Is Posthumous Baptism a Living Problem for Romney?

Just in case Mitt Romney thought he could rest on his laurels for convincing the CPAC that he was a) a conservative and b) that Mormons can get along with Evangelicals, the religion issue popped up again this week. It wasn''t Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum or even Barack Obama, but the parents of the late Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal who triggered the latest round. According to an apology issued by the Mormon church, a renegade baptizer included the names of Wiesenthal''s parents who were murdered in the Holocaust in a batch of posthumous baptisms.

This isn''t the first time that posthumous Mormon baptisms of Holocaust victims has hit the headlines. In 1995, the Church of the Latter Day Saints said that it would remove Holocaust victims from the baptismal wait-lists, which are formed through the church''s massive International Genealogical Index. Nevertheless, prominent Jewish figures spanning the centuries have already been posthumously baptized, notably Anne Frank and Maimonides.

But the previous incarnations of the baptism scandal did not occur when a Mormon candidate was actively seeking to tread where no member of his church has before – the highest seat in the land. Which is how Romney found himself this week in an awkward face-off with octogenarian Nobel Laureate (and Holocaust survivor who, according to Huffington Post has been shortlisted for posthumous baptism himself) Elie Wiesel.


Wiesel told the HuffPo that he wonders "if as a candidate for the presidency Mitt Romney is aware of what his church is doing. I hope that if he hears about this that he will speak up." But the Romney camp is taking its cue from a different religious school – and seems to have taken a vow of silence on the issue.

At the other side of the political field, Romney''s enemies are licking their chops. The Jewish vote has become a bellwether in this election campaign with Republicans vying for Evangelical votes and big money-donors, and Obama trying to prevent a slip at the Jewish polls - and Romney''s rivals in party and out have been trying to show why Romney isn''t good for the Jews. Finally, some fodder for an argument against the man who plays up his BFF status with Bibi at Bain. Don''t expect to hear any direct lines drawn, however – I mean, holding religion against a candidate is so 1960, right?


This is also not the first overlap between posthumous baptism and presidential politics; a year after Obama''s election, it was revealed that during the 2008 elections, Obama''s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, also received rites – 13 years after her death.