Master List of
New Directions Recommendations
Directions from the Field:
Rights and Services for the 21st Century
for the Faith Community
The recommendations below, which
appear in the May 1998 New Directions Report, have been reformatted
for replication and distribution.
|Tens of millions of Americans call upon clergy and faith community leaders for spiritual guidance, support, and information in times of personal crisis. While the faith community has historically provided prison ministry programs, few religious institutions have developed programs to specifically serve and support victims of crime. However, religious entities and congregations working in conjunction with victim assistance agencies have the capacity to provide important services to crime victims. In an effort to increase awareness about the key role of the faith community in the delivery of comprehensive and sensitive victim support services, the following recommendations are set forth by the field:
- The faith community should recognize
that the victim is in need of aid, comfort, and spiritual ministry,
and faith-based congregations and organizations should provide assistance
to victims whenever possible.
- Courses on crime victimization
and crime victim assistance should be established in clergy educational
institutions and theological seminaries, including both worship and
pastoral counseling courses.
- Continuing education on crime
victimization and crime victim assistance should be provided for all
clergy and religious leaders, including chaplains in hospitals, police
departments, the military, and other individuals within the faith community
who may come into contact with victims.
- Religious institutions at all
levels should cooperate with victim assistance agencies and organizations
to offer joint services to victims of crime and to disseminate publications
on crime victim assistance.
- The clergy should provide training
for victim assistance providers, criminal justice officials, State victim
assistance administrators, compensation program directors, and other
public officials about the important role they can play in assisting
- Requiring clergy to report suspected
cases of child abuse should be seriously considered by religious institutions
and governmental agencies, and appropriate policies should be developed
to ensure children are protected. Even in cases involving confidential
communications, the clergy should hold the needs of children paramount
and recognize their moral responsibility to help and protect child victims.
- Communities of faith should
hold clergy and other religious leaders in positions of trust within
their congregations accountable for crimes they commit, including sexual
acts against adults and children. Policies and procedures should be
developed to ensure that appropriate cases of clergy misconduct are
referred to law enforcement agencies.
- Religious and spiritual leaders
should be encouraged to use their pulpits to educate and sensitize their
congregations about crime and victimization issues.
- Religious and spiritual leaders
should be willing to serve in leadership roles on community crisis response
teams providing services in the aftermath of mass violence and other
crimes that have significant impact upon entire communities.
|New Directions from the
Victims' Rights and Services for the 21st Century