Churches Using Background Checks to Ensure Safety of Most Vulnerable Members

By Thomas Ahearn, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) News Editor

According to a report ‘Churches check closer after molestation cases’ from, the website for the Athens Banner Herald, more churches are using background checks to ensure the safety of their most vulnerable members in the wake of several molestation cases involving employees and volunteers.

The report indicates three youth ministers in Northeast Georgia churches were arrested and charged with molesting minors in their congregations in the past four months.

  • A 33-year-old male Sunday school teacher was arrested on charges of child molestation after allegedly sending sexually explicit text messages to a 14-year-old boy’s phone.
  • A 21-year-old man who claimed to be a youth minister for the church was arrested for child molestation after inviting two teenage boys to a church festival and allegedly molesting one on a nature hike afterwards.
  • A 32-year-old man was arrested on charges of child molestation due to his alleged relationship with a 16-year-old girl who attended the same Church with him.

More churches are taking the time to run background checks on employees and volunteers to make sure their members are safe, especially since the majority of people trust church workers since they find it hard to suspect someone holding a position at a religious institution of wrongdoing, according to the report.

While parents should trust in their churches and other community groups, a police Sergeant working in the special victims unit who was quoted in the story said that parents should remain aware of who their children are with and always need to be on guard since child molesters can come from all walks of life and can be married or single.

Churches, like any organization, need to provide due diligence to ensure a safe workplace for everyone. Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – a background check provider accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) – offers background screening solutions for Faith-Based and Volunteer organizations by checking available resources such as sex offender registries, county courts, and utilizing an address information manager as a locater for additional criminal records checks.

Services in the ESR ‘Basic Volunteer Safety 1st Package’ include:

  • Criminal Search of selected criminal court records, state criminal repositories, probation, prison parole, and release files using the ESR proprietary National Multi-Jurisdictional Criminal Database. 
  • Sex Offender Search of the state-maintained registries, noting that each originating agency determines what is to be public information at that time and not all states release registries in their entirety.
  • Residence Address Search for the previous residence addresses of volunteers and employees.
  • Social Security Number (SSN) Search to find if the SSN has been issued and whether other names are associated with the same SSN.

For more information about background screening solutions for volunteer, youth, and faith-based organizations, visit

For a PDF document containing a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Church and Volunteer groups regarding background checks, visit

Founded in 1996 in the San Francisco area, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen and is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) . To learn more about Employment Screening Resources, visit or contact Jared Callahan, ESR Director of Client Relations, at 415.898.0044 or