Proposed Bill Would Let Churches Escape Civil Liability for Injury to a Child
By: Piper Meeks, Contributor
Texas State Representative Tan Parker has recently filed a bill relating to churches that provide overnight shelter for children. HB 2319, which is set for hearing on Monday, would allow churches to escape civil liability for “any act or omission resulting in injury to a child.”
Basically, HB 2319 would grant these churches, who are supposed to provide a safe shelter for children who have no other place to go, immunity if a child were to get hurt during his stay there. It also does not provide any basic stipulations that any other facility expected to provide shelter or care for children would normally be subjected to. For example, the bill does not address providing a safe environment of any nature for the children, nor is there mention of any type of criminal background checks or other investigational procedures for church members or other adults who would be present during the children’s stay.
Hypothetically, if this bill were to pass, a church would not be held liable if some sort of accident happened to a child during a weekend retreat or a lock-in. Currently, such events are heavily monitored when it comes to protecting children while they are under the supervision of the church. Cameras are installed in churches in order to provide a safe and secure environment for the children that stay there overnight. Some larger churches even have police officers stay overnight with the children for security. Parents allow their children to participate in such activities because they believe the church to be a safe place to send their children, and if it’s not safe or an accident happens, parents naturally expect the church and its members to be held accountable for these accidents when minors are under the trusted care of the church. HB 2319 would basically provide leeway for churches and church members to be less cautious in regards to the safety of children in their care because they wouldn’t face any repercussions for a child’s injury under their supervision.
Although we do not like to believe it to be true, evil lurks everywhere – even in those who we are expected to trust. We see crime where it’s least expected and it would be false to claim churches are immune from such activity. Unfortunately, in the recent past more stories have emerged that prove some churches are no longer necessarily a sanctuary from crime. HB 2319 would only encourage more crime in churches by allowing immunity for churches or church members from any liability or due diligence relating to the injury of children while under their temporary guardianship.
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