Source: The Associated Press
Holocaust survivors said Monday they are through trying to negotiate with the Mormon church over posthumous baptisms of Jews killed in Nazi concentration camps, saying the church has repeatedly violated a 13-year-old agreement barring the practice.
Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints say they are making changes to their massive genealogical database that will make it more difficult for names of Holocaust victims to be entered for posthumous baptism by proxy, a rite that has been a common Mormon practice for more than a century.
But Ernest Michel, honorary chairman of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors, said that is not enough. At a news conference in New York City on Monday, he said the church also must "implement a mechanism to undo what you have done."
"Baptism of a Jewish Holocaust victim and then merely removing that name from the database is just not acceptable," said Michel, whose parents died at Auschwitz. He spoke on the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Nazi-incited riots against Jews.
"We ask you to respect us and our Judaism just as we respect your religion," Michel said in a statement released ahead of the news conference. "We ask you to leave our six million Jews, all victims of the Holocaust, alone, they suffered enough."
Michel said talks with Mormon leaders, held as recently as last week, have ended. He said his group will not sue, and that "the only thing left, therefore, is to turn to the court of public opinion."