A Note from the “No Boys Can Help with Toddlers/No Men Can Change Diapers” Pastor

Hi tdshdfekzd
Readers: Here you go! The dot-dot-dots are his, not mine. – L

Dear Free-Range Kids: I am the Pastor of the church with the policy that is quoted in this blog post. [The one below this one.]  And I found you through the significant traffic to the church website through this blog.

A group that claims to appreciate helmets for their children, but sees no need to run background checks or have a Safe Haven policy is not facing reality.  I am not a fear-monger.  My children DO ride to the store on their own.  But statistics show that child abusers go to places with least resistance and are more likely to be someone with whom the child is well acquainted.  I will NOT allow my church to be a Safe Haven for sex offenders and just as in anything . . . safety and convenience are always a trade-off.  I hope you can understand how your blog came across as condescending and  offensive to someone who is doing the best they can to protect children from potential abuse as well as volunteer workers from false accusations.  The diaper and teenage thing was a stretch for me personally, but at the recommendation of my insurance company and the thought of potentially stopping abuse, I saw it as a worthwhile compromise.  Unfortunately, we have a group of 6 ladies that meet regularly in a recovery group for abuse.  I don’t know what you do for a living, but as a blogger you get to say whatever you want and have strong opinions.  As a Pastor I get to work both sides of the equation trying to protect the kids . . . while trying to provide hope and healing to those whose lives have been shredded by abuse . . . by the way,  I am not a sexist . . . but I used to play one on TV . . .

My Response:

Hi Don! Thank you for writing. I do appreciate that you are trying to keep the kids at your church safe. What worries me is that your policies go too far, without making the kids any safer. In doing so, they spread the “Worst First” thinking that is festering in our society: The idea that we should automatically think the Worst possible scenario First, no matter how unlikely, and proceed as if it’s fact. (Which is what insurance companies do.)

Thus your No Men Changing Diapers rule seems to proceed from the idea that because there are some creeps who get turned on by diaper changes — a small group, to be sure — now NO man should ever help change ANY child in church. That is overkill. It’s treating ALL men as monsters, which is terrible for the men as well as for any boys who want to grow up to be upstanding adults but now see they will never be trusted.

The same thing happens when we treat all teen boys as jerks, or worse. Older kids of both sexes have been taking care of their younger siblings since the dawn of time. It is only at this particularly terrified moment in time that we see all adolescent males as potential pervs at worst, incompetent lugs at best.

How is preventing males from changing diapers and teen boys from helping toddlers serving the best interests of anyone, including the kids, who now may have no nursery or Sunday school, due to a lack of volunteers? And similarly, how is treating two family members as if they are a cabal of kiddie molesters bettering the world?

I hate child abuse. I hate any abuse. But it seems as if a simple “two people in the room” rule would serve you very well, without these other, excessive, demeaning caveats — or so sez me. In the meantime, here are a few responses I very much endorse that came from readers when you wrote your comment in the post below. (And here the dot-dot-dots ARE mine):

  1. pentamom, on May 13, 2011 at 01:47 said: Dear Don: … Insurance companies don’t design policies to balance wisdom and risk; they design them to eliminate risk entirely, as far as possible. Churches have more concerns than that. It is good to wisely incorporate policies that protect kids; it is not good to forget that not a single decision or recommendation of an insurance company is done out of love for people or what is actually best for them overall — children included.

    Library Diva, on May 13, 2011 at 01:47 said: Don, don’t you resent that your insurance company has badgered you into policies that you don’t really support? ….  As a man, doesn’t it bother you that society seems to consider your entire gender a threat to children

    Abuse does terrible things to people’s lives, and it’s good that there’s been more awareness of it. But it seems unbalanced in the extreme, where we now treat ANYONE who has an interest in spending time with children as some sort of sick pedo. Fighting back against this “worst-first” thinking is part of what the blog’s about, so that someday insurance companies won’t be so concerned by the possibilty of false accusation lawsuits that they destroy community in the manner that’s happened to you.

  2. Uly, on May 13, 2011 at 02:18 said: Don wrote: “The diaper and teenage thing was a stretch for me personally, but at the recommendation of my insurance company and the thought of potentially stopping abuse, I saw it as a worthwhile compromise.”

    WHY is it a worthwhile compromise to do something that makes no logical sense, unfairly maligns a portion of the population (preventing them from learning useful parenting skills), and alienates members of your own church? WHO is being protected by this?

    Okay, it’s Lenore here again: I do thank you for writing in, Don. It is always good to get a dialog going. And I’m glad your kids go to the store! — L

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131 Responses to A Note from the “No Boys Can Help with Toddlers/No Men Can Change Diapers” Pastor

  1. Emily WK May 13, 2011 at 6:27 am #

    I’m surprised that he found this blog condescending and offensive and seems to have no objection to how every young man in his church may feel upon knowing that their pastor feels they can’t be trusted with taking care of an infant because they might molest them.

  2. Peter Orvetti May 13, 2011 at 6:28 am #

    I have been teaching religious education to two- and three-year-olds at my church for three years. I am well aware that many people think grown men who like to spend time with small children not their own are a threat. And some are. But most are not.

  3. Michelle H May 13, 2011 at 6:30 am #

    I think a better idea for him protecting the kids is to actually teach them real world scenarios – that most people aren’t a threat, but learn how to identify those that are. If you just blanket statement say “this entire gender can’t be trusted”, those kids are going to be very mistrustful of everybody, and will grow up fearful of those members of society (the entire male species).

    He can obviously do what he wants, but I feel very bad for those children going to that church.

  4. Anthony Hernandez May 13, 2011 at 6:31 am #


    As a pastor, you represent the single gravest threat to children imaginable, both from your own statistics (the Pew Institute study was damning) and from the fact that your entire creed traces its entire lineage to Abraham, who committed assault with a deadly weapon and attempted murder against his own son and then cast his other son and the mother of that son into the desert to die.

    For those reasons, I fully support background checks and multiple people in the room for anything involving children in church as a clear and necessary thing to prevent further abuses.

    Of course, this falls far short of the ideal remedy that would be to prevent anyone under 18 from attending any religious service and to compel all religious services to begin and end with the statement that everything occurring therein and the entire belief structure is nothing more than sheet conjecture.

    Sadly, we will probably never reach that ideal goal; in the meantime, anything that limits or restricts children and people handlng children in a religious setting is a step in the right direction and is the only aspect of religion that has my unwavering support.

  5. jaysaint May 13, 2011 at 6:35 am #

    I have to give him credit for writing, even though I don’t agree with his policies.

    I’ve been reflecting on this rule and how it could relate to my family. I have two very small boys (1 and 3) who are often in the care of a lone young man at my eldest’s preschool. He is an assistant who helps out when we have conferences or events or other situations where parents might bring their kids and need childcare. I don’t know much about him, but he seems like a good guy. More importantly, I trust my son’s school and they trust him. So we’re all good and free from this terrible way of thinking, right? No.

    What I would not allow is for my son to some day be that young man. I will never allow my sons to babysit or be Scout leaders. My husband and I do not let neighborhood kids into our house unless I’m home. (My husband is a stay-at-home dad.) There are too many people who are convinced boys and men are dangerous. I never, never want anyone of mine to fall under the shadow of false and hysterical suspicion. That’s a risk I won’t take.

  6. Peter May 13, 2011 at 6:45 am #

    On this subject’s first go-round, I was giving pastor Don the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps budget constraints forced him to use a fly-by-night insurance provider who was just making stuff up.

    But now pastor Don admits that he actually agrees with these insulting and demeaning policies. That all males are molesters. Not a 50/50 chance. Not a 1% change. Not even the statistically accurate number which would probably be more like .0000001% chance that any male at the church is a molester. No, he goes with ALL! In other words, pastor Don is admitting to his flock that he, pastor Don, a male who works with all ages at his church, is a molester. Thanks for the warning Don. Next time, try to be a little less circumspect.

  7. MamaMay May 13, 2011 at 6:47 am #

    Dear Don,
    I still question the NO men/teen boys thing. I mean you are a pastor but you can’t change a diaper because you are too much of a perv to do it or it assumed that you are at least? Does this not offend you? If you had a background check rule that would be one thing but NONE? My husband is a doctor… he can circumcise a boy, but OH NO he can’t put a diaper on him!!! Ummm, really? I am all for keeping kids safe but I have found that people start living up to the expections you have of them, especially children and teens… if you expect all teen boys to be pervs, eventually they all will be because in expecting it you are encouraging it. Personally I feel I need to protect my kids from such expectaions more that the fear.

  8. Becky May 13, 2011 at 6:53 am #

    For those who think that this church’s children’s ministry policy is a unique case, trust me – it isn’t – this kind of policy has become the norm. Generally, policies such as the ones outlined on their website are there to protect the caregivers from false accusations. Typically, background checks prevent sex offenders from getting anywhere near the children, but the diaper, bathroom, married couple, etc. policies are generally there to protect the adult against accusations by eliminating the potential for “he said, she said” situations. I agree – some of the policies take things a little far, but don’t blame the church for wanting to protect its members from personal legal turmoil. This goes *way* beyond a normal neighbourhood playdate – often church child care workers are looking after children from families they don’t know, and there need to be formal procedures for child care operations – especially in large churches. I agree – it’s sad that we’re not as free and easy as churches were in the past, but I really don’t think this is a place where the free-range fight needs to be fought.

  9. Dolly May 13, 2011 at 6:58 am #

    That was a good response to him Lenore. I found you polite but getting your point across. Well done.

    It makes me wonder would the child’s own father not be allowed to change their diaper in the nursery rooms? Like when he comes to pick up his child would he be shooed away from the changing table if he wanted to change his child before they leave? I am guessing not, but you know there is not much difference than their dad doing it and some other dad doing it.

  10. EricS May 13, 2011 at 6:58 am #

    I don’t think I can say anymore that what has already been said. Except this to Pastor Don. You may not be fear mongering, but you are giving into fear mongering by society. ie. news, people gossiping/pressuring, and yes even your insurance companies. I’m deep inside you completely understand our views here, but like most people, there is that fear within you that prevents you from doing the right things. You are in a predicament, and I’m sure you are trying your best to find that compromise. Just make sure those compromises aren’t tilting more to one side. The fearful side.

  11. Dolly May 13, 2011 at 7:00 am #

    I also wanted to say to the Pastor that none of us want to make fun of you or insult you. I am sure you thought you were doing what had to be done and you had very good intentions. I just think you might want to rethink some of this. Hope it works out well for you and your church. God bless.

  12. Becky May 13, 2011 at 7:00 am #

    To those who are making wild accusations at Pastor Don based on his response letter, you’re making complete asses of yourselves – do you really think accusing him of being a sex offender is a polite, reasonable way to have this conversation? You make me embarrassed to be a free-range parent.

    Think about it – would you hire just *anyone* off the street to look after your infants, or would you want to know a little bit about them? Imagine you just went to a church for the first time, and are dropping your 1-year-old off in the child care. Would you not want to know that, regardless of the personal relationship you have or haven’t got with the childcare workers, that you know the church has a good “Safe Church”/”Safe Haven” policy? Or would you feel comfortable just handing your child over to any stranger on the street for an hour while you go shopping?

    Get off your high horses and think about the impact that a lawsuit would have a church, and shut the heck up.

  13. Rich Wilson May 13, 2011 at 7:16 am #

    I was 12 when my sister was born. I can’t count how many of her diapers I changed, #1s and #2s. And #3s.

    So I was both a teenager AND male.

    Quite frankly, I find the ‘compromise’ condescending and insulting.

    I wonder if you would accept a compromise that rested on the premise that only poor women are the victims of abuse, so women of means have no need for your group. It is a fallacy, but it is not an uncommon one.

  14. SK- May 13, 2011 at 7:19 am #

    Shakes my head…

    Some of the polices seem to be to be teaching the wrong lessons. I know my son admits if his church had such rules he would have left with the idea that males in general had no place with children. Instead it doesn’t, the changing areas for babies and tots are an open area off to the side, the bathrooms are an open style where people can walk in. That said the Teen girls typically help the little girls who still need help and the Teen boys help the little boys. Classes have one adult and two or more teen helpers.

    The teens have there own time in the evening but during services and main events they are encouraged to help as needed.

    In return for this the teens are offered free classes in first aid, babysitting, caring of babies & young children, pizza parties and the ones who need it or wish it are paid for the time spent.

  15. Cynthia May 13, 2011 at 7:26 am #

    Dolly, you are spot-on. The statistics show that the most likely abusers of children are relatives (fathers, mothers, etc, or close friends.) Not strangers.

    Becky “Imagine you just went to a church for the first time, and are dropping your 1-year-old off in the child care.” I wouldn’t do this; the kid would be unhappy and probably howl for most of the service. Not a kind thing to do to volunteers. I agree that personal attacks are not reasonable in this discussion, however.

  16. Robin May 13, 2011 at 7:37 am #

    Becky – I don’t know what kind of churches you have attended, but at mine we don’t usually have strangers as the nursery attendants. If you’re not going to trust the people who volunteer at a church, why are you going there? Please stay home so the rest of us can enjoy ourselves.

  17. John Rohan May 13, 2011 at 7:55 am #

    I’ve always wondered why prejudice against males is the only one allowed in society.

    What if their insurance company recommended, based on the numbers, that no black people be allowed to change diapers or watch the kids? Would anyone tolerate such a policy?

    So why is that any less offensive than barring all males?

  18. Katie A May 13, 2011 at 8:10 am #

    As a mother of three young boys, I am horrified about the message this would send to them.

  19. paul May 13, 2011 at 8:15 am #

    It’s always disappointing when simple common sense gets shoved aside by shoddy risk analysis. And for a church to exclude anyone from serving, in whatever way they care to, just seems wrong. How hard was it to come up with the “two people in a room” concept? That’s all it takes. The abuse people fear is only possible when a perpetrator is *alone* with a child. Reading over your policy, you already have that requirement, before you label all men as potential abusers.

    I suggest you read it over, call in some parishioners, and get their opinions. See if they find it reasonable or objectionable, inclusive or offensive.

    “The insurance company made me do it” is weak sauce, a cop-out.

  20. Becky May 13, 2011 at 8:32 am #

    Robin – my church is little – about 40 people, so this hardly applies there. But some churches have thousands of attendees. No one could *possibly* know everyone there – so yes – there may be a stranger looking after your child. Even more so, if you’ve NEVER been at a church before, but want to take advantage of the childcare available, then there is a strong possibility that you wouldn’t know the childcare workers.

  21. Becky May 13, 2011 at 8:36 am #

    Cynthia – I have been dropping my 8-year-old son off in church childcares since he was three months old. He was the type to make a lot of noises and wiggle around a lot, so it was much easier to concentrate on the church service with him in the childcare where he could move around and play and make whatever noises (generally happy) he wanted.

  22. bmj2k May 13, 2011 at 8:46 am #

    If I went by the headline stories of a relatively tiny fraction of molestations performed by one group, I’d never leave my child alone with a Pastor or Priest. How the pastor responds to that is how he should have responded to the sugesstion of this policy.

  23. Melissa Taylor May 13, 2011 at 8:55 am #

    As someone who friends who have been abused by church volunteers, and witnessing a youth leader go to jail, I appreciate the pastor taking the measures to insure safety from abuse. This isn’t spreading “worse first” thinking, not when 1 in 3 girls are abused by a person that they know – which statistics show that they are either teenage boys or married religious men and NOT a creepy street person. I’d much rather my kids were over-protected from this horrific crime. And, just because I’m a free-range mom, doesn’t mean I don’t take this threat very seriously. I will not leave my girls with a teenage boy ever or an adult male. You can’t tell by looking at someone if he is a pedophile. In this case, it’s better safe than sorry.

  24. fd10801 May 13, 2011 at 9:02 am #

    It occurs to me that, if you paying insurance in case something happens, and then the insurance company twists your arm into doing that virtually prevent any thing from happening, then you are being ripped off. Don, you might want to consider telling the insurance company that now that they have made your Nursery trouble-free, you are bidding them a fond adieu…
    Jus’ sayin’

  25. fd10801 May 13, 2011 at 9:03 am #

    should be :: It occurs to me that, if you are paying insurance in case something happens, and then the insurance company twists your arm into doing things that virtually prevent any thing from happening, then you are being ripped off. Don, you might want to consider telling the insurance company that now that they have made your Nursery trouble-free, you are bidding them a fond adieu…
    Jus’ sayin’

  26. Dave May 13, 2011 at 9:05 am #

    I too am a pastor and I am angry when we let insurance companies who have no regard for the people they are supposedly protecting but are only concerned with not having to deal with claims set policy for churches. I am concerned about all the young men in my community who have no good male role models. They are not being told how to be good father by learning to care for younger children. We want are young men to be nurturing adults but we are accusing them of being perverts before they do anything wrong. What happened to innocent until proven guilty.

    Churches need to be places of trust not of accusations. Pastors need to stand up against this nonsense. Don has taken on the fear of his insurance company rather than trusting the young men of his church. Shame on him.

  27. enyawface May 13, 2011 at 9:10 am #

    Unfortunately churches are not immune to litigation, and lawyers cost money whether the defendant is found guilty or not and that is what the insurance company is attempting to protect itself from, the cost of litigation that sue happy Americans are so likely to initiate. I once took children form my church who also happened to be children of a friend, out swimming. The interim pastor of our church had a fit that I was doing this favor for someone connected to the church. She was a working mom with young boys, the boys adored me and she just needed a break for the day, so as a friend, not as a staff member of the church I offered to take them for a day. No big deal. The pastor was not upset that I might have done something but I created the opertunity for her or the boys to say I did something. And that is simply what an insurance company wants to eliminate, any opertunity of an accusation as statistically, males between the ages of 12 and 34 are more likely than females to be accused of abuse of a child.

  28. David Difuntorum May 13, 2011 at 9:28 am #

    I think this paster is taking his job seriously and doesn’t take himself seriously. I like that.

    I also think he’s doing his reasonable best to satisfy a who host of problems and needs at the same time. Which puts him in an impossible position of attempting to make everyone happy. He can’t. He’s doing the best he can and not everybody is going to like the outcome.

    I think this is the best any reasonable person can do in the situation that they’re in. It is what it is.

    Leave the guy alone. Let’s move on to other things.

  29. Taunya R May 13, 2011 at 9:28 am #

    The idea that you could drop off your 1 year old the FIRST day you went to a church and they would be MOLESTED the very first time, tells me that you have no clue about child molestation.

    Molestation by a stranger is rare. 95% of the time (from my own personal interactions) the person molesting is someone close to you.

    My father is a jailed pedophile. So do we just go ahead and ban fathers…what about grandfathers? WHAT about the PRIESTS and PASTORS who molest children? I know…why don’t we just ban MALES all together.

    I’m MORE cautious with my children being around people they know and have a relationship with then the stranger. I’ve been able to train them about “strangers”…but how do you train them about the person they trust the most…the one who takes advantage of them.

  30. Rich Wilson May 13, 2011 at 9:30 am #

    Unfortunately churches are not immune to litigation, and lawyers cost money whether the defendant is found guilty or not

    Exactly. And now they’ve opened themselves up to a sex discrimination lawsuit.

  31. Marie May 13, 2011 at 9:34 am #

    Two in the room, background checks are fine, just an expense somebody’s going to have to shoulder, fingerprinting takes things a bit farther than I like, really not as bad as you think around here, Don. We do know abuse happens, but also that there are better ways to prevent it than to say men and boys are all potential predators.

    Diaper changes can be done in fairly open areas, my main goal is usually to keep the other kids out of it, since most infants and toddlers aren’t that concerned with modesty. Even cameras if you must.

  32. Hope May 13, 2011 at 9:55 am #

    Off-topic: . . . are called elipses!

  33. Ray D. May 13, 2011 at 9:59 am #

    Dear Pastor Don,

    My concern is more theological. It seems to me that you are letting your insurance company dictate the policies (“practical theology”) of your church. In effect, the insurance company has superceded the Word of God in some aspects of your Church’s life.

    The problem is, you can repent of sin, and you can forgive sin, but you can’t insure against it.

    The insurance company is trying to protect themselves against paying out for a lawsuit. The cost of that protection is that 1/2 of your congregation is excluded from some ways of ministering to the rest of the congregation, by being told that they are too big of a risk.

    Is that a message that Jesus would send to people that he died to save?

  34. Ray D. May 13, 2011 at 10:00 am #

    Alex Hernandez, you are really boring.

  35. Beth May 13, 2011 at 10:01 am #

    I had to chuckle at Pastor Don’s comparison with bicycle helmets. Free rangers being in favor of bike helmets and against treating every teenage and adult male as a pedophile is hardly apples to apples.

  36. Ruth May 13, 2011 at 10:06 am #

    The Unitarian Universalist Association has very comprehensive Safe Congregations guidelines that would be an excellent model for any organization – 2 unrelated adults, window into the room, get to know new people etc. These guidelines are based on a principle of “the inherent worth and dignity of all people”.

  37. crazythecat May 13, 2011 at 10:08 am #

    First time writer, long time reader.

    I would like to say that Pastor Don has been treated unfairly by the commenters. But that’s not true.

    When it comes to making a decision about child safety, I always base my decision on how much effect the action will have. Get my kids fingerprinted? No way. If my kids were abducted I have access to their fingerprints from their toys(and their DNA from toothbrushes, hairbrushes, etc). Overly zealous things like fingerprinting kids doesn’t actually change anything. It just scares kids.

    Given that the overwhelming majority of abusers are male actually seems to make the pastor’s no males rule seem sane. Not allowing teens under the age of 13 access to the children is another good rule (for those that miss sarcasm, you cannot be a teen younger than 13, by definition).

    But as one of the first commenters pointed out, allowing a pastor access to the children is probably the most dangerous thing that the church could be doing. There is a higher percentage of sexual abusers among the clergy than among the general male population as a whole. As such, the church should add the following rule:

    “No member of the clergy shall be with a child unless an adult that is not a member of the church, nor a relative, friend, co-worker, or casual acquaintance of a member of the church is present, of sound mind, and has verified that they take responsibility for aforementioned clergy.”

  38. Donna May 13, 2011 at 10:12 am #

    So if yesterday’s Law & Order can be believed, 20% of rapists are teenage boys (that sounds a little high from my experience but we’ll run with it). That means 80% of rapists are NOT teenage boys. So teenage boys are NOT the largest demographic to be feared. Why, then, are teenage boys being excluded from working with young kids?

  39. Dolly May 13, 2011 at 10:14 am #

    Robin: When you go to a new church the nursery workers are going to be strangers to you at first and to your kids. So it is going to take time to get to know all the workers and them to know you and your kids. Even longer if you are not a regular every Sunday attendee or if it is a large church with lots of people and workers.

    So yeah, I end up leaving my kids in the nursery with people I don’t know sometimes. It makes me feel assured to know that at least they went through the little course.

  40. Toni May 13, 2011 at 10:34 am #

    I wonder what the insurance companies have to say about clergy in general being in the same room with children? Oh that’s right, priests are not insured for this; but if they were, and insurance companies had to pay all the claims that grew out of the pedophile priest scandals, you could rest assured that that particular beast would have been stopped ages ago. Here, they are taking things to the extreme. Insurance companies now dictate behavior and policies across virtually all social organizations, and are taking over where common sense should apply.
    Stand up to them, Pastor Don. Providing of course that you don’t live in a glass house.

  41. gwallan May 13, 2011 at 10:40 am #

    Forgive them Lord for they know not what they do.

    The irony is staggering.

    Outside the home environment the most likely victim of molestation is a boy and he is as likely to be abused by either gender.

    The boys and young men banned from interaction with younger children are themselves the most likely to be abused.

    Talk about blaming the victim.

    The unfortunate dark side to this irony is that their ignorance actually endangers children and enables those who will abuse. They think they’re being alert but they’re alert to the wrong things. They look in the cellar when it’s happening in the attic.

  42. Paul C May 13, 2011 at 10:49 am #

    My guess is the pastor wants to eliminate the competition and get first dibs on all the little boys himself.

  43. Lea May 13, 2011 at 10:56 am #

    Churches are families. Pastors are leaders. As the leader of your family what message are you sending to the males about their overall worth with poicies like this? What message in general are you sending to any of your family and how you value them by making these policies.

    Instead of reasonable policies that do protect everybody such as two people in a room with children, changing areas in full view, open bathroom areas for those young enough to need help, you have let insurance dictate unreasonable policies. In the process you have sent a clear message maried couples, males, particularly teen males are to be viewed as a threat to children.

    What if insurance companies deemed that pastors/preists must never come in sole contact with anybody under 18? What if they said to eliminate any an all potential risk of abuse, you as a pastor must be accompanied by all minors parents everytime you came in contact with them? Seems reasonable to avoid any suspision of abuse and protect you and others in your congregation from potentially lying to protect you against any alligations.

    No more leading youth group or even just stopping by, no more kids bringing freinds to church without their parents, not more helping with VBS,leading the egg hunts or helping run the rumage sales, running support or grief groups for anyone under 18, no more childrens bible studies…… because you might encounter children without their parents and the insurance company says you can’t do that.

    Just how far would you allow insurance companies to dictate your church policies based or their elimination of any and all risk factors no matter how far off base they are? Is it ok as long as it’s not your professions character isn’t being called into question with the policies?

    Do you think Jesus would take the guilty until proven innocent appraoch the insurance companies are taking and you are allowing them to? Would Jesus call it an ok or needed compromise to make someone suspect based on nothing more than their gender and marrital status?

    I’m sure you feel justified in your choices. I have to wonder just how many of your congregation feel the same way. Do the males feel relived at being treated as suspect and potential child molesters simply because theyare male? How about the married couples?

  44. Becky May 13, 2011 at 10:59 am #

    I wonder, would all of you critics feel the same way if this was about a day care facility? or what about a drop-in child care at a community center? Are you picking on the pastor (who likely isn’t even affiliated with the childcare policy directly – it is most likely handled by the pastor of children’s ministries or some such role – who may even be a female, for all we know) simply because this is about a church and there is a certain sad irony about a *church* making an attempt to avoid allegations of wrongdoings against children?

  45. Cyndy May 13, 2011 at 11:14 am #

    I understand how hard this pastor (and others) are trying to keep children safe. The Church (multiple denominations) has been widely criticized and accused of making it easy for sexual predators. But I also have to say that this type of policy that assumes that every male is a potential abuser HAS indeed hurt my son. He has a younger brother, and has always been very good with younger kids. So when the school offered a Red Cross First Aid and babysitting course, he was excited (which was very rarely true of any type of class). He took the class seriously, and was very proud of himself when he earned the Red Cross certification card, showing that he was now a competent babysitter.
    But the discouragement that followed was too serious to be ignored. No-one wanted him to babysit their children, while girls (many of whom had done nothing to prepare) were frequently asked. We changed churches (not for this reason), to a very large church. When he asked to volunteer in the nursery (birth-two) where there were ALWAYS adults in charge, he was told they would never let anyone not old enough for an FBI background check to help with children. However, there WERE several girls his age and younger who were helping in those rooms. The message is very, very clear: We don’t trust you because you are a boy. Boys should not enjoy working with young children. The same garbage is often said about young men who want to teach elementary school. Things like: “It just makes you wonder WHY they want to work with little kids.”
    Our society constantly sends those kinds of messages to boys, and then when they become Dads, we wonder why they don’t know how to be nurturing. How would they if they’ve been told for years that men don’t do that? Or worse, that you must be some kind of pervert if you want to work with young children. The children NEED both male and female role models. But as someone said, insurance companies are not concerned with what children need, only with limiting THEIR liability.

  46. Rich Wilson May 13, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    @Becky, I’m an angry atheist. Maybe not as angry as Anthony, but certainly not afraid to snark about religion. I’m absolutely certain that my reaction would be the same if the organization were secular.

    I would think the many times that ‘we’ have been outraged at police, school administrators, judges etc would demonstrate that we’re if nothing, even handed in our condemnation of silly rules.

  47. Ray D. May 13, 2011 at 11:28 am #


    I do think it is a special case because it is a Christian church.

    In the first place, members of a Christian church are part of a family of believers. Assuming the nursery volunteers are church members, a whole group of them (teenage boys) should not be treated as suspect. That is an un-Christian assumption, and it is likely to damage these teens’ spiritual development.

    Secondly, many forms of over-protectiveness make “safety” into an idol. The pursuit of zero risk is just not right for a Christian. If you live in a community, you will trust people, and if you trust people, sometimes they will sin against you in ways that hurt. That can’t be avoided, except by putting up wall between people.

  48. Kenny Felder May 13, 2011 at 11:28 am #

    Don, you’ll probably never read this, but if I could possibly speak to you, here is what I would say.

    If you listen to the lawyers and the insurance companies, you will always err on the “safe” side of the equation. They have every interest in pushing you to that side and no interest in the other side. Of course you should hear what they have to say, but you have to find the right balance.

    And why do I feel so strongly that this is *NOT* the right balance? It isn’t because I feel maligned or discriminated against as a male, or anything like that. It’s because, as a math teacher, I believe in numbers. The odds that a child will be molested by a stranger are too low to make these kinds of trade-offs. Yes, a child could be hit by an asteroid on the way to church–the probability isn’t “zero”–and yes, it would be tragic. But it’s so unlikely that we don’t keep kids from going to church for that reason.

    Don’t take my word for it, but don’t take the insurance company’s word for it either. Look up the statistics. They’re on the Web. Then think about the incredible benefits that accrue to the kinds of communities that you and I grew up in, that were based on much more trust and much less paranoia. The insurance companies won’t factor that in either.

  49. Heather May 13, 2011 at 11:28 am #

    Maybe we, as a society, should just agree to stop having children. After all, it would appear that the only truly *safe* child is one the who does not exist and, therefore, cannot be harmed by anything that does exist.

  50. Heather May 13, 2011 at 11:29 am #

    Oh, and one more thought…this one for Pastor Don:

    One can only wonder what Jesus’ ministry would have been like (if it would have existed at all) if he had listened to insurance companies and lawyers.

  51. gwallan May 13, 2011 at 11:40 am #


    I seem to recall Jesus gave a fair ass-whippin to them and their fellow money changing friends at least once.

  52. Erica May 13, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    “But statistics show that child abusers go to places with least resistance and are more likely to be someone with whom the child is well acquainted.”

    Yes, that’s true. Usually it’s a family member of the child. Is there also a policy keeping the parents a safe distance from their own children while at church? Maybe there should be a requirement that all volunteers be supervised by two other volunteers, stand behind a plexiglass wall, and use mechanical arms via remote control while changing diapers.

  53. Larry Harrison May 13, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

    I do hope I am not offensive, but I do feel a need to chime in here.

    Don (the pastor) it is obvious you are in a position of leadership and this means you have to take reasonable protections to protect children–and adults, for that matter. You don’t want there to be a “safe haven” for pedophiles etc, and that’s understandable.

    However, let me ask you this: is the city responsible for “making a safe haven for pedophiles” for not screening all men who hang out at parks, because you never know–they might be there to peep at little boys & girls privates. Is Burger King creating a “safe haven for perverts” because they don’t screen who they sell their combo meals to, and theoretically a pedophile could go there, get a 89c hamburger and a free water–and hang out near the indoor playground and watch the kiddies?

    As Lenore stated–and she’s a Jew, so I think she can appreciate the church environment–it’s that “worst first” thinking that’s at trouble. It’s the whole mentality that says–PROVE to me you’re not a pervert, otherwise I assume you to be one. And no, “if you have nothing to hide it shouldn’t be a problem for you” is no answer at all. It’s insulting to the 99.4% (or whatever) of us men who would never do any such sicko things to a child that the worst is assumed about us until we prove otherwise. We did nothing to deserve this other than to be born a male–which, by the way, Jesus was born a male.

    I go to church myself, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard it preached that our secular culture has horrible tendencies towards insulting men and fathers in our culture. So much of entertainment TV casts men as mumbling, bumbling jerks who couldn’t shine a flashlight to find their way out of a dark closet, and only the wonderful, perfect, no-mistake-making woman saves him and their unfortunate kids from his total idiotic nature.

    Well you, sir, in making such policies, are guilty of the same thing, disrespecting men and what men can & do for our children and all of us in general.

    Further, while I can’t assume to speak for how God thinks about everything (and I admit I don’t always act like a church-goer when I curse etc), I think it’s safe to say, based on the numerous teachings I’ve heard over the years, that He would have us assume the best about people until proven otherwise, and then even then offer those who’ve done wrong a chance at a new life, and yes, that includes molesters. I’ve actually read a few stories of men who molested their kids and later in life were really genuinely sorry for what they did–and they actually were successful at repairing their family, even to the point of their now grown children trusting this person with their children, the perpetrator’s grandchildren!

    Do not misunderstand me–I am NOT saying that your church should let convicted molesters work in the nursery. I am not saying that convicted molesters should walk the streets. What I am saying is this–when you take things so far as to assume that any male in your church is presumed to be a pedophile & thus not allowed to change a child’s diaper, you are walking a LONG ways from this whole forgiveness thing and trusting/loving your fellow man. Nowhere in the Bible can I read where God commands preachers to not allow a man to care for a child.

    By not allowing a man to change a diaper, besides disrespecting men like secular culture too often does, you frankly are making diapers unnecessary. Those men who aren’t allowed to change diapers, it doesn’t matter–who needs diapers when you are so busy yourself covering your ass?

    (And please don’t take offense to my usage of that word, it’s in the Bible, although–granted–in a different context.)

    God, I think, calls on us to take risks–reasonable ones, anyway, rather than assuming a CYA (oops, an acronym, sorry!) disposition. If we follow your logic, there will be no more marrying, no more male and female pairings. Why? Because of rape. Why should a woman take a chance on a man who may rape her? By not dating at all, she protects herself from that.

    I see this as no different.

    Think about this too–the story of the 5-10 and 1 talents. The 5 & 10 talent persons were praise for taking their talents and making something of it. The 1 talent person, who buried their 1 talent, was criticized for not using it to further things.

    To me, frankly you’re behaving much like the 1-talent person, burying it in the ground to prevent anything from happening. Yeah, nothing’s happening all right–no growth, productivity, learning, no living really. But hey–at least it didn’t get hurt what with it being protected in the hole it was buried in.


  54. Katie A May 13, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

    Becky, I would absolutely feel the same way about a child care center that wouldn’t hire teenage boys or allow men to change a diaper. Background checks and training sessions are appropriate precautions to take, excluding all males because they might be predators is not.

  55. eco baby May 13, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    Taking care the little boys is really a difficult mission. I am still single and afraid of getting married, maybe having baby and taking care of them would be a big headache for me at that time.

  56. kiwiswiss May 13, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    One of the things that is frequently identified as a factor in teen or young adult abuse on children is a lack of empathy. How are they supposed to learn to empathise if they cannot interact? What it means to be trusted and to trust cannot be learned either.

  57. Anon May 13, 2011 at 3:21 pm #

    Police officer here, so will have to be unnamed.
    I have been involved in the prosecution of six sex offenders in my 19 year career. Five were pastors. Five were fathers. One was a family friend. All were community pillars. Two were successful businessmen. Four were over fifty. One had previous criminal convictions (marijuana at 17). Two had had drunk driving convictions. Three were binge drinkers. One was an every day drunk. All were married, three for the second time. None were atheists. None were teenagers. None had the support of their spouses in their behaviour. I can’t surmise anything about anybody outside of the felons from this brief information. Can you?
    I have three children. They are free range. They know how to identify danger, and how to respond to it. No-one would be more surprised than I if they had to use this knowledge.

  58. MNguy May 13, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

    I will never forget my first baby-sitting job, for a weeks-old infant, for neighbors across the street. It was 1972. I was 12. One of the baby’s parents was a pastor. It was their first significant outing away from their firstborn. The parsonage and church were across the street, but it was not my family’s church, we weren’t terribly close

    Was it unthinkably crazy for these new parents to hand their tiny one over to a kid?

    My youngest brother was 18 months old. Call me weird from an early age, but I was somewhere between unperturbed and pleased about being trusted to change his diapers on a regular basis. It was easier sharing a bedroom with him than my 7- and 10-y/o brothers even when it included getting up at odd hours to soothe him back to sleep once in a while.

    One could argue that nothing much happened during that first baby-sitting stint. The baby slept, the parents were away for barely 3 hours, my parents were within shouting distance.

    My sense, though, is that everybody won. The pastor and his wife learned that they still had a life together, independent of their role as new parents. I came away from it empowered (and, happily, tasked with helping out other families once in a while). My parents recognized that they were raising a decent, responsible kid.

    Even if I’ve got a rose-tinted view of a day that isn’t going to return, it troubles me that perceptive, responsible 12-y/o boys, already saddled with the wackiness of adolescence, may also feel the burden of proving themselves as non-sex-offenders.

  59. CLS May 13, 2011 at 4:10 pm #

    I look at this from several perspectives. First, I realize the minister and church are being paranoid far beyond what the evidence would support. I also realize that they are being incredibly insulting to the men and boys of their own church. Their logic is faulty, they premises are wrong and their policy demeaning to a large percentage of their own congregations.

    But then I look at this as an ex-Christian, now confirmed atheist. And I know that many of the atheists I know started exploring their views on theism seriously only when the church did something awful to them. So, to the degree the policy pushes people away from theistic doctrine and dogma, I have to find it a good thing.

    My guess is that a policy like this will do very little to make the children any safer than they already are. But it may just insult enough men and boys that over time it will increase the numbers of non-believers. And I would find that a good thing.

  60. Aussie Mum May 13, 2011 at 5:41 pm #

    Does anyone remember the Salem witch trials in the 1600’s? This current trend of assuming everyone is a paedophile until proven otherwise smacks of “witch hunting.” You are far more likely to be sexually abused by a family member than a stranger.

  61. Tuppence May 13, 2011 at 7:51 pm #

    Pastor Don didn’t start the fire. Churches nowadays have an extraordinary difficult time of it. Clergymen, more than any other single group of people (more than even adolescent males!), are seen as “guilty until proven innocent” in popular culture. Anyone who will disagree has obviously not had the bad luck I did when I accidentally turned the channel to an episode of “Family Guy”, which was featuring a vile joke about a (of course!) pedophile priest. I later learned my 12 year old nephew watches the show. I’m sure he won’t be the only 12 year old boy who does so. Lovely message to be raised with, wouldn’t you agree? If you missed that “Family Guy”, maybe you’ve seen the comedian on Leno making clergymen pedo jokes, or perhaps Leno himself doing so. I know I have. And I don’t watch any of those programs regularly. The “about those priests – wink wink, nod, nod jokes” are everywhere on television.

    We all know how CSI has affected people: Child abductions happen so often on that show (and its ilk), people have started taking precautions in REAL life – no leaving a child in a car while you go in to pay for gas. “Didn’t you see that CSI episode where the mother turns around for one minute and the kid is gone? I’d rather be safe than sorry. I don’t let my child out of my sight.” Does anyone imagine that the endless “banter” on television about all clergymen being pervs doesn’t equate to people taking it as the rule, and not the exception, in real life?

    In fact, the idea that all clergymen are simply closet pedophiles is so widespread — How widespread is it?!! — It’s so widespread, that there’s been commentators (and there has been more than one) on THIS VERY BLOG who have stated as much. This blog! The blog that encourages folks to think through knee-jerk reactions of fear of pervs and boogeymen. The very people who claim they can get behind that message, have averred in their comments that our suspicions of child molestation should be laid at the doorstep of clergymen. The real perverts. If even commentators to this blog think such things, what can be inferred of the population at large? Worse. Church=perverts, perverts=church. It must seem to churches that they could never do enough to assure people that they and their children are safe at the church. And who can blame them?

    I don’t blame you Don. What you’re doing is the natural response to the deluge of paranoia that’s so rampant these days. This is the atmosphere you find yourself in, and reacting to. This is the way it is these days. But we all know, sometimes, the “way it is”, isn’t right. And we need to say so. Even when it’s uncomfortable. Especially if it’s uncomfortable. Because if it’s uncomfortable, you can be sure that most folks won’t.

    Why not discuss the issue with your congregation? If you are feeling conflicted (if we don’t do this everyone will think we don’t care about child abuse, if we do do this, we tear at the fabric of humanity that makes our lives worth living), tell them so. Maybe when you open up dialog, you’ll find more of you don’t like it. And maybe you can discuss raising some funds to switch to another insurance company. And maybe you can ask that retired couple to come back. And maybe you can ask some teenage boys if they’d like to volunteer a little time to play with children (roughhousing is GREAT for kids). And maybe you will build the kind of community you want for yourself and your church.

    Good luck with everything Don. Keep us posted if there are any updates.

  62. AirborneVet May 13, 2011 at 8:09 pm #

    All I will say here, because so much has been said already, is …
    Thanks for writing in, Don!

  63. N May 13, 2011 at 8:25 pm #

    The best volunteer in the nursery at my church is a teenage boy. I feel very comfortable with him watching my young daughter. Also, my daughters are frequently babysat by a friend’s teenage son, who is an excellent babysitter. Get to know the person. I know these two kids and they are really good kids. If I weren’t comfortable with them, they wouldn’t babysit my kids. And if I weren’t comfortable with a teenage girl, she wouldn’t babysit my kids either. Men (and teenage boys I guess) might be more likely to sexually abuse kids, but it’s still a very small percentage of men (and teenage boys), and there are plenty of other kids of abuse that are also very damaging that women (and teenage girls) are more likely to commit, statistically. You can’t just read statistics. You have to get to know the person.

  64. Beth May 13, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

    @Melissa Taylor, do your daughters have a father? A grandfather or two? Some uncles? Are you seriously expecting us to believe they will NEVER be alone with any of these adult males? I feel sorry for your family.

  65. pentamom May 13, 2011 at 8:56 pm #

    “I wonder, would all of you critics feel the same way if this was about a day care facility? or what about a drop-in child care at a community center? ”

    No, I wouldn’t, but not because I’m biased against the church. I’m a Christian myself. But because day care facilities and drop-in centers have sole care of kids for more than an hour or so at a time, not an hour in a building where the parents are a few yards away.

    But even then, policies like “no married couples” and “no men changing diapers” and “no teenaged boys (but girls are okay)” would be objectionable. Still, in a longer-term setting where the parents are off-site, a few more restrictions or requirements would be reasonable than in a place where you’re leaving your kid right down the hall for a brief period.

  66. Tuppence May 13, 2011 at 9:25 pm #

    Y’a know, I wrote my response before reading all the other ones here. Now that I did, I count no less than 9 comments that included a reference that pastors (or even, this particular pastor!) themselves are responsible for molestation. Some were reprehensible. Can you imagine any other group being so openly and categorically maligned?

    Those comments are from the following:
    Anthony Hernandez
    Paul C

    Can anyone in wonder why churches are imposing sanctions such as these? And why a pastor feels he has to support them?

  67. Emiky May 13, 2011 at 9:36 pm #

    Don, more props to you for wanting to keep your congregation safe. I’ve always attended churches that are small and consisting of the community. Yes, incidents happen. Yes, we had sex offenders pop up. Precautions are good things, and I can imagine all the more important in a larger congregation.

    But it looks like it’s become more about the insurance company hoops than actual safety.

    I like the idea of addressing the congregation with this. Find a happy medium.

  68. pentamom May 13, 2011 at 9:45 pm #

    Tuppence, I suspect a lot of us would have reacted a little less if Pastor Don had shown up saying something like, “I don’t like these policies but I don’t see any other option.”

    But what set me off, and I suspect some others, is that he defended them as a “worthwhile compromise,” pitted our objections against keeping the church a “Safe Haven” as though it’s either one or the other, and used the presence in his congregation of abuse survivors as a defense of the policy.

    I do know pastors and other church leaders who feel boxed in by this stuff and pressured by their insurance providers, and sometimes feel the need to overreach in order to protect themselves, or don’t have a good understanding of what really is, and is not, effective in protecting kids. But I don’t think it’s right to let Don’s comments pass without persuading him of the injustice they constitute to his congregation, or the actual ineffectiveness of the measures as a way to prevent abuse within his congregation. I do feel for the situation he’s in, but it’s not helped by conceding the false premises that motivate these particular policies, or overlooking the unintended negative consequences of implementing them.

  69. pentamom May 13, 2011 at 9:49 pm #

    For myself personally, I was set off by something that’s a particular bugaboo of mine: the tendency in many modern churches, especially evangelical and other Protestant ones (which is what I’m familiar with), to engage in practices and policies that negatively affect or exclude older members, and then take the position that the older people “can just deal.” Somehow the concessions are always made for the sake of children and younger people, and the older ones are left in the cold. (I’m not saying Don is doing this but the situation did sort of hit that trigger for me.) There needs to be more consideration for *all* people in the church.

  70. Thais Walsh May 13, 2011 at 9:49 pm #

    here’s a policy from the church my in-laws attend. seems similar but the one main difference – there is no gender or family discrimination!!


    Our family does not attend this church, but I know the people, and although no one is perfect and no environment is 100% safe – this congregation has the right idea. Don of Recast Church – maybe take a look and re-write your policy! Seems not all insurance companies and churches should give into fear and worst-first thinking!

  71. Robin May 13, 2011 at 10:00 pm #

    My comments have been misinterpreted. Of course when you drop your child off in a nursery at a church you’ve never been to before the attendants are strangers to YOU. What I was talking about was that they are not strangers to the rest of the church. You have to trust that who ever is in charge of the nursery is not pulling people off the street to help them! In our church we have a small rotating list of volunteers that work the nursery. We are lucky to have a paid worker who is also trained as an EMT, but that’s not why we hired her.

    If you can’t trust someone to watch your child for an hour while you are in the building, please just leave them at home or take them into the service with you.

  72. Lucy May 13, 2011 at 10:03 pm #

    To Pastor Don – I would remind you of this: Jesus said “suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for such is the kingdom of heaven”.

    Jesus was, yes, a MAN. God yes, but that day, when he said those words, how many of those listening fully grasped or comprehended his Godliness?

    That model alone, should convince you that biased exclusionism is a sin. And if you sin because your insurance company demands it, you are still sinning. Many, many people have offered suggestions that will provide reasonable protection for the members of your church, without kicking Jesus out of the nursery.

  73. Tuppence May 13, 2011 at 10:06 pm #

    Pentamom, I’m not sure what you saw in my comments that made you read I was “giving Pastor Don a pass”. I was (I hope) giving my understanding.

    But if I have a pass to give — or take — then I don’t give one to the mindset of “if anyone’s a pedo, it’s you pastor buddy, so get off your high horse” that has been displayed here.

    It would be highly ironic (but not in a funny way) that so many of those type of comments get posted — and allowed “to pass” — and no one connects the dots and points out that it is because of EXACTLY the attitudes displayed in those posts, that churches, and thus Pastor Don, are doing what they’re doing! I mean, duh. (And I don’t mean duh to you, of course.)

  74. pentamom May 13, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

    No, sorry, Tuppence, I didn’t mean to imply that you were giving him a pass. I sort of started off responding to you, and then went off in my own direction. Sorry.

    “But if I have a pass to give — or take — then I don’t give one to the mindset of “if anyone’s a pedo, it’s you pastor buddy, so get off your high horse” that has been displayed here. ”

    Absolutely. If I can defend myself for taking on Pastor Don but not those people, it’s because I long ago adopted an online policy (which I don’t follow as consistently as I’d like) of only arguing with people who seem to be open to reason. People who go straight to the “pastors as pedophiles” thing aren’t generally operating on reason, but on something that comes from somewhere else.

  75. pentamom May 13, 2011 at 10:13 pm #

    Robin, excellent point.

  76. Tuppence May 13, 2011 at 10:22 pm #

    Thanks for the response Pentamom. Your policy is a wise one, and one I myself followed in the past. It’s just (as explained above) I thought this particular subject necessitated “having to go there” this one time.

  77. Evan May 13, 2011 at 10:39 pm #

    I wonder how long it’ll be before insurance companies finally notice that statistically the most effective way to prevent a child from sexual abuse is to shoot the child’s adult male relatives, starting with the father.

  78. Uly May 13, 2011 at 10:50 pm #

    On the note about “OMG, pastors = pedophiles!”, not that some people will listen (and I think we know who they are), but given the numbers, from the earliest accused offense to the last, out of all Catholic priests active in that period, only about 4% were ever accused of anything sexual (and not all of it involved minors).

    This is obviously 4% more of priests than we want to be acting badly, and I’m not about to defend the policy choices that kept the abusers in a position to harm children again – but it’s far from the majority of them! Most people, no matter what their profession or calling, no matter how moral they are in other areas, are uninclined to pedophilia.

  79. Laura May 13, 2011 at 10:53 pm #

    Pastor Don,

    To be honest, if I attended your church, I would leave. I have a 2-year-old boy and I do not want him to be taught that boys and men, as a group, cannot be trusted. For that matter, if I had a daughter, I would not want her to be taught that either.

    Trusting ANYONE too far is a liability risk, and potentially foolish. I could support (but don’t feel necessary) background checks. I could support (but don’t feel necessary) the no husband-wife alone – the issue is not whether they are more or less likely to be a problem (neither), but if an accusation happens, that their testimony cannot be compelled nor counted on. I would support “no teenagers without one over-20 present” – most teenagers are reliable, but an adult present would be a good thing.

    But the diaper rule? Is ridiculous, IMO. My husband changes most of the diapers around here – he would be a great help in the nursery. And, as others have said, baby-modesty doesn’t exist. There is no reason for the diaper change not to take place where the other responsible party can see it – regardless of the gender of the changer. (At my son’s day care, the diaper changing table is in full view of the room. Although this is less to watch the day care provider and more so they can at least glance over the room while changing diapers, even if the second person in the room may have to be the one to respond to whatever they see. Well, that and the convenience of not having to go very far.)

    Most men, most teenagers, most boys are trustworthy. Not all. And not all women, either. Your rules falsely condemn an entire gender for the (horrific) sins of a few, and elevate and sing the praises of another gender, ignoring the (horrific, also!) sins of a few.

    To teach a child that “men may not be trusted and women may” is a dangerous lesson that increases their odds of being a victim of a bad woman, and even more (since that would be rare), increases their odds of suffering for lack of help because they won’t trust a good man who could have helped him.

    Children DIE because a man sees them alone and doesn’t dare help because of this kind of culture, and the wandering toddler falls in water and drowns. Even if the man called it in, it is not always in time. Is this common?

    No, but neither are guys OR women doing or thinking inappropriate things during a diaper change. Most of us, during a diaper change (especially if it wasn’t just pee), are busy thinking “please please please get it over with!” (Which is probably about what the baby is thinking too, come to that.)

  80. Laura May 13, 2011 at 10:58 pm #

    @Robin – Yes yes yes. When I first went to the church we now attend, the people seemed nice but I did not know them. And when my son grew too restless to stay in the service, my husband remained and I and my son went together to the nursery. I hung out and chatted with the nice women there, he played, and by the end of it he had had a good time and I knew the women who were helping in the nursery that day much better, too.

    Although I’d have happily left him with them anyway, because I knew the church knew them, except my son didn’t want me to go since everyone else was also a stranger to him.

    Yes, I missed a good part of the service. But I also got to know a couple of people, and help my son to be comfortable with them as well.

  81. June May 13, 2011 at 11:09 pm #

    Last Sunday, while I was volunteering in the toddler class along with a married couple, a little boy needed to use the bathroom. When I asked the male volunteer to take him, he said it was against the rules and I had to take him. I am childless and this man is a father and a doctor. People literally put their lives in his hands and he can’t be trusted to take a toddler to the potty?!

  82. Larry Harrison May 13, 2011 at 11:13 pm #

    Melissa Taylor If you mean what you say when you said you will never leave your kods with any male, then frankly you are NOT a free-range mom as you say you are. Frankly you’re guilty of sexism. Not all men are pigs & not all women are witches either.


  83. Donna May 14, 2011 at 12:07 am #

    “I count no less than 9 comments that included a reference that pastors (or even, this particular pastor!) themselves are responsible for molestation.”

    Outside of Anthony’s usual rant which I don’t bother to read, I don’t agree with your assessment of the posts at all. Nobody (except possibly Anthony) insinuated that this particular pastor actually was a pedophile.

    What most of the people you named said was that Pastor Don is a male. Under his own rules, he is not allowed to change a baby’s diapers in his own church for fear that he MIGHT be a pedophile. Some years ago, he was also a teenage boy who apparently could not be trusted to be in the same room as young children for fear that he would potentially molest them. In throwing ALL men in the church into the lump of potential molestor, he has thrown himself in there as well. Personally, I would never make rules that malign my entire gender as a potential pedophiles and then defend them on a blog.

  84. Nicola May 14, 2011 at 12:07 am #

    @Larry Harrison: Your first comment on here was very well written. Thank you for that voice of clear reasoning.

    I personally am not Christian but am often astounded at how many Christians who claim to be Christians are fearful, untrusting, and unloving (if you don’t agree with their ideas) people.

    To Don, if you ever read this, you’ve dumped so much onto the men in your congregation. Were I a man, I’d find a new church. As a woman, married and a mother, I’d find a new church – no matter how many people I knew – simply because I would take offense for both my husband and my son.

    If we’re going to treat all men as child molesters then why have sex with any of them? We don’t need any more children if the other half that makes them is going to be predatory to their offspring and the offspring of others. Why get married? Why bother with men – since all of them are criminals, in your book.

    It’s idiocy of the highest order to break down the fundamental human unit – family – because some stupid insurance company told you to. If we can’t trust one another, can’t trust in the family unit, can’t have a father that cares for his children and other children – well, then, why have children at all.

  85. pentamom May 14, 2011 at 12:13 am #

    Donna, much as it pains me to draw attention to it, you evidently overlooked Paul C’s post, which was actually worse than anything Anthony said.

    But in general, you are right — most of them were were pointing out that the logic of the situation tagged Pastor Don as a potential pedophile, they were not accusing him or even hinting at such an accusation.

  86. Uly May 14, 2011 at 12:19 am #

    Personally, I would never make rules that malign my entire gender as a potential pedophiles and then defend them on a blog.

    And let’s not forget that ultimately the effect of these rules and attitudes is to make more work for women. Nobody profits!

  87. BMS May 14, 2011 at 12:22 am #

    I read about all these scandals, but they affect me the same way all the reports of kids being kidnapped affect me. Yes, they happened. They are reported widely. But just like I don’t feel that every single time my kids go outside there are 10 predators waiting to snatch them up, I don’t feel like every man of the cloth is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I went to 12 years of Catholic school. I know of nothing that went on that was inappropriate in any of the schools or churches I ever attended. And these were in places like Boston and Chicago, where, yes, there were bad priests. But even in those places they weren’t everywhere, constantly rubbing their hands together plotting their next victim. They were coaching basketball, comforting my parents when they lost their parents, visiting my dad in the hospital, and teaching us right from wrong. I even (gasp!) spent an entire day with one other friend and a priest in the sacristy polishing handbells (and getting a buzz from the metal polish fumes) and nothing happened!

    I know, I am a sample of one. But just as in sensational child kidnapping cases, you only hear about the bad ones. You don’t hear about a whole bunch of us who grew up in a religion, and didn’t get abused, and weren’t warped somehow by it, and generally found it just an ordinary part of our lives. To walk into every religious situation as if it were a den of evil waiting to snatch up my children seems bizarre, and completely contrary to all my experiences.

  88. The Laundry Lady May 14, 2011 at 12:30 am #

    I think the diaper changing issue can be easily solved by not having any nursery worker change a diaper, regardless of gender. That’s our churches policy and I rarely, if even, get called to change a diaper, but when I do it’s really no big deal. With that issue off the table, the rest of it seems to work itself out. We have male nursery workers, and because we have so many kids we have to maintain the legal ratios in our state, most classrooms of all ages have a minimum of three people anyway, so married couples work together often. When I pick up my daughter from the nursery here are usually at least four or five workers on duty. At the same time I think a lot of churches function out of fear. They are a major lawsuit target, more so than daycares or other childcare facilities. Because of this they often feel the need to take extra precautions. I think it stinks, but at the same time comments on this blog alone prove how quickly people assume guilty until proven innocent when it comes to sexual abuse accusations within a church. Who can blame them for being extra cautious, even sexist, if their insurance companies present statistics and policies that will protect them.

  89. Tuppence May 14, 2011 at 12:33 am #

    WHAT about the PRIESTS and PASTORS who molest children? Taunya R

    I have been involved in the prosecution of six sex offenders in my 19 year career. Five were pastors. Anon

    Stand up to them, Pastor Don. Providing of course that you don’t live in a glass house. Toni. — I assumed the last sentence meant to say: unless he, himself, is a pedophile. Maybe I was wrong. Would be nice.

    Don is admitting to his flock that he, pastor Don, a male who works with all ages at his church, is a molester. Peter. — Meant to be ironic, surely, but it’s suggestive.

    I mean you are a pastor but you can’t change a diaper because you are too much of a perv to do it or it assumed that you are at least? MamaMay. — Same as above.

    There is a higher percentage of sexual abusers among the clergy than among the general male population as a whole. crazythecat

    My guess is the pastor wants to eliminate the competition and get first dibs on all the little boys himself. PaulC.

    Okay, Lea, on re-reading was going somewhere else with it.

  90. n May 14, 2011 at 12:38 am #

    If you don’t like it, Pastor Don, how about, instead of changing church policies, you change insurance companies instead?

  91. pentamom May 14, 2011 at 12:41 am #

    Tuppence, I’ll give you this — while I’m inclined to say that the people who were just “suggesting” something were doing it as a purely rhetorical device, and those who were citing statistics were trying to make a similar point, there most definitely wasn’t any consideration for the fact that in doing so, they were saying something very nasty. Even a rhetorical device that hits too sharply on a person’s feelings or reputation can be out of line, especially as a blast against someone who’s just shown up for the first time.

    That is, I think there are ways to say, “By that logic, you are also a potential child-molester,” and ways not to, and some of the above were at least close to the line, if not over it (not even counting the really atrocious cases like Paul C.)

  92. pentamom May 14, 2011 at 12:46 am #

    And I do think that this is an area where sensitivity goes right out the window, and it is open season on religious leaders when it comes to talking about child molesting. The actions of a very few seem to make people think they are entitled to say or suggest anything they want about a whole group, or at least not care how they come off.

  93. Laura May 14, 2011 at 12:51 am #

    @pentamom Sadly true. Of both religious leaders AND men, apparently.

    Generalizations from marginal cases are always bad, and worse when they are negative generalizations because of their impact on the group of people they are generalized to.

  94. Joe May 14, 2011 at 1:02 am #

    Don, I am not sure what your background is but this from Luther’s Small Catechism is particularly instructive with regard to your policy that assumes all men and teenage boys are perverts just waiting for the opportunity to molest someone:

    “The Eighth Commandment.

    Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

    What does this mean?-

    We should fear and love God that we may not deceitfully belie, betray, slander, or defame our neighbor, but defend him, think and speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.”

    Can you really say that your policy “thinks and speaks well of the men and boys of your flock? Your statement that its the insurance companies falt is a complete cop-out. Your are the pastor of the flock, you are their spiritual father. What you endorse matters much and teaches the members what is good, right and salutary.

  95. Taunya R May 14, 2011 at 1:30 am #

    Tuppence, I DID NOT imply or indicate that Pastor Don or any Priests/Pastors were responsible for molestation. Before you post something, you should get your facts straight.

    I SAID “What about the PRIESTS/PASTORS that molest children” It’s a fact, there are priests and pastors that HAVE molested children. I’m not calling for them to ban priests/pastors just because some have molested…but the insurance companies are banning males assuming all are perverted wackos. It’s simply not true.

    However, I will tell you that it’s easier for a pastor/priest to gain access to a child because of the false teaching of the authority of that position AKA “The Man of God”. I know many a woman who has been harmed by a pastor only to be SHUNNED because “SHE seduced” the pastor. AT age 12? REally? STILL, I don’t automatically assume all pastors are going to molest children.

    THE STATISTICS are that molestation does NOT occur in a church service. It occurs when the pedophile befriends a family and they trust them with their child, on outings, babysitting, etc. It doesn’t usually happen in a nursery with other children around.

    Reality, the majority of molestation occurs at the hands of family. So do we ban all men from our families?

    What lengths do we go? The problem is we’ve gone from the days of nobody talking about it to the days of we have no common sense about it.

  96. Tuppence May 14, 2011 at 1:31 am #

    pentamom, that’s the (sad) point I wanted to make.

  97. Edward May 14, 2011 at 1:34 am #

    Finally I am seeing more rants against insurance companies in these two related posts than I have seen before on this blog.
    Please, Dear God, tell me people are finally getting the message – insurance campanies can not be allowed to run our lives.
    And let me be clear. I’m not saying get rid of sensibly enacted laws regarding these matters. Assault is a crime. Rape is a crime. Both to be handled by the local law and judicial entities of the community. If you don’t agree with this, perhaps you need to ask youself why you don’t trust you local police to do their job properly.
    And yes, I also do not believe insurance companies need to be running police departments and courts in the United States.

  98. Taunya R May 14, 2011 at 1:34 am #

    nd I do think that this is an area where sensitivity goes right out the window, and it is open season on religious leaders when it comes to talking about child molesting. The actions of a very few seem to make people think they are entitled to say or suggest anything they want about a whole group, or at least not care how they come off.

    @Pentamom – JUST like PASTOR DON is doing. Isn’t that ironic.

  99. oncefallendotcom May 14, 2011 at 1:40 am #

    Is Don the pastor at Westboro Baptist? It reminds me of that time admitted sex addict John Walsh told people never hire male babysitters since they are all potential predators.

    I wonder if Jesus ran his plans to have sinners and criminals run his church past his claims adjuster first.

    There are plenty of good ideas already out there (though I advise against the use of Cameras where minors could be in any stage of undress, that opens up a whole new can of liability).

    As an aside, there are plenty of options for the proper handling of sex offenders in the Church:


    One last thing, I said this after the Walsh comment and I’ll say it here. You’re a man, too, Pastor Don, so does that mean we can’t trust you either?

  100. Jenne May 14, 2011 at 1:54 am #

    I don’t accept that it is ok to attack this pastor, even if we disagree with him.

    Unfortunately, he’s got a problem, and biggest part of the problem is that his church HAS to have insurance. That means the church is likely to have him — and the congregation — over a barrel.

    You see, nothing stops parents from filing lawsuits. And one acceptable reason to a lawyer, to file a lawsuit is that such policies have not been enacted. (I know at least one person who sued an organization for not having such policies, WHILE CONTINUING TO LEAVE HER CHILD otherwise unsupervised WITH A DIFFERENT YOUTH LEADER in the same group she was suing.) Parents can sue for the lack of background checks, even if the background check would have shown nothing. And they might win, too. There’s a good chance that even if they don’t win, they could bankrupt the church, the pastor, the head of youth programs, and anyone else they felt like naming, with legal fees. Not every organization has deep pockets, like the BSA or the larger churches, but lawyers cost money. And when individuals are named as not supporting such policies, they can have their lives destroyed too.

    That’s the sad part.

    The further sad part is that policies like these are really what it apparently takes for female survivors of male sexual abuse to feel comfortable. And that scares me even more. Because it’s not just about what could happen *in the setting*. In their minds, any teen boy is potentially ‘grooming’ all children around him to recruit them as sex partners later on. *shudder*

  101. Edward May 14, 2011 at 1:54 am #

    Just had another thought.
    Pastor Don,
    Please post the name of your insurance company and appropriate contact information here. Don’t be afraid of them. Don’t be afraid of us.
    I want that company to justify it’s policies to all of us.

  102. Donna May 14, 2011 at 2:30 am #

    I did skip over Paul C, which from the brief quote posted by Tuppence was atrocious.

    That said:

    “WHAT about the PRIESTS and PASTORS who molest children? Taunya R”

    Pastors and priest DO actually molest children occasionally. Several have been convicted. The Catholic Church has paid out MILLIONS to settle lawsuits about this. Do we have to pretend that this did not occur?

    “I have been involved in the prosecution of six sex offenders in my 19 year career. Five were pastors. Anon”

    If that is, in fact, true, I fail to see how that is in any way attacking Pastor Don. They are facts that reflect poorly on the ministry, but facts nonetheless (if true).

    The fact remains that the biggest sex offenders in church are the ministers and youth directors, not the nursery volunteers. I don’t think that means that a minister is in any way more likely to molest than any other profession, but if you are going to be molested in church (unlikely), it is most likely to be by the minister or youth director. So it does seem ironic that ministers are making up rules to protect children from people who are not known to be large perpetrators of abuse of children.

  103. Tuppence May 14, 2011 at 2:50 am #

    Donna, I’ll assume you grasped the point I wanted to make, but don’t appreciate it. That’s fine. I’m willing to leave it there.

  104. MFA Grad May 14, 2011 at 3:41 am #

    It’s been stated by many here but I think it bears repeating so that hopefully Pastor Don, if still reading, will reconsider his position:

    The policy that he’s implemented, as well as his justification for doing so, are immensely damaging, to both his congregation AND the welfare of the children he means to protect, as they reflect a default assumption that male+teenager=automatic pedophile suspect. It is true that most pedophiles are men (studies have shown that roughly 10% of pedophiles are women), but the reverse – most men are pedophiles – IS NOT.

    As a pastor, Don has a huge responsibility to foster and care for his community, which includes men AND women – how is he supposed to do this with a mindset that assume the men in his congregation are suspected pedophiles until proven innocent? How are men and young boys to be encouraged to take a greater role in the nurturing on the community’s children if they’re being given the explicit message that they’re not trustworthy simply by virtue of their sex? Religious communities often decry how secularization is “destroying families” but with a protection like this, Don’s policy is doing fine setting his community members against each other with no need for assistance.

    Not to mention, this puts further burden on mothers and women in the community for childcare – is this what Don wants, the reinforcement of that tired old canard that “women handle children best” and therefore men don’t belong in the raising of children except to provide love and care at a distance? Does he wish to teach the children in his congregation that men are automatically to be distrusted with children and that it is women to whom the primary responsibility must fall, rather than on both parents equally (and a larger community of friends and family of both genders by extension)?

    I’m a woman who owes much to the men who took on caretaker roles over much of my young life – my father, an older brother, male family friends. Some of them changed my diapers, some of them taught me how to wrestle and basics of self defense, some taught me how to make the perfect pesto sauce. And yes, I did have a handful of near-misses with one man who had been a friendly neighbor – while still scary to contemplate years later, that one man doesn’t change the positive influence and care that the majority of adult men made in my life as a child.

    It’s an unimaginable loss for both the children and the men – adult and teenaged – in Don’s congregation as men and teenaged boys will likely declined involvement because they might be too afraid of being pegged as suspected pedophiles simply because they might like to share in caretaker duties and/or are good with kids.

  105. pentamom May 14, 2011 at 3:44 am #

    “Unfortunately, he’s got a problem, and biggest part of the problem is that his church HAS to have insurance. That means the church is likely to have him — and the congregation — over a barrel.”

    The problem is that people confuse “recommendations” from insurance companies with requirements for having a policy. I’m 99% sure that there’s no insurance company int he country that will not write you a policy if you allow teenage boys into your nursery. I doubt he is over a barrel, I think he is just not thinking through all the aspects of the situation, how it affects everyone involved, and what real-life downsides there are to the insurance company’s recommendation.

    And pertaining to my initial comments above, I don’t hate insurance companies, and in a way, I don’t blame them for setting forth what they believe are the best ways to minimize risk. (I could take them to task for advocating nonsense measures, but that’s a separate point.) My point in saying that they do not do anything out of love for people is not to say that they’re bad, but to say that their goals are extremely narrow and limited — they are not thinking about anyone’s overall good as such, but about risk in isolation. That means their recommendations should be seen as recommendations to reduce risk, *not* as recommendations for the best way to run your business, religious institution, or personal life. Those decisions are up to the people running the business, institution, or family, to take into consideration along with the other goals they have, such as serving people, caring for one another, making a profit, or whatever pertains to the entity in question.

    In the same ways, an insurance company might recommend that no one should drive at night — that would definitely reduce risk but no one should take it as a reason to entirely restructure your life. It might be a good reason to try to minimize unnecessary night driving, however.

  106. Donna May 14, 2011 at 4:21 am #

    Actually, Tuppence, I don’t think that I do get your point since I didn’t see insults in any of the posts except PaulC. But we will leave it at not understanding each other.

  107. spacefall May 14, 2011 at 4:27 am #

    I was under the impression that at least some of the references to priests committing sexual assault (of which there are a lot of examples, even if it is in the grand scheme of things rare) were there to make the point that if we eliminate entire groups of people based on what they might do (no matter how unlikely it is), Pastor Don himself would not be allowed access to children. That is not an accusation that he himself is a pedophile — any more than he probably means to accuse every member of the male half of his congregation of pedophilia. It rather makes the point that you cannot make rules like this without painting all members of a certain group as criminals.

    I think these policies spring from outdated sexist beliefs (men are for working and women are for childcare) that hurt women as well as men. If daddy can’t take the kids out for lunch without being accused of something vile, who has to give up her whole life to look after them? Everyone loses.

  108. Ray May 14, 2011 at 5:23 am #

    I am a retired male. At one time I imagined that I would like to volunteer to work with young children. In my particular case there was a slightly selfish motive as my grandchildren live very far away and I don’t get to see them often. However, the fear of men dissuaded me from even trying to pursue that goal. I lost and I think the children I would have been involved with lost. There is no difference between this and racism.

  109. oncefallendotcom May 14, 2011 at 7:50 am #

    There was no more sexual abuse in the Catholic Church than has occurred in any other institution, be it schools, day cares, or any other place where children spend large periods of time, and far less than the amount that occurs withing the child’s own home.. What I find odd is how the satanic panics of the late 80s/early 90s has been thoroughly debunked and few take it seriously, but then apply the same panic to the Catholic Church and all of a sudden it is just an accepted fact. Unfortunately, we’ll never really know the truth since accusations were made against many priests who were deceased. Much of these accusations stem from “repressed memory,” a subject of much controversy. The millions of dollars in handouts from the Church has also conveniently brought out memories. For a few grand I can remember a lot of stuff. A lot of anti-Catholic or anti-religious sentiment has kept this panic alive.

  110. Melanie May 14, 2011 at 8:38 am #

    To those who feel uncomfortable with this being about church and say we’d react differently if it was a childcare centre. Well,no, I wouldn’t. My kids’ childcare centre has two young men working at it. They change nappies, they cuddle the kids when they’re sad, they play football and chasey and my boys absolutely adore them. I am eternally grateful that when my husband and I can’t be caring for our kids they are having a diverse caring experience – men and women, young and old.

    As I’ve mentioned in other comments, one of these young men and a local teenage boy are the most frequent babysitters for my pre-school sons. Does it occur to me that my children might be abused in these situations. Unfortunately it does, in our society, how can it not? But my response is to talk to my kids, watch their behaviour and then put those fears aside because they’re obviously unfounded. It’s my responsibility to take care of my kids. To assess risks dispassionately. Not to keep those young men out of my house just in case.

    Finally, as a teenage girl I worked with a number of teenage boys in my church. We taught Sunday school and led youth groups. One day we got a new minister who decided that nobody was fit to volunteer in the church (even to arrange flowers or mow the lawns) if they hadn’t completed and particular six week Bible course. People who’d been giving their love and time for decades suddenly felt that they weren’t good enough in the eyes of our church leader. It split our congregation and I was among those who left. What Pastor Don is doing is even worse. This will hurt these teenage boys. If we’re all about protecting children, then who’s taking care of these boys?

  111. Jonathan Bartlett May 14, 2011 at 9:31 am #

    Pastor Don –

    It’s not the background checks, or there mere having a policy, that is a problem. I didn’t see anyone complaining about the background checks. It’s that your policy is *preventing* real community from taking place in your Church. Your policies are *preventing* the Church from *being* the Church.

    Please don’t sell out the Kingdom (or your local community) just to get better insurance rates.

  112. Maureen May 14, 2011 at 10:18 am #

    It’s great that his church has a support group for those women who were abused. But as horrible and traumatic as it was for those women, I’m willing to be that most (if not all) were abused by a family member or very close family friend and not the church nursery’s baby sitter.

  113. Scott May 14, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

    Honestly, the gentleman sounds like he is either senile or psychotic. I don’t want people to be upset by this; It’s not namecalling, it’s my genuine opinion.

  114. Wendy May 14, 2011 at 2:22 pm #

    I want to weigh in on this from a perspective that I haven’t yet seen here. I am the mother of a one year old boy. I was molested by a woman (my mother) and two teenaged boys when I was young. However, that does not mean that I will not leave my son with a woman or a male teenager.

    Pastor Don – It’s great that you have a support group for people like me. However, in my case – as in most!, those who hurt me were members of my family. They were not strangers or members of my church. They were people that I knew and trusted. However, the way to heal is to move on with life and to trust again. Without trust life is not worth living. I hurt for the poor males who have been inadvertently maligned by these policies, particularly the teenagers.

    As a matter of fact, male teenagers make better babysitters for children. This is straight from BC Women’s Hospital, my first aid course for new parents, and numerous teachers that I’ve worked with. Why? Because they play with the kids and are less likely to be on a cell phone. That doesn’t mean that I would never use a female teenager as a babysitter, but it certainly puts things into perspective doesn’t it?

    As an abuse survivor your comments upset me. I don’t like that you’re using people like me to justify your actions. I hope that you reexamine them closely and think about what you want to be saying to the world about your community, your church, and your religion.

  115. K May 14, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

    Have I missed something? Women can’t be sex offenders?

    I realize that men are more likely to be implicated as sex offenders… but, women are sometimes offenders as well. Further, it may even be that women are more rarely reported.

    This would mean that, we could take the policy to the extreme and abolish any non-parental care (ooh, wait, parents can also be sex offenders). Or, we use our best judgment about people, avoid having only one care-giver in a room, and not disparage half the population and overwork the other half.

    My child’s daycare has ONLY female workers. One man worked there some time ago and was accused of some form of abuse (the details were not public). Via a board member, I understand that it was a false allegation having to do with a petty work disagreement. This man was fired, placed on the offender list, and can never work around children again.

    I have three sons and a loving husband. We are trying to raise the boys to be loving, caring, and feel as though they have opportunities. But, there are so few mentors. Only 7% of public school teachers are men (only the PE teacher in the elementary school). They had NO female teachers in daycare. And, policies like this will further undermine how they view their culture.

    Even how public education is being conducted in increasingly biased toward girls (and, as a woman scientist – I agree that girls need opportunity, but not by pushing boys back).

    Don – Don’t you see the message that you are sending to every man, woman and child in your church? Don’t you see this same message echoed on television, the newspapers, in the schools, and in college (where females outnumber males as freshmen and drop out more rarely)? Don’t you see young men as increasingly unable to see how they fit into this culture? Men are infantilized in movies, treated as sex offenders, as sophomoric idiots, as sexist, and as incapable of accomplishing anything domestic (have you ever seen a television commercial?).

    Stand up and find a way to (at the very least) to use this new policy to start a dialog about how unfair it is to treat anyone as guilty until proven of innocence. Use this dialog to empower young men in the church to be the best men they can be. Be a mentor for the young men.

  116. DrPretzel May 14, 2011 at 10:54 pm #

    Why are men and boys being penalized? There are female offenders out there too.

    Do background checks on caregivers. Check the offender registry. Find an insurance company that isn’t going to get the church sued for sexual discrimination.

  117. K May 15, 2011 at 1:22 am #

    I hate the idea of background checks being used universally. They only pick up previously convicted people (which sometimes are not legitimate). They don’t identify the vast majority of people that would be a problem – the folks that have gotten away with it.

    And, again requiring background checks conveys the notion that one is guilty until shown to be innocent. That is in direct opposition with our entire justice system.

    There is NOTHING that we can do to make growing up risk free. No matter what we do – not everyone will be safe. We have to admit, that at some point, our efforts to protect children can, themselves, be damaging.

    Nurturing positive relationships with good people and treating people with respect will take us a long way in mitigating damage done and creating responsible adults.

  118. JP Merzetti May 15, 2011 at 1:54 am #

    I dunno……
    Seems to me half the female population out there woulda thought they’d died and gone to heaven over men and boys actually acquiring sensitivity and child-caring skills….first-hand, voluntarily, and outa the goodness of their lil’ doggie hearts. (imagine that?.)
    But we have to instead, punish the 99.8% of the male half of the population for what the other .2% (and that is a VERY liberal estimate) has, is, or will be capable of commiting?
    It’s a shame that this is all messed up with religion, because that just creates two messes, and complicates the whole damned thing all to hell.

    Why not just lock all the males in zoos, and only let them out to procreate, and kill foreigners?

  119. Rhiannon May 15, 2011 at 3:24 am #

    I thought the people who were ‘accusing’ Don of being a child molester were just doing so rhetorically, to try and make him see how it feels to be treated that way – how the teenage boys at this church must feel. In which case, the idea being offensive was the whole point.

  120. survivinginsweden May 15, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

    This is just really sad. As someone who has always identified as a feminist, I have to say that it is things like this which makes me feel like there needs to be someone out there fighting for men to be able to retain some of their rights.

    Talk about sexist.

    It sounds a bit like some other societies where women are forced to cover up completely lest they tempt the men folk. In good ol’ USA you gotta keep the kids away from the men folk because, well, you just never know, do ya.

    If we don’t trust our society to at least make room for our children and allow them space to exist, maybe we need to shake things up in our society, rather than hide the children?

  121. buffy May 16, 2011 at 4:10 am #

    Don, could you imagine your church decreeing that blacks couldn’t change diapers or volunteer in the nursery?

    This isn’t any different.

  122. Ben S May 16, 2011 at 7:50 am #

    Don: “But statistics show that child abusers go to places with least resistance and are more likely to be someone with whom the child is well acquainted.”

    Yep. That’s why all children should be raised far, far away from their family. For their own sake. In fact, rotate them between foster homes so they don’t get too “acquainted” with anyone.

    Here’s an easy solution to keep your church from becoming a “Safe Haven for sex offenders”: Get rid of the kids. No more day care. Your insurance company will thank you.

    Ps- I’m not sure what the insurance company said to you, but they use risk analysis to produce rates. If you disagree with one, ask how they determined it. The choice to not follow their recommendation would likely result in a higher premium, not termination of coverage. In this case, the money would probably have been a better deal compared to the publicity.

  123. Cin May 16, 2011 at 8:57 am #

    The very worst part of this policy, and here I am speaking as the Christian mother of four children, is that you teach the men and boys of your congregation that child care and diaper changes are not their job — that’s women’s work. This can and will have a subtle and profound impact on the marriages of your congregants, and not in a good way.

  124. Will May 16, 2011 at 11:08 pm #

    Really, there is no other name for these odious policies than plain and simple sexism.

    I don’t think the Pastor has thought through just how damaging this is. In a single stroke, it tells men that they’re seen as all being potential predators of the worst possible sort, and it tells women that is their job to take care of the babies.

    I’m sure the insurance company would love to trot out all the statistics on gender and sexual abuse etc… but one thing those statistics don’t show is how our society brings about the problem with the way we demonize men.

    Growing up, I know I’ve seen thousands of little things. Commercials where men are incompetent boobs around children until the super mommy fixes things. Tv shows where men are portrayed as raging engines of uncontrolled destructive lusts. Movies with much the same. Men are constantly being told how uncontrollable and dangerous we are. (and when we are controlled it’s usually through our perceived inability to resist a woman’s sexual advances.)

    Women on the other hand are told that they have almost no sexual desires (really has only changed in media in a very short time and not in most of it), that their role is domestic. So many times I see the powerful career-driven female characters dropping everything to have a baby and play mommy. They’re shown they have to be scared of the big bad men out there, and that they need to tame one to be their protector, but they always have to be on guard for themselves and their children because any male is one step away from becoming another monster. (Yes there are aversions to these stereotypes, like there are to the male ones, but you can still find them fairly often.)

    These things hit our subconscious constantly, and when we ourselves are not like that we often find ourselves questioning why not? Never mind that most others of our gender have the same questions. And I’m sure a handful of aberrant personalities take this in and become predators. But the vast majority of us do not. We aren’t the stereotypes being handed to us. We shouldn’t be made to feel like that by these fear-mongering policies. We shouldn’t have to look at something like that and think it’s ok that we’re being treated unfairly because of the minuscule possibility that one of the sick predators might show up there.

    I’m not a churchgoer but if I were, I’d want my church to have some faith in the good natures of its parishioners.

  125. SgtMom May 17, 2011 at 1:14 am #

    I was so very fortunate to belong to a church that gave all my children unconditional love and support.

    When my son was falsely accused, many church members and teachers wrote on his behalf, wrote and send cards of comfort and support to me, and our pastor even flew out of state to attend his hearing, to speak on his behalf.

    All for naught – As part of “treatment” my son was forbidden to attend church anymore because their support “aided in his denial”.

    I don’t know if such support would be forthcoming in this witch hunt day and age…I would hope so. It certainly saved my sanity.

  126. Tracy May 17, 2011 at 4:27 am #

    Dear Don,
    I appreciate your comments and have raised the subject before about churches trying to protect and the need for that to be so. yes we are fingerprinted as volunteers on top of lots of different policies.. No-one forces us to be, we do it to help the system which by the way will not be beaten no matter how dumb anyone thinks it is. I was beaten down with the naysayers who had plenty of opinion but all the negativity came from people who don’t even profess to know where churches are coming from. They just think they know how we should operate. It’s tough but some of us appreciate your comeback.

  127. Meg May 19, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    I just want to respond quickly to Pastor Don with a few points. I understand the desire to provide a safe environment for children, and to avoid the appearance of being a “safe haven” for pedophiles, especially with the revelations of abuse by church leaders in recent years. I also understand the practical necessity of insurance. However, I want to point out that those terrible people who abused their positions and did evil things to children still only represent a small fraction of church leaders and community members.

    I also want to ask the Pastor, how can a church member be expected to put his or her faith in God if the church sets the example that we cannot even put our faith in each other? How can I trust a God I cannot see when I can’t trust my neighbor? And, as far as the insurance issue is concerned, isn’t church where we go to rise above the profane concerns of the secular world? Isn’t faith the defense against the evil in the world? I assume this is a Christian parish. The assumption that a church member will commit the crime (and grave sin) of child abuse seems to run counter to the teachings of Christ, who challenges us to love all people, and who believed in the goodness of humanity. These policies assume that members of the faith community are not good people. That’s not a church I would want to go to.

    And just food for thought: Christ loved children and encouraged them to come to him. He made special time for them, held them in his lap. He was an unmarried, 33 year old man. Given the current policies, would Pastor Don let Him volunteer in the church nursery? I suppose he would, only if he was supervised by a woman he’s not related to.

  128. genehubbard2@bellsouth.net May 21, 2011 at 5:29 am #

    p.s. lenore did you once write column at ad age i still have a few winning t shirts one for theme park EASTWOODS ..LET US MAKE YOUR BDAY


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