9 thoughts on “sex offenders in church: praying or preying?

  1. Dear Morven,
    In response to the article you posted on your blog, I want to let you know my thoughts… I believe that being a sexual abuser does not differ much from a verbal, emotional or physical abuse… Actually, the consequences for a victim are the same. right? But of course, legally some abuse is condemned and other not… which is unjust to me.

    On the other hand, the abuser is a sinner and here I have a problem too, because I am a sinner as well. Though I establish a difference between the once that once time have committed something bad, and have repented and the ones that have chosen a life style and are permanently sinning… I know our society distribute sins in stairs, but to me once you have missed the mark, you have missed it, no matter if for 10, 20, 0o 100 meters. This helps to me to no see myself different from all those who sin, because I am a sinner too.

    Regarding a person that has been an abuser and repented found the Lord, and want to change, I believe this…

    1. He/she has a place in the body of Christ and need people who be part of his/her restoration. I highly recommend a movie named Nefarious: the merchant of souls…. Towards the end the victims explained how they have been redeemed by Jesus love and the offenders also! Quoting Isaiah 61, all of them need to be set free.

    2. If someone that has committed a type of abuse it is legally condemned in our society and confess to the pastor what he/she has done, I believe it is good for the pastor absolve the person spiritually, but never legally. Give to Cesar what is from him and to God what is from God. So I believe the person needs to pay.

    3. Particularly in the case of sexual abusers, I will not allow them to be in charge of biblical classes, as a way to still protecting them… As you help the ones that have issues with alcohol, etc. and probably is a good idea to put a person who help them as a mentors, when they need to be around people they have damage in the past, and for their fruits you will know them! I mean I will let time to pass and see if they have been transformed.

    4. I do not label people, to me that is so disturbing, and Paul to me is the author of the majority books from the Bible and not a genocide who prosecuted Christians, maybe we can learn from this that God really has the capacity to put our worst offenses committed against him really far from us that we will never see them again neither the persons around us!

    Thanks for reading my thoughts, and sorry for my English! Love you!
    Always blessed by you,

    • Thank you, Ceci, for taking the time to share this thoughtful response with us all. I am much of the same mind, but am strongly opposed to those who have been labeled “sexual predators” by the State to ever have any exposure to children. Sadly for them, even if there is any form of remorse, the consequence is that they can only attend adult only services or small groups, never being allowed to be in the same room as children.

  2. You are so right, Morven, that this is a tough one, and I have been on all sides of this issue, if one also includes juvenile offenders. First of all, Church Mutual is out of line, limiting this to only those who have been convicted of sexual crimes. What about those who have been convicted of theft, assault, murder,DUI, burglary, etc.? All of these crimes cause different levels of harm to the victim, though one can argue that it is less than the long-ranging effects of sexual abuse. If they are arguing from a position of protecting their bottom line, then ANY identified criminal should be supervised closely while in church. I for one, would not want to be of any part of such a setting.

    However, reasonable protections need to be made. ANYONE who works with children, youth, and the infirm need to have a COMPLETE (police and investigatory)background check done before involvement in any activity with these ages. No exceptions! Some may be surprised to find the level of resistance in so many congregations against this.

    Secondly, a posting of the area sex offender registry, in a prominant place, which includes pictures (by law) deals with the need to “announce” those who are sex offenders to the congregation. Those who attend may be encouraged to give details of their offense(s), especially in the situation of a situation of statutory rape.

    Thirdly, someone from the pastoral team (which usually means the pastor), needs to make every effort to meet individually with those who are so identified and draw up a safety plan with that person. Not all sex offenders’ victims are children; men and women can also be at risk, and allowing a male sex offender whose victim(s) have been elderly women (for example) to help the quilting group would be far worse than having them direct traffic for a youth fundraiser. Having the person give signed permission for the pastoral team to have contact with probation/parole officer and/or therapist is also helpful.

    This does not cover every situation, of course. For instance, juvenile offenders, IF they are safe to be around other children, DO need a specific chaparone to participate in church activities. Input from whoever is treating the youth is key for this. What about sex offenders that are dropping off and picking up their own children from church activities? And those who were never charged, but have admitted their guilt privately? Pastors can get themselves in lots of hot water, (as in civil lawsuts) for forbidding someone to attend without stated cause, or by sharing information that was given in confidence. And there is lots of other possibilities.

    The Church universal is called to be a place of healing for broken people. However, even hospitals have guidelines to prevent the spread of illness. Finding the line of protection for ALL from ALL criminals is impossible. But reasonable steps can and must be taken. More than a few thoughts. 😉

    • “However, even hospitals have guidelines to prevent the spread of illness.” Thank you, Jean, for such a thoughtful response.

  3. I think it is so sad that an insurance company has to teach a church how to keep children safe. It should be the other way around.

    • Karen, the article says nothing about them working with children, of course they would not be allowed to do that. It is about them attending the congregation.

  4. I would think that if a sexual offender against children should (a) never be allowed to be involved in any ministry with children; (b) be supervised and escorted by sharp-eyed people when he is on church property with others present, especially when he goes to the restroom or any ante-room in the building; (c) the regular-attending adult congregation, especially those who have children in their care should all be told that this person has that history, so that they can keep their own eyes peeled, and be wary of him trying to privately groom them so as to get access to their kids.

    I would not make a policy that he could only attend one service per week. Restrictions on frequency of attendance should be made on the basis of how many escorts are available. If there is no escort available for a given church service, he should not be allowed to attend that service.

    The argument that you can’t make blanket rules because that would be unfair for “an 18-year-old boy who is convicted of sex abuse for having sex with his 17-year-old girlfriend” is a furphy (a diversionary excuse). In a case of two teenagers like that, it might be possible for the protocols to be somewhat relaxed, but that should be able to be worked out with the insurers. It sounds to me like the pastor who raised that was just trying to slide out of being as tough minded as the insurers.

    And it’s likely that this pastor has been at least somewhat conned by this child molester. After all, what minister doesn’t love to hear a confession from a horrendously sinful man? It warms the cockles of his heart; it gives him encouragement that the gospel is powerful and Jesus is still working in people’s hearts. Many pastors are so discouraged in their work, seeing so little fruit for their ministry, that they can easily be hooked into hopefulness by the pseudo-confessions of the greatest actors in the world: serial pedophiles.

    Now to Shmidt in particular. I’m extracting from the above post in quote marks, and then commenting:
    “Schmidt said he has been labeled as a “predatory” child sex abuser.” Oh poor man! Isn’t it awful to be labelled? He’s inviting us to his pity party. But he IS predatory. What child sex abuser isn’t?

    “He served additional time in prison during his 10-year probationary period for failing two of six polygraph tests and refusing to participate in therapies he deemed counter to his religious beliefs, he said.” So he refused to participate in therapies because they were counter to his religious beliefs? Hogwash. Any therapy can be done in conjunction with religious beliefs. Therapists don’t ask you to drop your religious beliefs when doing therapy. Shmidt makes paltry excuses that bolster his pretense of religiosity while simultaneously helping him avoid accountability and reformation. He LIKES his sin. That’s why he doesn’t want therapy.

    “I was convicted of one offense with one minor,” Schmidt said. “But I was open and I disclosed my history of molestation with minors.” Wasn’t he such a GOOD guy that he disclosed! But hang on, if he disclosed, why didn’t he get charged and plead guilty to all those other offenses? It’s clearly a clever lie to make us think well of him.
    Wonder how much pressure the police put him under during their interview? Wonder how much other evidence they had against him for other offenses, but evidence that wasn’t quite strong enough to get convictions on those other offenses, so they only charged him with one offense. Ask police. This happens all the time. The number of charges laid is usually far fewer than the number of offenses committed. The police can’t get beyond-reasonable-doubt evidence for many of the offenses, so they run with what they know will stick.

    “Schmidt doesn’t believe in ‘self help,’ he said. Prayer helps him stay focused on God and not on sin.” Excuse me while I %#*# . My translation of Shmidt’s words: Prayer is his mask of religiosity that helps keep Christians from seeing through his camouflage. Or maybe prayer is a mantra that he numbs his mind with so he doesn’t think? It sure isn’t the kind of prayer that brings repentance, because if it were, he would not be playing the pity card or emphasizing “I was only convicted of one offense.”

    “In addition to attending worship services, Schmidt works in food pantries at Set Free and at his old church.” See, I told you he was a GOOD GUY! Food pantries. Great places to get to know people, groom them behind the scenes in the back rooms of the church, find out all the gossip so you know who in the congregation is weak and struggling, and above all, LOOK SO GOOD for all your good deeds. Suck suck suck. The congregation NEEDS him! So few people are willing to volunteer for those boring thankless tasks! Gee, you can’t be hard on him pastor! Who else is willing to show up on Saturday afternoon to sort soup cans?

    ” ‘We’re here to love one another. Not lust after one another, and I was guilty of that,’ Schmidt said.” Well bully for you, Mr Schmidt. Stop lecturing others about what “we” are here for. We know what we’re here for already. You are a jerk, and a very dangerous jerk!

  5. In the church I attend and am a member and also a volunteer security guard (in plain clothes)
    for the children’s ministry on the weekends we are very stricked about men and women whom want to hang out in the children’s area. It’s pretty basic knowledge for the majority of the 5,000 people who attend the church that come for the service and hear the word of God from whom is preaching it that weekend.
    I cannot elebrate too much in detail but if we have someone that could possibly be a sex offender and we know about it they have two options. 1: Stay in the service and listen to the message and never enter the children’s ministry or nursery under no circumstances.
    2: leave from the church.

    I would love as well as the church for that matter for sex offender in this subject to come to church and hear Gods word. But do not put yourself in a very dangerous situation by putting others at risk. Cause if they chose to go anywhere near the children’s ministry they will deal with me and the security team and the staff and the police and doing security for the church in this field I have never had an incident gone bad on my watch and pretty much the parents of the 200 kids I supervise under close care are very happy as well as I am.

    We are all called to forgive but it’s not easy and we may never forget. But we need to continue to show Christ’s Love but within boundaries when its with children of all ages in the church or schools, etc…


    • Thank you, Sir! I’m glad to hear one church is getting it right! I’d be interested to know something else. If your church leaders know that an individual in the church has a history of offending against childen, so they warn the regular attenders who have kids about the guy, so that the parents are on guard against him grooming them in order to obtain private access to their kids?

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