ACSOL’s Conference Calls

Conference Call Recordings Online
Dial-in number: 1-712-770-8055, Conference Code: 983459


Monthly Meetings | Recordings (3/20 Recording Uploaded)
Emotional Support Group Meetings

Janice's Journal

Janice’s Journal: Church Guidelines Repeat Myths, Spread Fear

It is essential that registrants have access to church services because for some registrants the ability to worship at a church is more important than food, shelter and clothing.

In the words of North Carolina attorney Glenn Gerding, “Given….residency and employment restrictions, as well as societal discrimination against and vilification of sex offenders, churches are often the last hope for many sex offenders who need the stability and guidance a church pastor and church family can provide.”

Why is it then that some churches place outright bans on registrants who wish to worship there while others restrict registrants’ activities to such an extent that registrants choose not to worship at all?

One answer may be the publication, “Sex Offenders in the Church”, recently issued by ChurchLawAndTax.com which provides erroneous statements and inhumane guidelines regarding registrants. This publication harms registrants’ ability to worship because it repeats many myths about registrants as well as spreads fear to both the churches they serve as well as to church leaders.

The publication includes a few accurate facts about registrants such as that the number of registrants in America is both staggering and rising. In addition, the publication accurately states that the growing number of registrants includes many who want to attend church. Further, the publication accurately states that registrants have been convicted of a wide range of offenses including those that are not violent and do involve physical contact.

The report takes a wrong turn, however, when it states that although there are registrants who attend church because they have a “genuine desire to meet spiritual needs,” there are also registrants who attend church because their motivation is “a desire to have access to potential victims.” The report continues down the path of misinformation by repeating myths such as that some registrants “will always pose an elevated risk” to a church that elects to allow them to have access to church services and activities.

The publication takes another wrong turn when it focuses upon pedophilia, a medical diagnosis and not a crime, and states the following myths: pedophilia is incurable and very difficult to control. The publication goes on to falsely state that pedophiles have a high recidivism rate, that is, more than half of pedophiles who are convicted of a sex offense are re-arrested for a new offense.

The publication continues down the wrong path when it spreads fear by warning churches that they could be found liable if it becomes known that a registrant is worshipping there. It then adds another fear by warning church leaders that they could become personally liable for a registrant’s behavior.

The greatest harm done by this publication, however, is the shame it projects on to church leaders who are compassionate and understand the spiritual needs of registrants. Specifically, first the publication recognizes that “there will always be those in church leadership who will urge mercy and restoration” for registrants. Then, the publication issues a false warning that such feelings are contrary to an unknown Bible commandment that “speaks to….protection of the innocent.” The publication continues shaming in its question: “How can church leaders even begin to think they are taking this commandment seriously if they allow a convicted sex offender to have unrestricted access to the church?”

The false statements in this publication are compounded by the inhumane recommendation that registrants should only be allowed in church if they enter into a “conditional attendance agreement.” One term of such an agreement is that a registrant “must always be in the presence of a designated chaperone while on church property for any reasons, including….restroom breaks.” In addition, the chaperone must “meet the offender at the entrance of the church, and accompany him or her on church premises until returned to his or her vehicle.” Given that no one else in the congregation must be accompanied by a chaperone, this restriction alone brands registrants who worship in a church with a Scarlet letter.

Because this publication is provided to both churches and church leaders, it is imperative that this organization devote resources to the education of those who have published it. That is, ACSOL will provide that organization with truthful data from both government and academic sources. ACSOL will provide that data with a hope and a prayer that the organization and its members will educate themselves about the real facts regarding registrants. However, if they choose to ignore those facts, it may be necessary to educate the organization and its members utilizing a different method – a lawsuit in a federal court.

In order to succeed in court, ACSOL needs to learn about the experiences of registrants who have attempted to worship at a church and been denied that opportunity. Please send a brief description of your experience to service@all4consolaws.org. Thank you.

 

We welcome a lively discussion with all view points - keeping in mind...  
  • Your submission will be reviewed by one of our volunteer moderators. Moderating decisions may be subjective.
  • Please keep the tone of your comment civil and courteous. This is a public forum.
  • Please stay on topic - both in terms of the organization in general and this post in particular.
  • Please refrain from general political statements in (dis)favor of one of the major parties or their representatives.
  • Please take personal conversations off this forum.
  • We will not publish any comments advocating for violent or any illegal action.
  • We cannot connect participants privately - feel free to leave your contact info here. You may want to create a new / free, readily available email address.
  • Please refrain from copying and pasting repetitive and lengthy amounts of text.
  • Please do not post in all Caps.
  • If you wish to link to a serious and relevant media article, legitimate advocacy group or other pertinent web site / document, please provide the full link. No abbreviated / obfuscated links.
  • We suggest to compose lengthy comments in a desktop text editor and copy and paste them into the comment form
  • We will not publish any posts containing any names not mentioned in the original article.
  • Please choose a user name that does not contain links to other web sites
  • Please send any input regarding moderation or other website issues to moderator [at] all4consolaws [dot] org
ACSOL, including but not limited to its board members and agents, does not provide legal advice on this website.  In addition, ACSOL warns that those who provide comments on this website may or may not be legal professionals on whose advice one can reasonably rely.  
 
61 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Hmm.. Let’s see:

“In 2016, the Pennsylvania Attorney General initiated confidential grand jury proceedings to investigate:

–allegations of child sexual abuse by individuals associated with SIX of the eight Pennsylvania dioceses of the Roman Catholic Church,
–failure of church officials to make mandatory reports of child abuse,
–acts by Catholic priests endangering the welfare of children, and
–obstruction of justice by church officials, community leaders, and public officials.”

What a bunch of hypocrites.

Amen, ma bruthuh.

Well it’s outrageous. It reminds me of this NPR story: https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9213698

From that NPR article:
“In the coming weeks, Madison Shockley will be working with the congregation on finalizing a safe church policy.

It will require all staff and volunteers to undergo background checks; it’ll require that children be supervised by two unrelated adults at all times; and it will define how Pilgrim Church deals with sex offenders in general and Pliska specifically.”

And how will those guidelines will make the church safer? They won’t; they may even make the church LESS safe.

@Eric: have you seen a follow up to what the church decided?

I have written about how churches treat registrants here:
http://handbasketnotes.blogspot.com/2016/10/who-does-jesus-look-like.html?m=1

If your church is not welcoming you, please know there are other churches that will embrace you and your family.

I see very little point in going on when the God of my savior allows this to happen. I looked at a bad picture. I guess according to what I read here I will see you all in hell…

Jesus had more to say about hypocrisy than anyone else in the Bible…and it was directed at church leaders.

I agree with CL. Jesus was completely against the Church Leaders for their legalistic ideas being stacked against those whom they did not approve of.

It has become so very apparent that both myself AND my family are not welcome in our local churches, that we have decided to never set foot in a church again.

A new ministry needs to be created to assist registrants and their families “outside” of the physical church. But this will be a challenge as many RSO families no longer trust the christian community.

There are good churches out there, I have two local churches who know of my offense and are willing/anxious to let me be apart of their services once my probation officer gives me permission to go.

Not all Christians are trash — there are good and bad apples in everything.

Hey Everybody, This is a subject I’m very passionate about. Unfortunately, most pastors and leaders are in a way like politicians (choosing the peoples voice over rationale and grace). For the last 3 years, I’ve had many conversations with pastors and leaders who are being forced into signing agreements with insurance companies as it pertains to having registrants attend worship services. In essence, if they don’t agree with the insurance company it will cancel the policy. I address the issue in detail in my book, Evil On My Pew: The Hysteria Around Sex Offenders In The Church. There are still… Read more »

@ LARRY ANDERSON,

You may want/need to reconsider calling your 2019 list “Green Churches.” The environmental movement has pretty much hijacked the word “green” to mean enviro-friendly. I would suggest a numerical designation, the numbers coming from a biblical chapter and verse stating that all comers are welcome. I’m agnostic and not terribly familiar with the Bible, so I can’t make a specific suggestion.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28

“Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” Romans 15:7

and my personal favorite:

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” Matthew 25:35-36

Great post. Thank you.

Yes Dustin I agree, I actually considered Green Light Churches or something along those lines. Thanks a bunch!

From what I read and see on TV you have a better chance to be shot and killed then assaulted by a registers citizen in church.

@ Political Prisoner,

Actually, I would think you have a better chance of losing half a million dollars in a game of blackjack against an over-caffeinated, one-eyed baby albino howler monkey than assaulted by a registrant in a church.

@Dustin:
Especially since howlers are widely known to be card-counting cheats! 🐵

I am a member of the Roman Catholic Church and until my convection for ATTEMPT 288(a) as the result of a sting; I was active in my Church leadership. My crime was restricted to the Internet and there was no one that came forward to make accusations of physical contact at any time. When I was released over 15 years ago I was welcomed back into the Church community by about 95% of our members. BUT, I am not allowed to participate in any religious or social activity in the Church. The Catholic church has a program called VERTIS that… Read more »

@ Mot,

So the church won’t let you participate in anything, but they’ll still take your money? How nice of them.

Not to sound sacrilegious or demeaning, but you can love God anywhere and there are plenty of other charities and people who could use your donations and not skim off of the top of it.

I don’t think people who are Registered should ever help any charity. I mean, surely they don’t want you or your money. If you want to help, it is easy to find people directly who need help and do not support the Registries.

I am not a religious person, but from what I understand is that a church is the House of God. So, shouldn’t God be the one allowing or disallowing people into his home? Why are the church members or the priest making that decision? They are just guests…..

BEHOLD the awesome power of the databases; They are our friends and shall lead us to our salvation. – Big brother

Machiavelli, Asimov, Orwell & Perot were all lunatics and therefore should be ignored.

Most churches separate the little kids from the main congregation since they can be disruptive during service. To access the children’s area you have to give your ID and they check it against the registry. Seems like that solves the problem. If you are going to a church that has a policy against sex offenders I would say you are going to the wrong church. If the church is buying into a the unfounded worldly views about sex offenders then what other areas are they compromising the truth for emotional hysteria. I could even make the argument that the Bible… Read more »

In biblical terms we are the modern day lepers. Forced to live outside society because we are “unclean” — that’s why I love the story of Jesus going to and healing the 10 lepers.

Any church who doesn’t accept sex offenders is not doing the will of God, in Revelation God actually cursed the church at Ephesus because they refused to show love.

So merely being on the registry subjects a registrant to being banned from Facebook, nextdoor, certain shelters, living in many towns, traveling to many countries, entering many schools, getting government housing assistance, getting many jobs (eeoc says denial and checking registry ok) and participating or even going to many churches. How many fundamental rights are being trampled on now by being on a list where SCOTUS in connecticut dps v doe 2003 unanimously said lists are ok and dont affect those on the list because the list does not infer dangerousness? Due process guarantees that there is a fair process… Read more »

“connecticut dps v doe 2003 unanimously said lists are ok and dont affect those on the list because the list does not infer dangerousness?”
—–
And herein seems to lie the potential route of success for @steve regarding Interpol Green Notices. Somehow the US Gov’t is taking a “no dangerousness” list (i.e. State registries) and morphing it into a statement of dangerousness (i.e. Green Notice’s “likely to repeat these crimes” phrase) made to other Nations. I suspect there’s not one person who has received a Green Notice who has also received any sort of risk assessment.

…and in total contrast to all these false statistics and fear mongering, I have received the same message from every counselor, therapist, case manager, PO, and specialist at every turn of my years in the justice system and they all say the key to success is having a stable home life, close interaction with friends, steady income, healthy interaction with civic groups, and a degree of faith and spiritual growth. Basically everything that contrasts with this article and everything that is in direct conflict with the registry.

Well, my husband and I attempted to go to a local church. His counsler at the time told him he had to inform the pastor. Well, the pastor told the elders, and then the info started to leak to the congergation. He found out from the lady across the street who after 5 years is now our friend. He stopped going, since he felt uncomfortable. They never treated us badly. He left the church and so did I. We haven’t stepped foot in a church since eventhough he is no longer on porbation. After he got off porbation and the… Read more »

@Walking with Jesus &RSO wife, In my personal observation of 54 trips around the sun I’ve yet to witness 1 Christian wash the feet of anyone man nor woman. Those who claim to recognise his perfection, smear the repute of perfection itself. Ego alone applies godliness unto man propper. His resurrection be all of mankinds, and not saved for the few! He merely gave example of the system the creator made. He left his body but his essence moves on in free will. Were one goes after is ones choice still. Re embodiment is not possible, but new-embodiment IS! No… Read more »

Hebrews 10:25 King James Version (KJV)
25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

So no its not good to stop going to church. Or simply have church at home. You and your husband have a testimony you can share to encourage others.

If the church didnt treat you poorly I see no reason to stop going.

Being banned from churches certainly has an impact on family and ones own children. My former church had very strong negative policies against gay members too. Hard to “educate” church policy makers. My kids and their spouses left the church because of these policies. It seems most sins are forgivable accept sex things; and every sex thing points towards pedophilia.

Just a related note: Lots of SAA SA SLAA SCA 12 step groups are held in churches. In groups I’ve attended, 15% to 20% have been registered. Probably 80% or more have done something that could have conceivably gotten them on the registry. (more than peeing in public). I expect these places will slowly be made off limits to us.

In light of recent events, if these churches are so persistent in congregational safety, why don’t they focus their efforts on the immediate threat of people walking in off the streets and shooting up the place? I mean, isn’t that a “no brainer?” I would say there’s a higher likelihood of being killed at the hands of an assailant with a gun in church that one of “those people” snatching a kid from Sunday School class.

@Facts should matter:
Any church I’ve attended the last few years *does* have armed security. In fact one of them even had their security people learn “Israeli knife fighting tactics.” I don’t know how legit it was but it sure sounds bad-@ss. Having traveled to Israel (pre-RC) for business/governmental matters, they know their stuff.

@Facts Many of the churches do, but they do not publicize it for the fear of blowback by those who don’t want armed citizens or churchgoers within the confines of the church or the knowledge of getting out to those who wish to do church people harm. A lot of times they fall underneath what they deem them as “security ministries” and only a select few know who are actually on the security ministries that are armed. Those churches who have had unfortunate incidences of having armed events against their congregation happen are more inclusive of the congregation in making… Read more »

Dumb question maybe, but: How is a church always going to even know you’re attending services? Many are huge with hundreds, even more than a thousand, seats. Worshippers walk in, they attend services they leave. No one fingerprints you at the door. Just to be clear, I am not a catholic, so maybe that works differently, I don’t know. Maybe some churches require membership, I don’t know. But contemporary churches are springing up everywhere to try to attract those who don’t attend, which I think is something like half the population, and to my knowledge there is no requirement that… Read more »

Often this is the case. Offenders can just be there and nobody is the wiser.

However, those still on probation or parole are usually required by their terms of supervision to get approval and notify the church. Then there are states or cities that can also set unconstitional laws to force notification for all sex offenders or forbid it outright.

Of course, if you want to do more than sit in a pew then expect your history could be checked by the church.

I attend church, I don’t give my address, not do I attend any social events, I never did prior to my conviction. It was hard while on probation because my probation officer told me that I couldn’t go, period.

@Jason:
“It was hard while on probation because my probation officer told me that I couldn’t go, period.”
—–
I’m unsure where you live, but 31 States have case law or statutes protecting religious freedom. Your PO most likely violated it, not to mention the First Amendment. Then again, it’s usually a smoother and easier path to just do what the PO says, as long as it’s not too outlandish. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_Religious_Freedom_Restoration_Acts)

In NC its a felony to go to church period if you are an rc. Granted we got a lawsuit pending and this is some low hanging fruit, but as it stands right now probation or not no rc can attend church. As a side note to how this affects me beyond even just going to church, my dad has ALS and will likely pass in the next year or so or maybe even sooner and we are likely going to have to have the entire service at a funeral home because of it. I cant tell you the amount… Read more »

@Lovecraft:
Given it’s a fundamental right, strict scrutiny puts the entire onus on NC. (Not that you didn’t know that!) Could you please provide a URL or docket number or something?

@AJ I spoke with Robin (narsol) tonight and the specific lawsuit I was referring to that solely targeted going on church premises has not been filed yet. NARSOL has had correspondence with several pastors in NC and even though they wanted to get involved for whatever reason they havent. We need them to stand against the state to say the state has no right to tell the church who can or cannot attend their church. NARSOL did streamline the original ex post facto lawsuit and filed an additional lawsuit against the premise statute which if we win should cover the… Read more »

@Lovecraft:
Thanks for the info and URL. Even assuming the daycare restriction is constitutional, the State would still need justify and narrowly tailor the law to minimize its impact on the fundamental right of religious expression, even if happening secondarily.

I once again shake my head at how much of this stuff comes out of NC. Is there an extra “kick” in the tobacco there, or what?

Check out in the book of Isaiah in chapter 10 about those that write evil decrees.

I’m a pretty committed Christian who lives in Texas and goes to a very conservative Calvinistic Presbyterian church. When we started going to this church I let my pastor and elders know about my offense and status as a registered citizen. Since my offense was almost 25 years ago, they didn’t seem too concerned. I did tell them that I could never be involved in any kind of ministry dealing with children, and they seemed to understand. It is amazing to me how wonderful this church is. There is a guy who is a former prosecutor named Boz Tchividjian. His… Read more »

One the other hand, l belong to a church, where most know about conviction and do not care. I have been place in leadership, have keys to building, and was ask to drive and authorized their vehicles. I was just promoted a key position. However, l do avoid children and youth mingling, even though l am not restricted. There are real Christian churches out there.

This is a very disturbing article! I wasn’t aware that Churches do background checks? I would just ignore the article! Churches welcome sinners! I was actually part of Prison Ministries for some time! Ignore.

YES, the Roman Catholic Church has a youth protection program that includes volunteers submitting fingerprints that are turned over to the local PD to check against sex offenders If you PASS then you can serve

For those of us who are Catholic we perhaps need to remind the church that Sirach 8:5 reads as follows. “Do not reproach one who turns away from sin; remember, we all are guilty.” And then of course one might also remind them that Christ Himself said, (In John 8:7) “But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” So then the hypocrisy and fear mongered political agendas (to prove that they are “tough on crime”) persist even… Read more »

Yes and this video has been on Youtube for several years. From “AG Financial Solutions basically saying the same thing and warning churches. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DVemC6lRKA

@AJ @Lovecraft During my 19 years on the registry I have witnessed the slow and painful evolution of more restrictive legislation passed each year. NC has to be some of the worst in the US. Furthermore we won a very important lawsuit challenging the premise restrictions. Within 3 months the legislature held a special session to rewrite the statue changing only a word or 2 and passed it almost unanimously while the original lawsuit was being appealed. Due to the original lawsuit being upheld the new law has taken effect. So back to another lawsuit. I am very pessimistic. The… Read more »

NC and many of the bible belt states are heavily influence by the Southern Baptist and they have had a big sex abuse issues within their following. They are hard RC because they are trying to get off their faces. Most of their cases are people that would have pass background checks

@JohnDoeNc:
Your post exactly shows what I’ve long said: legislatures can pass laws faster than the courts can strike them down. It only takes minutes, hours or days to pass an unconstitutional law, yet years to void it. Only through SCOTUS putting its foot down will it ever stop. This soul continues to pray for such.

@JohnDoeNC Being from and currently living in NC certainly has been challenging and our current premise law is probably only comparable to Alabama laws in terms of harshness. Another interesting fact is that when doe v cooper was resolved forcing the legislature to redo their premise guidelines they somehow made the wording even worse as far as how ambiguous the statute is and how it could be applied. From doe v Cooper: Subdivision (a)(2) of G.S. 14-208.18—the so-called 300-foot rule—was invalidated as overbroad under the First Amendment. Subdivision (a)(3)—the rule that banned covered offenders from any place where minors gathered… Read more »

@Lovecraft:
“we just had a pretty significant win in the last few weeks that may have a huge impact on rc’s in nc which I cant mention specifics just yet.”
—–
If it’s already been won, why can it not be released? Seems odd to this non-NC cat. I will say that what’s awesome about the wins in NC is that with its having some of the harshest laws, and their being struck down, only makes taking down other places’ laws a easier. The legal trail is being blazed!

@AJ

Well the individual who told me about it and sent me the judgement and opinion asked to hold off on sharing it, so Ill respect their wishes. As soon as I am able Ill share with everyone.

What good reason is there for holding off sharing good news? The only thing that comes to mind is that it may reveal the names of the parties to the suit (i.e., not a Doe case), and one of them is a registrant who would prefer not to draw attention to himself. I understand that, but if it’s a court judgement and opinion, it’s public information. How can it be worse than being listed on the registry?

@Lovecraft:
I’m rather sure I know the case to which you’re referring, and completely understand why to keep it under wraps for a bit. I will not disclose…and congrats!

I only made it through 11 minutes before losing interest, and while my initial reaction is disgust at the notion of a church excluding anyone, as long as the church can be sued, then they have a duty to protect themselves and should hire responsibly. I send my kids to Bible classes Sunday mornings and want to know that the teacher does not have a history of violent crime, whether it is spousal, child, animal abuse or anything else that makes me uncomfortable. (I don’t inquire about church staff backgrounds, but trust HR has done its homework.) If the conviction… Read more »

The article is truly disgusting. If you think about it, its almost funny. I wont say what Church I belong to, but (sorry/not trying to offend anyone/its common amongst all religions) there have been some Mormons who marry more than one woman? Its very common to turn on the TV and read about Catholic Father’s being arrested for abuse of a minor/cover ups as well! Jimmy Swaggart defrocked by soliciting prostitutes? There are other stories of Pastors caught stealing, having affairs and one even caught with a gay prostitute! Now, I’m not one who wants to put someone down, but… Read more »

Fight a righteous fight against popular wrongs. Be as Christ.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nK6O5-3pfKc&t=2s

61
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x
.