Texas Church Security Coalition holds meeting over new state law at Green Acres Baptist Church

SB-694 a church security immunity bill becomes law in Sept.
Published: Jul. 11, 2023 at 7:47 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 11, 2023 at 10:43 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Dozens of East Texas churches and other religious organizations are preparing for a new law that affects the safety of their congregations.

Hundreds of people from all around Texas showed up to a church security conference at Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler. It’s in response to SB 694, which was authored by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola).

The church security immunity bill becomes law in September, and it applies to all religious establishments.

“It’s really good for a lot of smaller churches that don’t have liability insurance policies or their security team members are not covered by any insurance or anything,” says Mike Collins, president and founder of the Texas Church Security Coalition. “This new law allows them to take advantage of this where they cannot be sued civilly for anything that occurs while defending the church in a security-related matter.”

The Texas Church Security Coalition is sponsoring tonight’s meeting and says churches will see more protections under the law if they make sure to properly document the members of their official safety teams.

A safety team made up of volunteers qualifies for immunity.

Written policies must prove that a member is expected to provide security services as part of their duties to the religious organization.

In addition, each person must have a letter of appointment from the pastor or leader.

“I know there’s been some hesitation from some volunteers to be on the safety team, because they’re afraid they might be part of a litigation, or they’d be at the threat of litigation if they did something,” said Collins. “This bill would ensure that the small churches and those safety team members wouldn’t be involved in litigation and have to hire lawyers and go through the legal process which could be time-consuming and expensive.”

The bill ultimately grants civil immunity to the proven security personnel and the religious organizations which appoint/employ them.

The meeting covered details of the new bill but also provided the community with information about how to organize a safety team the right way.

Immunity is not just given. There are specific rules and stipulations required to qualify for immunity, so Collins says it is very important to follow the correct steps, and he is happy his team can help.

“I think it’s part of our mission is to not only help members of our church but also to help the entire East Texas area and the local churches as well,” says Collins.