I am still reading through this news story, but apparently there is a church in Jackson, MS who will not divulge information about a former staff member who is being accused of sexual abuse of children. You can read the story here.
Morrison Heights Baptist Church is claiming confidentiality concerns and their lawyer states they could be sued if they reveal what they found in their own investigation into a former staff member. The state of MS is disputing that argument for reasons you read from the ABP article above. You can reach you own conclusions about the legalities of this issue, but I can tell you this much: I would not have my children at a church who would not cooperate with the authorities when there is a reasonable possibility that sexual abuse has taken place with a child by a staff member, whether current or former.
I’ve been working at churches for a while now, and have done a bit of pastoral counseling through the years. I do value the confidentiality of conversations with church members and do not reveal what is told me in the privacy of my office. Many pastors do not even tell folks who has come by to see them, and that has been my goal as well. There is a caveat to this privilege, however, and that should be if the welfare and safety of children are involved. I have an obligation to share that information with the authorities. It baffles me that a church would use a legal argument to keep from doing what would be the morally right thing.
I really hope that I am wrong about what has happened in this case. Suffice it to say that it would be a good idea for any congregation who is the focus of a controversy like this one to be open and state their desire to do anything and everything to make the safety of the children a priority above all else. There should be an unwritten rule when it comes to these kinds of matters, and that should be erring on the side of protecting the children.