Mormons Are Still Posthumously Baptizing Holocaust Victims by the Forward

Mormons Are Still Posthumously Baptizing Holocaust Victims

Image by Getty Images

Mormons are continuing to posthumously baptize Holocaust victims — despite church rules that are meant to restrict the ceremonies only to a member’s ancestors.

This discovery was made by a former Mormon and researcher Helen Radkey and shared with the Associated Press.

The church, in a statement to the AP, acknowledged the ceremonies violated its policy and said the baptisms would be invalidated.

These “proxy baptisms” are rooted in a core church teaching that Mormon families spend eternity together. It is common for new members to the church to perform the baptism for their non-Mormon ancestors. Under official church teachings, the rituals only provide the deceased a choice in the afterlife to accept or reject the offer of baptism, a distinction that is important for defenders of the religious tradition.

By “performing proxy baptisms in behalf of those who have died, Church members offer these blessings to deceased ancestors,” the website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reads. “Individuals can then choose to accept or reject what has been done in their behalf.”

The ceremonies first drew public outrage in the 1990s when it was discovered they were performed on thousands of Holocaust victims. The rite has persisted, though, drawing the ire of many Jews.

To read more about Jews and Mormonism go here and here.

Email Sam Kestenbaum at and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum


Sam Kestenbaum

Sam Kestenbaum

Sam Kestenbaum is a contributing editor and former staff writer for the Forward. Before this, he worked for The New York Times and newsrooms in Sana, Ramallah and Beijing. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum and on Instagram at @skestenbaum .

Mormons Are Still Baptizing Holocaust Victims

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Mormons Are Still Posthumously Baptizing Holocaust Victims

Thank you!

This article has been sent!