Religious Groups Refuse to Ordain Sex Offenders

A man from Indiana became an ordained minister through an independent church earlier this month. While that in itself is not headline new, the fact that he is a sex offender is. The church defended the action citing that the man has been reformed.

Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Assemblies of God and the Jehovah's Witnesses are all churches that refuse to ordain sex offenders, reformed or not. They concluded the risk of a repeat offense is serious enough that they deny the offenders the ability to access their denominations.

“If the candidate has committed a sex-related crime, he or she should be permanently disqualified” for ministry, according to United Methodist guidelines, which cite “the massive legal exposure,” as well as “the awareness that currently available treatments for such offenses are of limited utility, with high rates of recidivism.”

“My question to the church would be — why?” Fortune said in a phone interview. “If this person has been in treatment and served their time and so forth, that's fine and that's good. But as a registered sex offender, part of what they're supposed to understand about themselves is that they remain at risk to reoffend.”

She said ordaining such a person is also hurtful to people who have been sexually abused as children, particularly by clergy.

“Repentance, redemption and restoration do not mean that that person is lifted into a position of public leadership,” she said. “There are many other ways they can serve in their community and in their church that would not put them in that kind of role.”