Florida ministry deals with sex offender registry

Steven Yoder writes an article for the Christian Century about a residential ministry in Florida that helps sex offenders transitioning out of prison. One would think these kinds of programs would be well supported as a way to help people get back on their feet.

Baptist minister Glenn Burns calls the evening of April 7, 2016, the “crucifixion.” It was the toughest test of his 40-year career. 

Burns leads a Christian social services ministry in northern Florida called the Good Samaritan Network. Until last April, the nonprofit was headquartered in the town of Woodville, just outside Tallahassee. Its food bank served 7,000 people a month. It also ran a thrift store and a home for women transitioning off the street from sex work. And it operated a Christian home for men re-entering society after prison who had no other place to live. Many of them were on Florida’s registry of sex offenders.

It was that last program that got Burns in trouble.

Burns isn’t a fan of harsh sex offender laws.

Politically, he’s voted Republican in every presidential election since Reagan, calls abortion a “deal-breaker,” and quotes conservative Christian writer James Dobson in his morning devotional. But when it comes to keeping his guys straight, he thinks current policies—especially posting their names and photos on registries and limiting where they can live—are doing more harm than good. “I’m very sensitive to the perspective of the victims and their families. I get it,” he says. “But a hopeless person is a dangerous person.”

Read the full article and a related article about church sex offender policies at the Christian Century.

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