Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sex offenders barred from places of Worship


North Carolina is a proud member of the so-called Bible Belt of states that take their religion seriously. So some eyebrows were raised when James Nichols was arrested for attending church.

His offense? Nichols, a convicted sex offender, had chosen to worship at a church that has a nursery where kids play while their parents pray. Now Nichols, 31, who only recently got out of prison, is fighting back, challenging the legality of a new law that took effect in December prohibiting registered sex offenders from coming within 300 ft. — nearly a football field's length — of any facility devoted to the use, care or supervision of minors. (See pictures of John 3:16 in pop culture.)

As more states have adopted laws regulating where sex offenders can go, it was only a matter of time before the noble goal of protecting children butted heads with the sacrosanct First Amendment right to worship where and when you choose. Which takes precedence? [...]


  1. The question of which takes precedence is a good question in this ethical debate. However, when a person breaks the law and committs an offense, that person has lost rights that were given to him as a citizen. Granted, this man has "done his time," but at the same time, until he can prove to the world around him that he deserves them back, the law should remain in effect. If he's interested in praying, I'm sure there are places where only adults are around.

  2. Has anyone stopped to consider the factual basis for these laws or their effects?

    (1) According to US Department of Justice statistics, only 5% of sex offenders released in 1994 were returned to prison for a new sex crime.

    (2) Accourding to the California Attorney General's office, "90% of child victims know their offender, with almost half of the offenders being a family member. Of sexual assaults against people age 12 and up, approximately 80% of the victims know the offender." (Citing "Facts About Sex Offenders,"

    (3) Research also indicates that most sex offenses are committed by FIRST TIME OFFENDERS and not by repeat offenders...a fact reinforced by the 5% recidivism rate.

    (4) States already have registries, and now the federal government is imposing its legislation on a state matter, threatening to remove 10% of federal funds from non-compliant states. This is more about money than public safety.

    (5) Do you consider your federal government MORE efficient and responsive to the public interest than the states?

    (6) Do you support a national ID card system? There are more than 650,000 people registered as sex offenders today with an annual growth rate of 7%.

    (7) Most are not aware of the increasing number of persons considered to be "sex offenders" or the crimes they have committed, including persons who have simply urinated on the side of the road without knowing a minor was present.

    (8) The largest group of registered sex offenders are 14-year-olds who will more than likely never commit a new crime.

    These laws are a bad idea.

  3. If every offense were known, we'd have no problem and could depend on those stats.

    But, we also have horrific statistics estimating how many occurrences are not reported. How many victims are accumulated before a person finally gets caught?

    Children make easy targets because they're easy to manipulate, and are scared to tell anyone... especially when the offender is somebody they love, trust, and look up to for protection!

    46% of offenders serve no jail time (1994 Princeton University study), which means we're depending quite a bit on the adherence of these restrictions to keep our kids safe.

  4. parent of abused childOctober 17, 2009 at 6:44 PM

    Why do people use the most idiotic extreme offenses to prove their point? Be honest! Out of the entire state's database of sex offenders, how many are registered for simply urinating on the street?

    If this is your defense, than the Sex Offender restrictions are not the problem, but the classification of the varying degrees! The real question should be - Who should be deemed a sex offender?

    If you attack the restrictions themselves, and not the real problem... then you free the one guy who urinated along with the 2,000 sickos who rape 5 yr old little girls!

    This isn't a new law. Depending on the severity of the abuse, and the restrictions set by the court... Registered Sex Offenders have been forbidden to go into places of worship (or any place where children gather) for years.

    Perhaps you see no problem with your little boy sharing an after kiddush conversation in shul on the lap of a sexual predator? It's easy to read stories on the internet and spout support for the predator, but I'm certain you would feel differently if it were your own child.

    I agree that this law is totally wrong! They shouldn't be allowed back on the streets, period!


    Parent of a sexually abused child, a beautiful Torah loving little girl, who is forever traumatized

  5. Rachel...

    Please provide me a citation for the report you mentioned as I do not believe I have seen that study.


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