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Peggy Fletcher Stack
Peggy Fletcher Stack has been producing stories for The Salt Lake Tribune's award-winning Faith section for nearly two decades. Writing about contemporary faith, rituals, and spirituality as well as religion's conflicts and cohesion has always been Stack's passion. Follow her at facebook.com/peggy.fletcherstack, Twitter @religiongal

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Wiesel asks Romney to help stop Mormon proxy baptisms

Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel wants Mormon Mitt Romney to tell his church to stop baptizing dead Jews.

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The Utah-based faith's practice of proxy baptism of Jews is "scandalous," Wiesel, author of the award-winning memoir, Night, told the Huffington Post. "[It's] not only objectionable, it's scandalous."

Wiesel was responding to reports that his name was on a list of potential candidates for the church's posthumous baptism rituals. The 83-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner is, of course, very much alive.

The LDS Church policy "is that members can request these baptisms only for their own ancestors," church spokesman Scott Trotter said Tuesday in an email. "Proxy baptisms of Holocaust victims are strictly prohibited."

In this case, Trotter said, "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."

The submission of names was particularly troubling to Wiesel, the Huffington piece said, because he was "among a group of Jewish leaders who campaigned against the practice" and was promised in 2010 that the LDS Church's new computer system would prevent such proxy baptism of Holocaust victims.

"I wonder if, as a candidate for the presidency, Mitt Romney is aware of what his church is doing," Wiesel told Huffington Post's Andrea Stone. "I hope that if he hears about this, that he will speak up."

The Romney campaign declined to comment, Stone reported, but Romney did tell Newsweek in 2007 that he had participated in the church's "baptisms for the dead," but "[not] recently."

Peggy Fletcher Stack



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