The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
FAMILY HISTORY DEPARTMENT
50 East North Temple Street
Salt Lake City, Utah 84150
TO: Ernest W. Michel and Herbert Kronish
FROM: Elder Monte J. Brough
DATE: April 24, 1995
RE: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Baptism of Jewish Holocaust Victims---Summary of meeting held on January 6, 1995 at Senator Orrin G. Hatch's Office, Room #135, Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.
On Friday, January 6, in response to Ernest Michael's letter dated November 21, 1984 to President Hunter of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a meeting was held in the office of Senator Orrin G. Hatch. It was attended by Senator Hatch, Elder Monte J. Brough, Ernest W. Michel , Herbert Kronish and Lamar Sleight, the local representative of The Church of Jesus of Latter-day Saints. The latter only acted as an observer. The meeting lasted over two hours. The folowing is a summary of the meetting based on notes taken at the meeting.
Ernest Michel opened the meeting and made a brief refrence to the revulsion he felt concerning the Mormon baptism of his parents, grandmother and other relatives, and the revulsion of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors (American Gathering), for whom he was acting as an authorized representative. Mr. Michel stated that the American Gathering considers its members as guardian of the rights of Jewish Holocaust victims. He expressed concern that if the posthumous baptism of Jewish Holocaust victims is not rescinded that it will play into the hands of those espousing revisionist theories. He made reference to the exchange of correspondence with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since he first read the article concerning the posthumous baptism of Jewish Holocaust victims in the Jewish Forward 1994.
In response, Elder Brough stated that, as an official of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he had investigated the baptisms, how they came about and what could be done to meet the demand for remedial action requested in Mr. Michel's letter of November 21, 1994. He stated that in 1990 the Church's Family History Department had discovered that nine people had made four major submissions of lists on computer disks, namely, from the German Gedenbuch, the Dutch Book, the French Book and from lists at the Holocaust Museum in Israel, aggregating approximately 380,000 names of Jewish Holocaust victims who were baptised, to the Family History Department's International Genealogical Index (IGI). Mr. Brough stated that there may have been other Jewish Holocaust victims who were baptised, but that there is no way to trace back the submission of their names because no lists or computer disks were found. He stated that in 1991 President Benson ordered that the Family History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints cease the baptism of known Jewish Holocaust victims, except for those who were direct ancesters of living members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mr. Brough said that the unauthorized submission for proxy baptism of names contravened Church policy. However, he admitted that many baptisms were made subsequent to 1990 because, he said, it was impossible to control the baptisms once the lists had been submitted to all Family History libraries.
Mr. Brough stated that he was authorized by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ro explore the possibilities for a resolution to the problem as outlined by Mr. Michel. After this exploratory meeting, Mr. Brough was to develop a set of recommendations for The First Presidency of the Church. Final agreement will require the review and approval of The First Presidency.
Mr. Brough read from a letter signed by The First Presidency, dated January 5, 1995, in which they reaffirmed the policy of baptizing direct ancestors of living members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and requested that this practice be continued. However, the letter noted that many persons not of Church lineage or ethnicity, including Jewish Holocaust victims, had been posthumously baptized without conforming to the requirements of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and advised that such practices should be discontinued. He indiccated that the IGI, maintained by the Family History Department, is the most comprehensive of all genealogical indexes, contains approximately two hundred million names of persons baptized or converted from 138 countries (mostly from North America, Western Europe and Asia) and cost millions of dollars. He also mentioned that the Church is the major preserver of genealogical records with a collection of approximately two billion individuals.
On the condition that the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors could provide written assurance to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that the actions taken by the Church will be sufficient to the American Gathering and the organizations in the Jewish Community named below, Mr. Brough agreed to recommend to The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the following actions:
1. Remove from the next issue of the IGI the names of all posthumously baptized Jewish Holocaust victims whose names appeared in the four major transmissions referred to above (which he said would take approximately 12 months) or, alternatively, leave all the names, eradicate any indication of baptism and include a code next to each name that would signal "not to be used for Christian Ordinances." He suggested the later because he said that it would protect against any subsequent erroneous submissions of such names and avoid the future baptism of such persons. Mr. Brough indicated a willingness to meet with representatives of the American Gathering in New York or Salt Lake City to discuss in greater detail how these baptismal submissions were made and implemented and what additional remedial actions could be taken;
2. Provide the names of all posthumously baptized Jewish Holocaust victims included in the aforementioned lists and make a gift of a restricted license to use the UDE (Universal Data Entry) software to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., A Living Memorial to the Holocaust - Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City; the Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles and Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, Israel.
3. Confirm in writing to the American Gathering when all such posthumously baptized Jewish Holocaust victims had their names removed from the IGI;
4. The Church will reaffirm its policy and issue a directive to all officials and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter--day Saints to discontinue any future baptisms of deceased Jews, including all lists of Jewish Holocaust victims (where identified or known as Jews), except if they were direct ancestors of living members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or the Church had the written approval of all members of the deceased's immediate living family (immediate family is herein defined to mean parents, spouse and children);
5. All relevant literature produced by the Church will state explicitly that no records of deceased Jews (where identified or known as Jews) will be used for baptism or other Christian Ordinances without the written approval of all members of the deceased's immediate living family (as defined above);
6. Agreed that the Church will remove or mark, as soon as possible, from the IGI the names of all deceased Jews, where they can be identified, who are found to be improperly included and will correct those Church officials or members who knowingly violated the abovementioned directives;
7. Release to the American Gathering the abovementioned directive dated January 5, 1995, from the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and join in an appropriate announcement when final agreement is reached between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the American Gathering with respect to (i) removal from the IGI of the names of known Jewish Holocaust victims who received Christian Ordinances, (ii) discontinuance of future baptisms of deceased Jews (when identified or known as Jews) who are not direct ancestors of living members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or whose immediate living family (as defined above) did not give written approval and (iii) discontinuance of the specific extraction from records of deceased Jews (where identified or known as Jews) which may be used for baptism or other Christian Ordinances without the written approval of all members of the deceased's immediate living family (as defined above ), but this shall not be construed to mean that records for genealogical purposes only may not continue to be kept and made available to the public.
8. On April 17, 1995 it was agreed that, pursuant to paragraph 1 above, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would (i) remove from the next release of the IGI the names of all posthumously baptized Jewish Holocaust victims who were so identified (rather than leave the names with a code next to each name that would signal "not to be used for Christian Ordinances") and (ii) delete the words "or mark" from the first line of paragraph 6 above.
9. It was agreed that Mr. Michel and the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors will exercise their best efforts to communicate and persuade the other Jewish organizations as to the sufficiency of this agreement.
It was agreed that differences between friends should be reduced and eliminated.
WE AGREE TO THE FOREGOING ACTIONS AS OF MAY 3, 1995
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
By: Monte J. Brough, Presidency of the Seventy
By: Monte J. Brough, Executive Director, Family History Department
Genealogical Society of Utah
By: Monte J. Brough, President
American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors
By: Benjamin Meed, President
World Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors
By: Ernest W. Michel, Chairman
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
By: Lester Pollack, Chairman
Malcolm L. Hoenlein, Executive Vice-Chairman
United States Holocaust Memorial Council
By: Miles Lerman, Chairman
New York Holocaust Memorial Commission
By: George Klein, Co-chairman
By: Robert M. Morgenthau, Co-Chairman