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July 12, 2012

Setting Boundaries for Sex Offenders to Attend Church

An Oregon church says its insurer's restrictions go too far.

Set Free Christian Fellowship in Medford, Oregon, recently received a letter from its insurance provider that outlines requirements for allowing known sex offenders to attend the church. Stipulations include fully disclosing the identity of sex offenders to the 100-member congregation, allowing offenders to attend only one predetermined service, and requiring offenders to be escorted while on site.

The Medford church, which specifically reaches out to people struggling with addictive behaviors, fears that these proposed requirements may lead to its closure.

Churches of all types must closely examine the best way to approach the inclusion of sex offenders in their midst. A Christianity Today national study of nearly 3,000 churches revealed many believe sex offenders should be allowed to attend church, under continuous supervision, and subject to appropriate limitations.

Are the limitations imposed on the Oregon church too stringent?

Richard Hammar, a church law and tax expert and an advisor for ChurchSafety.com, addresses this difficult question in an Ask the Expert Q&A. He writes extensively on the topic in the Church Law & Tax Report Feature Report “Sex Offenders in the Church.” Additionally, two training downloads—Sex Offenders in the Church and Juvenile Offenders in the Church—provide guidance on the legal and safety concerns churches face, as well as sample policies to help churches integrate a plan.

Marian V. Liautaud is the editor for Church Management Resources at Christianity Today. Her position includes serving as editor for a variety of books, publications, websites, and e-newsletters, including ChurchSafety.com. Marian has edited dozens of books and written numerous articles. She is a member of the National Association of Church Business Administration.

Related Tags: church, criminal, insurance, justice, law, liability, ministry, outreach, Richard Hammar, risk management, safety, sex offender

Comments

The first step in the successful integration of sex offenders back into society is to understand that the Sex Offender Registry (SOR) is one of the biggest legislative frauds in the last one hundred years of oregon (sic) political history.

Why do I say this? Because the SOR was created (back in the 1990s) based on the many (now shown to be false) assumptions that are based on the typical TV "news" media stereotype of a sex offender on the registry.

What false assumptions? Generally speaking: "they can't be 'cured'" and "they're all same". Both false. People who are on the SOR list have comparably low re-offense rates (Only about 5% and far lower than other criminal re-offense rates for the same period of time), are not responsible for the vast majority of new sex crimes (95% ), and most child sex abuse is committed by family members and acquaintances (not the guy on the sex offender registry visiting your church).

Registered Sex Offenders (RSOs) need a place of worship like any other part of his reintegration back into society without the unneeded special attention, discrimination, humiliation or shaming by the rest of us.


What if a Church allows a member that is convicted sex offender to come back into services after he has "done his time" Do you think it right or appropriate that his child victim should sit in a Church knowing that he is there! You cannot expect a child to grasp the full understanding of Christs forgiveness.
The statistics into recidivism rates for sex offenders are extremely high at a min of 52%, you must realize that a large number of offences do NOT get reported!
with all due respect please learn to truly recognize evil when it walks into your door.
While the Laws seem harsh, speak to any victim of this evil and they will tell you about Harsh!
God cannot miraculously heal these perps, they must be willing to do the work on rehab themselves. God is the only one who can read the minds and hearts of men! If you feel so comfortable with them, why not show hospitality to them yourself, invite them over for dinner and introduce them to YOUR children!
Sometimes people just have to realize that there is true evil in this world and that sometimes things really are broken and can't be fixed!

The comment by Tom Madison is false. The recidivism rate for all sex offenders is 5.2%, and this includes high-level offenders. All things considered, sex offenders are not dangerous. Please educate yourself on the facts about this issue before spreading more lies and unwarranted hysteria. It appears the comment by Tom Madison is based solely on emotion rather than levelheaded facts.

Regarding recidivism rates, information varies. The 5.2% statistic is based on information from 1994, according to the Department of Justice. Since then:

"Persons who commit sex offenses are not a homogeneous group, but instead fall into several different categories. As a result, research has identified significant differences in reoffense patterns from one category to another. Looking at reconviction rates alone, one large-scale analysis (Hanson and Bussiere, 1998) reported the following differences:

child molesters had a 13% reconviction rate for sexual offenses and a 37% reconviction rate for new, non-sex offenses over a five year period; and rapists had a 19% reconviction rate for sexual offenses and a 46% reconviction rate for new, non-sexual offenses over a five year period.

Another study found reconviction rates for child molesters to be 20% and for rapists to be approximately 23% (Quinsey, Rice, and Harris, 1995).

Individual characteristics of the crimes further distinguish recidivism rates. For instance, victim gender and relation to the offender have been found to impact recidivism rates. In a 1995 study, researchers found that offenders who had extrafamilial female victims had a recidivism rate of 18% and those who had extrafamilial male victims recidivated at a rate of 35%. This same study found a recidivism rate for incest offenders to be approximately 9% (Quinsey, Rice, and Harris, 1995)."

Source: http://www.csom.org/pubs/mythsfacts.html

Also, Rich Hammar addresses recidivism rates in "Sex Offenders in the Church" (http://store.churchlawtodaystore.com/sexofinchfer.html). He states:

"Church leaders also should also be aware that pedophilia generally is considered to be incurable, and very difficult to control. In addition, pedophiles have a high recidivism rate, meaning that those who are convicted and sentenced to prison are likely to revert to such behavior upon their release. The Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers website states that "predatory pedophiles, especially those who molest boys, are the sex offenders who have the highest recidivism rates. Over long follow-up periods, more than half of convicted pedophiles are rearrested for a new offense."

Does the blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ really truly work, or is it just a big lie?
Who said that they were the chief of all sinners?
Does God's Word say anything about judging others?
Do we really want to "Feel about it" or "think about it"?
Come on, think about it!
Praise the Lord God Almighty!

Let me get this straight insurance agencies are setting policies for churches. Really? Now what kind of church is it that would turn away from the grace of God to the direct of corporations and don't say the standard line it's to protect the children! After 3-5 years probation and therapy a registered person is actually less likely to re-offend that the general public! FACT 92% of those convicted are people without a recorded history of sexual misconduct. While according to the latest Department of Just Report only 1.9% of registrants have re-offended. Select at random 100 people and see how many in their past had some kind of sex violation? I would be shocked if it's lower than 5%. Think about it christian...if someone is so bad they must be on a list WHY ARE THEY AMONG US? The registration list is evil and wrong (in any form). If you treat these believer any different at your church ie have them escorted and the like you church isn't worth going to. TRUTH

Listen very carefully. There are very important fundament issues here. It's really quite simple and clear. The Gospel is based on grace and even more than that Jesus himself gave an example of that grace as it related to sex offenders. The woman caught in the act of adultery had an immediate sentence of death, but how did Christ handle that? It disturbs me greatly that churches even consider this issue. If they are repentant then they are forgiven. God said it and for me and my house that is enough. If the church put more on that individual than others in the Lord then their church isn't worth spending time or waisting time attending. They insult the very reason Christ came. If your church differentiates against these people I'd suggest you find one that doesn't. Otherwise you bend your knee to this registry that is no more than a form of LIVING DEATH. It gives no place for redemption. That's not the kind of America I wish to be apart of let a lone a kind of church I'd attend. TRUTH.

If the church offers wine knowing that some people struggle with alcohol and he/she drinks it, they are hurting themselves and/or their family. If a pedophile is allowed with church children and falls, he/she is hurting MY child, MY family. Would you want your child in the care of a known pedophile (by the church)? A church that does this is irresponsible to their congregation. Not my child. Not my church!

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