By Meghan Keneally
UPDATED:12:39 EST, 8 March 2012
Officials from the Mormon church have shut down outsider access to their database that lists the names of people they have baptised, as their practice of posthumously baptising famous individuals of other faiths has drawn much criticism.
Though church leaders say the reason for the crackdown is to ensure that it helps prevent said posthumously baptisms, many see an ulterior motive.
The baptisms of Anne Frank, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, Marilyn Monroe and many more non-Mormons were released by genealogy expert Helen Radkey who used to log into the database using the information of Mormon sources.
Cracking down: Officials at the main Mormon temple in Salt Lake City announced the change on Sunday
Ms Radkey, who is an ex-Mormon, believes that her discoveries prompted the Church’s sudden crackdown.
‘Obviously, they have been very concerned about the data that has been coming out and said, “We have to do something about it,”’ she told the Salt Lake Tribune.
The issue of posthumous baptisms has caused a religious firestorm after an agreement from 1995 required Mormons to avoid submitting names of Holocaust victims for baptism unless they are their direct ancestors.
That rule has been flouted repeatedly, with Anne Frank being the most egregious case as some overzealous Mormons have tried baptizing her a total of ten times.
Posthumous baptisms: Anne Frank (left) has been the subject of the practice 10 times and Daniel Pearl’s name was recently found in the registry as well
The dead relatives of Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel were recently found in the listings, and the same is true for the parents of famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal.
Following the announcement of the database shutdown, which came during Sunday services, LDS Church spokesman Michael Purdy reiterated that the policy shift was intended to help prevent the baptism of outsiders rather than keep others from exposing wrong-doing.
Targeted: Genealogy expert Helen Radkey is responsible for the many of the inappropriate baptism findings
‘The church is committed to preventing the misguided practice of submitting the names of Holocaust victims and prominent individuals for proxy baptism,’ he said in a statement.
‘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.’
Controversial practices in the Church of Latter Day Saints have become more of a political spectacle than normal because the Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney is Mormon.
One scandal that came out earlier in the campaign was that members of Mr Romney’s family allegedly performed a posthumous baptism on his wife Ann’s atheist father, Edward Roderick Davies.
Mitt Romney’s father George took an active role in converting Ann (left) to Mormonism when she was a teenager
Ann Romney’s father was given a proxy baptism during a ‘special family ceremony’ at the Salt Lake Temple- in the baptismal font shown here- 14 months after he died