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Should religious employers jump on the “ban the box” bandwagon?

If your ministry asks potential volunteers or employees about any criminal record, do you need to throw out your application and start anew in light your state’s “ban the box” law? This post addresses how religious employers should be aware of “ban the box” laws and the changing legal landscape of considering criminal history in hiring.

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Part 6: Risk and Vulnerability

You raise several questions. The only one I’m going to get to today relates to how to prepare missionaries to go overseas—what kind of vision statement or consent to danger and difficulty would we recommend? Perhaps the most practical approach would be to have a waiver more like the legal documents that we’re familiar with, but have a paragraph in the waiver refer to the missionary’s own vision statement and acceptance of risk as part of that vision statement. Then each missionary could explain what he or she hopes to accomplish, why he or she is called, and why (or whether) such a calling is worth encountering disease, violence, or other disasters.

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Courts and Churches—Interfering in Some Ways But Not Others

Not everything a church does to a pastor is outside the reach of the court. That is a recent lesson church officials learned in a case out of Ohio federal court dealing with the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine. Also known as the church autonomy doctrine, this is the principle that civil courts will stay out of the doctrinal and important decisions a church makes, such as the decision to fire a pastor or remove a parishioner from membership. This case, Barrow v. Living Word Church, et al.,1 is an interesting twist on the doctrine, and serves as a word of caution for churches.

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