If You Were Sexually Abused, You Cannot Work At These Churches
Not only is child sexual abuse addressed on some of these employment forms, but according to these articles (links farther below), some churches ask applicants about their views on fornication, or if they’ve ever been accused of homosexuality.
I find this pretty hypocritical. If you’ve followed this blog before, you know I was waiting until marriage to have sex – as a result, I am now over 40 years of age and still a virgin, because I never married.
What I have observed as I’ve gotten older is that while many Christians pay “lip service” to respecting adult virginity or celibacy, that in practice, they do not.
Sometimes, some Christians (conservatives, no less, but also most progressives) ridicule and mock virginity, and they ridicule or put down adult virgins for being virgins. (Please see the links under the “Related Posts” at the bottom of this post for examples.)
Not only is there little to no philosophical, theological, or intellectual support for adult virginity (and by extension, adult singleness past one’s mid 20s or so), but there is no concrete support – churches and Christians seldom have ministries to meet the needs of adult single celibates.
There are rarely sermons preached on a regular basis on adult single celibacy – compare that to the topic of marriage. Most churches offer a “ten steps to a stronger marriage” type sermon series once every few weeks but never sermonize about singleness.
Churches and Christian married couples don’t seem to consider offering practical assistance to adult singles, such as offering to drive an adult single home after surgery, or mowing the grass of an adult single who is recovering from the flu in bed.
For the adult singles who do desire marriage, churches often refuse to pray for them that God provide them a mate, nor do churches like to hold social functions where marriage minded adult singles can mingle.
I find it extremely hypocritical that some churches are being so fussy over a job applicant’s sexual history, but they do nothing to help or encourage adults who are maintaining celibacy.
I maintain my celibacy all alone – I do not have a church support group to turn to. Nobody calls me on the phone to keep me pumped up to keep going. I never hear preachers on TV give sermons praising me and telling me to hang in there about my singleness or celibacy.
I don’t think it’s fair or realistic for churches to expect and demand a job applicant to be a celibate or virgin but then turn around on Sundays and only give sermons on how to have hot, spicy married sex – where are their programs or ministries to meet the needs of adults who are trying to be celibate?
(Link): Abused? You Can’t Work at These Churches by Z. Kopplin
- Church job seekers are being asked if they were sexually abused as children based on the false belief that victims will become abusers. The worst part—this discrimination is legal.
- If you want to work for the Twin Cities Bible Church, you will have to disclose whether you were raped as a child.
“Have you ever been physically or (Link): sexually abused as a child?” is one of the questions on the Urbana, Illinois, church’s job (Link): application. “If yes, when, where, and what were the circumstances?”
The questions are shocking, but not rare for Protestant churches and religious organizations across the United States. These groups want to know the personal histories of prospective employees in an attempt to protect themselves against liability for potential sex-abuse scandals based on the false belief that victims of sex abuse as children are destined to become abusers as adults.
…Some ministries don’t stop at past sexual abuse.
The Ark-La-Tx Crisis Pregnancy Center, an anti-abortion clinic in Bossier, Louisiana, also evaluates applicants on their “submission to authority,” and asks them, “When do you feel sexual intercourse is morally permissible?” (PDF)
…Houston megachurch Lakewood asks volunteers: “Have you ever been involved in a cult or the occult (witchcraft, satanism, psychics, horoscopes, etc)?”
The National Black Home Educators organization recommends local chapters vet officers by asking them, “Have you indulged in any form of pornography in the past 2 years? If so, please explain.”
The Trail Life troop, a Christian leadership program for young men at Grace Covenant Church in North Carolina, asks employees: “Have you ever been convicted of, accused of or practiced homosexuality?” (PDF)
…Despite the lack of public attention paid to Protestant sex abuse, church insurance companies took notice.
“It is very significant to observe that a number of church insurance companies are reducing significantly the insurance coverage they provide for child abuse or molestation, and in some cases are excluding it entirely,” Richard Hammar, the senior editor of Christianity Today’s Church Law and Tax Review, wrote in (Link): Ministry Magazine, in January 1991.
Hammar put a question about childhood molestation in a sample employment application included in his book, Reducing the Risk of Child Sexual Abuse in Your Church.
“I included this question on the form because of a ruling by the Alaska Supreme Court in 1991 (just months before the kit was published) finding that a church was responsible for the molestation of a young child because it failed to ask the molester (a nursery worker) whether or not she had been molested as a child,” Hammar wrote in a (Link): blog post. (He did not respond to a request for comment.)
In Broderick v. King’s Way Assembly of God, justices found the church liable for sexual abuse by employee Shirley Gilman, who had been abused as a child.
….By 1998, Hammar’s questionnaire was included in sample volunteer application forms (PDF) made by Lifeway Christian Stores, a major Baptist bookstore chain. That year, Lifeway’s representative for its Bible studies division (Link): told the Baptist Press: “All people who have been abused do not become child abusers, but almost all child abusers have been abused themselves.”
This is not true, though. As a 2001 (Link): study in the British Journal of Psychiatry found, “The data supports the notion of a victim-to-victimiser cycle in a minority of male perpetrators, but not among the female victims studied.”
And according to the author of the 1989 study cited by the Alaska Supreme Court, justices and churches are misusing her work.
“That is a very old paper and based upon a clinical sample that came to our program at the University of Michigan and all were intrafamilial sexual-abuse cases,” Professor Kathleen Faller told The Daily Beast. “Therefore, the sample is not relevant to clergy cases.
“Moreover, since most offenders are men and most victims are women, the hypothesis that a major contributing factor to sex offending is a history of sexual abuse does not make sense.”
Again, the sex abuse questions are liability, not science. Anna Bryant, a public affairs officer with State Farm Insurance, told The Daily Beast she could find nothing in their policies that would recommend churches to ask about past sexual abuse. (Bryant also said church insurance is “not a big line of business for us.”)
Insurance agencies that specialize in covering churches were less cooperative.
…The sex-abuse questions are likely legal because churches are not totally bound by non-discrimination laws.
“Under the ministerial exemption, religious institutions are allowed to violate employment-discrimination law when hiring and firing their ministers,” said Greg Lipper, a lawyer for Americans United for Separation of Church and State. “Not everyone who works for a church is a minister, but the exception applies to employees with significant religious responsibilities, including clergy and religious-school teachers.” So asking the janitor about their past abuse might be prohibited, but asking the Sunday School teacher is fair game.
Legal or not, it’s wrong to force abuse victims to relive the trauma in job interviews.
…“Such information has no bearing on whether the person is a danger to children,” he [Boz Tchividjian, founder of the Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE)] said. “All it does is shame and stigmatize the applicants who are survivors.”
…The questions aren’t just wrong, they’re simply dumb.
“If a predator is looking for a way to get to kids, he would very likely lie and say he never abused,” Clohessy said. “So all it would really do is screen out people, who through no fault of their own, are victims of horrific crimes.”
Secular child-care providers are not asking their employees if they were sexually abused. There’s a better way to prevent sexual abuse than digging to find out if someone was abused.
(Link): Singleness Is Not A Gift