Texas Law to Allow Churches to Provide Their Own Security. “The Texas legislature has passed the Church Security Protection Act aimed at allowing churches to provide their own security through members of their congregations. In a special report, [reporter] Angel San Juan found that Texas is one of just three states—Oklahoma and Florida are the other two—that restricts church members from providing their own security. Under Texas law, a church would have to establish itself as a security company and be licensed by the state or hire a company that is licensed by the state, which can be an expensive undertaking” (“Church security law passes in Texas,” KFDM.com).
Creating a Safety Team offers churches guidance on how to create and train a security team.
Couple Robbed at Gunpoint in Georgia Church Parking Lot. “The Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office is trying to find a man who robbed a husband and wife at a local church. ‘The robber, he didn't really steal much, he just kind of stole more of that sense of safety and security,’ said Reverend Zack Martin with Crossroads United Methodist Church. Rev. Martin said the husband and wife were robbed of their wallets when they left the church two Saturdays ago [May 20] around eight at night. He said the two victims were leaving the church after preparing for Sunday services the following day when they were surprised as they got to their car. ‘He just kind of surprised them as they were getting into their car and within 10 seconds, basically pointed a rifle at them, demanded the wallets, and he ran back the way he came,’ said Martin” (“Husband and wife robbed at Rockdale County church,” Fox5Atlanta.com).
Read “Does Your Church Need a Security Guard?” for more information on keeping congregants safe.
White House Moves to Undo Contraception Mandate. “Federal officials, following through on a pledge by President Trump, have drafted a rule to roll back a federal requirement that many religious employers provide birth control coverage in health insurance plans. The mandate for free contraceptive coverage was one of the most hotly contested Obama administration policies adopted under the Affordable Care Act, and it generated scores of lawsuits by employers that had religious objections to it. On its website, the White House Office of Management and Budget said it is reviewing an ‘interim final rule’ to relax the requirement, a step that would all but ensure a court challenge by women’s rights groups. Mr. Trump signaled a change in direction on May 4, when he issued an executive order instructing three cabinet departments to consider amended regulations to ‘address conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate.’ The order cites a section of the Affordable Care Act that refers specifically to preventive services for women” (“White House Acts to Roll Back Birth-Control Mandate for Religious Employers,” The New York Times).
Saddleback Volunteer Accused of Molesting Teens. “A youth mentor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest has been accused of lewd acts involving two teenage boys while he volunteered there, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said Friday [May 26]. Ruven Meulenberg, 32, was arrested Thursday [May 25] and booked on suspicion of lewd and lascivious acts on a child and is being held on $100,000 bail, authorities said. Jail records show he is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday [May 30] in a Santa Ana courtroom. Detectives were alerted after a 14-year-old boy told his parents that Meulenberg had molested him, Lt. Lane Lagaret said. The parents told the church’s youth pastor, who called the Sheriff’s Department, Lagaret said. Another 14-year-old boy turned up during the detectives’ investigation, Lagaret said. Meulenberg is a Lake Forest resident who had been volunteering at the church for six years, and during that time, he developed relationships with the two boys, Lagaret said. Some of the conduct allegedly took place on church property, officials said. In a statement to its congregation, Saddleback Church said it was ‘shocked and grieved to share that this week a Saddleback member reported that a student ministry volunteer had acted inappropriately with two 14 year old boys.’ The church said its volunteers are fingerprinted, their backgrounds are checked and that they receive annual training on appropriate conduct” (“Saddleback Church youth mentor accused of lewd conduct with teen boys,” Los Angeles Times).
Our newly-revised Reducing the Risk offers complete training for churches in the number one legal threat to churches: child sexual abuse.
Samuel Ogles is Associate Editor and Special Project Manager for Church Law & Tax.
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