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LDS Church responds to 'ironic' proxy baptism charges

Vancouver British Columbia Temple, Baptismal font, April 2010, Photos by IRI
Vancouver British Columbia Temple, Baptismal font, April 2010, Photos by IRI

SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is "doing exactly what we have been asked to do and what we said we would do" in implementing technological barriers to prevent unauthorized name submissions for proxy baptism, according to LDS Church spokesman Michael Purdy.

Purdy was addressing media reports Thursday that Helen Radkey, the researcher behind the recent spate of announcements that the names of Holocaust victims and others were being inappropriately submitted for the LDS practice of baptism for the dead, believes the new technological measures are primarily aimed at thwarting her work.

"It is ironic for someone to claim they are being targeted by the measures we have taken to prevent unauthorized submissions for baptism" when that is precisely what the church has been asked by Jewish leaders and others to do, Purdy said. He added that the measures are intended to "deny access to names that should not be submitted because they are against our policy."

In an email to the Huffington Post, Radkey said that the LDS Church is "so desperate to block investigative access to their huge uncontrolled file of baptized names, they are tracking those who access this data, and locking out those, like myself, who find controversial names, names they would conceal."

Purdy indicates that it is impossible for the church to track Radkey's efforts in the database because "there is no account for a Helen Radkey."

"If she, or anyone else, is misusing a Church member's identity to search for Holocaust names, then the system is set up to block those kinds of activities," Purdy said, adding that "there have been a handful of accounts blocked so far."

"We have said before that no system is foolproof but that we were committed to improving our ability to prevent unauthorized names from being submitted for baptism," Purdy continued. "To complain about us doing just that is baseless."