Excerpted from CBS46 by Mea Watkins
LENOIR CITY, Tenn. (CBS46) – As sex offenders continue to dodge state registries, newly released data shows that critical gaps remain in church background checks.
Ministry Brands, a leading provider of church management software solutions, says although church background checks increased 12 percent year-over-year, 40 percent of Protestant and Evangelical churches don’t conduct deep background checks and only 10 percent re-screen annually.
“As one of the most prominent background screening platforms in the U.S., the data shows that churches are more engaged than ever before in having their volunteers and staff background checked. But it’s not enough given what our communities are facing,” Josh Weis, executive vice president of Ministry Brands said in a press release.
The data spans nearly 30,000 churches and ministries, representing more than 1.6 million individual background checks.
The numbers are alarming when compared to youth sports and little league teams, which recheck 99 percent of staff and volunteers every year, according to Ministry Brands.
Weis said church leaders and congregants could be operating with a false sense of security under the perception that all background checks are created equal.
“We advocate that church leaders educate themselves to better understand that 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,” Weis said.
Ministry Brands hopes the released data will urge all faith-based organizations to take a more systematic and comprehensive approach to decrease the infiltration of predators.