AUSTIN (BP)—The Texas House of Representatives passed a bill shielding from civil liability churches that disclose credible sexual abuse allegations, but time is short for the measure to pass the state Senate before the legislative session ends May 27.
Representatives May 8 unanimously approved HB 4345, which then was assigned to the Senate State Affairs Committee.
HB 4345 would protect charitable organizations and their volunteers from liability when disclosing to prospective employers information about credible allegations of sexual abuse, even when no criminal charges have been filed against the accused. A May 7 amendment extended protection to independent contractors, previously not included.
The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission helped draft the bill.
Ben Wright, pastor of Cedar Pointe Baptist Church in Cedar Park, worked with Bart Barber, pastor of First Baptist Church in Farmersville, and others to recruit Rep. Scott Sanford to introduce the bill.
Sanford recruited Sen. Joan Huffman, State Affairs Committee chair, to sponsor the bill in the Senate.