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Churches are not required to run background checks on youth ministers

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HENRICO, Va. -- Churches in Central Virginia are not required to conduct background checks on employees that work with kids, unless they work for a licensed daycare run by the church.

Doctor Roscoe Cooper is the Pastor at Rising Mount Zion Baptist Church in Henrico and he said it is up to the individual church to set hiring practices.

“The church is not licensed by the state, so therefore, the individual church, governing board, governing body determines what processes and procedures they will use to hire employees,” Cooper said.

Cooper said his church does run background checks on every employee that works with kids, including youth pastors.

“In this day and age, I think it's imperative and important for churches, any persons who are going to have any activity with children, that a background check needs to be done,” Cooper said.

Still, background checks on church employees who work with kids are not required by law, which is something Hopewell mother Tabitha Whitehead said she believes should be mandatory.

“They should because this is children we're talking about, it's to the point a child might be scared to come to a parent and say what's going on,” Whitehead said.

Whitehead feels especially uneasy with the current set up after learning  Deric Peacock, a youth pastor at Church of God in South Hopewell, is accused of online sex crimes against children.

“I would think a youth pastor would not do something like that,” Whitehead said.

Whitehead said her eight-year-old daughter received tutoring at Peacock’s church, and he would sometimes oversee her child and others on the playground.

Whitehead said her daughter never had any problems with Peacock.

“I thought everything was fine,” Whitehead said.

CBS 6 reached out to the church to find out if they do background checks on employees, but we have not hear back yet.



  • Love the day!

    Just because “Christian” people go to church, doesn’t mean they are exempt from hurting children. All institutions, especially churches, should have background checks on their people who deal with children!

  • scars

    Just because there is no law requiring it, it doesn’t absolve anyone from the moral responsibility of failing to do background checks. I know that there is a cost involved, but have the applicant pay for the background check as part of the employment process. When I got my first teaching job, I had to pay for them to run a criminal background check on me. I gladly did it. In this day and age, there is no excuse for not taking every precaution to make sure predators do not have access to kids.

    • manalishi

      Agreed. they should not have to be required in any free society. Therefore, these same churches should also be subject to the same penalties as any other entity that fails to perform basic due diligence.

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