The Worst Treasurer • Child Abuse Overhaul • Church Pig Punching?: News Roundup
This week's news headlines that affect churches.
The Worst Treasurer • Child Abuse Overhaul • Church Pig Punching?: News Roundup

The Worst Treasurer

Church Seeks Prosecution of Former Treasurer in Suspected Theft of $400,000

A Knoxville, Tennessee, church is seeking to prosecute its former treasurer after a review of church finances showed a substantial amount of money had gone missing over several years. The church estimates the former treasurer stole over $400,000. The church previously became suspicious but trusted the treasurer’s rationalizations for the financial irregularities. “Trusting church members decided there was no reason for a more rigorous inquiry,” reports WBIR.com. Eventually, though, the irregularities could not be ignored.

To make matters worse, the church suffered a fire in its sanctuary this past Easter. It had planned to install a smoke alarm in the sanctuary but was told by the treasurer that doing so was too costly for the church’s finances.

Make sure your ministry is safe from embezzlement. Download our Essential Guide to Internal Controls for Churches to be prepared.

Child Abuse Overhaul

Pennsylvania Enacts 23 New Child Protection Laws

In the wake of the Penn State sexual abuse scandal, Pennsylvania lawmakers have enacted 23 new laws relating to child sexual abuse and its prevention. One measure now defines child abuse as leaving a child unsupervised with a sexually violent predator. Another law mandates background checks for all volunteers—including church volunteers—who supervise children, along with child abuse clearances and recertification every three years. The new laws also name school employees, clergy, and other religious leaders as mandatory reporters, notes The Daily Item.

Our new resource, Church Board Guide to a Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Policy, makes it easy for church leaders to learn how to best protect children under their care.

Church Pig Punching?

Under-Fire Church Cancels Pig Wrestling Event

After 44 years, St. Patrick Catholic Parish in Stephensville, Wisconsin, has decided to discontinue its “Original Pig Rassle” event, an annual fundraiser in which participants attempt to wrestle a pig into a bucket in a muddy pen. The event has long been criticized by animal lovers, and Global Conservation Group, a Wisconsin animal welfare group, has said the event is inhumane with pigs being “punched in the face, kicked, body-slammed, and yelled at for over three hours.” All 37 pigs at last year’s event were slaughtered afterward. Global Conservation Group claims the event violated a state law that prohibits humans from fighting animals, according to Sky News.

The church has decided to avoid controversy this year after an online petition garnered 81,000 signatures asking for the event to stop. The church will instead host a mud football game.

If you ever find yourself facing public relations issues, download our resource, Communicating in a Crisis.

First Amendment v. Separation

ACLU Sues Feds in Bid to Make Catholic Groups Provide Abortion to Undocumented Immigrants

The federal government contracts with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to provide care for the nearly 60,000 undocumented minors who cross over from the Mexico border each year. The USCCB has received over $73 million for providing services. The USCCB, however, does not provide contraceptive and abortion services to minors under its care, something the ACLU and the Obama administration want to change. The ACLU argues that taking federal money means the USCCB cannot limit its services for religious reasons. The USCCB argues that it has taken care of minors for years without incident and that its religious beliefs are protected by the First Amendment. Fox News has more of the story.

To learn more about how the First Amendment and ‘separation of church and state’ impact a minister, see Pastor, Church & Law: Liability & Church and State Issues.

Limitations, Limitations

Catholic Church Fights Push to Allow More Abuse Claims in New York

New York lawmakers are proposing a measure that would remove the statute of limitations on child abuse claims in the state. The law currently allows claims to be made by victims up to five years after their 18th birthday. The proposed law, however, would eliminate the statute of limitations on abuse cases going forward and would create a one year window under which any past claims could be brought forward, according to The Chronicle. The Catholic Church has argued that such a law is unjust and would threaten to bankrupt the church in New York. The Catholic Church supports a different bill that would extend the abuse claims window to ten years after a victim’s 18th birthday.

Keep your ministry safe from child sexual abuse with Reducing the Risk Leaders’ Starter Kit.

We're always preparing the best and fastest ways to bring you the news in the context of expert advice. For more regular updates, follow us on Twitter @ChurchLawAndTax or on Facebook.

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is published with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations."

Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.

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