Thursday, July 12, 2007

Go Forth With Faith (but please try not to incur any liability)

An Oregon court ruled today that the church has to turn over its financial information (which it has long kept secret) to the attorneys for a man who is suing, claiming that his home teacher molested him. There is still some legal battling before the records actually come out. Basically the Plaintiff wants to be able to say to the jury, "Hey, these guys are really rich so you should give me a whole lot of money". That issue could be a post of its own, but that is not what interested me about this story.

Law school and working at a firm have changed the way I read a lot of news stories and the thing that caught my attention about this one is that having a lay ministry could be an ENORMOUS liability for the church. In this case the plaintiff is suing the church for something a home teacher allegedly did because the home teacher is acting on behalf of the church. Of course the church is saying that he was acting simply as a friend of the family, but imagine the possible slippery slope! Most LDS church members have a calling, most men in the church hold an office in the preisthood, if this legal tactic works a whole lot of what the members do could end up leaving the church liable. What if I am in my home teaching companion's car and we get in an accident? What if there is an accident at a playgroup that was sponsored or organized by the releif society? What if I go to give someone a blessing and catch what they have? What if I go nuts and assault a random stranger on the street and they sue and their attorney finds out that I am an Elder in the LDS Church? With the deep pockets of the church there would be no shortage of people wanting to make a claim. Hopefully not realistic, but kind of scary.

Maybe I better play it safe and not go home teaching this month.




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