Photo by Michael Smith/Newsmakers.
The Mormon church is putting up what it says is a "new technological barrier" in an effort to crack down on baptisms by proxy on well-known Jewish figures, a practice that received a burst of media attention recently after slain journalist Daniel Pearl and Anne Frank were discovered to be on the baptism lists.
But, as the Salt Lake Tribune reports, the new firewall won't only prevent overzealous Mormons from violating a church policy against the practice—it also blocks the chief whistle-blower who exposed the controversial baptisms from accessing the LDS database.
Mormon leaders say blocking Helen Radkey wasn't the goal, only a result of their decision to implement the security measures that prevent database users from accessing or submitting the names of Holocaust victims and other prominent Jewish figures unless they can prove they are family members.
Regardless of the motivation behind the new firewall, some Jews were quick to criticize its implementation. "The church as just done a very foolish thing," Jewish genealogist Gary Mokotoff told the Tribune. "They are implying they have something to hide."
Here's the LDS statement on the new firewall:
"The church is committed to preventing the misguided practice of submitting the names of Holocaust victims and prominent individuals for proxy baptism. In addition to reiterating its policy to members, the church has implemented a new technological barrier to prevent abuse of the New FamilySearch system. 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."