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Letter from Bunkey Morgan to the ACLU

Posted Monday, April 24, 2006

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Bunkey Morgan
Post Office Box 726
Siler City, North Carolina 27344

April 19, 2006

Azadeh N. Shahshahani
Jennifer Rudinger
American Civil Liberties Union
P.O. Box 28004
Raleigh, NC 27611-8004

Re: Invocations at Chatham County Commissioners Meetings

Dear ACLU Interim Legal Associate & Executive Director:

Your letter addressed to me was received Easter weekend, what a coincidence. This issue did not start with the newspaper article it started a few weeks before when a citizen approached me after I gave an invocation at one of our monthly meetings. The individual said I offended him with the opening invocation because I included Christ in my prayer. At the same time he informed me he was a member of The Coalition and “they would clean our clocks in the upcoming election”. I apologized for offending him and made the simple statement my prayer included Jesus Christ because it was my belief. The conversation ended at that point and a few days later I received a phone call from the newspaper.

In the final paragraph of your letter, you stated …”we ask that you put a stop to the practice of using sectarian invocations at Chatham County Commissioners meetings” and …”inform the ACLU-NCLF of your proposed course of action…”.

My response to this request is: At our commissioner meeting on April 17, 2006 Bob Gunn, Chatham County Attorney, and Charlie Horne our County Manger made it clear the position the county takes on not violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. As the chairman of the board I ask my fellow commissioners to have the invocation on a rotating schedule. I have not nor will I ever ask them to include Jesus Christ in their prayers and I trust each of them to use their own personal judgment when they pray. It is not my place, as the chair or personally, to provide them advice on this matter. They heard what our attorney and manger said at the meeting on April 17th. As for my position, again I apologize to any person I have offended in the past, but when it is my turn to pray I will use my personal judgment just like my fellow commissioners will. Our invocations are not an effort to push our beliefs but to ask for guidance with the decisions we make for Chatham County.

Bunkey Morgan

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