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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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ChurchSecurityInstitute.wordpress.com

March 21, 2012  10:40am

Dealing with visitors or difficult members is hard enough but dealing with those with mental health issues which may cause them to be disruptive, unpredictable & possibly even dangerous is much harder. Your church should have a policy that has been reviewed & approved by your attorney or insurance company as to your duties, rights & responsibilities on what you can do. As Frank Sommerville states, if the church doesn't have a relationship with the person or persons, it may have no liability to warn or discuss any possible or potential dangers. This doesn't mean that you can't be aware & have a internal review & have a plan on what to do wif they become a problem or danger to your staff, members or other visitors, if a need. People will say "Call 911" & that is true, but what if 911 is delayed in responding and the situation that started as a disruption becomes dangerous, what do you do until may arrive? This is why you need a policy to act on and security to handle the problem.

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