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Should Your Church Conduct Criminal Records Checks?

These factors should guide the policies set by church leaders.

Editor's Note: Historically, the May/June issue of Church Law & Tax Report features an annual 50-state review of child abuse reporting laws. Because these laws change infrequently, we will instead publish this review every other year. In its place, we gladly offer an article on background checks and the critical role they play in selecting suitable staff and volunteers to work with children. For the 2010 50-State Review of Child Abuse Reporting Laws, please visit http://bit.ly/aWoGlP.

There are several factors for church leaders to consider in deciding whether or not to conduct criminal records checks on persons who potentially could have unsupervised access to minors on church property, in church vehicles, or in the course of church activities. These factors include the following:

  1. No court has found a church liable for a youth worker's sexual misconduct on the ground that it failed to conduct a criminal records check.

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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  • May 2, 2011

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