Texas court clerk, judge scuffle over striking prayer from record
BOWIE COUNTY, Texas, July 26, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A dispute between a Texas county judge and clerk over mentioning a preliminary prayer in official records has hit national media after the clerk complained that her moral stance could send her to jail.
According to Fox News, Bowie County Commissioner’s Court Judge Sterling Lacy told clerk Natalie Nichols at a recent meeting that the court would omit record of the prayer and pledge with which the meeting normally beings. The judge allegedly said she should do so “for fear of being sued by an organization such as the ACLU” and in order not “to give the impression that it is the court’s official stance.”
Nichols says Lacy physically crossed out mention of the prayer and pledge in her official record of the minutes of a Commissioner’s meeting in May. After Nichols spoke up in protest during the meeting, Lacy lodged a complaint with the County Sheriff alleging that Nichols disrupted proceedings. Nichols also lodged a complaint saying that Lacy had barged into her office and prevented her from keeping him out.
Nichols told Fox and Friends that she found the striking of the record offensive.
“That’s not going to happen on my watch, I’m sorry,” Nichols said. She also contended that Lacy’s defense was erroneous. “If somebody was going to sue you, they’re not going to sue you because you wrote down that you said the prayer and the pledge, they’re going to sue you because you said it,” said the clerk.
Nichols also claimed Lacy was “lying” about the affair and had denied crossing out the items.
“If I need to go to jail for standing up for this country and for God, I will do so. There’s a lot of people who’ve bled and died for this country and I’m risking a little bit of jail time. I’m OK with that,” she added.
But in a statement emailed to LifeSiteNews.com, Judge Lacy said that the alteration was intended to represent the proceedings of the court more accurately.
“On several occasions, records of the minutes failed to accurately distinguish between what we did before we called the court to order and what we did after we called the court to order,” said Lacy. “We did have a devotional, prayer and pledge on May 23rd before the call to order but the amended minutes which are called an ‘Order of the Court’ no longer reflected that.”
“Of course if I’d had an inkling of an idea that we could have been demonized as being ‘unchristian and unpatriotic’ I never would have done that,” said the judge.
Lacy also defended the court’s conservative reputation. “This is the Commissioners Court that moved an American flag to the Courtroom in January and introduced the pledge of Allegiance to our court sessions ... In fact, 3 months ago, I started having a devotional ahead of the prayer and pledge,” he said.
“We are not unchristian in Bowie County, TX.”
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