Ex-Mormon Australia native Helen Radkey is a spiritual consultant and educator, soul reader, past-life therapist, prayer therapist, marriage celebrant, writer and researcher, but is best known as that rabble-rouser who’s been keeping close tabs on the LDS Church’s temple ordinances for the past 18 years. City Weekly caught up with Radkey to find out what she's been keeping tabs on lately.
Why do proxy baptisms matter to people who don’t believe in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
Alive or dead, people deserve to be treated with respect. Proxy baptism is a disrespectful attempt to reframe a person’s life and negate the religious choices they made when they were alive. Jewish Holocaust victims were killed by Nazis because they were Jews. They should always be memorialized as Jews. Ideally, Mormons should not be treating the memory of murdered Holocaust victims as though Judaism is a halfway house to God. Mormons claim they are only offering the dead person the option of becoming Mormon. However, the wording of the baptismal rite itself says nothing about choice, and the subsequent confirmation declares the deceased is now a member of the LDS Church.
Every couple of years, it’s reported that the proxy-baptism dispute between Jewish leaders and the LDS Church has come to an end. How accurate is that?
News media reports on the Mormon-Jewish controversy are usually not accurate. As far as I know, the failed 1995 Mormon-Jewish agreement was never kept on the Mormon end. The key element in that arrangement was the LDS Church’s promise to cease the improper posthumous baptisms of Jews, with special emphasis on Jewish Holocaust victims. That never happened. Even the newer pact between Mormons and Jews—which was announced on Sept. 1, 2010, and is little more than a year old—has been violated. LDS officials say they have “fixed” the problem of the posthumous baptism of Jewish Holocaust victims, but this is not the case.
LDS temple workers conduct proxy baptisms and endowments based on genealogical data submitted via a Website, New FamilySearch. How secure is it?
Only Mormons can enter names for temple rites for the dead in New FamilySearch. Outsiders cannot access it. New FamilySearch appears to offer few safeguards against illicit submissions of Jewish Holocaust names. Claims that this relatively new program offers surefire security measures against the wrongful submissions appear to have been exaggerated—it does not appear to be working anywhere near as well as claimed.
What are your top three favorite entries you’ve found in the proxy database?
Jesus Christ, Mickey Mouse and Ted Bundy. I’d also like to mention the 9/11 hijackers. I found most of their names in New FamilySearch. These discoveries freaked me out, and I began muttering that the submitter should be deported from the USA.
What else have you been up to lately?
Since December 2010, I have been researching the polygamous ancestry of Mitt Romney. I have added Jon Huntsman’s polygamous ancestry to the mix (Huntsman shares some common ancestors with Romney). But most of my focus is on Romney. Plural marriage was the chosen lifestyle of many of his Mormon ancestors—yet Romney has tried to distance himself from polygamy, calling the practice “bizarre” and “awful.” If he is sincere, Mitt Romney should acknowledge that polygamy is still an inherent part of the Mormon faith.