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Loyalty Oaths, Jade Helm, Sandra Bland are Most-Read Trib Stories of 2015

This year, Tribune readers flocked to our coverage of some of Texas’ – and the nation’s – most controversial topics. Check out our most popular news stories of 2015, on everything from gay marriage to Jade Helm.

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This year, readers flocked to our coverage of some of Texas’ – and the nation’s – most controversial topics. 

The death of Sandra Bland drove the national conversation for months. Jade Helm, a routine military training exercise, exorcised reason for some when conspiracy theorists – and even some Texas elected officials – suggested it was a budding coup attempt by the U.S. military. Gay marriage and suspicion of Muslims were contentious topics as well. 

Check out the 2015 Texas Tribune stories that garnered the most pageviews.

1. “Rep to Staff: Ask Muslim Visitors to Pledge Allegiance,” by Reeve Hamilton and Alexa Ura

Freshman state Rep. Molly White, R-Belton, wasn’t available to personally greet visitors to her office on Texas Muslim Capitol Day in January. But she left something for them: an Israeli flag on her Capitol office reception desk and instructions for her staff to ask Muslim visitors to “renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws."

2. “Operation Jade Helm 15 Gets Underway in Texas,” by Patrick Svitek

The military training exercise Jade Helm captivated conspiracy theorists’ attention for the first few months of 2015. And when the event finally began in sites across Texas in July, Svitek’s account of it captured our readers’ attention.

3. “Bland's Death Being Treated Like Murder Investigation,” by Sophia Bollag and Terri Langford

Bland’s death in a Texas holding cell following a routine traffic stop sparked headlines across the nation, including many on the Tribune. The most popular story on that topic was a report on the decision that Bland’s death would be treated like a murder investigation rather than a suicide.

4. “Abbott Signs 'Pastor Protection Act' Into Law,” by Liz Crampton

Prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage, Gov. Greg Abbott signed the “Pastor Protection Act” into law. By allowing clergy members to refuse to conduct marriages that violate their beliefs, the law protects the freedom of religion, Abbott claimed. Critics of the law viewed it as a pre-emptive attempt to make it difficult for same-sex couples to marry in Texas, no matter how the Supreme Court landed in its gay marriage decision.

5. “Car Sticker Rules Starting Sunday Could Confuse Drivers,” by Ryan McCrimmon

Rounding out the top five Tribune stories for the year is the only one that didn’t tap into a national conversation. Lawmakers suspected drivers would be confused by a new single-sticker system for inspecting and registering Texas vehicles. Judging by how many people read McCrimmon’s story on the stickers, lawmakers were probably right to worry. 

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Demographics Immigration Transportation Gay marriage Greg Abbott Sandra Bland