What the Michigan State Settlement Means for Churches
While we rejoice at the fact that an institution has been held accountable, we also need to look at the implications for other institutions.
My Twitter feed was full of folks warning the Protestant churches that they were “next”…after the Roman Catholic church has already made many similar, large, settlements.
What will happen in reality is a lot different…let me explain.
The people most impressed with the size of this settlement are lawyers, as they stand to be the ones who will profit the most from the misery of others.
The only churches they will attempt to “hold accountable” are ones that can line their pockets.
That means large churches or entire denominations.
Small churches simply aren’t worth their brand of justice or accountability.
The end result will be that in the broader evangelical community there will actually be less accountability.
Let me give you an example.
When Chuck Smith was still alive and in charge of Calvary Chapels, he had a disciplinary arm of the non denominational denomination call the Calvary Chapel Outreach Fellowship, or “CCOF” for short.
Ostensibly the office that did affiliations, it also served as the doctrinal and moral police agency for the movement, working out of the Costa Mesa church.
The existence of that office and the fact that they enforced “discipline” in the field made Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa legally liable for the misdeeds of all the affiliates.
They paid for a bunch of them…Costa Mesa had really deep pockets.
A few years ago, Smith wearied of paying for the sins of people he didn’t know and disbanded CCOF in an attempt to cut that tie between the affiliates and the mothership.
Henceforth, Costa Mesa would only pay for their own issues.
When his brother Paul (who was running CCOF) continued to enforce (mainly doctrinal) rules, he fired his brother.
Today, neither side of the CC split will exercise any control over the affiliates other than adding or removing their names from a database.
It’s all about liability.
If there is no accountability at the local church level there will be none above it either.
Most churches in this country have shallow pockets and aren’t worth the attention of the tort vultures.
Those that do have resources…might want to make sure they have air tight child protection and hiring standards in place.
It’s all about liability…