Take steps now to minimize
3 of the Most Significant Risks
to your spiritual organization.
Churches and spiritual organizations are often so focused on bringing forth their teachings, practices and assisting their congregation in deepening their relationship with God or Source that they overlook legal areas of vulnerability that can seriously jeopardize the well-being of their organization and its spiritual success.
Among the many areas of vulnerability, in our current legal and social climate, every organization must make it a priority to address these three critical areas.
1. Sexual Misconduct or Related Issues
The first high risk area is sexual misconduct. This means sexual misconduct by clergy, lay employees, and volunteers toward both adults and children. Hardly a day goes by without the news media identifying another organization that has failed to appropriately safeguard its members from harm due to these risks.
Every religious organization must have appropriate practices and policies for the screening, the educating, and the supervising of staff, including volunteers, and the responding to and reporting of any misconduct by such individuals. The failure to do so can have devastating consequences to an organization, its leadership and congregation.
2. Mistakes or Misuse Involving Money
Perhaps the second highest risk area involves money. Legal issues abound concerning the solicitation and receipt of donations, loans to churches or other income streams related, or unrelated, to religious activities of the organization. In addition, personal gifts to clergy and leaders pose potential serious pitfalls for the organization and the individuals. Organizations must have practices and procedures regarding the use of church property by clergy, lay employees and volunteers. Failure to practice “good governance” in the use of charitable funds or to safeguard these funds from intentional misconduct or negligent misuse is an invitation for serious consequences for the organization, its directors, officers and any clergy involved. These are all areas that Federal and State officials closely scrutinize.
3. Failure to Practice “Good Governance”
It is not uncommon that many spiritual or organizational leaders of religious institutions may neglect and sometimes even ignore preventive practices of “good governance.” Many have operated under the mistaken belief that somehow the spiritual and social good that they intend, or they will actually do, affords them a kind of “protection” and even excuse for the failure to know and follow the many laws, regulations and customs of the community that other corporations, businesses and individuals follow and take for granted. This is an unfortunate mistake and the risks can be greatly diminished by having experienced legal counsel on their team helping them identify potential danger areas before they become problems for the organization, its leaders, staff, volunteers and congregation.
These three areas of risk are extremely high profile and, without the proper measures in place before an incident happens, can be devastating to a church.
My Services are Tailored to Your Needs
For most of my legal career, I have served as legal counsel to international religious organizations, churches and spiritual leadership. I practice preventative law tailored to the specific needs of my clients and pride myself in assisting organizations and individuals to avoid the many legal pitfalls present in our complex and litigious society.
I recommend to potential clients that they retain me to conduct a thorough audit of their organization’s practices and activities so that I can identify the principal areas in which they are most at risk and help them take preventive measures to reduce or eliminate exposure.