Josh Weis, Executive Vice President for Ministry
Brands, and David Rogers, Senior Vice President of Marketing for
Ministry Brands, contributed to this national news article currently trending
Here is an
excerpt from the news story:
There are more
than 750,000 registered sex offenders across the country and, medical professionals
explain, faith and community are often deemed a crucial part of their treatment
to avoid re-offending.
more than half of those cases – at least 400,000 – involve children, many
offenders slip under the radar and end up on voluntary leadership roles
unnoticed, background check experts warn.
“Churches rely heavily on volunteers who work with youth and children,” Josh Weis, executive vice president at Ministry Brands, a provider of church management software and screening products for more than 115,000 churches and organizations to provide services such as background checking software, told Fox News.
“We’re happy to
be seeing more churches run background checks, but most are only running the
minimum of what is required. It gives a false sense of security, and it isn’t
enough,” he said.
Ministry Brands audit of tens of thousands of churches nationwide found that
although the number of churches conducting background checks grew at least 12
percent over the past year — an estimated 60 percent of churches and ministries
don’t opt for the broader options.
background checks are not enough to keep dangerous predators from taking
positions as religious leaders, and the first step in safeguarding children is
through a more thorough screening and re-screening policies,” Weis stated.
“Checking a single name or simply running an applicant through a criminal
database is not enough. Depending on the state, these lower-level screens can
be equivalent to merely Googling a name.”
“The reality is
that both the National Sex Offender Registry and the National Criminal Database
searches are not updated in real-time,” said Weis. “An even
lesser-known fact is that in 50 percent of America, the most critical or
real-time data comes directly from counties and requires a deeper background
emphasized, churches need to turn to more systematic and thorough checks and
not rest on the laurels of the cheap and basic ones offered online.
But there are
glaring loopholes. Standard background checks typically sift out the traffic
records, credit history, employment verification, criminal records and crucially
– the federally-mandated sex offender register in every U.S. state.
and registry policies differ from state to state.
Brands study also found that less than 10 percent of churches are actively
rescreening their volunteers and staff annually, a statistic Weis called
all-inclusive check, Weis surmised, would involve such processes as routine
rescreening at least once a year, conducting further queries on applicants
coming from other states and scrutinizing red flags from their previous
should provide a driver’s license or a passport and a lot of volunteer
organizations don’t want to do that because they don’t want to add an extra
layer to those seeking to help, but it is important,” Weis continued. “We also
emphasize the use of social security numbers, take the data and use it to
create common alias or abbreviated names.”
He noted that,
according to their checks, between 4 and 10 percent of volunteer applications
result in some sort of record worthy of closer scrutiny. An investigation
released this year jointly conducted by The Houston Chronicle and the San
Antonio Express-News found that almost 400 Southern Baptist leaders either
pleaded guilty or were convicted of sex crimes against more than 700 victims
between 1998 and 2018.
“Our job is
simply to pass the information on to customers – in this case, churches – and
it is up to them as to what they want to do with that information. But
criminals are often very crafty and see churches as a soft target,” Weis said.
“Most sex offenders will take themselves out of the application process once
they know a background check will be run, so they are looking for churches that
aren’t going to run a check at all.”
Senior Vice President of Marketing at Ministry Brands, also highlighted that a
loophole they have encountered is when an offender, even for sex-related
violations, pleads down to a misdemeanor and can then skirt the basic
“Even if not a
felony it can set off a red flag, so if you don’t run those more complex
searches you might not detect what you need to,” he said.
law, employers must notify job or volunteer applicants if they plan to run a
background check on an applicant. This notification must clearly state that the
report is for employment purposes, and the notification must relate only to
need to recognize that abuse is not an isolated risk in a far-off place — abuse
can happen anywhere. Taking this seriously is the first step,” said Travis
Wussow, vice president and general counsel of the Ethics & Religious
Liberty Commission (ERLC), an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention. “This
is one of the reasons the ERLC devoted nearly the entire last year through
today working with child protection experts, law enforcement officials, lawyers
with experience in these cases, and church leaders to produce guides,
curriculum, and resources in response to this crisis.”
“The risk of
sexual abuse is real. If your organization serves children and youth, you have
a responsibility to provide a standard of care for those most vulnerable. It is
imperative that you evaluate your current preventative measures,” Rich Poirier,
president and CEO of Church Mutual Insurance Company, pointed out.
Please contact your Shelby Sales Consultant for more information about Protect My Ministry and make your church members’ safety a top priority today.