The Mormon church has responded to reports that a posthumous baptism of Jewish Holocaust victim Anne Frank took place last weekend, days after the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints faced tremendous criticism for another of its members baptizing the parents of Holocaust survivor and Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal.
Larry Bair, president of the Mormon temple of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, where the Anne Frank proxy baptism is reported to have been performed, told the Associated Press on Thursday he had looked into the report but was unable to verify that Frank had been baptized.
If it did occur, Bair told the AP, "it was a mistake."
Earlier this week, researcher Helen Radkey, a former Mormon who reported the Wiesenthal baptisms, said she found Frank's name in proxy baptism records dated Feb. 18. (Read Jason Horowitz’ profile of the watchdog researcher here.) Afterword, the church issued this statement:
The church keeps its word and is absolutely firm in its commitment to not accept the names of Holocaust victims for proxy baptism.
It takes a good deal of deception and manipulation to get an improper submission through the safeguards we have put in place.
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 by suspending the submitter’s access privileges. We will also consider whether other Church disciplinary action should be taken.
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.
Frank, who as a young teen wrote a private diary detailing her life in hiding in Amsterdam, died in a concentration camp in 1945.
Her diary, first published in 1947, is one of the world’s most-read books.
Mormons believe that earthly baptisms can help non-Mormons advance in the afterlife. For more on why Mormons perform proxy baptisms, read Mormon leader Michael Otterson’s column on what the ceremonies mean to Mormon families, and why they have a policy of not baptizing Jewish Holocaust victims.