The Board of Directors of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) approved a resolution at its semiannual meeting on March 7 lamenting the tragic violation of trust by ministers of the gospel who have sexually abused church members, and particularly children. The resolution also calls pastors and church leaders to adhere to high ethical standards and establish practices to prevent misconduct and address accusations appropriately.

NAE President Leith Anderson said, “Many evangelical churches and ministries already have systems in place addressing sexual misconduct and abuse, but this resolution reminds us to do all we can to prevent these horrors and to protect and support victims.”

The resolution states, “In the face of such evil, complacency is not an option. No leader should assume that sexual misconduct and child abuse occurs only in other churches or denominations. Every church needs clear policies that are consistently implemented to prevent abuses and to deal decisively with any violations of trust in full cooperation with the legal authorities.”

The NAE encourages pastors to sign the Code of Ethics for Pastors, church leadership teams to sign the Code of Ethics for Congregations and Their Leadership Teams, and all church leaders to:

  • Thoroughly vet all staff hires including rigorous background and reference checks;
  • Screen and provide child protection training to all volunteers who have access to children;
  • Establish confidential third party mechanisms for receiving reports of abuse;
  • Ensure that all members of the church community know how to report concerns;
  • Investigate reports promptly and thoroughly, without defensiveness;
  • Take decisive disciplinary action where violations have been corroborated; and
  • Offer pastoral care and support to those who have been affected by abuse of any kind.