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Churches, other groups do more background checks

Oct 6, 2010 11:30:00 AM - thestate.com
More churches and religious groups are conducting background checks and taking other steps to protect children against mistreatment in the wake of the sex abuse scandal that has plagued the Catholic Church for years.

Children's advocates say not all background checks are equal, and warn religious groups they must be especially vigilant in screening clergy, volunteers and staff because their trusting communities are often targets for abusers.

Background checks should look into criminal databases at the local, state and federal levels and religious groups need other safety mechanisms in place, according to insurance companies. That's because many pedophiles don't have criminal records, either because they haven't been caught or haven't been prosecuted.

LifeWay Christian Resources, the Southern Baptist Convention's publishing and research arm, launched a partnership with backgroundchecks.com in 2008 to offer background screenings to Lifeway customers at discounted prices.

There is a $10 basic-level background check option that includes a national criminal and sex offender search, said Jennie Taylor, a marketing coordinator at Lifeway. With nearly 16.2 million members, the Nashville-based SBC is the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S.

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