Setting Boundaries for Sex Offenders to Attend Church

Set Free Christian Fellowship in Medford, Oregon, recently received a letter from its insurance provider that outlines requirements for allowing known sex offenders to attend the church. Stipulations include fully disclosing the identity of sex offenders to the 100-member congregation, allowing offenders to attend only one predetermined service, and requiring offenders to be escorted while on site.

The Medford church, which specifically reaches out to people struggling with addictive behaviors, fears that these proposed requirements may lead to its closure.

Churches of all types must closely examine the best way to approach the inclusion of sex offenders in their midst. A Christianity Today national study of nearly 3,000 churches revealed many believe sex offenders should be allowed to attend church, under continuous supervision, and subject to appropriate limitations.

Are the limitations imposed on the Oregon church too stringent?

Richard Hammar addresses this difficult question in an Ask the Expert Q&A. He writes extensively on the topic in the Church Law & Tax Report Feature Report "Sex Offenders in the Church." Additionally, two training downloads—Sex Offenders in the Church and Juvenile Offenders in the Church—provide guidance on the legal and safety concerns churches face, as well as sample policies to help churches integrate a plan.

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.

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