Would You Let Harvey Weinstein or Kevin Spacey Attend Your Church?
Since news of the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke last month, abuse headlines from Hollywood, Washington, D.C. and New York have dominated news feeds and social media accounts.
But child abuse experts warn that predators are rampant not only in certain industries but in churches and ministries across the country.
Brotherhood Mutual, an independent church insurance provider, says ministries are frequently faced with the dilemma of known sex offenders who want to participate in worship and other ministry activities.
It’s a situation that pits two ministry goals against each other: the safety of the most vulnerable versus the restoration of known offenders.
Richard Hammar, Assemblies of God legal counsel, has written and published a variety of books and articles on the subject and says that 80 percent of churches from all denominations allow known sex offenders to attend with strict boundaries.
Those parameters can include: a chaperone policy, limited areas or ministries in the church and prohibition from interacting with children.
Boz Tchvidjian is a law professor at Liberty University Law School and the founder of G.R.A.C.E., a non-profit group that consults with ministries on the issue of sexual abuse.
He believes that most churches err on the side of helping the offender rather than protecting the safety of children, potential adult victims and abuse survivors.
“There is this belief that we have to be forgiving and we’re being unforgiving and judgmental if we create too strict of parameters,” he told CBN News.
Tchvidjian says potential and former victims and not offenders must be the primary responsibility of churches and ministries.
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