The Associated Press has an interesting article discussing the growing trend of banning sex offenders from churches. It was not long ago that the State of Georgia enacted a law prohibiting sex offenders from volunteering at church. Today, one North Carolina sex offender is challenging a new law that bans him from his church because it has a daycare center. From the article:
Convicted sex offender James Nichols said he was trying to better himself by going to church. But the police who arrested him explained: The church is off-limits because it has a daycare center.
Now Nichols is challenging North Carolina's sex-offender laws in a case that pits the constitutional right to religious freedom against the state's goal of protecting the public from child molesters.
At issue in Nichols' case and a similar one in Georgia are day care centers and youth programs at houses of worship where sex offenders can come into proximity with children. Sex offender advocates agree some convicts should not be allowed around children, but they contend barring all offenders denies them support needed to become productive citizens.
Church leaders feel caught between leading houses of worship where broken people can seek help and preventing criminals from exploiting a place of trust.