Predictably, Wiesel was distressed, not only criticizing the Church for the practice, but also calling upon LDS presidential candidate Mitt Romney to condemn the practice as well. The Washington Post quoted Wiesel as saying, in part, “I think it’s scandalous. Not only objectionable, it’s scandalous...I wonder if as a candidate for the presidency Mitt Romney is aware of what his church is doing. I hope that if he hears about this that he will speak up.”
So far, there's been no recorded response by Mitt Romney, although according to HuffPo, an email accidentally sent to the HuffPo reporter indicated that Romney campaign spokeswoman Gail Gitcho suggested that the campaign ignore the issue. However, the LDS Church, which originally apologized for the proxy baptism of Wiesenthal, issued a more expanded statement on February 14th:
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that they may be baptized by proxy for deceased ancestors who never had that opportunity.
The policy of the Church is that members can request these baptisms only for their own ancestors. Proxy baptisms of Holocaust victims are strictly prohibited.
In this case, the Wiesel family names were not submitted for baptisms but simply entered into a genealogical database. Our system would have rejected those names had they been submitted.
In a few instances, names have been submitted in violation of policy. Whether this is done by simple error or for other reasons, the Church considers these submissions to be a serious breach of protocol.
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. The Church will continue to do all it can to prevent such instances, including denying access to these genealogical records or other privileges to those who abuse them in this way.
Meanwhile, the proxy baptisms prompted Jewish pundit Keith Olbermann to name LDS President Thomas S. Monson the "second worst person of the day" on his Countdown program. Olbermann need not be taken seriously, though; he was too far left even for MSNBC, which turned him loose a while back.
Why We Do It: According to the LDS website, Jesus Christ taught that baptism is essential to the salvation of all who have lived on earth. But many people have died without being baptized, while others were baptized without proper authority. Because God is merciful, He has prepared a way for all people to receive the blessings of baptism. By performing proxy baptisms in behalf of those who have died, Church members offer these blessings to deceased ancestors. Individuals in the spirit world can then choose to accept or reject what has been done in their behalf; their names are not added to LDS membership rolls on earth. The original intent was for LDS members to research their own ancestral lines and perform these ordinances only upon their own ancestors, but some excessively zealous members decided to submit the names of celebrities, dictators, and victims of mass genocide out of a sincere desire to offer them salvation. The Church taken steps to curb these excesses and has directed its members to restrict this practice only to their own ancestral lines.
It is disturbing that three leading Jewish supremacists, Abraham Cooper, Abe Foxman, and Elie Wiesel, are all calling upon the LDS Church to not only refrain from proxy-baptizing Holocaust survivors, but are also asking the Church to consider abandoning the practice. Have we asked the Jewish community to abandon their doctrines and practices, as illogical and burdensome as some of them might be? Have we asked them to disavow their Talmud, which contains a number of highly objectionable passages? Absolutely not in both cases. It seems that Jewish supremacists want a double standard -- their religion is off limits, but ours is fair game.
Elie Wiesel, who heads up the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, is a Holocaust survivor who received a Nobel Peace Prize. He is also well-known for his book entitled "Night", which chronicles his experiences during the Holocaust. However, the Institute for Historical Review questions the veracity of much of the book, specifically wondering why he never mentioned any gas chambers, and why when Wiesel and his father, as Auschwitz prisoners, had the choice of either leaving with their retreating German "executioners" or remaining behind in the camp to await the Soviet "liberators", the two decided to leave with their German captors. Wiesel has never publicly addressed these controversies.