Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Still More About Background Checks

As some of you have correctly pointed out in your comments on the previous post on this subject, a background check is not going to catch all sociopaths, psychopaths, pedophiles and so on. This is important to know. For example, I know a case in which a man was convicted of multiple counts of molesting children and yet, because he committed the atrocity prior to requirements that sex offenders must be registered, a check of such a registry is not going to show his record. Others of course have never been caught and convicted.

However, what concerns me is that many people who have raised the objection “it won’t do any good…it would not have discovered my abuser”…go on to say “therefore, it is a waste of time.” Underneath many of these kinds of objections is some kind of mentality that says “Christians ought not to be so untrusting. This is a lack of faith. This will offend people.”

Well, as an illustration, does your doctor look at your medical history when you go to a new physician? Does your doctor run medical tests which may not always reveal what ails you? Of course. Does this mean he shouldn’t do those tests or look at those records?

If you were go apply for a job – say as a police officer – you are going to be fingerprinted and your prints run against a national registry. There is going to be a background investigation. Do all of these checks guarantee that a criminal will never be hired as a police officer? Of course not. Does that mean we shouldn’t do them?

Does such a policy in a church offend some people? Yes! Does such a policy cause some people to never come back? Yes! Should we suspend a background check policy because of this? No! Because, let me tell you, EVERY background check works! “What? you say? Every one?” Yes. This policy accomplishes several things:

  • Some sex offenders and other criminals will be discovered by it
  • Merely informing would-be church members of this practice will weed out people who refuse to acknowledge that evil exists and that “God loves everyone” and so should we
  • Practicing such a policy discovers arrogance and/or ignorance in a person
  • Investigating the background of a newcomer communicates to wise people that we truly care about the safety of the flock
  • Practicing such a policy puts the wicked on notice that this is a church that intends to expose and expel evil (ie, “we are wise to your kind, buddy!”)

And those are just SOME of the benefits.

Let me ask you this. Do you think that we are obligated before God to welcome EVERYONE into our church? Think carefully about this. A church that looks into a person’s church background, criminal history background, etc., is a church that intends to refuse entry to some people! Now, hold that up against Scripture. Does the Bible tell us that we are to refuse to allow some people to be among us? Of course. For example:

1Co 5:11-13 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. (12) For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? (13) God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

Now, how are you going to discover such things about a person if you do not investigate? Is it not best to head things off right at the church doors before a pedophile is caught molesting your children in Sunday school class? PURGE the evil person from among you.

You can perhaps begin to understand still another reason why I have been spending time at length in the Wednesday Bible study online examining the habitually repeated statement, “God loves everyone.” That false gospel throws open all safeguards in a church, allows evil to walk right in the door, puts the devil’s servants into “ministry” positions, and throws the lambs to the wolf.

And therefore I conclude with this: The question is not why Christ Reformation Church does background checks and investigations on newcomers – the question is, why aren’t all churches doing this?

I can guarantee you absolutely that if we discover an evil person attempting to come into our church, or if we discover one among us who has been hiding behind a disguise, and when we then expel such a person and that person goes down the road to another “church,” the pastor of that church is never going to contact me! And if I try to warn that pastor, he is NOT going to listen to me (so I don’t even try anymore). So, have you found in your trials as an abuse victim that “church” is not a safe place? Well, this is largely the reason why.


Let's Talk More About Background Checks


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  1. lg

    Yes — I think this is brilliant.
    To chaperone at our daughter’s school or volunteer in the classroom – both Christian and public schools – parents need to do a CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) Personal Request Form) with fingerprints. It costs $20 or so.
    It should be a requirement for churches too – at the bear minimum – even if as you said, only for deterrent purposes.`. Just having the policy in place speaks volumes about the priority of safety in the Church.
    It used to be “in the old days” when our culture was much less transient and diverse people knew and trusted each other more, or at least knew someone’s family. However, today with an increasingly transient culture and people coming and going more at faster, shorter intervals, background checks in churches should be a norm.
    Also – background checks before marriage. I used to think prenuptials were not romantic or trustworthy, but now I think the opposite. Given the premise that marriage vows and marriage certificate is a “contract” and a “binding legal document” that warrants divorce when broken, couples should go into marriage knowing full well their rights, the divorce laws, and a background check of their potential life long partner.
    Again, in the olden days, it used to be people know the families of the person you were marrying, but now with the increasingly transient culture, we often don’t have this privilege and are quite blind as to what we are getting into. Even more so if we come from a church that eschews divorce at all costs so were are naive as making sound decisions.
    Had I any inkling of the marriage / divorce risks and the way family court operates, I never would have agreed to forfeit my part time AF Reservist position I needed to keep my military retirement benefits. In other words, I entered into marriage completely blind and trusting of the marriage as an institution and of my spouse — like a lamb to the slaughter or sheep to the wolves – I had no idea people could actually be so deceitful, greedy and cunning as my ex-spouse was/is.
    I grew up being led to think naiveté was somehow a virtue of innocence, however I suffered greatly from my naiveté.

  2. Finally Free

    Thank you, Pastor Crippen. I wish more churches at least did a simple check of national sex offender registry. It’s free and it takes 10 seconds to use. Maybe some abusers wouldn’t be detected this way because they haven’t been caught yet, but I personally know of abuse cases in which the abuser had a previous conviction that wasn’t known until it was too late. One quick check would have prevented more wreckage!
    I’ve reported a convicted Level 3 sex predator/stalker who likes going to “megachurches” that don’t check because his entrance into a congregation is less likely to be officially noted or cataloged. Then he slithers into everyone’s trust as he slowly becomes a familiar face and it’s probably just assumed that someone vouched for him. He’s been credibly accused of abusing again but as you note, it’s hard to get victims to report, police to care, or prosecutors to follow up. He moves around and changes his look a lot to avoid detection. The sex offender registry is definitely far better than nothing, so we desperately need to keep it, but it can leave an inexcusable gap sometimes.
    At churches he attends, he introduces himself with a plausible nicknames and mispronounced last names. If his hypothetical legal name is Richard John Doe, he verbally says he’s “Jackie Dee” or “Ricky John.” He does that so that if there’s ever an occasion for someone to find out his legal name, e.g. he gets a business client there and they write him a check, the hypothetical names are similar enough to not raise red flags. I know about other name variations he’s used on dating websites including a Christian one. It’s not uncommon for sex offenders to do this.
    I’m 99.9% sure he’d avoid any church that just did a simple check of the national sex offender registry page. He steers clear of employers, neighborhoods, and social groups that do. I’m following his latest fake name and photos on social media. When I can determine his newest church, I’ll make another report.

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