This past summer there was a story about a local church that was battling its insurance company over demands that sex offenders who come to worship be identified, escorted and attend specific services. Whatever happened at that church?
— Elliot R., Ashland
We're glad you asked this, Elliot. Here's a recap of the "pray or prey" story for those who may have missed it.
Chad McComas, pastor at Set Free Christian Fellowship in Medford, said his church disclosed to its insurance company that its congregation included some known sex offenders.
The insurance company, Church Mutual, responded by sending a letter requiring McComas to disclose to his congregation the identity of any and all sex offenders, allow those offenders to attend only one predetermined service each week, require them to report in when they attend services and assign them an escort who will accompany them at all times, and bar them from participating in any child or youth programs.
McComas challenged the insurance company rules, which he said would have a chilling effect on disclosure and encourage abusers to go underground.
Patrick Moreland, vice president of marketing for Church Mutual, declined to discuss the specifics of his company's interaction with Set Free.
But he said Church Mutual insures more than 100,000 religious organizations. And it has covered close to 5,000 sex-related claims since 1984.
The rules, developed by outside legal counsel, were designed to protect both potential victims and the organization from the "legal hot water" of sexual misconduct and molestation claims, Moreland said.
McComas said the matter before his church, which has about 100 members, was one of principle and practicality. The insurance company overreached by requiring Set Free to assign an offender a constant escort and limit attendance at worship, he said.
The church had until mid-June to abide by the insurance company's demands, according to Moreland.
When contacted by the Mail Tribune, McComas said his church, which he started in 1997, remains insured by Church Mutual — but "without a rider for any sexual misconduct insurance," he said.
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