By Eric Walker
It's hard to pity sex offenders, but maybe we should.
When North Carolina legislators implemented a policy barring convicted sex offenders from attending churches that have day care facilities, it seemed like a perfectly good thing to do. They're criminals, after all, so they don't deserve the same rights as the rest of us, one might say. And do we really want these perverts around impressionable children attending Sunday school?
We need to try to help offenders become incorporated back into society. Things aren't as black and white as the North Carolina legislators seem to believe.
"Sex offenders" is a vague term. Most people associate it with rapists and child molesters, but it can also refer to those who engage in lesser activities categorized as "sexual misconduct" - for example, streaking and public urination. These crimes are not necessarily commendable, but they are certainly not on par with acts of Ted Bundy.
Of course, there's always the issue of statutory rape. Perfectly consensual incidents caught by parents, or lied about after-the-fact in a panic, or any number of things.
These people are still harmed, but these aren't the ones the legislators had in mind when making these laws.
We should worry about the true rapists, child molesters, pornographers - the stereotypical offenders.
One might argue that people who would take the virginity from an unwilling child don't deserve the same privileges as everyone else. But regardless of your opinion of the church, it helps a lot of people.
Ex-criminals find salvation through God all the time, be it due to having nothing else to do in prison or a genuine interest in self-improvement.
What else can we do? Shove all criminals together in their own church? History shows that grouping criminals only perpetuates crime, after all. Look at the prison systems for proof. That won't help sex offenders rehabilitate.
A shining example is North Carolina's _____, a two-time convicted sex offender who found himself banned from attempts at self-improvement through his local church. "I believe wholeheartedly if it wasn't for God, I don't know where I'd be today. God's blessed me with learning how to live a better life."
Rape is a serious crime and should not be taken lightly - but these people aren't all rapists. They've already been punished enough through jail time, the sex offender registry, and the humiliation of being known as a "pervert" to their peers.
It's not fair to take away their one path to salvation. What's next, banning offenders from attending school at Palomar? We have minors taking classes. We have a child development center. Where does it end?
"That old law about 'an eye for an eye' leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing." - Martin Luther King (United States Constitution, Bill of Rights)