News Release: Michigan Catholic Conference Testifies on House Bill 5984—Adding Clergy Reporting to Child Protection Law

May 7, 2002

LANSING—The Michigan Catholic Conference today offered testimony before the House Committee on Families and Children Services regarding House Bill 5984—a bill amending Michigan’s Child Protection Law. MCC Vice President for Public Policy Paul A. Long testified in favor of the bill.

“It is our belief that House Bill 5984 does three things,” Long said. “It will provide added protection to children from abuse; it will make those who would abuse children responsible to the appropriate officials; and, it will protect religious freedom as provided by the First Amendment.”

Michigan House Bill 5984, sponsored by Representative Paul DeWeese (R-Williamston), amends Michigan’s Child Protection Law to add members of the clergy to the list of professionals required to report reasonable cause for child abuse. The bill adds members of the clergy to the list of those who can be reported to Child Protective Services in the Family Independence Agency. Finally, House Bill 5984 protects communications between members of the clergy and members of their respective churches. This final point relieves the First Amendment concerns regarding the privacy of the confessional that the Michigan Catholic Conference has traditionally held on legislation of this kind.

“We recommend approval of the bill,” Long told the committee.

Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.

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