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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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Another proxy baptism of Anne Frank triggers strong Mormon condemnation

The LDS Church responded Tuesday to news that Anne Frank, one of the most renowned Jewish victims of the Holocaust, was recently baptized — again — in a Mormon temple. The proxy ritual, known as "baptism for the dead," was performed in the Santo Domingo LDS temple in the Dominican Republic.

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also learned that Jan Karski, a Roman Catholic who witnessed the emerging Holocaust in Poland and risked his life to bring that news to U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, had been similarly baptized.

Karski biographer E. Thomas Wood "called on the Utah-based church to remove Karski's name from its database of the baptized dead," Wood said in a release.

In both cases, LDS spokesman Michael Purdy said, the submitters' computer access to the church's genealogical records has been suspended.

The LDS Church then issued its strongest response yet to the violation of its agreement not to do proxy baptisms for Holocaust victims who are not related to a church member.

"It takes a good deal of deception and manipulation to get an improper submission through the safeguards we have put in place," Purdy said in an email, language that suggests these baptisms could be the work of mischief makers. "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. ... 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."

The LDS Church "keeps its word," Purdy said, "and is absolutely firm in its commitment to not accept the names of Holocaust victims for proxy baptism."

Mormons believe it is their spiritual duty to do these temple rituals and that those on the other side can choose whether to accept the action.

Peggy Fletcher Stack

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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