Mike Terry, Deseret News archives
Riverton FamilySearch Library

Continuing its effort to encourage all church members to comply with established policies for the submission of names for proxy baptisms, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent an email Tuesday to users of its New FamilySearch genealogical website reminding them that the conditions for use of the website "require compliance to the policies before you can submit names to the temple."

During recent weeks the church's emphasis on genealogical research in support of its doctrinal belief in eternally uniting families through rites and ordinances performed in LDS temples has drawn public attention – and, in some cases, criticism. Particular notice has been made of the unauthorized submission of the names for temple work of Jewish Holocaust victims despite a 1995 policy that such names would not be available for proxy baptism.

The email to New FamilySearch users quoted Dennis C. Brimhall, managing director of the church's Family History Department, from a recent article in the LDS Church News, in which he said "the searching out of our family, and preparing the names for the work to be done in the temple is … a responsibility, but it is also a privilege."

"That privilege is extended to the members by those who hold the (priesthood) keys to the work," Brimhall continued. "The(se) keys … are held by the First Presidency of the Church."

A letter from the church's First Presidency outlining the policies was attached to the email. This is the same letter recently sent to local LDS leaders, who were asked to read the letter during worship services. The First Presidency letter stressed that "our preeminent obligation is to seek out and identify our own ancestors" and indicates that "those whose names are submitted for proxy temple ordinances should be related to the submitter."

"Without exception," the letter continued, "church members must not submit for proxy temple ordinances any names from unauthorized groups, such as celebrities and Jewish Holocaust victims. If members do so, they may forfeit their New FamilySearch privileges. Other corrective action may also be taken."