He Wants to Continue to Better Himself by Going to Church..Should he be allowed?

Sex Offenders Fight for Right to Attend Church
Sun, Oct. 11 2009 11:58 PM EDT

Convicted sex offenders in North Carolina and Georgia are challenging their respective states’ sex-offender laws, arguing that the criminalization of their religious activities is intrusive of their core rights to free exercise of religion.

“[O]ver 16,000 [sex offenders] are subject to prosecution if they volunteer at churches, even though none of the activities in which they participate involves unsupervised contact with minors,” argues Sarah Geraghty, an attorney at the Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR), which has asked a U.S. District Court to strike down Georgia’s sex offender law as unconstitutional.

“The prohibition against volunteering at a church is substantially overbroad, vague and intrusive of core rights to free exercise of religion. Summary judgment and a permanent injunction should be granted to Plaintiffs,” she adds in one of five briefs filed two weeks ago.

Currently, under Georgia state law, sex offenders are prohibited from living within 1,000 feet of churches, school bus stops, and swimming pools and prohibited from working within 1,000 feet of churches, schools, and child care centers.

Though the law, like those in 35 other states, establishes zones where sex offenders cannot live or visit to protect the public from child molesters, sex offender advocates contend that barring all offenders from houses of worship denies them support needed to become productive citizens.

Such is the case of James Nichols in North Carolina, who has engaged in his own legal battle against his state after police arrested him earlier this year for going to a church that has a child-care center.

Though Nichols says he was trying to better himself by going to church, the thrice convicted 31-year-old is not allowed under state law to be within 300 feet of any place intended primarily for the use, care or supervision of minors.

"The law gives you no room to better yourself," he told The Association Press.

While some states provide exemptions in their sex offender laws for churches, many do not.

And those that do not often have hefty consequences for offenders.

Under the statute in Georgia, activities such as singing in an adult choir, looking up passages for the pastor in Bible study, preparing for revivals and prayer vigils, or cooking meals in a church kitchen are considered criminal activity punishable by 10-30 years in prison.

“The Statute’s prohibition against volunteering at a church is overbroad and interferes with protected activities,” argues SCHR's Geraghty on behalf of Wendy Whitaker, who is on the sex offender registry for engaging in consensual sex when she was a sophomore in high school.

Furthermore, the attorney adds, the prohibition against volunteering and employment at a church could “undermine public safety in some respects.”

Evidence from the Board of Pardons and Parole, the Georgia Department of Corrections and others suggest that “encouraging people to be involved with faith-based programs will reduce recidivism,” she notes.

After filing five motions for summary judgment in their case, Whitaker v. Perdue, SCHR now waits for the state to respond to their briefs.

Once the state has done so, the court will make a decision on the case.

James Nichols in North Carolina, meanwhile, is receiving assistance from the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina.

Nichols, who was twice convicted of indecent liberties with a teen girl and again in 2003 for attempted second-degree rape, says God has blessed him by teaching him how to live a better life.

"I believe wholeheartedly if it wasn't for God, I don't know where I'd be today," he told The Associated Press.

Nichols hopes that by winning his case, he can continue to better himself by going to church.

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Going to Church won't help him better himself, only Jesus can.
" Going to Church won't help him better himself, only Jesus can. "

Thats the truth!
Should he be allowed to assemble himself with the saints?
I would have to say his church attendance is dependent on the severity of his crime. If it were something as simple as an 18 year old who had relations with a 16 year old then that should be considered. I really don't see that as a crime in that there is only a 2 year age difference.

If we are talking about some guy who raped a 6 year old then this brother has a problem and needs to stay away from children. PERIOD. I agree with Caral, that attending church won't help him better himself. He needs to find Jesus. I think he can connect with a church and maybe they can include him in the Brother's fellowship meetings or something but keep him away from kids.
How does the church handle that?
Do they hold special services for him so that he wont forsake the fellowship of believers?
"Going to Church won't help him better himself, only Jesus can."

I disagree TOTALLY, and with a good scriptural reason. Lazarus was raised from the dead by the LORD JESUS, but it was the people around him that wee commanded to loose him from his grave clothes. If you leave everything to JESUS, you are disobeying His direct command. That command is simple: Loose him, and let him go. His deliverance is every bit in the hands of the Church as it is in GOD's hands, because HE left us here to do the work of deliverance. He should be allowed to worship with the rest of the saints, and treated like the crackhead on his right, the ex-homosexual on the left, the convicted felon who is the Deacon in the corner, the former prostitute who is about to sing the solo written by Kirk Franklin (former porn addict by the way), right before the visiting Apostle preaches a sermon about how he used to be a local gang leader and was saved while in prison.....oh wait, thats me at that pulpit!
And whats your answer Bro Trevor? Should he be allowed?
Are there some saints that are not allowed to fellowship with other saints?

I saw a show on the 700 Club and they let this former predator pedophile join their church and he wound up raping some kids.
How would you handle these guys?

As far as I am concerned - if a sinner is a new creature in Christ - he wont do it anymore.

So there are many things to consider. What would you do?
I'm a man that would let him be apart of the congregation, but also be considerate of who he was and what may trigger him. You can't say to a recovering alcoholic "hey lets go out and have a drink", or to a dieting obese person "boy I can't wait to go to get me a huge ice-cream sundae!!". They will be around it but they need support. In A.A. and N.A. inpatient places, when people go out, they are only allowed out with a partner, not to be their policeman, but be their support. Sadly, the A.A. and N.A. programs were ORIGINALLY designed by Christians, but Churches do not implement the methods. Instead, they wanna isolate certain people.

I was speaking yesterday about the comparison of a true sower vs someone who sows, and lets use grass seed for example: A true sower of seed sows where they see fit, and doesn't hold back at all. They sow alot of seed. A person who simply sows a little is more reluctant to toss the seed here and there. When a true sower doesn't see results, they don't wonder whats wrong with the seed, they wonder whats wrong with the earth the seed was sown into.

When we deal with such situations, the Church should be the hospital for all to come and be healed. Sure, some may need to be quarantined, but they should NEVER be rejected by the Church. This is why the Church is Catholic (Universal). The Church is now segregated because we no longer consider ourselves Catholic. Even for quarantined patients, they should stay in quarantine forever!!
"...When we deal with such situations, the Church should be the hospital for all to come and be healed. Sure, some may need to be quarantined, but they should NEVER be rejected by the Church..."

Its a hard saying but true.
Its only hard to swallow if you don't chew! :)


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