Hard to believe, right? Well, it’s true … and it happened in Bowie County, Texas.
Just when I thought nothing could be as outrageous as my recent post “God Bless Our Military … just not at the Houston National Cemetery” where veterans are being censored for religious speech, I hear about what is happening in our furthest county of northeast Texas.
Seems the Bowie County Commissioners Court voted on June 13, 2011, to remove our country’s Pledge of Allegiance and Invocation from their county meeting minutes.
As reported on the Red Flame Wire:
… on June 13, 2011, the Commissioner Court, with the exception of Commissioner John Addington, decided that they no longer wanted the records to reflect that the Pledge of Allegiance and Invocation were said for fear it would give the perception that it is the courts official stance.
During the meeting, the minutes of the court were brought up before the court. Precinct 4 Commissioner Pat McCoy, made a suggestion that the court not approve the minutes. McCoy claims that, although the Pledge and Invocation did take place, since the judge did not use words “call the meeting to order,” the records cannot reflect the Pledge of Allegiance or the Prayer.
There is no law in Texas that backs McCoy’s claim.
In Texas, meetings are governed by Title 5, Chapter 551 of the Government Code, otherwise known as the Texas Open Meetings Act. In short, a meeting which is to be recorded (written or electronic) is defined when a quorum (majority) of a government body is present, who partakes in deliberation (defined by the act as a “verbal exchange”) and consist of an item under jurisdiction (public business or public policy) of the governmental body.
Many of the counties in Texas have the Invocation and Pledge of Allegiance on their Agenda’s and Minutes because it does fall under their jurisdiction.
Bowie County Judge Sterling Lacy, states that he purposely does not place items such as the pledge and/or invocation on the Agenda and purposely performs them prior to calling the meeting to order, for fear of being “sued by an organization such as ACLU” and does not want to give the impression that it is the courts “official stance.”
Sounds like the Bowie County Commissioners Court “official stance” is political correctness gone wild.
Thankfully, the voters of Bowie County elected The Honorable Natalie Nichols as their County Clerk.
You see, my fellow Americans, Mrs. Nichols was away in Dallas on business when the court decided they should cease including the Pledge of Allegiance and Invocation to the meeting minutes. And as County Clerk, it is her duty by Texas Law to serve as “clerk of the county court and the commissioners court and keep records of the proceedings.”
Commissioner McCoy told the Texarkana Gazette that “Nichols seemed to be distorting facts and making too much of the issue and exaggerating the circumstances surrounding a measure – a measure which was purely clerical in nature and not that significant.” Judge Lacy was absent from the meeting on June 23, 2011, but he did react to Nichols’ comments by stating she did not “understand the long term impact of her stand. What she hasn’t thought through is the
More per Red Flame Wire:
During a Bowie County Commissioners Court Meeting on July 11, 2011, Lacy addressed the members of the court about the removal of the Pledge and Prayer from court documents, claiming that the minutes that left out “the opening ceremony of devotional, Prayer and pledge,” (the devotional was never an issue until the commissioners court got called to the carpet) prompting Nichols to say “that’s not true … the Pledge and Prayer are most certainly there,” which caused Lacy to try to silence her, resulting in her exasperated comment, “but you’re lying.”
Nichols immediately made a public apology for the interruption, but not for her stance.
Despite Nichols’ apology for her court “outburst,” Judge Lacy requested Bowie County Sheriff James Prince “investigate whether actions by Clerk Natalie Nichols at Monday’s meeting constitute disrupting a public meeting,” per the Texarkana Gazette. Why the harsh move? To send a message? The case investigator contacted Nichols just yesterday for her statement.
Disrupting a public meeting in Texas is punishable with up to six (6) months in jail and a $2,000 fine! Rumor is the Grand Jury will meet on 7/28. If Nichols is found guilty, she will also be automatically and immediately removed from office. Has there been a plan all along to remove Nichols? Maybe this is what Judge Lacy meant by “unintended circumstances?”
After viewing several hours of Bowie County Commissioners Court meetings and reading about the facts surrounding this story, I wonder: Why the sudden brouhaha to remove the Pledge and Prayer from the meeting minutes? Alas, we may never know because the bright, hot spotlight and pressure by the public has changed the tune of the Bowie County Commissioners Court. They agreed to include the Pledge of Allegiance and Invocation back into the meeting minutes. Just like they have in previous regular session meetings prior to June 23, 2011, as evidenced by the Bowie County meeting minutes posted and filed online.
So all should be well in the world now, right? Wrong. The case against Natalie Nichols is still pending a Grand Jury investigation. Nichols’ oath of office affirmed she would “faithfully execute the duties of the office of Bowie County Clerk of the State of Texas, and will to the best of her ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and of this State, so help her, God.”
Let yourself be heard in helping Nichols fight this injustice against her. Had this situation happened in a corporate environment, Nichols would have been given a reprimand, if that, and certainly would not be subject to fines, removal from her job and jail for stating facts and doing the job she was elected to do! The good ole boys of the Bowie County Commissioners Court are being petty, vindictive and are not dishonorable in regards to this case. Facts are stubborn things, my friends and they speak volumes here.
Nichols should not be sent to the Grand Jury for doing her job and standing by her oath. If you are able to take time out of your busy day to make a call or send an email in support of Nichols and against the tyranny of those who filed the legal action against her, please remember to use your inside voice and be polite, but firm.