New system for proxy baptisms--Church hopes will thwart mischief makers

The LDS Church now has in place a computer program it believes may halt -- or at least slow -- the submission of incorrect, inappropriate or dubious information into its massive collection of genealogical records.

"The new version of FamilySearch is a technological deterrent to improper submissions," LDS spokesman Scott Trotter said Thursday. "For example, users must certify that the names they are submitting are of family members."

Mormons submit the lion's share of the historical data, either from private or public sources, typed singly or "extracted" from a list. Thousands of names are entered into the system every day from all over the world. The church continues to reiterate its long-standing policy "to only submit names for temple work of those to whom they are related," Trotter said. "The vast majority of names submitted are done so correctly."

In earlier programs, most new data would include the name of the person who submitted it, as well as which temple rituals, such as baptisms and marriages, had been performed for the deceased. Now that information is available only to Mormons who can produce a membership number and the date they were confirmed members.

Helen Radkey, the self-appointed whistle-blower on Mormon proxy baptisms, is not convinced this will do anything but shield the identity of those she claims are pouring American celebrities and Holocaust victims back into "temple-ready" files.

LDS leaders and officials at the church's Family History Library declined to be interviewed for this story. They would not say whether any protocols are in place to catch people who are creating mischief by submitting names such as Thomas Edison and Simon Wiesenthal.

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