According to a current North Dakota Century Code about reporting abuse, certain individuals are REQUIRED to report things like child abuse and neglect. But, according to that same Century Code, "A member of the clergy, however, is not required to report such circumstances if the knowledge or suspicion is derived from information received in the capacity of spiritual adviser." And one North Dakota State Senator wants to strike that exemption from the Century Code.

KX News reports that, in the name of helping abused children, Republican Senator Judy Lee of West Fargo wants to force clergy to report confessions of abuse. She also wants clergy to face 30 days in jail for refusing to report instances of abuse. There has been pushback on proposed amendment.

According to KX News, proponents of the Century Code's "religious loophole" say that, upon a person's confession, priests often recommend that abusers or victims seek help. KX News also reports that North Dakota Catholic Conference Executive Director, Christopher Dodson, is concerned that forcing clergy to report abuse is counterproductive and causes first amendment issues. Get the full story from KX News here.

I am aware of the controversies surrounding Christian organizations and exploitation and abuse of children. But I had no idea that it was actually LEGALLY PROTECTED AND ENCOURAGED for clergy to hide confessions of abuse and just file the crime in a "spiritual adviser" folder.

If this amendment passes, KX News says that North Dakota would be the FIRST STATE to require spiritual advisers in clergy to report confessions of abuse to proper authorities. Abusers do not deserve a right to privacy, especially when they are violating children. I hope the leaders in our state are on the right side of history with this one.

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