SBC leader arrested 11 years after church leaders learned of allegations. “The missionary arm of the Southern Baptist Convention knew about allegations against Southern Baptist leader Mark Aderholt more than 10 years before he was arrested July 3 on charges that he sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl, according to police records, emails, and an internal investigation from the organization. In 2007, the International Mission Board conducted an investigation into allegations that Aderholt had a sexual relationship with the girl while he was a 25-year-old student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. At the time of the investigation, Aderholt was one of the more prolific missionaries with the Mission Board, which has sent Southern Baptists around the globe for more than a century. The International Mission Board did not report the allegations to authorities” (“Southern Baptist officials knew of sexual abuse allegations 11 years before leader’s arrest,” Star-Telegram).
Churches absolutely must know reporting laws specific to their states. See Mandatory Child Abuse Reporting Laws for a state-by-state review of requirements and responsibilities.
Fort Collins attracts ACLU’s attention over potential discriminatory treatment of church. “The Fort Collins city attorney's warning to other staff regarding an Old Town church's plan to install lockers for homeless people to use has drawn scrutiny from the American Civil Liberties Union. Fort Collins City Attorney Carrie Daggett issued the emailed warning on May 31, when the city postponed a hearing regarding the proposed lockers that was originally scheduled to happen later the same day. ‘Please be sure to coordinate with us regarding any further dialogue with the public or with (church pastor) Steve Ramer about this,’ Daggett wrote to other city staff. ‘Because the approach being taken is not quite the same as our usual process . . . we need to take special care in how we communicate about it.’ Beyond its intended recipients, the message had an apparently mistaken recipient, however: Ramer, pastor of the Fort Collins Mennonite Fellowship that has proposed making the lockers available, was left on the recipient list. . . . Federal law specifically prohibits treating religious organizations differently than non-religious organizations, the ACLU wrote in a June 29 response to the city” (“ACLU threatens to sue Fort Collins after email regarding homeless locker proposal,” Coloradoan).
ICE detains church youth leader with expired DACA enrollment. “A popular Bethel Church youth volunteer was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents earlier this month because his enrollment in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program expired, church officials said. The incident comes after the church's senior pastor, Bill Johnson, announced his support for President Donald Trump, whose controversial crackdown on immigration has led to public outcry. It's also notable because the church and its associated school are known for attracting attendees from around the world. The detained man, Isac Dos Santos, was taken into custody July 7 in New Mexico while helping a friend move, per a GoFundMe page that's raised over $7,000 to pay for Dos Santos's bond money and legal fees. Aaron Tesauro, a spokesman for Bethel, confirmed to the Record Searchlight that the details of the GoFundMe page are accurate, saying Dos Santos's paperwork through DACA—which let children brought into the country without documentation avoid deportation for a while—had expired.” (“Bethel Redding youth leader detained by ICE over DACA expiration,” Record Searchlight).
See “Immigration Law and the Church,” for more help from an attorney on this topic.
Samuel Ogles is associate editor for Church Law & Tax.
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