Churches Use Background Checks to Protect Congregations

Churches turning toward screening volunteers for criminal records are uncovering unsavory information. Bill Jones, director of mission in an East Texas Baptist organization screened a volunteer recently who was a convicted sex offender, serving snow cones at a bible school.

Running background checks on volunteers is becoming a mandatory price volunteers will need to pay. "It's a way to keep kids safe," said Jerilyn Smith, adminstrative assistant at the Monongahela Baptist Association in West Virginia. "We want to assure parents we are doing all we can to protec their children from those who would want to harm them."

Use of background checks at churches reveal about half of volunteers (53%) returned with some type of issue. Not all issues bar a person from being able to volunteer, but about 20% in total are turned away.

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