By Sandy . . . AndyO is on Oklahoma’s sexual offense registry for a non-contact offense in 2004. He completed his sentence fully in 2012.
Andy and his wife of 49 years have one grown son; they are Christians, regular church attendees, and supporters of Christian organizations designed to help the needy as well as projects sponsored by their congregation. They contribute regularly to missionaries from their church.
In 2014 they began sponsoring a child in Burkina Faso, a poor country in West Africa, through Compassion International, Inc., which is headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It is a 501(c)(3) organization that identifies itself as an humanitarian aid organization and has as its slogan on the website, “Releasing Children From Poverty in Jesus’ Name.”
On May 7 a letter from the organization arrived at Andy and his wife’s home. It informed them that the organization had discovered that a person on the sexual offense registry was registered as living at their address and that therefore their sponsorship of the child that they have sponsored for four years was immediately terminated.
The letter uses phrases such as “protection of children” and “vulnerable,” quotes Biblical scripture, and references Jesus’ mandate to “protect His little ones.”
It is signed, not by a person, but by “Risk Management.”
Whoever “Risk Management” is, I would like to ask some questions of him.
Before making policy to exclude all persons living at an address that shows up as a registered sexual offender’s address, has your organization made any attempt to examine the huge body of facts and evidence available regarding sexual offense registries and the massive number and wide diversity of persons required to be on them?
Do you always stereotype and make blanket judgments and assumptions about all people who fall within a group or a category?
Do you feel that you are being hypocritical in your judgments and inflexibility when you justify those attitudes by referencing Christ, who dealt most mercifully and forgivingly with all and most especially with those who were ensnared in sexual sin?
Were the verses from Psalms chosen, rather than something from the New Testament that Christ himself said, in order to imply that being on the registry equates with Andy being “wicked”?
And finally, and of the utmost importance, weighing what must be a one in a million or greater chance that the child would be harmed due to Andy’s sponsorship of her against the 100% certainty that her quality of life will be lessened now that the support is withdrawn, how can you justify making this decision for the safety of the child?
I do not ask these questions rhetorically. I really would like an answer to them.
Following is a copy of the letter that Andy and his wife received; all identifying names have been redacted.
I am writing today to notify you of Compassion’s decision to cancel your sponsorship of [REDACTED].
Compassion International, Inc., places the love, care and protection of children above allother considerations. Because children in poverty are among the most vulnerable in the world, Compassion International has established clear policies that are designed to promote the safety and protection of every child in our program.
We are motivated by our sincere faith and the Bible to live out Christ’s mandate to care for and protect His little ones. “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 8223-4, NIV).
Considering all of this, Compassion has a standard that no sponsorships are permissible for any person living at an address in the US. in which a registered sex offender resides.
Through a regular screening process of publicly available data, it has come to our attention that the sponsorship of [REDACTED] violates this standard. For that reason, we have canceled this sponsorship, effective immediately. We trust that you will not take any steps to further contact [REDACTED] following receipt of this letter.
If you believe that this action was taken in error you may send an email to our Security Team at GMCSecurityBackgrounds@us.ci.org and provide any additional information you deem appropriate. However, unless an error in screening is discovered (i.e., misidentification), reinstatement of your sponsorship is not possible.
We wish you the best of God’s blessings for the future.
Compassion International, Inc.
12290 Voyager Pavkway. Colorado Springs. CO 60921-3666 TEL:  336-7676 compassion.com
Sandy, a NARSOL board member, is communications director for NARSOL, editor-in-chief of the Digest, and a writer for the Digest and the NARSOL website. Additionally, she participates in updating and managing the website and assisting with a variety of organizational tasks.