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.