Sex Offenders in the Pew

In April 2010, Christianity Today International (CTI) conducted a national survey of 2,864 people, including ordained church leaders (15 percent), church staff (20 percent), lay members (43 percent), and other active Christians (22 percent). Respondents were drawn from the readers of CTI publications and websites. The purpose of the "Sex Offenders in the Church" survey was to explore attitudes and beliefs on whether to allow sex offenders to participate in faith communities. The survey explored what practices churches use to keep their congregations safe when sex offenders are welcomed.

Pastors, lay leaders, and churchgoers overwhelmingly agree that sex offenders who have legally paid for their crime should be welcomed into churches. In fact, 8 in 10 respondents indicated that registered offenders should be allowed to attend church under continuous supervision and subject to appropriate limitations.

Ian Thomsen, church administrator for Arvada Covenant Church in Arvada, Colorado, says, "If we can reach out to sex offenders, and through our efforts change their lives for the better and take a significant risk away from society, we see this as a tremendous challenge—but what a wonderful challenge. We want to take it on."

"Jesus said there's no unforgiveable sin except blasphemy of the Holy Spirit," says Mark Tusken, rector of St. Mark's Church in Geneva, Illinois. "Now that doesn't mean we want to condone sexual crimes. We're not out to hang a shingle that says Sex Offenders Not Welcome any more than we want to hang a shingle that says Come, Y'All. But my prayer has always been that St. Mark's would be a safe place—a place where people can come because they sense the refuge of Christ here.

"That means parents can come without even giving a thought about something happening to their kids, but also that somebody with a sex offense in their past ought to be able to come and fit in and not be judged." In the 16 years that Tusken has overseen his congregation, he has known of only one convicted sex offender attending.

Click here to continue reading Marian Liautaud's article from the September 2010 issue of Christianity Today.

Where does you and your church land on this subject?

To learn more, check out:

- The 2010 Sex Offenders in the Church Survey (a free executive report);

- Richard Hammar's "Sex Offenders in the Church" Feature Report;

- "Sex Offenders in the Church," a training resource for church leaders;

- "Juvenile Offenders in the Church," a training resource for church leaders;

- Reducing the Risk, 3rd Edition, Richard Hammar's training resource for church leaders to prevent sexual abuse.

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.

Like This Article?

If you enjoyed reading this article, get more like it. Become a Church Law & Tax member today.

Learn more

Already a member? .

Recent Posts
Become a Church Law & Tax Member

ChurchSalary

ChurchSalary

Experience a whole new way to set compensation. Eliminate the guesswork – get access to detailed compensation reports in just minutes.

Planning the Pastor’s Retirement Package

Planning the Pastor’s Retirement Package Member access only

Use this guide to develop your pastor's retirement plan for all stages of life.
Understanding Wage and Hour Laws

Understanding Wage and Hour Laws Member access only

Learn about the Fair Labor Standards Act and how it applies to churches.