Churches grapple with whether to welcome convicted sex offenders
Jul 30, 2010
"All are welcome" is a common phrase on many a church sign and Web site. But what happens when a convicted sex offender is at the door?
Church officials and legal advocates are grappling with how -- and whether -- people who have been convicted of sex crimes should be included in U.S. congregations, especially when children are present:
- Last month, a lawyer argued in the New Hampshire Supreme Court for a convicted sex offender who wants to attend a Jehovah's Witnesses congregation with a chaperone....
- On Monday, the Seventh-day Adventist Church added language to its manual saying that sexual abuse perpetrators can be restored to members only if they do not have unsupervised contact with children and are not "in a position that would encourage vulnerable individuals to trust them implicitly." Garrett Caldwell, a spokesman for the denomination, said the new wording in the global guidelines tries to strike a balance between protecting congregants and supporting the religious freedom of abusers in "a manifestation of God's grace."
- On Thursday, a law took effect in Georgia that permits convicted sex offenders to volunteer in churches if they are isolated from children. Permitted activities include singing in the choir and taking part in Bible studies and bake sales.