Every church needs to have a sexual misconduct policy. It’s a sad reality for our culture today. Hopefully, your church won’t have an issue arise requiring your policy to be enacted. However, the best time to develop a sexual misconduct policy is before a policy is needed.
Kathleen Turpin, Vice President of Human Resources, Brotherhood Mutual, wrote: “Christian ministries are uniquely vulnerable to issues of sexual misconduct due to their culture of trust and their reliance on, and need for, numerous volunteers. Many ministries still do not have or follow an effective sexual misconduct strategy.” It may help prevent sexual abuse from ever happening in the first place if the church has such a policy.
The church and/or ministry’s policy needs to state in broad terms that no sexual misconduct by any person or at any level will be acceptable. Secondly, the policy should provide a reporting procedure if an accusation is made.
William R. Thetford and H. Robert Showers, in an article for Church Law & Tax, entitled, “Seven Steps for Creating an Effective Sexual Harassment Policy,” state “employees who believe they may have been sexually harassed need to know who to go to and how to make a complaint. It is common to have employees notify their direct supervisor … It is important to have multiple avenues of reporting in case the official who is supposed to receive reports is the one accused or ignores the report for any reason.”
This is a complicated subject and cannot be adequately understood in a short blog article, but an important issue that needs to be addressed by church leadership.
If I can help your church prepare a sexual misconduct policy, please contact me at Jeff.Ingram@LouisianaBaptists.org or 318.448.3402. When preparing or updating any church policy it is advisable to consult with a local attorney.