RANDOM THOUGHTS: Special insurance for churches
A recent headline opened a long closed drawer in my brain and sent me on a bumpy walk down memory lane.
Ithas been many years since my list visit to a lovely retreat in northernOhio. Lake Side lies on the Marblehead Peninsula of Lake Erie. It wassettled 126 years ago and the old homes are Victorian in style.Scattered throughout the community are cottages owned by families thathave been handed on to generation after generation. During the summer,these cottages were rented to youth church groups for a week ofemphasis on the spiritual life.
My first 18 years were spent inrural Ohio. Life revolved around home, school and church. My teen yearsincluded youth fellowship meetings every Sunday evening in the littleMethodist church by the side of the road. Early in the summer, thatgroup began planning for the week at Lake Side, always a highlight.
Livingin land-locked middle Ohio, it was exciting to spend a week on theshores of huge Lake Erie. But there was so much more to that week. Carswere prohibited and we walked to morning worship service and classesand everywhere we went.
Outstanding speakers motivated us todelve into our spiritual lives. There were many opportunities to meetand make new friends. My last year there I met a young man who wasplanning to go into the ministry. My interest in him ended when hetried to seduce me. Yes, I was na´ve, but I was shocked that someonewanting to lead spiritually couldn't control his carnal urges.
Thatexperience was pushed into the drawer marked forgotten. Later, afteryears of marriage blessed with four children, that drawer openedunexpectedly.
One day a phone call came from friends who hadbeen our neighbors in another town. They were near our city and askedif they might stop for a quick visit. We were delighted and it wasduring that visit we learned their daughter was in a home for unwedmothers-to-be which was near us. The father of that baby was the youthminister at their church. He was married and the father of severalchildren. Hearing that sad story brought back the questions I asked allthose years ago.
I have shared these two true experiences as aprelude to the recent revelations about churches. Five years ago, thenation learned the extent of the long-hidden sexual abuse in theCatholic church. Finally in June of this year, headlines appeared"Scope of Protestant sex abuse emerges."
Why has it taken solong for accusations to appear against the Protestants? The answer wasgiven that the Catholic church is more centralized than otherdenominations and figures are more accessible. The code of silencebegan to open when investigators questioned the three insurancecompanies that insure the majority of Protestant churches in Americafor liability against child sex abuse and other sexual misconduct.There are about 224,000 Protestant churches in the U.S. and 165,495 areprotected by this special insurance.
The early reporting by theAssociated Press found that the three insurance companies receiveupward of 260 reports each year of those under 18 being sexually abusedby clergy, church staff, volunteers or congregation members.
Shakespearewrote in Hamlet, "Do not, as some ungracious pastors do, show me thesteep and thorny way to heaven; whiles, like a puff'd and recklesslibertine, himself the primrose path of dalliance treads, and recks nothis own rede."Dorothy Copus Brush is a Fairfield Gladeresident and Crossville Chronicle staffwriter whose column is publishedeach Wednesday. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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