Insurers Report Over 260 Sex Assaults in Protestant Churches Annually

If you are a small local church and you're trying to get liability insurance, I think I know why your payments are so high: according to an article posted on azcentral.com, insurers receive in excess of 260 reports of sexual abuse of children.

Curiosity regarding sexual abuse of minors in Protestant churches has increased in the wake of revelations of sexual abuse perpetrated by Catholic priests. Data has been hard to get on Protestant abuse cases; on the other hand, because the Catholic Church is a single religious entity, it has been able to provide information on credible sexual abuse allegations. The diverse nature of Protestant denominations, and the fact that each denomination may be organized differently, has made the task of gathering of statistics very challenging. 

The majority of data comes from three insurers in the church insurance market -- Church Mutual Insurance Co., GuideOne Insurance Co. and Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Co. These three insurers alone are responsible for the insurance policies on 165,495 churches and worship centers, which would include liability insurance. Policies are primarily for Protestant congregations but include a few other faiths as well. These insurers also cover in excess of 5,500 religiously-affiliated schools, camps and other organizations. While these companies have provided data on sexual abuse, they do not specify whether or not they found the allegations "credible".

Even hundreds of allegations constitutes a very small number of reported abuses. In fact, some experts believe that this is only a small fraction of abuses that actually take place, because victims often do not report the abuse.

The code of silence extends beyond the victim, and to the communities themselves. Even where abuse registries exist in order to ensure transparency and accountability for clergy and other church personnel, communities and churches may choose not to report.

Here's where I want to advocate both for victims and for communities: if you've had a problem with a pastor or other church employee, make the information public and take steps to increase accountability and transparency in your church or group! This will help to reduce the numbers of incidents, and will also help to bring down the cost of liability insurance for your group.

Consider it a win-win.

Monique L. Attinger
 

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