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Disruptive People in Church

What is a church's responsibility for protecting others?

Question:
What is a church's responsibility to a disruptive person in the church? I am talking about someone who lost his temper and yelled at someone during service. The leaders escorted him out of service then held him accountable with daily phone calls for a week or two. However, no one checked up on the safety of his wife and children, even when the wife told the pastor she feared her husband would become physically violent with her and/or the children.

Answer:
In general, the law does not impose a duty to warn third parties about dangers. Of course, exceptions to this general rule exist. The duty to warn exists only when the harm is reasonably foreseeable and the individual or church has a duty to warn about this foreseeable danger. Since this is a state law issue, the details about how this law is applied may vary from state to state.

First, one has to determine the relationships. The relationship must create a duty to warn. If the church is not providing professional or pastoral counseling to both the husband and wife, then it does not have a legal duty to warn the wife about the husband, or vice versa. If no professional or pastoral counseling relationship exists with either spouse, then the law will not likely impose a duty to warn the spouse.

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Posted:
November 10, 2009

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