Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Cost of Doing the Right Thing

Interesting story on the cover of today's USA Today. It seems that churches who want to practice forgiveness are running into resistence from their attorneys and insurance companies.

This caught my attention. I am, among other things, my church's attorney. I am called upon to give advice about things like liability for the church. When asked, I advise the church on what actions might expose the church to liability.

That is a legal opinion. When I advise a business, I expect the business leaders to take my legal advice and apply business judgment to it in order to decide what to do. It is not different for the church. I give a legal opinion and expect the church to apply the church's collective judgment in deciding what to do.

The story in the paper is about a church who had a staff member who sexually abused some girls in the church. The church is apologizing and publicly accepting some of the blame. The church's insurers are apparently apoplectic. The article quotes a number of people about the "widespread issue" of churches taking actions in violation of the wishes of their attorneys and insurers.

I say good for them. Of course actions of a church are often going to be costly. Nobody ever said anything different. The insurers and the attorneys are right to say that taking responsibility and offering an apology is bad from a liability standpoint.

So what? Since when is doing the right thing governed by the cost?

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