Jewish leaders met with leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in Salt Lake City on Sunday and Monday. The topic of the meeting was the practice of LDS church members baptizing deceased Jews in the church's rituals.
The two faith groups made an agreement in 1995 to stop the Latter-day Saints from entering Jewish Holocaust victims' names into genealogy indexes and performing proxy baptisms for them. Jewish leaders claim that the Mormons continue to posthumously baptize Jews and other Holocaust victims, after a decade of frustration over what they call broken promises.
Mormon Church members have long collected names from government documents and other records worldwide for posthumous baptisms. (The LDS Church's explanation of this practice can be found here.) Under the practice, most Catholic popes have been proxy baptized, as have historical figures like Genghis Khan, Joan of Arc, Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and Buddha, according to Helen Radkey, an independent genealogical researcher in Salt Lake City who helped coordinate this week's meeting.
At the end of the two-day meeting, the issue seems resolved. No official agreements have been announced. However, leaders of both sides made comments to the press after the meetings. "The spirit that existed between the Mormon leaders and ourselves was superb, and I am very pleased about it," said Ernest Michel of the Jewish delegation.
The LDS Church admits some Jewish names got into its records against policy, and the two sides have agreed to a committee to keep improper Jewish names out of LDS records.