Are Church Confessions Safe? Court To Hear Arguments « CBS Detroit.
A Michigan State court of appeals will hear a case involving the confidentiality of confession from an accused pedophile to the pastor.
The problem here is that the pastor, Rev. John Vaprezan of the Metro Baptist Church was already ordered to testify about the confession, which was attended by the mother of the accused. This confession differs from usual circumstances in that the pastor is said to have initiated the exchange, which was attended by the accused, Samuel Bragg, and his mother. The latter two deny that the confession took place.
Initially the testimony concerning the confession was thrown out by Circuit Judge Cynthia Gray Hathaway, who cited Michigan law concerning confidentiality of confessions to religious clergymen.
At argument in this case is whether this was really a confession because it was not done in confidence, and not initiated by the “penitent” individual. At the bottom are Michigan laws which pertain to the issue, and are so broadly written that the apparent exchange between Bragg and Vaprezan are covered.
People who do not respect the function of religion will not understand why confessions are held as confidential. They might benefit from comparing this to what they say to their physician or their psychiatrist.
- “MCL 600.2156: No minister of the gospel, or priest of any denomination whatsoever, or duly accredited Christian Science practitioner, shall be allowed to disclose any confessions made to him in his professional character, in the course of discipline enjoined by the rules or practice of such denomination.”
- “MCL 767.5a(2): Any communications between attorneys and their clients, between members of the clergy and the members of their respective churches, and between physicians and their patients are hereby declared to be privileged and confidential when those communications were necessary to enable the attorneys, members of the clergy, or physicians to serve as such attorney, member of the clergy, or physician.”