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Q & A: Notifying the Congregation of a Sex Offender

Q: Our church is responding to the presence of several registered sex offenders in our services and other activities. We have allowed these persons to attend, subject to several conditions to which they have agreed. Some of our board members are suggesting that we take the additional step of notifying the congregation of the identity and background of these persons as a further way to protect our church and ensure appropriate accountability. Should the congregation be informed?

A: The question of congregational notification arises in any church that allows registered sex offenders to attend services and other activities with or without conditions. Note that some churches have adopted a policy of total exclusion of registered sex offenders. However, churches with a total exclusion policy are in the minority. Christianity Today International recently conducted a comprehensive survey of church practices in handling registered sex offenders. One of the survey questions asked, "In your opinion, do convicted sex offenders, who have been released from prison, belong in a church?" Nearly 80 percent of all respondents answered "yes, as attenders, under continuous supervision and subject to appropriate limitations." However, one-fourth of all respondents answered "no, if one or more of the offender's victims attends the same church."

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