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Removing ancestors' names from Church's database


Scott Lloyd

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An e-mail arrived here the other day from somebody who had seen the PBS documentary "The Mormons" and wanted to know how he could go about removing the names of his ancestors from the Church's archives.

I forwarded the e-mail to somebody over at the Family History Department. But had I responded to the e-mail myself, I would have said something along these lines:

They are not just your ancestors. With the passage of time, descendancy increases geometrically. Thus, within not very many generations, one is likely to have thousands, even millions, of descendants. It's therefore quite likely that you and I are distantly related. If so, at some point in our respective genealogy, our ancestry would merge. You would have no greater right to demand that those ancestors' names be removed from the Church's database than my right to see that they remain there and that proxy ordinances are performed in their behalf.

The proxy ordinances we perform in the temple are conditional upon the deceased accepting them. To put it another way, those who are dead have the option of accepting or rejecting the ordinances performed for them. We don't get to choose; they do. So we do it for everyone we can.

Likewise, you don't get to choose; they do.

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I think your reply would've been a good one (except you'd probably have to reword it, as it could come across a little hostile in its delivery, considering that you don't know the person, and this could be a sensitive subject for them). I agree completely with your reply though. They have other descendents, and it's not our choice, it's their choice.

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I think your reply would've been a good one (except you'd probably have to reword it, as it could come across a little hostile in its delivery, considering that you don't know the person, and this could be a sensitive subject for them).

That's why I forwarded it on to someone else, who is apt to respond more delicately than I am inclined to.

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That's why I forwarded it on to someone else, who is apt to respond more delicately than I am inclined to.

Yeah. I'm actually quite interested about this. What do you think the actual response will be? Do you think the church would actually remove the names under request? What if they've already been baptized? I'm guessing you won't find out what the reply is, but has anything like this happened before. I remember about the Holocaust victims and Barack Obama's parents, but I don't think those were very similar to this situation.

I'd hope the church would make similar points to you in their response, as I think they're good and valid, but if the person persists, what would happen? Would the church just say "No", or would it give in?

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Yeah. I'm actually quite interested about this. What do you think the actual response will be? Do you think the church would actually remove the names under request? What if they've already been baptized? I'm guessing you won't find out what the reply is, but has anything like this happened before. I remember about the Holocaust victims and Barack Obama's parents, but I don't think those were very similar to this situation.

I'd hope the church would make similar points to you in their response, as I think they're good and valid, but if the person persists, what would happen? Would the church just say "No", or would it give in?

I daresay this isn't the first time something like this has come up. It would surprise me greatly if the Church complied, as the request/demand is hardly reasonable, for reasons I indicated above.

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I searched the Help Section of Family Search site. This is as close I could come to answering for you.

Can I delete a name from the GEDCOM File Summary page?

No. You currently cannot delete an individual from the GEDCOM File Summary page. You will need to do that from the See Me and My Ancestors page.

There, you will be able to delete a record that you contributed. You will not, however, be able to delete a record that someone else has contributed, or that you contributed and then someone else added information to.

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I daresay this isn't the first time something like this has come up. It would surprise me greatly if the Church complied, as the request/demand is hardly reasonable, for reasons I indicated above.

Yeah. I think it could be one of those things that seem reasonable at first, but isn't so. I'd never actually heard the "your ancestor will probably have hundreds of descendents" arguement before, so it's possible that the person making the request might not have thought of that either, and might think the request is reasonable. Hopefully the church mentions that in their reply, as I think it's a better response than the "it's his choice, not ours" one.

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I searched the Help Section of Family Search site. This is as close I could come to answering for you.

Can I delete a name from the GEDCOM File Summary page?

No. You currently cannot delete an individual from the GEDCOM File Summary page. You will need to do that from the See Me and My Ancestors page.

There, you will be able to delete a record that you contributed. You will not, however, be able to delete a record that someone else has contributed, or that you contributed and then someone else added information to.

Thanks for that! :P

So it seems the answer would be "No" in this situation.

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.:

They are not just your ancestors. With the passage of time, descendancy increases geometrically. Thus, within not very many generations, one is likely to have thousands, even millions, of descendants. It's therefore quite likely that you and I are distantly related. If so, at some point in our respective genealogy, our ancestry would merge. You would have no greater right to demand that those ancestors' names be removed from the Church's database than my right to see that they remain there and that proxy ordinances are performed in their behalf.

I totally agree-especially if the ancestor is more than three generations back.

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I daresay this isn't the first time something like this has come up. It would surprise me greatly if the Church complied, as the request/demand is hardly reasonable, for reasons I indicated above.

How far down the line do you have to go to be unreasonable.

Let's say, for example, that all siblings (none married -- no grandchildren) of deceased parents (each spouse was a single child whose parents are dead) signed a notarized document requesting that their parent's names be removed from Church records. Would this request be reasonable?

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Yeah. I'm actually quite interested about this. What do you think the actual response will be? Do you think the church would actually remove the names under request? What if they've already been baptized? I'm guessing you won't find out what the reply is, but has anything like this happened before. I remember about the Holocaust victims and Barack Obama's parents, but I don't think those were very similar to this situation.

I'd hope the church would make similar points to you in their response, as I think they're good and valid, but if the person persists, what would happen? Would the church just say "No", or would it give in?

Why should the church remove the names/ordinances of, for example, my great grandmother, just because my nonmember 2nd cousin didn't like it? He has no more right to her memory than I do. Especially so because the 2nd cousin I'm thinking of never knew her (he was born after she died), while I lived with her for about a year after my mother died (giving me no more right, btw). Scott's response that if we go back far enough we are all descended from someone who is likewise everyone else's ancestor.

I know this has been discussed here in the past, and so a search could bring it forward, but there is the phenomenum of the Most Recent Common Ancestor. For Western Europeans, the MRCA lived as recently as AD 1000!

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How far down the line do you have to go to be unreasonable.

Let's say, for example, that all siblings (none married -- no grandchildren) of deceased parents (each spouse was a single child whose parents are dead) signed a notarized document requesting that their parent's names be removed from Church records. Would this request be reasonable?

They would definitely be more reasonable than anyone else making the request, but it's still a tricky issue because what happens when the great-grandchild of one of those sibling's converts and wants to be their gr. gr. grandparents names back in the database? Do they have less of a right to do that than the children of those people and how could the church sort that kind of an issue out?

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I don't think the church has any responsibility to remove a record if it has been contributed by another relative. No matter the tantrums. If I did my grandparents. They are mine as just as much as the other aunts and uncles who may object. Come to think about it they are not mine. They belong to HF. DNA has nothing to do with Spiritual. Tough if the others don't like it.

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In my previous post, I suggested that neither my 2nd cousin nor I had any greater right to our great grandmother, but in a separate case, my great-grandmother had a daughter who was my grandmother, and her second husband (my father's stepfather), had two children from his first marriage. I'm not related to these people. I had never given my stepgrandfather any thought when it came to ordinances (though he and I had a relationship and I thought the world of him), because he was not my blood and so on.

However, just a few years ago out of the blue I got an impression that I needed to take care of him and his first wife. I ignored it at first, but it came a number of other times, and began to bother me. Not knowing if I should actually act on it or not, I assembled the information I needed to do the work, and considered the matter prayerfully. I could, I suppose, have contacted his descendants to get their permission (which I assume would not be forthcoming), except I knew that both his children and their spouses, and all their children I knew about had long since passed away. His great-grandchildren would have been the only ones left, and I hadn't the faintest idea where they were, what their names were, or even if there were any still living. Finally, I decided that since it seemed as if the Spirit had prompted me several times, there was some obligation on my part to act. So I did.

Now, if a great grandchild of his should eventually come forward and learn of the ordinances performed, that person would presumably have a right superior to mine in the matter and could in right petition the church to have the ordinances vacated and the names removed. Seems unlikely, but I suppose it is possible.

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Official church policy on ordinances.

Restricted Submissions

Church members should not submit individuals that they are not related to (with the exception of close friends as provided in the full policy statement). This includes:

Famous people.

Those gathered from unapproved extraction projects.

Jewish Holocaust victims. Members cannot do the ordinances for these people except under the following conditions:

etc

I understand this is a change from the previous policy where I could do a submission for anyone who was born more than 95 years ago.

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Official church policy on ordinances.

I understand this is a change from the previous policy where I could do a submission for anyone who was born more than 95 years ago.

LOL, Well I think that is one reason (among millions) I am not a church leader. Its my opinion that we do the work for the dead regardless of the feelings of people who don't believe in our church. That is probably not the diplomatic sensitive answer but hey its just my feeling that if they don't believe in our church they wouldn't believe in baptism for the dead hence whatever we do is futile, so here is the question; Why do they care?

~~~>If Anijen was a guy who made the rules I'd say baptize them all and let the critics go bonkers....

Edited to add since Anijen is not that guy he follows the rules like a good guy should and supports his leaders.

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I think it would be unjust to have anyone's name removed from Church Records but your own. Even if we were horribly wrong (which we are not, quite the opposite), it couldn't hurt anyone after they pass on. And since we are right (see D&C 1: 30); there are great blessings associated with being part of the Church of Jesus Christ.

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I think it would be unjust to have anyone's name removed from Church Records but your own. Even if we were horribly wrong (which we are not, quite the opposite), it couldn't hurt anyone after they pass on. And since we are right (see D&C 1: 30); there are great blessings associated with being part of the Church of Jesus Christ.

Maybe the Feds will mandate and "opt-out" or "opt-in" policy, much like they do for spam.

"If you would not like the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to perform proxy ordinances for you upon you death, please click here.

Or:

Please select the ordinances you would like the Church to perform on your behalf upon your death:

-- Baptism (This is our entry-level offering and will get you in the Celestial Kingdom. Comfort and wonderful amenities await you.)

-- Priesthood Ordination ( Males only. We offer this ordinance for those men who always felt their spirituality was inherently less than that of the women in their lives -- especially their wives. Priesthood ordination will enable your to achieve the level of spirituality inherent within women and will enable you to take advantage of some of our other offerings.)

-- Initiatory and Endowment (This is our most popular offering and will allow you to become angels in the Celestial kingdom. Angel status grants you more amenities than does our entry-level Baptism package including 24/7 access to the celestial Spa and Sports Center)

-- Marriage and Sealing (If you made it through life and didn't end up hating your husband/wife or disowning your children for being gay, becoming Mormon or joining the Watchtower Society, we highly recommend this ordinance. The practice of polygamy is optional and, in some limited cases, polyandry is also allowed.)

-- Calling and Election ( This ordinance is not offered openly but may be made available to certain couples considered on a case-by-case basis.)

:P

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Wow. Ok, I have a close friend who is deeply hurt by our church's "arrogance" (her word) that ours is the only true religion, that hers is not good enough, and feels that we have, in effect, hi-jacked her ancestors names to do with as we please. She is the closest living relative, only living child of her parents and their ancestors, and was never asked permission (which as has been quoted on this thread, is against church policy.)

Yeah... so... it's the church's policy. Not ours to do with as we please... :P

Judge me if you will, but I found the address for her to write in and have the names removed. I wonder though, just because the names have been white-outed, have the ordinances? But I digress.

There are many people, (especially the Jews), who have been deeply offended and hurt by our decision to tell them they are wrong. It took the church over 10 years to clean up the mess with the holocaust victims, and last I heard, they continue to do so.

Yes, they are our ancestors. But... telling others that our "rights" to them are more important than theirs? Why do we trump them? And "because I have a testimony" or "because I felt the spirit" isn't a fair reply to them, is it? Seems to me that policy is policy, and for a reason.

Article of Faith 11:

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

And yes, there is a check box if someone using the system does not want ordinances performed for their family members. Unfortunately, it often goes ignored, usually because of duplicate submissions. (My Daddy was a genealogy missionary.)

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Wow. Ok, I have a close friend who is deeply hurt by our church's "arrogance" (her word) that ours is the only true religion, that hers is not good enough, and feels that we have, in effect, hi-jacked her ancestors names to do with as we please. She is the closest living relative, only living child of her parents and their ancestors, and was never asked permission (which as has been quoted on this thread, is against church policy.)

Yeah... so... it's the church's policy. Not ours to do with as we please... :P

Judge me if you will, but I found the address for her to write in and have the names removed. I wonder though, just because the names have been white-outed, have the ordinances? But I digress.

There are many people, (especially the Jews), who have been deeply offended and hurt by our decision to tell them they are wrong. It took the church over 10 years to clean up the mess with the holocaust victims, and last I heard, they continue to do so.

Yes, they are our ancestors. But... telling others that our "rights" to them are more important than theirs? Why do we trump them? And "because I have a testimony" or "because I felt the spirit" isn't a fair reply to them, is it? Seems to me that policy is policy, and for a reason.

Article of Faith 11:

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

And yes, there is a check box if someone using the system does not want ordinances performed for their family members. Unfortunately, it often goes ignored, usually because of duplicate submissions. (My Daddy was a genealogy missionary.)

Kristine the church did not hijack anything. My right to have my grandparents work done is just as valid as my cousins right to protest having their work done.

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I wonder though, just because the names have been white-outed, have the ordinances? But I digress.

Correct. If the names are removed from the temple records, that will nullify the temple ordinances. This was done with the Holocaust victims which were done improperly.

I suppose it is possible that if someone could make the case that ordinances were done improperly, they could contact the church to have the ordinances revoked. With the new policy, the church is making it clear that they are taking this issue very seriously.

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