Mormon church blocks whistle-blower's access to baptism data

March 9, 2012

c. 2012 Salt Lake Tribune
(RNS) A technological crackdown has effectively blocked a prominent
whistle-blower from accessing the Mormons' database that chronicles so-called
baptisms for the dead.

Church officials said the move helps prevent overzealous Mormons and
mischief-makers from violating church policy by submitting the names of
prominent Jewish figures.

The decision to suspend the New FamilySearch accounts of anyone searching
for Jewish Holocaust victims or celebrities also freezes out Utah
researcher Helen Radkey, whose baptism discoveries have embarrassed the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for decades.

"I have been effectively stopped," says Radkey, who shared a log-in screen
shot that reveals a red box reading: "Your account has been locked
temporarily. Please try again later."

Radkey, who surreptitiously uses the account information of Mormon
confidants, says the recent names she uncovered "shook church officials." Besides
Anne Frank, Gandhi and slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl,
Radkey revealed that the parents of famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal had
been baptized by proxy in Mormon temples.

"Obviously, they have been very concerned about the data that has been
coming out and said, 'We have to do something about it,'" Radkey said.

Mormons believe that living people can be baptized on behalf of dead
relatives and others, who then can either accept or reject the ordinance.

Asked whether the new restriction is directed at Radkey, LDS church
spokesman Michael Purdy released the following statement:

The church is committed to preventing the misguided practice of
submitting the names of Holocaust victims and prominent individuals for proxy
baptism. ... 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. Abuse
of the system will result in the permanent loss of database access.