Sunday, March 4, 2012

Official Church Statement on Submitting Names for Temple Ordinances

In a news release dated 2 March 20121, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a letter on 29 February reiterating policies concerning submission of names for proxy temple ordinances.

The letter will be read to all Church congregations worldwide. The letter states:
We would like to reiterate the policies first stated in 1995 concerning the submission of names for proxy temple ordinances:
Our preeminent obligation is to seek out and identify our own ancestors. Those whose names are submitted for proxy temple ordinances should be related to the submitter.
Without exception, 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.
Members are encouraged to participate in FamilySearch indexing which is vital to family history and temple work.
Bishops are asked to post this letter on their meetinghouse bulletin boards. Church members may seek the assistance of the family history consultants in their area for additional information, if needed. Name submission policies are also clearly stated on New.FamilySearch.org.
We appreciate the faithful adherence to these policies by all members of the Church.
Sincerely yours,
Thomas S. Monson
Henry B. Eyring
Dieter F. Uchtdorf
The First Presidency
  This letter arises as a consequence of actions taken by individuals with access to the FamilySearch New.FamilySearch.org website that have failed to follow the specific instructions of the site and submitted unauthorized non-family members for Temple ordinances. There have been hundreds of news and blog posts about this issue recently, here is one example from the Salt Lake Tribune. The actions of the few misguided individuals has been the basis for a general condemnation of the Church and its members.

The whole system of Temple ordinance submission relies on the honesty and good will of all of the participants. Unfortunately, there are some who insist in violating the clear rules, laid down for many years concerning this aspect of genealogical work. There is also the possibility that those who oppose the Church have intentionally obtained access and submitted names to embarrass the Church.

My personal experience in this has shown me that the practice of submitting names for unrelated individuals or those whose relationship is tenuous to say the least, is quite widespread and fairly common. In actual practice, any time some one submits a name for Temple ordinances without proper documentation and through demonstrating a relationship, they are in effect, violating the spirit, if not the letter of the mandate.

Until the First Presidency issued this statement. I have declined to comment on the practice in this blog. But I feel the situation now warrants an expression of my agreement and support of the First Presidency statement as well as my more general observations. I also feel that this is an even better reason for replacing New.FamilySearch.org with Family Tree as soon as possible.

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