Mayor Proclaims 2014 Year Of The Bible

Submitted by Darren Smith, Guest Blogger

Church and State StreetsDuring a city council meeting of Flower Mound, Texas, Mayor Tom Hayden proclaimed 2014 the “Year of the Bible”. He stated during the meeting “I ask that you join with me and encourage all residents in their own way to examine the principles and teachings found in the Bible.” He then promoted a Christian website administered by a local church “Calvary Chapel Church” promoting Christian theology and a program to learn the bible using a daily list of passages each day. The website is and has a video link to the proclamation by the mayor here.

Aside from what many would consider glaring unconstitutionality of this type of proclamation under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and its applicability to state and local governments as interpreted in the Fourteenth Amendment, various other religious institutions within the city have voiced serious concern.

Flower Mound has many churches but also has other faiths such as a Mosque, a Hindu Temple, a Baha’i Temple, a Zaroastrian Church and a Jewish Synagogue.

Rabbi Geoffrey Dennis expressed his opposition to Mayor Hayden’s approach: Rabbi Dennis stated he met Hayden and religions leaders over a year ago and recently recalled: “When I first talked to him and said this is not a good idea his response to me was to become defensive and say, ‘Well, I’m not ashamed of my faith’ I tried to explain to him this is not about your shame or your pride as a Christian. This is about your respect for your constituents of all types in this community. It’s clear he didn’t get the message”

The proclamation was met with both support and opposition in the community with citizens voicing their views.

Mayor Hayden insisted this was not an order on behalf of government but was an action taken solely by him.

Year of the Bible Website

38 thoughts on “Mayor Proclaims 2014 Year Of The Bible”

  1. davidm:

    I find your bewilderment surprising. Perhaps you did not go to the links cited in the article. My response:

    1. The mayor was not speaking as a private citizen, but as the mayor.

    2. The proclamation had been drafted in advance and contained the formal language common to such things, including the requisite “wherefore” clauses.

    3. The proclamation endorsed a program of bible instruction developed by a local independent church, more specifically, a fundamentalist, premillennialist Pentecostal congregation.

    4. The website developed in conjunction with the proclamation contains the following banner headline: “On December 16, 2013, Mayor Tom Hayden declared 2014 ‘The Year of the Bible’ for the Town of Flower Mound.”

    The injunction virtually writes itself in this instance. And surely you are not arguing that the disinterest of an agnostic or the assumed approval of a majority of the citizens of Flower Mound are legal defenses cognizable in the courts.

    I also find your references to “self education” and “literature” and “the most popular book ever published” misleading and beside the point. The mayor was not promoting the Flower Mound Book Club and Quilting Circle.

    Now perhaps you might answer a question yourself. Which version do the mayor and the pastor of Calvary Chapel mean when they refer to the “bible”?

  2. davidm2575 on 1, January 7, 2014 at 9:17 am

    Dredd wrote: “The problem at issue here arises when the difference between the dissent and what the constitutional law is can’t discerned by those great legal minds.”
    There is another thing I notice about dissent.

    Repeating it ad nauseum does not change it from dissent into law.
    That is why Klingons lose the same case over and over in Ground Hog Day court.

    It also underscores that “those great legal minds” aren’t such great legal minds.

    1. Glenn wrote: “The American taliban is alive and well……”

      It is strange how some people adhere to an ideology so zealously that they appear like the religiously motivated Taliban. They feverishly work toward censoring the advocacy of literature that they find disagreeable to their personal principles of secularism. It is even more amazing that they do this in a democracy knowing that their actions are contrary to the sentiments of the majority of its citizens.

  3. In the course of my life, I have lived in communities ranging in size from several hundred souls to several million. One of the principal joys of small-town life for many people is the sense of comfort and security that accompanies homogeneity. That also means that it is in small towns that the tyranny of the majority is most often given free rein.

    The mayor of Flower Mound is being disingenuous in defending his comments. No one has suggested that a mayoral proclamation is equivalent to a legislative mandate. It is, nevertheless, a statement made on behalf of the community by its official spokesperson. And Mayor Hayden’s proclamation is an unconstitutional endorsement of one religion. Indeed, I think it safe to say that he was actually endorsing only the Protestant branch of Christianity at that.

    Does a person lose his freedom of speech or freedom of religion upon taking office? Of course not. But he is subject to constitutional restrictions when speaking in an official capacity, which includes prepared remarks given at a city council meeting.

    This is not complicated.

    1. Mike Appleton wrote: “And Mayor Hayden’s proclamation is an unconstitutional endorsement of one religion.”

      I am baffled by such a comment. Within Christianity alone, there are some 41,000 establishments of religion. So recommending the reading of a book used by thousands of religions is an unconstitutional endorsement of one establishment of religion? His statements in no way encouraged people to join the Baptist over the Roman Catholic or Amish or Eastern Orthodox sects of Christianity. He clearly endorsed NO establishment of religion.

      Furthermore, nearly EVERY religion finds value in all or part of the Bible being recommended. While the establishments of religion within Judaism for the most part reject the part known as the Greek Scriptures, they clearly embrace the part of the Bible called the Hebrew Scriptures. And virtually all the establishments of religion within Islam likewise accept the Bible as inspired by Allah but corrupted later by editors. For the most part, all the Islam sects encourage Bible reading and should not find any objection to what he did.

      Even outside religion per se, I don’t see how an atheist or an agnostic can object to the furtherance of this kind of self education. Atheists quote the Bible all the time. Clearly they read it too. I am part of no religion, but I have read the Bible in the past, and an agnostic on this blog expressed that he had no problem with what was done by the mayor. We are talking about a book that is considered historically to have been the most popular book ever published. Unless somehow you think all these millions of people who have taken time to buy and read this book all belong to the same establishment of religion, I am bewildered how you can make such a statement like the one quoted above.

      Exactly why do you feel that he was endorsing one particular establishment of religion? Please state for us exactly by name which establishment of religion he endorsed. If you can’t name the establishment of religion being endorsed, then he endorsed none.

  4. davidm2575 on 1, January 6, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    Dredd …

    My opinion is not without concurrence from other other great legal minds.

    It is exciting to be in the presence of great legal minds who recognize what the law is, and who must therefore express their dissent.

    The problem at issue here arises when the difference between the dissent and what the constitutional law is can’t discerned by those great legal minds.

    1. Dredd wrote: “The problem at issue here arises when the difference between the dissent and what the constitutional law is can’t discerned by those great legal minds.”

      As Scalia points out with his many citations, the court sometimes uses the Lemon test and sometimes conveniently does not. It is not very well established. So my prediction is that a test case like this one would win in the SCOTUS today. I pointed out how Scalia and Kennedy expressed a minority viewpoint in Austin. The majority opinion there was overturned in Citizen’s United. Both Kennedy and Scalia expressed their minority viewpoint there, and they recently joined in the majority opinion in Citizen’s United to overturn Austin.

      Ultimately you have to get back to fundamental rights to understand what people who work for government should be allowed to do. Too many of you ASSUME that we are a secular nation. That’s not exactly what we are. Where does the Constitution say that we are a secular nation? Ideally, we are a pluralistic nation, tolerant of a wide range of beliefs, opinion and sentiment. We are a nation that believes religion has a place for good in society, and government should encourage religion in general but not get involved in selecting winners and losers in religion. Government is not suppose to be anti-faith. To tell a mayor that by taking the job of mayor that he cannot express his religious sentiment or encourage people to further their religious education is ridiculous. When President’s take their oath of office and call upon God to help them perform their oath and their duty, is that not considered religious? Shall we now forbid chaplains in the military, or forbid opening Congress in prayer? Shall we remove the In God We Trust from our currency? Shall we prohibit President Obama from praying at the end of his State of the Union addresses, asking God to bless his listeners? How can anyone possibly claim we are a secular nation with so many examples of a society that often embraces faith and religion?

      In this particular situation, the mayor didn’t pray or perform any religious rituals. He didn’t even say any of these things during the official business part of the council meeting. During the time for public participation, as a citizen, he encouraged people to visit a website and read the Bible in a year. Big deal. Like the agnostic on the blog said, it didn’t offend him. Why does it offend you?

  5. davidm2575

    Dredd wrote: “The U.S. is to ignore its laws because a guy in panama has a soft-fuzzy feeling about a secular government event being morphed into a churchy thingy?”

    The “guy in panama” is a Yale graduate and a lawyer, graduating law schools form University of Virginia. This is not about smoe soft-fuzzy feeling. It is about protecting the First Amendment rights of the mayor of a city.

    Like I said every case litigated under the statute, cases you obviously have not read or understood, has a losing lawyer.

    Especially the ones who think that anecdotes are law.

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