Online event Dec. 9 to help churches navigate legal fallout from Boy Scouts’ bankruptcy filing, protect child safety
GREENVILLE, S.C. — The Alliance Defending Freedom, Focus on the Family, and the Evangelical Council for Abuse Prevention will participate in an upcoming webinar Dec. 9 hosted by boys adventure movement Trail Life USA to help churches address liabilities they may face in the wake of Boy Scouts of America’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing earlier this year, and challenges to religious freedoms that cloud the horizon.
The free webinar, Solutions for the Three Greatest Threats to Your Ministry – What Every Church Leader Needs to Know, is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 9, 12-1:30 p.m. ET. Church leaders can register at www.TrailLifeUSA.com/ReligiousFreedom.
“Since we partner in ministry with so many churches, we want to provide the best counsel to secure their religious freedoms and to protect them in an environment rife with liability issues around child abuse,” said Trail Life CEO Mark Hancock. “This online event speaks to a number of critical areas for churches.”
There is rising concern among faith leaders and legal experts that churches which have chartered, sponsored or hosted Boy Scouts of America (BSA) activities will no longer be protected from legal action after the group’s Feb. 18 bankruptcy filing in Delaware, related to the sexual abuse scandal that has rocked BSA in recent years.
The filing established a Victims Compensation Trust to pay sexual abuse claims, but it will cover claims only for cases filed by Nov. 16.
Churches and other “chartering organizations” — groups that have hosted or sponsored BSA troops — could be named in future lawsuits. There are reports that plaintiffs’ attorneys have asked for a list of chartering organizations, including churches.
Churches “Vulnerable to Abuse’
In addition to helping churches protect themselves from legal action, the free webinar will seek to help churches better protect children and ensure that future abuse does not occur, according to Jeff Dalrymple, executive director of the Evangelical Council for Abuse Prevention.
“Sadly, churches are still vulnerable to abuse,” Dalrymple said. “Our ministry wants to encourage churches to use this situation with BSA as an opportunity to assess what they’re doing to protect kids in their ministries. Our biblical stewardship is always to protect children from all threats, internal and external.”
Dalrymple said one in three girls and one in four boys will be sexually abused in the U.S. before the age of 18.
Churches: ‘Safe Places for Kids’
“We want our churches to be safe places for kids,” he said. “We want to help ministry leaders demonstrate and sustain child protection protocols. And we believe this webinar is vital in raising awareness.”
As of early November, there have been more than 850 claims made against BSA, including more than 360 cases involving churches, according to a recent United Methodist webinar. Approximately 90 percent of claims against BSA pertain to events that happened more than 30 years ago.
BSA reported in court papers that it spent more than $150 million on settlements and other related legal fees from 2017 through 2019, expenses it called “unsustainable” going forward.
Church leaders can go to www.TrailLifeUSA.com/ReligiousFreedom for information on registering for the free webinar.
With troops operating in local churches across the U.S., Trail Life USA is a Christian character development organization, empowering boys and young men to honor God, lead with integrity, serve others, and experience outdoor adventure. Trail Life USA has more than 30,000 members in 830-plus troops across all 50 states.