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LDS Church blocks abuse of proxy name submissions

Published: Wednesday, March 7 2012 10:32 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — In a letter read in LDS Church worship services last Sunday, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reiterated "the policies first stated in 1995 concerning the submission of names for proxy temple ordinances" and urged "faithful adherence to these policies by all members of the church."

This week, the church has introduced a "technological barrier to prevent abuse of the New FamilySearch system," according to LDS Church spokesman Michael Purdy.

"Anyone trying to access names that have been restricted will have their account suspended and be required to contact FamilySearch to establish their family relationship in order to have their access reinstated," Purdy said. "Abuse of the system will result in the permanent loss of database access."

According to Purdy, the new barrier was instituted because "the church is committed to preventing the misguided practice of submitting the names of Holocaust victims and prominent individuals for proxy baptism."

The Salt Lake Tribune reported Wednesday that the new restriction on New FamilySearch blocked searches for the names of Holocaust victims by LDS Church members who have been "surreptitiously" assisting Helen Radkey. Radkey has been cited by reporters around the country as the source for stories about proxy baptisms or name submissions for LDS temple work of Holocaust victims and celebrities.

Church officials have indicated, however, that these efforts are not directed at any individual user. Rather, they are meant to protect names from being accessed inappropriately by anyone.

Michael Otterson, director of LDS Church Public affairs, said last month in the Washington Post's On Faith blog that "the church is looking at every way it can both to educate its members and address the deficiencies of technology. I am confident that it will continue to do all it can to resolve legitimate concerns while preserving the core doctrines of the faith."

EMAIL: jwalker@desnews.com

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