Erin Freshwater

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Background checks are on the rise, LifeWay reports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- More than 25,000 background checks conducted by churches or organizations on prospective workers in the past three years have turned up more than 1,600 felony offenses, with the number of organizations conducting background checks having risen 27 percent in the past year, according to LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Since launching LifeWay.com/backgroundchecks in 2008, more than 1,656 different churches or organizations have conducted 25,470 background checks. Of those, more than 45 percent (11,656) returned a criminal hit. A "hit" is any kind of incident, ranging from minor traffic violations to felony convictions, explained Jennie Taylor, marketing coordinator in LifeWay's direct marketing department. Excluding traffic and non-traffic infractions (jay-walking, noise pollution, etc.,) more than 20 percent (5,107 searches) returned records with misdemeanor or felony results. More than 1,600 of those 5,107 searches returned felony offenses. In 2008, LifeWay Christian Resources endorsed backgroundchecks.com to offer background screenings for churches and religious organizations at discounted prices. Through LifeWay's OneSource program -- encompassing products and services for churches and religious organizations that LifeWay has endorsed -- all churches and religious organizations can receive discounts on background screenings for their camp counselors, bus drivers, staff, volunteers and others. "Churches are realizing that this is something they need to be doing," Taylor said. "With the OneSource program we've made it more affordable." Backgroundchecks.com works with customers based on their specific needs and will consult with churches one-on-one to help select the best screening process for their particular situation, Taylor said. "We've had tremendous feedback from churches and individuals who have used this service," she said. "Already we've seen more than a 27 percent increase in participation this year over last year. That just goes to show how important this service is to churches." Churches can conduct due diligence, Taylor said, by utilizing backgroundchecks.com as a step in their security and safety policy. With a database of over 400 million criminal records, backgroundchecks.com has an extensive collection of public record sources, delivering reports in a concise and user-friendly format. Fairview Baptist Church in Columbus, Miss., started using backgroundchecks.com in 2010.