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A registered sex offender who was arrested for worshiping at a church with a daycare center said his constitutional right to religious freedom has been violated.

James Nichols is challenging North Carolina’s sex-offender laws saying his criminal status has kept him from bettering himself by attending church service.

According to the Raleigh News and Observer, police arrested Nichols, a convicted sex offender, after they learned the church he frequented housed a daycare center.

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.

“Criminalizing the practice of religion for everyone on the registry will do more harm than good,” said Sara Totonchi, policy director for the Southern Center for Human Rights. “With these laws, states are driving people on the registry from their faith community and depriving them of the rehabilitative influence of the church.”

Thirty-six states establish zones where sex offenders cannot live or visit. Some states provide exemptions for churches but many do not. Last December, North Carolina state legislators barred sex offenders from coming within 300 feet of any place intended primarily for the use, care or supervision of minors.