Can a Pastor be made accountable for his advice like other professions

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by g'day mate, Oct 24, 2002.

  1. g'day mate

    g'day mate
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    Does a pastor need to be careful when giving advice,and can he or she be made accoutnable for any advice given.In this case taken to court like doctor or accountant.
    John
     
  2. Rev. Joshua

    Rev. Joshua
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    Pastoral counselors are clinically trained, board certified (and regulated) professionals, so they certainly can be held accountable.

    Generally speaking, most states have a Good Samaritan clause that means that someone acting in good faith, to the best of their knowledge, to help someone isn't liable for resulting harm. The more training you have, though, the fewer the kinds of mistakes that are defensible.

    Joshua
     
  3. Abiyah

    Abiyah
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    Pastors have been sued in the States; some
    have wondered why I didn't. Well, I just didn't,
    and I won't.
     
  4. TomVols

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    Most states have what is referred to as a "pastor-penitent privilige" law that says the pastor cannot be forced to divulge private spiritual advice, nor can he be liable for it unless there is a crime in commission or harm to children is being done. Most insurance underwriters require churches to carry some sort of malpractice insurance just in case. The insurance is different if the pastor or minister is a trained, licensed counselor. Then all bets are pretty much off unless they are specifically underwritten as such.
     
  5. Pastork

    Pastork
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    Joshua,

    Most pastors I know are not "clinically trained, board certified (and regulated)", but they do a lot of counseling. I, for example, have taken a number of counseling courses in college and seminary, but I am not "clinically trained" or "board certified". However, I am careful to give this information to all that I offer counseling, making sure that they know that I am doing all counseling based upon Scripture and in my role as a pastor. I let them know that if they want a "professional" counselor such as you have described, then I am not the one for them. I then give them the name of a professional Christian counselor in town that they can see and, if the cost is a factor, the church will usually help pay the bill.

    Pastork

    [ October 24, 2002, 08:08 PM: Message edited by: Pastork ]
     
  6. Rev. Joshua

    Rev. Joshua
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    Pastork, I was making a distinction between "pastors who counsel" and "pastoral counsellors."

    As for Priest-Penitent/Clergy-Communicant privilege, here's Georgia's relevant code:

    It's a pretty strong statement.

    As for general liability, the old saying is "You can beat the rap but you can't beat the ride." People can and will sue you for anything, and it should be noted that many of the people coming to you for counselling are already in an emotionally unhealthy state. Even if you don't know how to chart your sessions, keeping notes is a darn good idea.

    Joshua
     
  7. Sherrie

    Sherrie
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    A bar owner, or a watress, or a bartender, is accountable for the drunks he/she turns out onto the streets of USA. And is held responsible for who he/she kills, or hurts, or abuses, while drunk.

    Why not a Pastor/Preacher/Priest/Rabbi/etc? Why because they have a title are they excluded from accountablity. I think they would be more accountable for their actions than most anyone else.

    Sherrie
     
  8. Pastork

    Pastork
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    Sherrie,

    I agree that pastors should be held to a higher standard. Jesus taught that "everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required" (Luke 12:48). James warns "Let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment" (3:1). However, I do not think your comparison to the legal obligations of a bar owner or bartender is an appropriate analogy.

    When you ask "why because [pastors] have a title are they excused from accountability", I am not sure what you mean. In what ways do you think pastors are "excluded from accountability"?

    Pastork

    [ October 25, 2002, 04:49 PM: Message edited by: Pastork ]
     
  9. Jude

    Jude
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    It seems that if clergy would be 'accountable/liable'in the way you suggest, most clergy would STOP giving any kind of advice. Be careful what you wish for.
     
  10. Sherrie

    Sherrie
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    I did not mean to offend anyone, I just meant that certainly they should be accountable. I only used the bar thing as an example that all fields are acountable. Clergy are not excused from it. I meant no insult. Please forgive me.

    Sherrie :eek:
     
  11. Pastork

    Pastork
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    Sherrie,

    I took no offense at all. When I refered to your analogy as "inappropriate", I really was thinking more about whether or not the pastorate and a bartender/bar owner were really comparable in legal and ethical terms. I do see your point, however, that pastors should be held accountable. I agree.

    Pastork
     
  12. weeping prophet

    weeping prophet
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    Pastors are held to a higher accountability than the Laws of States can afford, and the true pastor is much more concerned that his council should find favor in the sight of God, than in the laws of man. If I break the law by giving sound biblical council, then so be it. If I am sued for giving Biblical council so be it. If God is displeased with my council, it were better for me to go to jail than for that to happen. What if the law of the State banned the preaching of the Gospel? Would I quit, certainly not. We are held accountable by God. When it comes to our responsibilty to God we do not concern ourselves with the law of man. WP
     
  13. jonmagee

    jonmagee
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    Here in Scotland, the Baptist Union of Scotland has negotiated an insurance to cover the possibility of a Pastor being sued. Do other Unions/conventions have such an arrangement?
    yours,Jon
     
  14. TomVols

    TomVols
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    Don't know about other conventions, but as I stated earlier, most insurance carriers automatically throw in a policy covering this in a blanket church insurance package
     
  15. TomVols

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    The problem with holding ministers legally liable for spiritual counsel means that you have government essentially determining what is and is not spiritual counsel, or at least acceptable spiritual counsel. That makes me nervous, especially after the state legislature here in Tennessee passed a ridiculous law requiring premarital counseling for couples. It was written so poorly that any self-ordained street pole can now perform weddings and government endorsed marital counseling.
     
  16. Dr. Bob

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    Church Mutual Insurance has a rider on our church policy that covers "malpractice suits" if I were to give advice later deemed wrong.

    Even the casual counsel of a pastor can come back and "bite you in the rear". I advised a young lady to leave a abusive husband until he could get help; he later (in divorce court) called me as a WITNESS of her leaving him and his desire to have custody of the kids. Ugly time.

    Confidentiality of the pastor/parishoner counsel has long been accepted in Catholicism; it most certainly should be common for Baptists, too.
     

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