James Nichols, 31, told The (Raleigh, N.C.) News & Observer he was surprised by his arrest in March. Sheriff's deputies learned he was attending Moncure Baptist Church in Chatham County while they were investigating an alleged sexual assault in the parking lot -- one not involving Nichols.
"Anyone in this world has a right to practice their religion, and whether they've made any mistake in their life, they should have the right," Nichols said.
The American Civil Liberties Union is supporting Nichols, while psychologists and social workers who deal with sex offenders are lobbying the General Assembly to modify the state law.
State Sen. David Hoyle, who pushed for the tough law, sees no need for change.
"As far as I'm concerned, they've lost all their rights -- to go to church ... to go to McDonald's to get a cheeseburger ...," the Gastonia Democrat said. "They have made that choice. They have imposed that on themselves. I didn't."