From the HSLDA E-lert Service:


9/29/2003 5:12:57 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
Ohio--Forcing Pastors to Report Suspected Child Abuse

From the HSLDA E-lert Service...

September 29, 2003

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

Ohio's social workers are supporting new laws to increase the number
of allegations of child abuse and neglect. Senate Bill 100 has
already passed the Ohio Senate, and has now been assigned to the
House Committee on Criminal Justice. This bill would force pastors
and priests to report all cases of suspected child abuse, except for
actual confessions made to them by their parishioners. Pastors and
priests who refuse to report their suspicions would be subject to
criminal and civil penalties. Senator Brady, the assistant minority
leader of the senate, was the only person to vote against this bill.
He had strong objections to making pastors "agents of the state." We
are urging you to contact the members of the House Committee on
Criminal Justice to urge them to vote "No" on SB 100.

I have called the office of Representative of Bob Latta, the chairman
of the Criminal Justice Committee and have asked his staff for the
most effective way to communicate our concerns at this time. His
office has invited us to send emails to him at Email is the least effective way to
change a legislators mind, but can be a very important way letting a
potentially supportive legislator know the strength of our

Action Requested:

Please email Representative Bob Latta at
and the other members of the Criminal Justice Committee to indicate
your opposition to SB 100. The subject line of the email should be
"SB 100," and it should be addressed to the specific representative
you are contacting. Make sure your email is short, and extremely
courteous. You may want to mention one or both of the following
"talking points" in your message.

1. Pastors are part of the solution to child abuse, not part of the
problem. Let pastors do their job!
2. This bill would make priests and pastors "agents of the state."
Don't turn clergy into spies!

Criminal Justice Committee members - Rep. Stephen Buehrer (R) - Rep. Jamie Callender (R) - Rep. Thomas (Thom) Collier (R) - Rep. David Evans (R) - Rep. Keith Faber (R) - Rep. Mike Gilb (R) - Rep. Timothy Grendell (R) - Rep. William (Bill) Seitz (R) - Rep. John Willamowski (R) (Vice Chair) - Rep. Lance Mason (D) (Ranking Minority
member) - Rep. Dean DePiero (D) - Rep. Edna Brown (D) - Rep. Edward Jerse (D) - Rep. Annie Key (D) - Rep. Shirley Smith (D) - Rep. Tyrone Yates (D)


Ever since the scale of the abuses in the Catholic Church became
public, state legislatures have been "cracking down" on clergy.
HSLDA members have managed to defeat or improve legislation in a
number of states. Now it is Ohio's turn.

Senator Spada, the chief sponsor of this bill, is a well-respected
Republican. His initial bill would have made all pastors report any
suspicions of abuse or neglect. The Ohio Council of Churches, which
includes the Roman Catholic Church, the United Methodist Church, the
United Presbyterian Church, the Episcopalian Church, and several
other similar denominations, was able to persuade Senator Spada to
make some changes to his bill. Senator Spada's staff believes that
the Ohio Council of Churches now "supports" this legislation. Our
sources within the Ohio Council of Churches have not expressed any
"support" for the bill, but have withdrawn their open objection to it
in its current form. That means this bill, if it is to be
successfully opposed, must be opposed via "grass roots" activity.

Pastors, if they are performing their duties correctly, are "tuned
in" to a great deal of information of which the police are unaware.
Pastors are God's agents, sent into a world of sin to redeem lost
souls. They routinely hear about horrifying situations, yet go back
to work, day after day, because the Gospel is the solution to sin.
SB 100 tries to "tap into" this "inside information" that pastors
possess in order to protect additional children. Unfortunately,
turning pastors into spies for the government will do far more harm
than good.

Under current law, pastors and priests are free to report child abuse
or neglect if they choose to do so. This bill will have no effect on
the pastor who believes that he can thus serve God and his fellow man
by reporting his suspicions. The only direct affect that this bill
will have is to apply criminal penalties to pastors who do not
believe they can report a suspicion in good conscience. Since this
bill sets up a conflict between a pastor's conscience and the
criminal law, it is fraught with constitutional problems. The best
way to avoid this constitutional train wreck is to contact
Representative Latta's office and indicate your opposition to SB 100.

Please forward this message to other concerned Ohio citizens. While
this bill affects homeschoolers, it is not our problem alone. Please
be prepared for additional emails and calls to action.


Scott Somerville
HSLDA Staff Attorney

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