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. davidm2575

    Dredd wrote: “Yeah, the part that doesn’t matter?”

    What do you mean, “the part that doesn’t matter?” If it was during the public participation part of the council meeting, then he is speaking as part of the public and not as Mayor of the City. The First Amendment gives him the right to do that.
    Your statement is a conclusion of ultimate fact and a conclusion of law.

    Which is utterly contrary to the video of the event which establishes the prima facia facts of the case.

    The plaintiffs will say not what you said, and the defendants will say what you said. The jury and/or court will make the decision.

    But the issue you address is part of the “under color of law” issue which has been litigated substantially.

    It is a term of art in these type cases, and the first thing is that it does not matter if a private person is the defendant, so long as there is sufficient nexus to find the behavior was done “under color of law.”

    The activity took place during a public event, a government council meeting which the defendant Mayor was leading.

    Nothing about that is private. The declaring of a year of the bible in a public government meeting, or a private government meeting, is going to bring trouble.

    Here are the legal principles which the Mayor and municipality will face in litigation in federal district court:

    To pass constitutional muster, the law or decision must meet the following requirements: (1) It must have a legitimate secular purpose, (2) its principal effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits a particular religion or religion generally, and (3) it must not foster excessive government entanglements with religion. See Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971).

    (Freedom of Religion Memo). The Mayor said he had been “scared” for a long time to do what he did.

    He knew it was patently unconstitutional, and if it costs the city citizens lots of money because of “MyMayorsBaptist Fundamental Church rules”, he may not be elected again.

    His fears were emotions of wisdom which he should have listened to.

    1. Dredd, I do not think anecdotes are law. I just speak in the modern parlance of the common folk. Below I provide you some legal verbiage that you expect.

      My opinion is not without concurrence from other other great legal minds. I am thinking about the argument put forward by Justices Scalia and Thomas in “Lamb’s Chapel v. Ctr. Moriches Union School District et. al.” 1993. Supreme Court Justice Scalia speaks better than me in actual legal parlance about the terrible Lemon test that you embrace which is used to scare school children and government employees alike from exercising their Constitutionally protected liberties.

      Quoted from “Lamb’s Chapel v. Ctr. Moriches Union School District et. al.”
      Justice Scalia , with whom Justice Thomas joins, As to the Court’s invocation of the Lemon test: Like some ghoul in a late night horror movie that repeatedly sits up in its grave and shuffles abroad, after being repeatedly killed and buried, Lemon stalks our Establishment Clause jurisprudence once again, frightening the little children and school attorneys of Center Moriches Union Free School District. Its most recent burial, only last Term, was, to be sure, not fully six feet under: our decision in Lee v. Weisman, 505 U. S. —-, —- (1992) (slip op., at 7), conspicuously avoided using the supposed “test” but also declined the invitation to repudiate it. Over the years, however, no fewer than five of the currently sitting Justices have, in their own opinions, personally driven pencils through the creature’s heart (the author of today’s opinion repeatedly), and a sixth has joined an opinion doing so. See, e. g., Weisman, supra, at —- (slip op., at 14) (Scalia, J., joined by, inter alios, Thomas, J., dissenting); Allegheny County v. American Civil Liberties Union, Greater Pittsburgh Chapter, 492 U.S. 573, 655-657 (1989) (Kennedy, J., concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part); Corporation of Presiding Bishop of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints v. Amos, 483 U.S. 327, 346-349 (1987) (O’Connor, J., concurring); Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 U.S. 38, 107-113 (1985) (Rehnquist, J., dissenting); id., at 90-91 (White, J., dissenting); School Dist. of Grand Rapids v. Ball, 473 U.S. 373, 400 (1985) (White, J., dissenting); Widmar v. Vincent, 454 U.S. 263, 282 (1981) (White, J., dissenting); New York v. Cathedral Academy, 434 U.S. 125, 134-135 (1977) (White, J., dissenting); Roemer v. Maryland Bd. of Public Works, 426 U.S. 736, 768 (1976) (White, J., concurring in judgment); Committee for Public Education & Religious Liberty v. Nyquist, 413 U.S. 756, 820 (1973) (White, J., dissenting).

      The secret of the Lemon test’s survival, I think, is that it is so easy to kill. It is there to scare us (and our audience) when we wish it to do so, but we can command it to return to the tomb at will. See, e. g., Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668, 679 (1984) (noting instances in which Court has not applied Lemon test). When we wish to strike down a practice it forbids, we invoke it, see, e. g., Aguilar v. Felton, 473 U.S. 402 (1985) (striking downstate remedial education program administered in part in parochial schools); when we wish to uphold a practice it forbids, we ignore it entirely, see Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783 (1983) (upholding state legislative chaplains). Sometimes, we take a middle course, calling its three prongs “no more than helpful signposts,” Hunt v. McNair, 413 U.S. 734, 741 (1973). Such a docile and useful monster is worth keeping around, at least in a somnolent state; one never knows when one might need him.

      For my part, I agree with the long list of constitutional scholars who have criticized Lemon and bemoaned the strange Establishment Clause geometry of crooked lines and wavering shapes its intermittent use has produced. See, e. g., Choper, The Establishment Clause and Aid to Parochial Schools–An Update, 75 Cal. L. Rev. 5 (1987); Marshall, “We Know It When We See It”: The Supreme Court and Establishment, 59 S. Cal. L. Rev. 495 (1986); McConnell, Accommodation of Religion, 1985 S. Ct. Rev. 1; Kurland, The Religion Clauses and the Burger Court, 34 Cath. U. L. Rev. 1 (1984); R. Cord, Separation of Church and State (1982); Choper, The Religion Clauses of the First Amendment: Reconciling the Conflict, 41 U. Pitt. L. Rev. 673 (1980). I will decline to apply Lemon–whether it validates or invalidates the government action in question–and therefore cannot join the opinion of the Court today. [n.*]

      I cannot join for yet another reason: the Court’s statement that the proposed use of the school’s facilities is constitutional because (among other things) it would not signal endorsement of religion in general. Ante, at 10. What a strange notion, that a Constitution which itself gives “religion in general” preferential treatment (I refer to the Free Exercise Clause) forbids endorsement of religion in general. The Attorney General of New York not only agrees with that strange notion, he has an explanation for it: “Religious advocacy,” he writes, “serves the community only in the eyes of its adherents and yields a benefit only to those who already believe.” Brief for Respondent Attorney General 24. That was not the view of those who adopted our Constitution, who believed that the public virtues inculcated by religion are a public good. It suffices to point out that during the summer of 1789, when it was in the process of drafting the First Amendment, Congress enacted the famous Northwest Territory Ordinance of 1789, Article III of which provides, “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” 1 Stat. 52 (emphasis added). Unsurprisingly, then, indifference to “religion in general” is not what our cases, both old and recent, demand. See, e. g., Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306, 313-314 (1952) (“When the state encourages religious instruction or cooperates with religious authorities by adjusting the schedule of public events to sectarian needs, it follows the best of our traditions”); Walz v. Tax Comm’n of New York City, 397 U.S. 664 (1970) (upholding property tax exemption for church property); Lynch, 465 U. S., at 673 (the Constitution “affirmatively mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance, of all religions . . . . Anything less would require the `callous indifference’ we have said was never intended” (citations omitted)); id., at 683 (“our precedents plainly contemplate that on occasion some advancement of religion will result from governmental action”); Marsh, supra; Presiding Bishop, supra (exemption for religious organizations from certain provisions of Civil Rights Act).

      My expectation is similar to what happened when Scalia and Kennedy were outvoted previously in “Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce.” Later the basis for their minority opinion in Austin became the majority opinion in “Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.”

    1. Lrobby99 wrote: “So, slavery is back there? It’s in their Bible, right?”

      Slavery is in the Bible as part of the history of Hebrews, Egyptians, Persians, Romans, and Greeks. The commandment aspects of slavery in the Torah is that all slaves would be freed every 7 years. The Hebrew economic system that included slavery (or indentured servitude actually) is a little more complicated than what the atheists falsely attribute to the Bible.

  2. Mayor Hayden may have to pay out of his personal pocket if the city and its residents do not want to pay for a legal battle under this statute:

    Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer’s judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia.

    (42 USC § 1983). That is the statute which JT utilized when he sued a county in Utah,, in the Sister Wives case.

    The Mayor mouthing off that it is his personal thingy will put the suction end of the litigation near to his own pockets (davidm2575 argued up-thread that there was a personal touch by the Mayor involved in these dynamics).

    That he ignored community religions leaders from other religions who were appealing to him not to establish any one religion as it were, may lead a jury or judge to consider it deliberate sabotage of federal constitutional values under color of state law.

  3. danmillerinpanama on 1, January 5, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    An agnostic for more than half a century, I am not at all offended; I am delighted.

    So, do you, as davidm2575 seems to, advocate rule by anecdote, or government by the U.S. Constitution?

    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?

    1. 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.

      And you might notice that there is NOTHING in the Constitution that proclaims all governments within the borders of the U.S. are to be secular. That is YOUR interpretation.

      The fact is that if you believe in liberty and freedom for individuals to express themselves, you would be supportive of this mayor for having the decency to do this during public participation and for not forcing his personal views upon the rest of the city. If Thomas Jefferson as President of the U.S. can meet for church every week on government property, the House of Representatives of the Capital Building, then this mayor is perfectly right to encourage people to educate themselves and read the Bible. If a scientist wants to do the same thing and declare a year of reading science, such as the special theory of relativity or quantum mechanics, more power to him, as long as it is done during the public participation section of the meeting. It is nice that this city has a public participation part of the meeting. Many city councils have eliminated this kind of thing entirely, which takes away power from the people.

  4. Joe Draughn on 1, January 5, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    I cannot believe that theLegal Dept of Flower Mound, Texas sanctioned this. I see a class action brewing there in Flower Mound. Mark my words!

  5. davidm2575

    It looks like he said these things during the public comments section of the city council meeting.
    Correction: I should have said public participation section of the meeting.
    Yeah, the part that doesn’t matter?

    1. Dredd wrote: “Yeah, the part that doesn’t matter?”

      What do you mean, “the part that doesn’t matter?” If it was during the public participation part of the council meeting, then he is speaking as part of the public and not as Mayor of the City. The First Amendment gives him the right to do that.

  6. Should be some scope for an enjoyable row about which version of the Bible.

  7. All of those buy-bulls… would surely make a wonderful bonfire!

  8. David,

    The income level in flower mound is relatively high…. Nice house etc….. Bible Belt baptist run the show….. His views at the city counsel as mayor greatly impact the tie to breaching the lemon text…. There’s a school district not to far away…. That had no problem with bibles being passed out….. But not other material….. Also right next door to Carrollton that’s trying to limit Mexicans from renting apartment or being allowed city services…. It has what’s called in law a chilling affect….which is quite effective…..

    1. AY wrote: “It has what’s called in law a chilling affect.”

      Not sure I see that chilling effect. If I was a Jew, I would appreciate that people were being encouraged to read the Tanakh. If I was a Muslim, I might ask for time in the public participation section to proclaim a year of the Qur’an and point people to a website that lays out a plan to read the Qur’an in a year. It seems to me that this whole thing is very good in promoting education and increased knowledge.

  9. If it was his personal opinion, I see no problem. If the people of his town resent that he said it, vote him out.

    If it was said in his public capacity as mayor, that is a problem unless he also recomends reading other religious texts.

  10. Most dogs in the dogpac here where I recently moved to a year ago belong to the Church of the 8th Day Dog Adventists although some belong to a Church of the 9th Day Dog Adventists. They don’t let politics mix with religion. When we meet an vote on whether to poop on some human’s yard we do not take into account his religion, only his bad actions to man or beast.

  11. I can only imagine how it would’ve gone over with the good citizens if the Mayor had suggested reading the surahs of the Koran. Why doesn’t it surprise me that the usual suspects see nothing at all wrong with this. Are we creeping ever closer to “A Christian Nation”?

  12. An agnostic for more than half a century, I am not at all offended; I am delighted. Christians and Jews are no less entitled to express their views than I am or than adherents to religions such as Islam are. For Christians and Jews to express their views has become politically incorrect; that without more is a good reason for them to express them.

    1. Dan Miller wrote: “An agnostic for more than half a century, I am not at all offended; I am delighted. Christians and Jews are no less entitled to express their views than I am or than adherents to religions such as Islam are.”

      Thank you for your voice of reason. I checked out your blog a little too. Impressive bio you have there too. You are a fascinating person. I will read more when I have time.

  13. I would like to see the Mayor’s reaction if a citizen came forward and asked that the town consider 2014 the year of the Quran, or the year of the Book of Mormon. The mayor should not be making religious proclamations as an elected official. Once he steps down from his post, he can proselytize to his heart’s content. .

  14. I cannot believe that theLegal Dept of Flower Mound, Texas sanctioned this. I see a class action brewing there in Flower Mound. Mark my words!

  15. nick spinelli
    And it’s the south end of a north bound horse, as always, in TexAs*

  16. It looks like he said these things during the public comments section of the city council meeting. I don’t see any constitutional issues with him doing that. He is a citizen just like everybody else and does not shed his constitutional rights by being voted to serve as Mayor. Was it a good idea for him to do this? That remains to be seen.

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