Q&A: How Should Churches Respond to Threatening Messages?
Q&A: How Should Churches Respond to Threatening Messages?
What steps can be taken when a church receives various kinds of threats.
PAGE 1 of 5Single Page

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: how specific it is, whether it’s from somebody who’s known or unknown. For the most part, anonymous ones that are just left at the church, or even through the mail, are a lot less credible. The more specific—the more concrete the threat is—the more you need to take it seriously. That’s about the only pattern you can ascertain from that.

Related Topics:
Posted: June 19, 2018

Like This Article?

If you enjoyed reading this article, get more like it. Become a Church Law & Tax member today.

Learn more

Already a member? .

View All
from our store
Youth Ministry in a #MeToo Culture

Youth Ministry in a #MeToo Culture

Develop boundaries and a reporting structure that keeps your youth program safe for everyone.
Church Board Guide to Developing a Risk Management Strategy

Church Board Guide to Developing a Risk Management Strategy

Learn how to develop and implement a risk management strategy in your church.
Church Board Guide to a Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Policy

Church Board Guide to a Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Policy

Church leaders and boards can take relatively simple, yet effective steps to reduce the likelihood of child sexual abuse.
Sex Offenders in the Church

Sex Offenders in the Church

Legal and safety concerns to address when dealing with a sex offender.

ChurchSalary

ChurchSalary

Experience a whole new way to set compensation. Eliminate the guesswork – get access to detailed compensation reports in just minutes.