breach" of church protocol. However, this article claims that the baptism of this non-holocaust victim was a "serious breach." There is no evidence he was a holocaust victim. No evidence that the protocol has been extended to any Jewish decedent who died because of his or her faith. No connection between this incident and the "serious breach" of baptizing a holocaust victim.
The outrage that this article expresses ("serious breach" "embarrassment") far exceeds the family members of the baptized-by-proxy individual (read their statement). That, alone, calls into question Mr. Weeks' and Mr. Lopez's journalistic integrity.

mythought

Jesus Christ taught: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Mark 16:16. Not everyone who has lived has had the opportunity to be baptized by proper authority as taught by Christ.

In his mercy and love, God has provided a way for everyone to satisfy the same requirements, even if they have died without baptism. See 1 Corinthians 15:29 as Paul talked about being baptized for the dead.

To get offended over such an act of love is like being upset that someone prayed for you. Even if you are not a Christian, to have someone pray for you in the name of Christ is a kind gesture that should be received as such.

If you would like more information about the LDS Church's position on this practice, see: http://mormon.org/faq/#Baptism|question=/faq/baptism-for-the-dead/

merkin4

A key fact to keep in mind is that Radkey is doing this for a living. She's found a small rabbinical group to pay her expenses, plus a "fee", and who has guaranteed to raise a stink over this.

Additionally, there's evidence that anti-Mormons and disaffected Mormons have been deliberately entering genealogical data for "celebrity" people, trying to throw as much mud as possible against the wall in the hopes that some items stick. The guidelines for LDS members to submit names for temple work are clear - you're supposed to work on your own ancestry. I suppose the mistake the LDS Church has made here is to underestimate the depths to which some people will sink to cause mayhem.

Jim_Bob
Jim_Bob

As a pastafarian and an ordained minister, I would not appreciate being baptized by any other religion. I believe the FSM has noodled us all and he protects us from the evils of muslims, christians and atheists alike.

Some information for the curious

http://www.venganza.org/

IDCowboy1

The quoted line of all these proxy baptisms of Jewish people being an "accident" is bunk. One or two oopsies and no more is an accident. REPEATED occurances following the same pattern is about as close to intentional as it can get. I would highly recommend the leadership of the LDS church get a copy of the Tanakh and read carefully the sections describing what happened to those groups who messed with the Jews too much back in the day. Maybe that will put a stop to the "accidents"

Lincount

Jeff Jacoby at www.townhall.com wrore an oped and as a Jew could care less about the practice grateful for there help with geneology too. I ran into Catholic Nuns who were there doing geneology during the Churches conference.

Someone said to Brigham Young we can't build a temple or the Bells of Hell will ring. (James E FAust's) devotonal at byu called serving the Lord and resisting the Devil. Youngs response let them ring.

People outside my find rituals in other religions strange. IF the work for the dead wasn't essential to salvation the Devil could care less what's one more ritual to him. If it is than of course he will fight it. NO one is forced to accept it. But I am sure there are many people in Heaven who thinks it is true and want mortals to do the work for them and will thank them when they get there as well.

angsty
angsty

@merkin:

Actually, in mentioning your "key" facts, you have committed at least two informal logical fallacies. You have committed a classic "red herring" by which you changed the subject at the hand from wrongs committed/allowed by the church to Radkey's motives, which are a separate issue. You've also committed ad hominem abusive, by attempting to impugning Radkey's reputation as a reason for disregarding her findings, rather than addressing the reality of the actual findings, which can't very well be contested.

The actions of church members, and the weaknesses of church record-keeping procedures that allow these occurrences cannot be answered by complaints about those who expose them.

Your conspiracy theory about antis doesn't fly either-- the church is responsible for the fact that this is possible and that it happens over and over again. It doesn't matter who does it, it matters that the church facilitates it and has the power to stop it.

You can shift blame all you want, but at the end of the day, reasonable people will acknowledge that changing the subject (as you have) is a weasely defense strategy.

patrolman

As a member of the LDS church, I hereby give authorization for any religious organization to use my name for whatever purpose they desire ...

In reading these types of stories I can't help but think of the quote "He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool.” I wonder who said that?

IdahoHeathen, go ahead and do the "Naming Ceremonies" for Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, etc. I'm sure you won't hear a peep of protest from the LDS church.

One of the missions of the church of Jesus Christ is to bring to pass the salvation of the dead. That is why these baptisms take place. Baptisms must be performed by the proper authority. This authority was taken from the earth during the apostasy. I would hope more people would study the facinating story of the apostasy and the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ -- from objective sources, of course.

unravelled

I'm confused. Why baptize those who have already passed? You claim to "pass on salvation" as if you have the ability to be a savior by proxy. There's no hellfire and brimstone in Mormonism but there is in Christianity right? So if you believe in 3 celestial planes why save those who your previous savior has already allocated to their proper plane? Are you reversing your savior's pre-determined plan? You say he has a plan for us all but yet you are tasked with interfering with this plan in the name of passing on salvation because someone "didn't have the chance"? Really? This is ignorant, invasive, and contradictory to many of your own teachings. I claim no religion but believe in a creator. I believe our creator gave us the ability to reason, this is beyond reason.

patrolman

Unravelled, please don't say that temple work is ignorant, invasive, and contradictory to many of the teachings of the LDS church when you clearly don't understand the teachings of the LDS church.

whathefun

dlux511, TwinFallsPaul, LocalGuy, angsty, Thank you.
@heathen as always well thought out, but I already have two very ancient pagan names, their keltic origins are inarguable, do I have to take a Scandinavian name or what to play along. And be careful because Paul gives the Christians the "go ahead" on absorbing pagan customs and reverting them to the Almighty. i.e. Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Lent and many Keltic symbols.......
@patrolman and all other LDS worshipers, the Word of God has NEVER left the earth. Patrolman where is you explanation to unravelled?
@ unravelled, first off the LDS believe in 3 celestial plains because neither Cowdery nor Smith knew Hebrew has one word for all the air over our heads. The three heavens in the Bible are, the sky, space, and the throne of God. Not three plains of existance.
Biblicly speaking if you believe in The Word of God salvation is possible. Baptized or not. Ask the thief. To worship a ritual makes you a Pharisee, that of course meaning a hypocrite and liar.

merkin4

angsty:

Thanks for the logic refresher. I'm a proud graduate of the Idaho public school system, therefore, there's a lot of fundamental liberal arts that went missing in there somewhere. I can, however, cheer on the football team and set siphon tubes with the best of them, even if math and critical thinking skills were impaired at an early age.
-
I suppose this all brings up the question: what did the LDS Church do that was illegal? Any behavior there at was immoral or questionable? So somebody submitted the name of Daniel Pearl for baptism in Twin Falls Idaho. Did it do physical or financial harm to the family? Don't think so. You might argue that the LDS Church had agreed not to allow proxy baptisms for vicitims of the Holocaust, but Daniel Pearl was killed by terrorists, post-2001, not by German national socialist party members during the 1930s and 1940s. The date of death would have completely escaped filters that might have alerted some retired farmer in Twin Falls to take a second look at the submission.
-
So perhaps I'm still a weasel for changing the subject - but the fact remains that these issues are being deliberately submitted to the LDS Church in an effort to embarrass and humilate the members. These are the same members that perform these ordinances out of respect and love, not out of malice, hatred, or other nefarious intent. There's even another scenario - a friend or co-worker of Pearl asked verbal permission of his family to submit his name for LDS proxy work, obtained verbal permission, submitted that information through proper channels, and then Radkey determined on her own that this was improper and unjustified. The LDS Church has has guidelines in place for years on submitting names for temple work - but the only recourse the LDS Church has is discipline within the Church itself. They can't lock up members, can't fine them, can't really do anything. Worst punishment the LDS Church has is to kick a person out, and they don't generally share that information with the public. There are exceptions, but it is Radkey herself that publicizes her former affiliation status.
-
So, what to do? Pass laws? It worked with great success in Missouri, where there was an on-the-books extermination order against Mormons up until the mid-1970s. Shoot the leaders? Worked in Carthage Illinois. Make the Church itself illegal? 1890s Utah. Make it illegal for Mormons to hold office or vote? Idaho state constitution, up until about 1980s. Kill off the members? Haun's Mill, Missouri. We must to anything we can to keep these Mormons from wasting their precious time doing temple work, right?

IdahoHeathen
IdahoHeathen

@WhatTheFun - You should honor your Ancestors and if your name already does that then a naming ceremony would involve not _changing_ your name, but _claiming_ it as something handed down from your Ancestors. It wouldn't honor your Kelt roots to take on a Scandinavian name any more than it it for me to honor my Germanic roots by taking on a Hawaiian name. :-) We're all modern-day Heinz57 mutts - it's a question of which part of your ancestry "speaks to you" the most clearly spiritually. For some people the Arab religion is the answer, but native and indigenous faiths are equally valid despite monotheists insistence to the contrary that theirs is "the only god."

IDCowboy1

[quote]merkin4 said: "So, what to do? Pass laws? It worked with great success in Missouri, where there was an on-the-books extermination order against Mormons up until the mid-1970s. Shoot the leaders? Worked in Carthage Illinois. Make the Church itself illegal? 1890s Utah. Make it illegal for Mormons to hold office or vote? Idaho state constitution, up until about 1980s. Kill off the members? Haun's Mill, Missouri. We must to anything we can to keep these Mormons from wasting their precious time doing temple work, right?"[/quote]

Since you are on the subject of all the wrongs committed to the Mormons let's see how the other half lives. Why weren't blacks allowed church membership until 1978 due to the whole "mark of cain" thing? Why aren't there any blacks, hispanics, or asians in the highest portions of church leadership? Why was a Catholic priest portrayed as an agent of Lucifer in temple ceremonies up until the 1990s? Why did Mormons commit the Mountain Meadows Massacre and disguise themselves as native americans in order to hide their crimes?

Granted no church is without it's problems, scandals and misdeeds, but before you start thinking you are all picked on, treated poorly and misjudged, you need to get your own house in order before you complain about others.

unravelled

@ Patrolman: I was baptized LDS in 1991, gave it up in '97. I continue to stump missionaries and make your bishops blush. The contradictions and "adjustments" to your gospel over the short amount of time it's been practiced should be a red flag for anyone looking for a clear and consistent message.

OIC

Merkin4 - Unless your name is "Merkin", you picked an interesting moniker.

Merkin (first use 1617)[1] is a pubic wig. Merkins were originally worn by prostitutes after shaving their genitalia, and are now used as decorative items, erotic devices, or in films, by both men and women.

How appropriate.

OIC

Merkin4 - You picked an interesting moniker.

Lincount

unraveled what commandments are there that you do not want to keep? What covenants did you make are you unwilling to keep? It is a pretty serious thing not to keep the covenants you made. Since God will not be mocked.

Easy to find fault with the church and the leaders when you are unwilling to follow the counsel of the Lords anointed and in essence the Lord. The problem is not the Bishop or missionaries but someone unwilling to keep the commandments of God and finding it easier to find fault than to keep the commandments.

Lincount

[quote]unravelled said: "I'm confused. Why baptize those who have already passed? You claim to "pass on salvation" as if you have the ability to be a savior by proxy. There's no hellfire and brimstone in Mormonism but there is in Christianity right? So if you believe in 3 celestial planes why save those who your previous savior has already allocated to their proper plane? Are you reversing your savior's pre-determined plan? You say he has a plan for us all but yet you are tasked with interfering with this plan in the name of passing on salvation because someone "didn't have the chance"? Really? This is ignorant, invasive, and contradictory to many of your own teachings. I claim no religion but believe in a creator. I believe our creator gave us the ability to reason, this is beyond reason. "[/quote]

We do not beleive in pre destination. We will be judged according to the works, desires of our hearts. If it was pre determined were we would go why not eat drink and be merry. And why waste time with temple work if it was not essential and some people wanted to accept it? An enemy of the church saying what they beleive.

thatsretired

Don't worry mormons! Stephen Colbert has saved those who have passed.

Author and survivor Elie Wiesel recently discovered that several relatives who had perished under the Nazis were later baptized as Mormons, and publicly called upon presidential candidate Mitt Romney to speak out against the practice.

But Colbert, for one, didn’t see what the fuss was all about. “What business is it of yours, Elie? I did some research and discovered that those 600,000 Jews are now Mormons,” he said, referring to the estimated number of Jews who’ve been posthumously converted to Mormonism.

He continued: “Besides, the Mormons have stopped baptizing Holocaust victims, other than last week when they baptized Anne Frank, which they’ve done nine times. But that’s it, nobody else.”

However, as Colbert quickly discovered, this isn’t the case. It actually turns out that Wiesel,who is perhaps the world’s best-known living Holocaust survivor, was also on a list of people to be baptized.

“I don’t get why Elie Wiesel’s so upset about his name being on a list,” Colbert said, the off-color joke eliciting groans from the audience. “This controversy just seems like it will not die, and if it did, the Mormons would posthumously baptize it.”

Colbert proposed a novel solution to the problem: In an effort to “balance everything out,” he would “convert all the dead Mormons to Judaism.” (An eye for an eye, just like the Old Testament says.) Because Jewish don’t baptize their children, Colbert instead conducted a “proxy circumcision” using his Jewish intern Jay, a hot dog and a cigar-cutter. (We'll let you do the math.)

“By the power invested in me by renting ‘Yentl,’ I hereby circumcise every dead Mormon. By the name of the father, and that’s it,” Colbert proclaimed. “Congratulations dead Mormons, you’re now dead Jews. I just pray that no one baptizes you without your permission.”

Twin

People, if you don't recognize Mormon, Inc. as your own, then why get offended if they baptize others who weren't Mormon while alive? By taking offense you are giving their silly, little baptisms credence. That's like taking offense to a third grader because they called you a "booger-head". Most people around the world recognize Mormonism as a corporation and its followers as employees. And the innocent bike-riders in a tie are the corporation's recruiters. Don't be so offended, folks. It's only Mormons...duuur.

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