When the media coverage regarding churches seems to focus exclusively on sexual misconduct, a consensus emerges among the general audience that these events occur in just about every church, no matter where they are. The reality, however, is much different. While a pure violation of the trust that people have put into the church, sexual misconduct is still statistically a rare occurrence. However, where is has occurred and where this egregious behavior is proven, liability of the church founders and principles can bring it to financial ruin.
That’s why sexual misconduct insurance is a vital element of any religious organization’s underlying insurance principles. Some pastors and church leaders may worry about the stigma that could be associated with carrying this kind of insurance. If the congregation or even local residents discovered that the church was covered for sexual misconduct, they might immediately jump to conclusions and assume that there must be a reason why the church would even do that.
The gossip and rumors would spread. ‘What do the church organizers know that they’re not telling us?’ ‘Why would they worry about sexual misconduct unless they just don’t trust the people who work within the organization?’ And the questions pile up. These are certainly issues that any church leader will have to face during these trying times, but there is a simple response to them.
Insurance Covers the Organization against the Possibilities, Not Likelihood
Just as a homeowner may carry flood insurance while living in the dry climates, it doesn’t mean that they expect to have the Great Flood raging through their living room tomorrow. At the same time, should they skip that coverage altogether? The last time that a flood roiled through their neighborhood may have been more than one hundred years ago, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen again.
Although a church or religious organization is designed to give comfort to people and provide education and hope, there is simply no guarantee that everyone whom is hired within it will be pure of heart or intention. Just as there is no way to completely guarantee that bad things won’t happen to good people, insurance helps to protect the church against the possibility.
Protecting the Investment
While most religious organizations are able to file as non-profit with the IRS, that doesn’t mean that they operate any differently than a business. Any business operating today must protect itself and its assets from potential loss brought on by lawsuits. Any time that an organizations welcomes people onto its property, whether as clients, guests, or even friends, there is a risk that something could go wrong and if something happened, the possibility of liability exists.
It is about protecting the investment that the church founders made when they set out to establish their organization. Sexual misconduct, as mentioned, has been touted and reported in the news media for several years and has garnered a great deal of attention, to the point where some people are actively seeking out the possibility that something similar might be carrying on within the church that they belong to.
Sexual misconduct of any measure is a serious offense and should be considered one of the most egregious acts of misconduct that a church could be involved in, but that doesn’t mean that even choosing the best employees and screening them thoroughly that your organization will be immune to allegations or even the acts themselves. In fact, there are seemingly far too many people in society today who will latch onto a cause and claim that it happened to them, even if there is no foundation in truth, all in the search for easy money.
Make no mistake, however, that sexual misconduct has happened in many churches around the country and the act itself has devastated many lives and broken numerous families. It is not something that anyone should take lightly.
What Is Sexual Misconduct?
The first thought that most people will have when they hear sexual misconduct in a church setting is that of pastors and young children, most commonly boys. However, there are many different kinds of sexual misconduct that can occur on the church grounds. If you have male and female volunteers (they don’t even have to be paid employees for your church to be liable for their behavior), and if these volunteers are friendly and like each other, as with any workplace in the country, there is the possibility of aggressive behavior as well as misunderstandings.
There can also be the possibility of resentment and a desire to ‘get even’ with another person by making an allegation of sexual misconduct. While this is not about the guilt or innocence of particular individuals, anything and everything that transpires on the grounds or within the properties of a church organization is the full responsibility of the church founders and organizers themselves.
Liability Coverage as a Buffer
Church insurance coverage that includes sexual misconduct may seem, on the surface to some, as a way for insurance companies to charge more in light of the recent allegations and unfortunate incidents that have occurred in other churches around the world. However, it is entirely up to the church organizers whether they wish to add such coverage.
You may be comfortable knowing everyone who works within your organization. You may be absolutely positive that nothing of this behavior would ever occur within your hallowed halls, but there is a time and a place for being confident and have full faith in your congregation and all of the employees or volunteers whom you call as friends.
Sexual misconduct insurance is a vital component that churches need to consider in the modern society in which we live. Unfortunately, acts that warranted claims of misconduct have occurred. Unfortunately many people were hurt by them. And unfortunately, people are going to continue to make mistakes or attempt to take advantage of others. Where sexual misconduct is concerned, there is a time and a place to believe that your church is immune to it and a reality that you need to protect yourself against the possibility of allegations, real or imaginary, that could cost your church more than it can afford.