Some Religious Leaders Urging People to Delay Going to the Police with Child Sex Abuse Allegations?

If the account in this story (on the Asbury Park (N.J.) Press site) is accurate, it strikes me as quite troubling. The story reports that the religious leaders’ proclamation instructs people not to bring even criminal matters to the police (at least until they are brought to the religious authorities), and says that “it is forbidden [for religious group members] to continue to cooperate with them (secular courts) and to assist them in their efforts to pursue” coreligionists. That sounds like a recipe for frustrating justice, and making it less likely that criminals will be convicted and imprisoned.

Naturally, the authors of the proclamation have the First Amendment right to urge people to behave this way. But this doesn’t stop the urging from being harmful and wrong (though I’m happy to say that not all leaders of this religious group take this view). Thanks to Prof. Howard Friedman (Religion Clause) for the pointer.