Evangelical leaders are split when it comes to recommending non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) for employees at churches or other Christian organizations. Most leaders (54 percent) said “It Depends” if formal agreements should be implemented, while 21 percent said “Yes” and 25 percent said “No” to legally binding confidentiality.
“NDAs are tools that can be helpful to maintain confidential information, but they can also be inappropriately used to conceal information that should be shared, particularly but not limited to cases of abuse,” said NAE President Walter Kim. “Evangelical leaders understand this tension. While there may not be consensus on the use of non-disclosure agreements, they agree that transparency and accountability are essential within churches and Christian organizations.”
For example, Kevin McBride, pastor of Raymond Baptist Church in New Hampshire, said, “For churches and individual Christian organizations, we should be the model of not only openness, but not giving the impression of condoning any form of illicit behaviors. In a climate when our credibility is already suspect, we should do all we can to dispel any pre-conceived notions.”
George Soltero, a practicing lawyer in Tucson, Arizona, added, “The Bride of Christ should be beyond reproach. Transparency should always be preferred. However, in some legal matters non-disclosure might be necessary.” Several leaders stated that tailored and specific NDAs may have a place within Christian institutions, even as many opt not to use them or choose to implement an alternate confidentiality agreement.
Though NDAs are helpful in certain circumstances, these legally binding contracts have been used to conceal inappropriate actions and even criminal behavior. Many victims of abuse have been afraid to speak out due to fear of legal retribution. An overwhelming majority of evangelical leaders (93 percent) believe pre-existing NDAs should be waived when a leader faces credible allegations of abuse. The attempted use of an NDA to prevent the reporting of a crime is a criminal offense and any previously legally binding NDA will not be enforced should illegal activities occur.
The Evangelical Leaders Survey is a monthly poll of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Evangelicals. They include the CEOs of denominations and representatives of a broad array of evangelical organizations including missions, universities, publishers and churches.