Sex Offenders And The Church

sex-offenderLet’s talk about one of those Big Pink Elephant in the Room subjects that no one wants to talk about.  I’m referring to the issues of Sex Offenders and the local church. Early in my career in corrections I spent several years working with exclusive sex offender populations. It was during those years that I realized that Sex Offenders were one of the few populations behind the walls of a correctional institution that were treated differently.  I realize that this is true for both behind the walls of a prison and on the streets of society.

Let’s be honest, sex offenders are definitely not treated nice in prison; as they are considered the low of the low.   Many times they are treated equally as bad by their neighbors/society when they are released.  Their names are placed on a sex offender registry for the rest of their lives and neighborhoods can pass out fliers and post signs notifying the entire neighborhood that a sex offender taken up residence in their neighborhood.  The neighbors don’t generally sit around and sing the Mr. Rodgers theme song: “It’s a beautiful day in the neighbor hood, a beautiful day in the neighborhood… Won’t you be my neighbor!”  It’s more like: “Not In My Neighborhood, I Don’t Think So or I Know He Didn’t.”

The real question is “Should sex offenders be treated differently by the church and faith communities?” There is overwhelming research that sex offenders have a high propensity to re-offend, which tends to put everyone on red alert. Again, that’s why Sex Offenders are all in a national database and are required to register upon their release. There are over 728,000 registered sex offenders in the U.S.; Texas leads the nation with well over 63,000 registered sex offenders and Florida is a close second. If you put a truth serum in most Christians, they will tell you that they are uncomfortable around and even scared of sex offenders; especially when it comes to their children. Let’s face it, insurance companies even have exclusionary clauses for churches that hire or allow sex offenders to volunteer; in other words no coverage.

The church must play a critical role in helping sex offenders develop a relationship with Christ; in order for their lives to be restored, for them to rebuild relationships and for them to have freedom from the bondage of certain thoughts/behaviors. The truth of the matter is that this same process can apply to each of us and our sinful nature!

I’m not sure if people will admit it, but I think most people, including Christians are uncomfortable around Sex Offenders.

Should Sex Offenders be allowed to be on staff, volunteer or be in a role that officially represents a church? Is it appropriate for Sex Offenders to volunteer w/ children? Share your thoughts!

  • http://basementseven.com Heady

    Wow! This is a hard one. However, I don’t think Jesus turns away anyone that is serious about change. I’m not sure in what capacity a sex offender should be able to volunteer but as a church we need to work towards walking this individual through full recovery. As for Christians, we are to look at sin as sin regardless of the sin. Note: we must use WISDOM in all that we do.

  • rich

    It depends on the crime. I don’t think we should turn people away because of their past. I have a very short list of horrible things I have done that I will probably never tell anyone…Which is to say, I am a sinner with a past. Sex crimes is not on my list, but what if someone found out that one thing I did do?
    I have looked thru the list of offenders within 5 miles of my home. A good percentage of those are 18, 19, 20 year olds. My gut feeling is some kid went and got some daddy mad by dating his 16 yr old daughter and now he is on a list for the rest of his life. What I’m saying is, take the actual crime into account. If it’s a child molester, and it’s been years with no recurrance and he loves Jesus, let him hand out bulletins or take up the offering. I would not put that person in a position where he may be tempted though.
    Tough question…God has forgiven me, and he can forgive and restore a sex offender as well.

  • @joshwren

    It’s late and I’m having a hard time forming full thoughts, this might feel a little disjointed.

    This post seems like an extension of your previous blog about all sins being the same. I agree with the insurance companies on this one. We must be beyond reproach in this area. It’s sad that a common stereotype is the pedophile catholic priest. We need to build trust in this area. I don’t want people to assume anything incorrect. Parents should feel that there children are sheltered in our church. As a male volunteer in the church I felt paranoid in the beginning of false accusations as people don’t recover from those things. The paranoia went away after a while :)

  • http://www.knightsquest.org rampager83

    I think we need to do the uncommon thing: Engage the Brain.

    Not all offenders are alike, yet all need Jesus. We, the Church, need to look at each individual, as Jesus did, and minister to their needs.

    We should not do stupid things in the name of “having faith in them”, such as putting offenders in the Children’s ministry if they’ve offended against children. That is irresponsible.

    But, we need to have a RESTORATIVE approach. That is Jesus’ approach.

    We need to engage the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives, for that will lead to true change, true healing, and true deliverance.

    We need to deal with this, actively. There are more than you know. Just go to http://www.familywatchdog.us and put in your address.

    Buddy Knight
    Director
    Knights’ Quest Ministries
    info@knightsquest.org
    http://www.knightsquest.org

  • @craigstrauss

    I believe in certain situations they should be allowed to be on staff at a church or be a volunteer. However, working with children would not be the best idea. I think a church should view this as a case by case basis.

    I really have a problem with churches excluding people for whatever reason, sex offender or something else. I don’t see that type of attitude in Jesus. Shouldn’t we take the example of our Lord after all. Not to mention in the Bible where it says that you are a new creation when you give your life to Him. If this is so, which I believe it is since its in the Bible, how can we as a people continually treat one sin more harshly than the other.

    Maybe I’m just looking at the world through rose colored glasses, but shouldn’t we as the church give people second chances?

  • Zane

    …and they were actually caught – what about the ones who haven’t been? In other words, all persons are to be loved and forgiven but no person is to be taken for granted and left to themselves to be tempted. It’s hard work because it takes constant attention but hey, that’s The Church! Great blog brutha…

  • http://joniruhs.wordpress.com Joni Ruhs

    No. I don’t think they should hold any position where they deal with children if that was their crime. I also believe they are not allowed to be by law. Would have to check that in IL. Sex offenders certainly need to be loved and accepted by the church. Perhaps a parachurch organization can do that, or a recovery group guided by the church where they are not involved with children. As a parent, I fear that a church would allow a pedophile to serve in children’s ministry without telling the public. Would a church be gutsy enough to inform the parents who will be working with their kids?

  • Dennis

    This is a hot topic that no one wants to engage in, biblically that is. For one if Christian agree with God that no sin is above or worse than another, this is where they prove that by not singling out this sin above others. Get the opportunity to prove they believe God and treat this sin the same as any other.

    Two, the track record for repeat of this crime is no higher really than any others released from prison. (And that is a whole another topic, I have issues with, a person get out of prison, and no one will hire them, no one will rent to them, so how are they to survive, the only way they can eat is to go back to a life of crime. We force people into a life of crime. Same with this, that are marked for life, told that is what, who they are, they are forced to stay in and live in that identity, not given help or the opportunity to live a different life, be a new person.)

    Third, if Christian really believe that God can change a person, that we become born again, a new creature in Christ, then who they were and what they did should not be an issue. Again this is where that is prove to be true or not, if they do not forget the person past and teat them just like anyone else, they are proving they do not believe that really happens, that God really can change someone. Act 10:15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.”

    How is it they they would be afraid to let a x-sex offender do ministry, work with kids, but let a known adultery be around their spouse? We will let a one time alcoholic drive the kids in the church bus. Let an x-drug dealer or x-cocaine addict, or x-gangbanger work with the kids. No sin is above another, an adulterer is equal to what we call an sex offender to God, to Him they are both sex offenders.

    All things are relative too, what we consider hanus crimes here in the US are legal acts in one third and practiced in half of the countries in the world, Just in the news a forty something old man marred a 8 year old girl in Saudi Arabia, that common in a lot of countries.

    And the way things are going in the county I bet in ten years we will see many sex crimes become legal that we now put people in prison for. Just 25 years ago we put people in prison as “sex offenders” for having homosexual sex, today its not only legal, our government promotes it, endorse it and encourage it.

  • HallieA.

    I am going to have to say that I completely believe in rehabilitation and even more so in second chances. I do not, however, believe that violent sexual urges magicallly disappear. I strongly diasagree with sex offenders ever being allowed alone with children or in a position to be teaching, comforting, leading, guiding, or in the presence of children at any time.

    Here a just a few stats from the Bureau of Justice…

    Within 3 years following their release, 5.3% of sex offenders (men who had committed rape or sexual assault) were rearrested for another sex crime.

    On average the 9,691 sex offenders served 3 1/2 years of their 8-year sentence.

    Compared to non-sex offenders released from State prisons, released sex offenders were 4 times more likely to be rearrested for a sex crime.

    The 9,691 released sex offenders included 4,295 men who were in prison for child molesting.

    Point: Sex Offenders should be able to work for a church but never in a private setting and not with children. They should have accountability partners and should never be left alone with a child or a person of the opposite sex.

  • pastorave

    This is great! When will we look like Christ? I agree someone who has committed sexual offense against children or teens should not be allow to work with children in any capacity. Do we love like Christ or do we pull out our own way of loving which is I love you as long as it doesn’t affect me? Yes sex offenders accepting Jesus Christ as their personal savior need accountability people to come and walk along side with them. For that matter we all need someone in our life that’s going to help us walk out this Christian life. God never intended for us to be christians by ourselves. We need each other to help one another walk out this christian life. Paul says this:”therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the minsitry of reconciliation; that is in Christ God ws reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ…” If they are new for me a sinner, they are new for a sex offender (a sinner) because we all were “ex” something it just depends if you can tell it all. I’m an “ex” something and everyday I walk with Christ I’m reminded of His grace, His mercy, His care, and His love for me. Where would I be if he had not rescued me from sin? Will we be ambassadors or maybe God doesn’t really mean go into the world…

  • http://loveinthefire.wordpress.com/ michaelgwms

    Unfortunately, I could only make time to read the post today and not the other comments, but I’m sure I’m repeating someone in this, but in short, here it goes:

    The Bible, or rather Christ Jesus says “Love one another,…”

    Those who are without sin, cast that first stone.
    Obviously, the stone is being casted left and right in persecution, hatred, etc,…
    Let’s hit the core here and just say that allowing these people to be a part of the ministry setting is a good thing, but churches would definitely, BEFOREHAND, implement and strongly stand behind and provide resources for support groups and set up ways for overcoming sex offenders (those who have made 100% improvement) to be a continuing part of those groups so that you have the experience in your favor. Counselors/shrinks/whatever are not going to be enough. This is real world stuff.

    I hope that helps!

    Blessings,
    Michael

  • http://www.JackieChia.com Jackie Chia

    Your site is really interested me.

  • http://www.KidsSafeMinistries.com gsporer

    We are a ministry who deals with sex offenders in churches. 1/6 of the 5-6 million non-convicted sex offenders attend church. 1/4 of the 600,000 registered offenders attend church.

    Keeping Kids Safe Ministries provides accountability and safety standards for church leaders to protect kids in churches. There is a conflict of interest when church leaders police themselves without accountability.

    We provide verification from probation officers and treatment providers that the sex offenders attending churches are succeeding in their probation rules and offender treatment. We provide a covenant of rules for offenders to follow while attending church with accountability.

    We are still looking for our first church to serve without an offender. Every church we served had it least one or more in their conggregation. Churches wake-up to the reality!

    Please visit our website http://www.KidsSafeMinistries.com

    With the warmest blessings,

    Greg Sporer and Steve Vann
    Co-founders, Keeping Kids Safe Ministries

  • http://bigisthenewsmall.com Ashley Raper

    I have read this and the responses thereto. How can a person
    like Roy Cooper Attorney General of NC cause to be passed legislation that does not let Sex Offenders go to church. This is definitely against their constitutional rights. I am on the sex offender registery and I can assure you that I am not a sex offender, although by NC law I am. There was child porn, two videos and one still pic of a child they believed to be under 16. Before my court date, I was told that I would spend 4 years in prision if I didnot sign the plea bargain. If I did sign, I was led to believe that I would be given unsupervised probation. These were all lies by my lawyer and the Asst DA. I was 78 years old at the time and am now 81.I still dont know where the child porn came from on my computer. I have never inappropriately touched a child and have had 4 children of my own and now have a great,great granddaughter…..Thank you for listening……..I am a 19 yr member of First Baptist Church and the First thing the head preacher did, after complaint from one person, remove me from the ushers….I currently am not a fan of this preacher. Thank you for listening……..Ashley Raper

  • http://duhdunks.blogspot.com megger213

    Good question! A patient I had once had severe severe diarrhea so bad that he would have to pull over and deficate on the side of the road! One day on his way to the hospital he had to pull over and do hiis business! Well a cop came up behind him ans began to question him while he was performing his duty! Had that cop not been sympathetic he would forever been labeled a sex offender for a stupid medical clinic! I believe churches need to be understanding and use the wisdom God gave us! Not every “sex offender” is a true sex offender.

  • linda

    I am a convicted sexual predator. I served six years in jail. I was a pastor then and this happened with young females in the church. Few members stood by me and held on to a small storefront church until I returned. After my release I met and married a professional lady, who gave temendously to my vision, and assisted in the growth of our church. I recently had an emotional affair with a lady in the church who sat only three rows behind my wife. My wife suspected, I denied, until she found the “proof” that she needed. I confessed. I only have god to judge me now and I am sorry to my wife, my church is unaware. I am still the pastor at the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Cleveland Ohio

    Please pray for me and mostly for my wife. Rev. Claude V. Berry

    • A recovering Victim

      WOW! After all that you have put me and my family through, you still call yourself Pastor! I pray for your soul, I pray for your wife! I pray that you never lay a hand on another child again! I pray that GOD places forgiveness on my heart! My heart is still hard because obviously, you haven’t learned from what you did to me and my friend! May GOD have mercy on your soul!!!!

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  • JE

    One question no body seems to think about the children at all! Have any of you every been abused? It takes years if not your whole life to get over what happened to you. You have trouble being with your spouse. You have to fight the memories of what happened to you. People can be saved your right Jesus is enough to cleanse any sinner. But for the children we live with the pain, memories, and open wounds forever it never goes away we will always remember. You forget one thing too Jesus said it is better for a millstone to be tyed around your neck and thrown into the water than to harm one of His little ones. And a true born again believer who had done this in his past before He was saved would understand and not even try to get into a church around children. What about justice. Hurting a child for 10 years and then only serving 3 years is that justice? No it is not the child lives FOREVER with the memories and thoughts and pain. But the one who did this to them gets 3 years…… I am tried of hearing about peoples rights but the ones who can not defend their selfs are treated like the scum of the earth. The elderly babies and children to america they are the scum of the earth and it shows. They are beaten thrown in nursing homes because no one wants to take time to care for them because my life is more important. Babies are aborted everyday because we are more important and it will ruin my life, children are abused and all we say is what about the abuser who can’t go to church or can’t do this and that… We are a foolish and sick country….. May God forgive us and bring justice to this land. Look at how far we have fallen……

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DPCSATPSTOMRWRDNEKA2BETB2U Savior

    Halley, Your stats are either out-dated or mythical to say the least.
    Released Offenders are not 4 times more likely to Re-offend based on your 5.3% claim.
    Sex Offenders have the lowest recidivism rate among most released prisoners, not 4x more likely.
    If you consider (Only Rapist), they still are not 4 times more likely to Re-Offend
    Pleasle update your research before opinionating.

  • Anonymous

    JE, your ignorance of the facts makes this a serious problem.  I guess use assume, like many others, that ALL sex offenders are child molesters.  This is not true.  Even the author of this article didn’t get one thing right.  All research indicates that sex offenders have much lower recidivism rates than other criminals.  I know both sides.  I was molested as a child by two men; neither was ever arrested, convicted or registered.  Someone very close to me is a registered sex offender. Much like Mr. Raper, it was child porn.  His now ex-girlfriend was angry with him for looking at adult porn and through a series of events, reported that he was looking at child porn.  He was convicted of possessing nine images that were downloaded the morning of the search, and they were located in a temporary Internet file (she was a known informant for LE but this was not mentioned in court).  This is a good man who did nothing wrong other than get involved with a very disturbed woman.  He had a court appointed attorney, a jury with 10 women and  2 men, and a judge up for election.  I guess I don’t have to say more on that.  In the end, he has long since quit looking at adult porn and he has tried to turn his life around.  He’s happily married to a Christian woman, and he is now trying to live a Christian life.  However, because of the registry laws in NC, which are ridiculous, he can’t go to church with his wife; there is a nursery at the church.  The laws are far too restrictive and they focus on a very small portion of offenders.  It is a mess, and terrible, terrible mess.

  • Anonymous

    If you pay attention to the numbers, you will see that 5.3% is extremely low when compared to 64% of other offenders.

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