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.
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?
Its a tough question, and I don’t know the answer. Do such laws actually do any good? Have they reduced sex offenses against children?