New Boy Scouts Policy • Cross Burnings • Charleston Shooter: News Roundup
This week’s headlines that affect churches and church leaders.
New Boy Scouts Policy • Cross Burnings • Charleston Shooter: News Roundup
  1. Accused Charleston shooter indicted. “A federal grand jury has indicted the 21-year-old South Carolina man accused of killing nine people last month at a historically black church on hate crime charges, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Wednesday. Dylann Roof has been charged with nine counts of murder in South Carolina state court stemming from the Charleston shooting, and could face the death penalty there. Some of the 33 federal charges also are capital offenses, though Lynch said no decisions have been made on whether to seek the death penalty” ("Accused Charleston Shooter to Face Federal Hate Crime Charges," Bloomberg.)
  2. New policy for Boy Scouts. “The Boy Scouts of America on Monday ended its ban on openly gay adult leaders. But the new policy allows church-sponsored units to choose local unit leaders who share their precepts, even if that means restricting such positions to heterosexual men" ("Boy Scouts End Ban on Gay Leaders," The New York Times).
  3. Bullet holes found in a church. “Charleston County deputies are responding to the third incident of bullet holes found at a church in as many days on James Island. ... Deputies found about five bullet holes to a stained glass window of the church” ("Bullet Holes Found in Third Charleston County Church," Determine guidelines for your church’s security needs and selecting a security service by reading Does Your Church Need a Security Guard?
  4. Failure to report sexual-assault allegations. “Four leaders of a Longmont church have been sentenced for failing to report sexual-assault allegations against the church's youth pastor in 2013. ... Prosecutors say the men failed to report allegations that then-Vinelife youth pastor Jason Roberson, 36, had an inappropriate relationship with a church member starting when she was 15 and continuing for seven years. Roberson pleaded guilty and was sentenced last year to two years in prison for sexual exploitation and stalking” ("Four Colorado Church Elders Sentenced for Failure to Report Sex Abuse Allegations Against Youth Pastor," 7NEWS KMGH-TV).Richard Hammar’s May/June Church Law & Tax Report feature article, “Child Abuse Reporting and the Clergy Privilege” details the extent of clergy’s obligation to report abuse.
  5. Cross burnings. “El Paso police are investigating a pair of cross burnings outside a church with an African-American and Hispanic congregation on the East Side. The knee-high crosses were placed and set on fire on two occasions since Saturday outside Smyrna Seventh-Day Adventist Church at 10560 Shannon Place, an El Paso police spokesman and the church pastor said Tuesday” ("Crosses Burned Outside Minority Church in East El Paso," El Paso Times).
  6. Vandalism. “You'll burn. Those were the words spray-painted on the Metropolitan Community Church of Our Redeemer in Augusta, Georgia, according to the Augusta Chronicle. The church is an LGBT-inclusive establishment with an openly gay pastor. Vandals scrawled ‘Burn,’ ‘Lies’ and ‘Leviticus 18:22’ on the front doors and the words ‘Leviticus 18:20’ and ‘You’ll Burn’ on the front steps” ("Church with Openly Gay Pastor Vandalized with ‘You’ll Burn’," Huffington Post). Preventing Crime on Church Property will help you think about situations that make the church vulnerable to theft, burglary, vandalism, and arson.
  7. Church sued for not preventing abuse. “'We think there’s been a lack of institutional control,' Harrisburg attorney Benjamin Andreozzi said. ‘The church had several opportunities to prevent this abuse from happening.’ Andreozzi represents the victim. The lawsuit contends that Markelwitz [the abuser] has a prior felony conviction and served time while in the military and therefore should not have been hired by Charlton [United Methodist Church] in the first place.” ("Pennsylvania Church Sued for ‘Empowering’ Child Abuser," Answering Church Leaders’ Common Questions about Background Checks” addresses 11 of the most common questions leaders have about performing background checks, as well as the liability, cost, and benefits associated with doing so.

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