Elie Wiesel, a noted Nobel Prize recipient and Holocaust survivor, called on GOP candidate Mitt Romney and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to discontinue the practice of proxy baptisms of dead Jews.
Wiesel spoke to The Huffington Post after he learned that his name had been posted on a restricted genealogy website for possible posthumous proxy baptism. Helen Redkey, a former Mormon who conducted genealogy research for the church, also reported that Wiesel's deceased father and maternal grandfather's names were also on the list.
The practice of posthumous baptism has been a controversial part of the Mormon faith for many years.
Posthumous baptism by "proxy" allows deceased persons to receive the Gospel in the afterlife and either accept or reject the baptismal rites. If they accept the rites, they will then be admitted into one of the various levels of heaven.
Under Mormon beliefs, baptism is essential for salvation, ever for those who are deceased. However, posthumous baptism does not make them a Mormon or a member of the church.
Amid opposition, Mormon church leaders have apologized to the family of Holocaust survivor and Jewish rights advocate Simon Wiesenthal after his parents were posthumously baptized in a Mormon temple ritual, according to The Associated Press.
In late January, the LDS church had baptized in proxy Wiesenthal's parents, Asher and Rosa Rapp Wiesenthal, in ceremonies at Mormon temples in Arizona and Utah.
"We sincerely regret that the actions of an individual member of the church led to the inappropriate submission of these names," Michael Purdy, a spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said in a statement issued Monday. "We consider this is a serious breach of our protocol and we have suspended indefinitely this person's ability to access our genealogy records."
The individual who submitted Wiesenthal's name was not identified.
Wiesel also expressed his disgust at the practice.
"I think it's scandalous. Not objectionable, it's scandalous," Wiesel told The Huffington Post.
Former Massachusetts Gov. and GOP candidate Mitt Romney, who formally held the position of Bishop in the LDS church, is said to have baptized dead Jews by proxy at a church of Boston. When once asked by Newsweek if he had engaged in proxy baptism, Romney answered, "I have in my life, but I haven't recently."
The Christian Post sent an email to the Romney campaign to confirm if Romney ever baptized decreased Jewish individuals but has not received a reply.