Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Christian Lawyer: I’m Getting Lots of Calls from Pastors Worried About Reporting Abuse and Effects on Church Membership

On the May 29th “Rainer on Leadership” podcast, Thom Rainer interviewed Josh Bryant, an Arkansas attorney who helps churches and pastors with general legal assistance.

Bryant provided some very helpful information about how churches are to protect themselves legally in five areas of law. The last topic discussed on the podcast was “child protection and mandated reporting.”  Bryant said this is the “number one” issue for which churches end up in court.

But here is the alarming statement by Bryant:
“I’m getting a lot of calls [to his practice] saying ‘listen, if I report this, I have 70 people in my church, if I report this and they find out I reported it, I might lose 5 or 6 families and then my church gets cut in half.’ And I understand and have a whole lot of sympathy for that particular situation but there’s criminal liability for a mandated reporter not to report suspected child abuse.
Pretty sad to think even in this day and age pastors and church members are still calling lawyers on advice as to whether they should report suspected child abuse to the authorities, expressing concern that they might lose church members if they report! I’m not sure I share Bryant’s sympathy for those “situations”.

So if you suspect child abuse at your church:

Don’t take it to the Lord in prayer.

Don’t take it to the pastor or deacons.

Don’t take it up wit da book.

You don’t even need to call a lawyer.

Take it to the police or child protective services.

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