Was Anne Frank baptized by Mormon church?

The Mormon church has responded to reports that a posthumous baptism of Jewish Holocaust victim Anne Frank took place last … Continued

The craziness around Halloween is hard to ignore and as with anything “sacred,” be it a day, a story, an object — it has multiple meanings. These days, as with so much in our polarized public culture, each meaning has its own advocates who ardently believe they have the whole truth.

There are our religious fundamentalists who oppose Halloween because of its pagan origins and occult and satanic symbols and believe the holiday undermines Christian values with its embrace of devils, demons, and goblins. Just as seriously, there are Wiccans who oppose Halloween for its offense to real witches by promoting stereotypes of wicked witches. (Opposition to fun often makes strange bed fellows.)

There are traditionalist Jews and members of other faiths who oppose Halloween because it is a Christian holiday — All Saints Day. There are our simplicity folks who oppose Halloween because they see it as another construction of Madison Avenue that has turned one more holiday into a commercialized ($5 billion) consumption experience. There are our concerned parents who oppose Halloween because of its increasing tolerance of violent images and vandalism.

There are serious Christians who reject the ghost, ghouls, witches, and vampires of Halloween and instead emphasize the Christian tradition of honoring all saints known and unknown. And then there is the majority of parents and children who simply enjoy the candy and costumes, the pranks and trick and treating, and the carved pumpkins and haunted houses of Halloween.

So, not surprisingly, depending on who one is and to what community one belongs and one’s psychological predisposition, Halloween is indeed many things. It is harmless fun or anti-Christian, anti-Jewish or anti-Wiccan, amusingly scary, chillingly violent or crassly consumerist. It is all of these as well as a Saint Fest, a day to honor the dead, a harvest festival, and a psychological release as, around us, nature “dies” for the winter and the day darkens earlier and earlier.

It seems to me that the cultural and spiritual energy surrounding Halloween is directly related to this multiplicity of meanings. (My wisdom tradition teaches that, contrary to conventional understanding, something is sacred not because it has only one specific meaning but because it has indeterminate and inexhaustible meaning.)

In other words, there is a partial truth to each of these meanings and rather than simply dismiss the meaning or meanings we feel are silly or wrong or even dangerous we might try to incorporate some insight or aspect of that meaning, however small, into our take on Halloween.

Personally, I grew up attending a Jewish parochial school that strongly discouraged any participation in Halloween festivities. But my parents, with a bit of reluctance, and quite a bit of pleading from me and my five brothers, treated Halloween as a secular day and permitted us to dress up and go trick or treating with emphasis on the treating rather than the tricking.

But we were reminded that Halloween was not a Jewish holiday and as age appropriate actually learned a little about the origins of the holiday and where we as Jews differed. And there were also some interesting additions to our celebration. Costumes were home-made, not purchased, and there were no hatchet in the head costumes. For every one piece of candy we got to keep we had to give away one piece. (We started with the non-kosher candy!)

And of course there was UNICEF — our celebrating and candy gathering were connected to giving to the less fortunate. One might say that we had fun without the fear and the frenzy — a kind of fun that transcended different faiths and backgrounds — in which our present joy superseded a pagan past, candy trumped creed, and treats trumped theology.

Be Safe and Happy Halloween!

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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  • abbydelabbey

    the very act of baptizing DEAD people is not based on Scripture — aside from that it is immoral,unethical, and should be totally illegal.

  • Alauda

    It would only be fair for Rabbis to perform posthumous bris ceremonies for all Mormon men. Where’s the Kishke?

  • Rando305

    I had an evangelical friend tell me that she and her husband were praying for me. In this confession, there was some hesitancy that I might be offended.
    I told her that their prayers were always welcome.
    Their prayers were an act of love intended to help me see the errors of my Mormon religion. Though I disagreed with thier premis, how could I be offended at thier sincere act?
    Someone performing an act of love for Anne Frank should be treated in a similar manner. The LDS church is actively working to centralize their genealogy efforts to prevent duplicate efforts from being made and to keep to their commitments that they have previously made to prevent the baptism of holocaust victims due to the sensitive issue it is for our Jewish friends.
    No organization has done more in the efforts of geneology than the LDS church. It’s not an issue of neglect, it is a very difficult ‘system’ problem to try and control.

  • jetgirl1974

    No one is baptizing actual dead people. It’s by proxy. Look up what it means.

  • Rubovitch

    This is just the tip of the iceberg. The Jews don’t riot, pillage and burn like the Muslims do. If the LDS baptizes dead Muslims they are in for it!

  • Tornogal

    So are the Mormons just “writing off” the Jews? If the baptisms are ESSENTIAL, are they bowing to pressure then and saying there is nothing to be done for them?

  • bradster

    Actually it IS based on scripture. It was also done by the earliest Christians. See Rescue for the Dead, by Jeffrey Trumbower

  • netzach

    Not writing them off – just waiting until those who are so offended by it come to their senses.

    Is it not written that the Jews, who received the Gospel first, would end up being the last to receive it? (Matt.19:20; 20:16)

  • TElden

    Some people think that “Mormons” (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) are not Christian, but the reason we baptize living people on behalf of dead people is Jesus’ statement, “Except a man be born of the water and the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5) and the practice of the early Christians to baptize for the dead (1 Corinthians 15:29). Just think–we do not not know the religious preferences of 95% of the people who have died, and I don’t think it is disrespectful to baptize someone whose religious preference we know about, since I believe that we will all have greater religious knowledge after we die, and some people may want to accept the baptism for them at that time.
    Tom J

  • TElden

    Some people think that “Mormons” are not Christian, but the reason we baptize living persons on behalf of the dead is Jesus’ statement, “Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5) and the practice of early Christians of baptizing for the dead (1 Corinthians 15:29). Do you realize that we don’t know the religious preferences of 95% of the people who have died, and even where we know there religious preferences during their life, I do not think it is disrespectful to baptize them because we will all have a lot more religious knowledge after we die, and some people may want to accept the baptism.
    Tom J

  • peaceman2

    I don’t know if teh Baptism happened, but I do think the person who submitted the names intentionally hacked the computer system in an attempt to hurt Mormons.

    It is sad that a few people’s actions could cause so much trouble. The way the computer programs are set up you can’t enter Holocaust Victims names without trying to work around the system.
    The fact that the LDS Church lets Helen Radkey have access to their records, knowing that she is “out to get the Mormons” shows that the Church also wants to put a stop to these actions that others feel are offensive.

    The fact that Helen Radkey only agreed to give information to Rabbi Cooper “…as long as there is a public stink” shows that she probably doesn’t care about Jewish feelings or much of anything but her longstanding mission of hurting Mormons.

    Rites for the deceased are ancient, and many people still practice them. When done in accordance with Church teachings (for ancestors of LDS) they are acts of love, and God knows our world needs more of those.

  • peaceman2

    Generally speaking, religious rites for the deceased are acts of love, and God knows our world could use more of those.
    Baptizing people not related to LDS is offensive to Mormons as well as Jews.
    However, I think people are getting a little carried away with taking offense at things they don’t understand.

    It is sad that one person can break down relationships between millions of people. Mormons have a longstanding policy against Baptizing Jews (not from discrimination since many Jews request it).

    Baptism for the deceased is an ancient teaching, and many Christians still practice rituals for the deceased. I understand that Jews have also, in times past, and presently offer certain prayers. I hope that Jewish people understand that the Mormons I know would be honored if Jews were to perform rites for them. That goes for anyone with good intentions, Muslim, Catholic, Buddhist etc.

    I love all and hope we can all be friends, under one God (even atheists can be friends under God ; ))

    Rites for the deceased are intended as acts of love, to seal families, but when someone intentionally goes against Church teachings on a sensitive issue it hurts all of us.

    I’m sorry this person has done this, but I’m guessing they are intentionally trying to stir hatred against Mormons (even if they are on record).

    Also, I hope everyone understands that there are many people out there who delight in stirring bad feelings against Mormons. Those who hate us have intentionally misrepresented the purposes of rites for deceased persons. These rites are meant to turn the hearts of the Fathers and Mothers to the children, as Malachi taught.

    Please understand:
    1 Mormons are opposed to the Baptism of anyone who is not an ancestor to a Mormon.
    2 Mormons do not believe that Holocaust victims are suffering in Hell or purgatory and that Baptism, like indulgences for the deceased, helps reduce their suffering. Mormons understand that all will be rewarded according to their works. No kind, good person

  • Tornogal

    Peaceman2: If the baptisms aren’t sufficiently offensive to the Holocaust victims, with all respect your comment here most assuredly will be: “However, I think people are getting a little carried away with taking offense at things they don’t understand. ”

    There it is. We, the Mormons, know better than anyone else what the rest of the world needs. We, the Mormons, know that you are “offended,” but trust us, we know better than you do (Holocaust victims or anyone else), because you just don’t understand.

    How rude, how presumptuous, and how arrogant. But I suppose that is the Mormon way.

  • Tornogal

    Peaceman2: If the baptisms aren’t sufficiently offensive to the Holocaust victims, with all respect your comment here most assuredly will be: “However, I think people are getting a little carried away with taking offense at things they don’t understand. ”

    There it is. We, the Mormons, know better than anyone else what the rest of the world needs. We, the Mormons, know that you are “offended,” but trust us, we know better than you do (Holocaust victims or anyone else), because you just don’t understand.

    How rude, how presumptuous, and how arrogant. But I suppose that is the Mormon way.

  • brownies4breakfast

    I’d be glad for a Jewish brother stand in for me and be circumcised after I’m dead. Just don’t ask me to volunteer while I’m alive! ; ^ )

  • douglashervey

    I think it is very important to separate official actions of the Mormon Church from actions carried out by a few radical members. No one is allowed to baptize Holocaust Victims without facing church discipline. I think it is important to recognize that there are members in every religion who disregard their church’s policies or even commit crimes. The issue is whether the church has made serious attempts to prevent such actions and whether it is following through on its promise to discipline such practices. All reports indicate the affirmative on both accounts.
    As for the legitimacy of proxy baptisms, that is a completely separate question. Even if the practice might seem strange to many, the New Testament does mention that at least some groups engaged in the practice without any disapproval from Paul (1 Cor. 15:29). If Mormons view the practice as a way to give those an opportunity to learn about its Christian teachings who never had a chance in this life, then one could see it as an attempt to demonstrate God’s justice. And Mormons only believe that the proxy baptism becomes valid if the person in whom the work is performed freely and voluntarily accept that action.
    Mormons’ beliefs shouldn’t be politicized merely b/c there is a candidate running for President who happens to be Mormon.

  • lynnlm

    I have a lesbian, pagan friend. She is now inspired to baptize all of the deceased Mormons by blood, into her coven so that she can have fun with them for eternity.

  • netzach

    Actually, it’s more along the lines of “We, the Mormons, know more about our doctrines and practices than the rest of the world.” And there’s nothing wrong with that statement – it’s accurate.

    What we /could/ use is a little more understanding of the Jewish point of view. None of my ancestors were killed, by anti-Mormons, at Haun’s Mill – but it still makes my blood boil to hear the phrase “Nits make lice.” It’s part of my ethnic history, if you will.

    Similarly, Jews have had to suffer many things, including the kidnapping of their children so that they could be raised as Christians. Baptism for the dead, while it seems innocuous enough to Mormons, may be evoking bad memories from the Jewish ethnic history, and causing much worse feelings among them than seem reasonable to us.

    We could do a better job of understanding where they are coming from, in my humble opinion.

  • netzach

    If she thinks it will benefit us, and she cares enough about dead Mormons to do it, I’ll send her my name and address – she can add me to the list!

  • haveaheart

    If it’s in Deseret News, it’ll be doctored to present the Mormons positively.

  • dkb50

    The spinelessness of the Mormon church when it is faced with criticism of its tenets is appalling. They backed down from plural marriage when it would have prevented the statehood of Utah, they backed down from denying blacks the priesthood when blacks finally won their civil rights, now they’re backing down from proxy baptism when public opinion turns against them. (I love the irony that the dead Jews who are proxy baptized are considered “gentiles” by the Mormon church.) If the church doesn’t have the courage of its “divinely revealed” convictions what is going on? What these church positions have in common is that they turned out to be obstacles in the Mormon church’s path to the national power that it craves.

  • Right0rWr0ng

    If the Mormons are right, then we all need to be baptized. Look me up when I’m dead.
    If they’re wrong, then who cares what a bunch of goofs do in a strange building with a piece of paper that has the words Ann Frank on it?
    Stating that Ann Frank has been baptized does not make her a Mormon.
    No one has said “Ann Frank is now a Mormon”; only that somebody took a swim while her name was read. Big deal.
    If you believe that you have to be baptized in order to be saved, then it seems to me that baptizing dead people is not an act of hate like rape or swastika painting, but an act of love like visiting the sick or volunteering at the homeless shelter. Of course if the Mormons are wrong, then it’s just a waste of time, but an act of love none the less.
    As long as they don’t advertise all the famous dead people they’ve baptized and act like their all now Mormon, then it shouldn’t provoke such outrage.
    I wonder if you get just as mad when someone burns the flag.
    To me, burning the flag is like spitting the graves of those who have died protecting my freedoms.
    These freedoms include, ironically, burning the flag, but also freedom of religion.
    If you are going to insist that a group cease practicing all or part of their religion, because you find it offensive, then you might as well burn the flag.
    As long as you’re exercising your freedom of speech, you might want to thank a veteran for your ability to openly bash groups of people that you personally don’t agree with.
    Thanks Dad. Thanks son.

  • C_Cai

    For one, as Latter-Day Saints, are physically baptized ourselves on behalf our deceased _ancestors_ to give them them the _opportunity_ to accept the ordinance of baptism.
    Secondly, the author of the findings is probably a bitter ex-member who had a plant do the baptisms because, look at the coverage it’s giving her. Very sad.

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