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Q&A: How Should Churches Respond to Threatening Messages?

What steps can be taken when a church receives various kinds of threats.

Q&A: How Should Churches Respond to Threatening Messages?
Image: James Sutton / Unsplash

Churches sometimes receive a communication that can be deemed “hate mail”: a letter delivered to the church, a note placed there, an email, a voicemail left on the church’s phone. It could even be sent through a social media platform. We spoke with attorney Frank Sommerville about his experience with these situations and how churches should respond when they occur.

What’s a useful, working approach for churches in terms of understanding these messages? How can churches determine when messages need to be taken to local authorities (and when they can be dismissed)?

There is no one response. It depends on who sent it, whether it’s anonymous, whether or not it’s specific, what the threat is: It depends on lots of variables.

If taken to local authorities, would the police do anything with the threat?

Not necessarily. It depends, again, on what kind of threat: ...

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Frank Sommerville is an attorney and shareholder in the law firm of Weycer, Kaplan, Pulaski & Zuber, P. C. in Houston and Dallas, Texas, and an Editorial Advisor for Church Law & Tax.

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Posted:
  • June 19, 2018

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