Woman's head bowed in prayer
You won't see this at any city council meetings in Wylie, Texas.

The mayor of Wylie, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, is catching some heat after proclaiming that only men are allowed to lead prayer at city council meetings.

The trouble began when Mayor Eric Hogue, who also ministers at a local church, responded to an email from a deputy that asked if some individuals from a local missionary group could lead the prayer at an upcoming city council meeting.

Mayor Hogue’s response left many flabbergasted.

“Sounds good,” he responded, “I would like that. All I ask is that those leading the prayer be young men.”

The statement was leaked to the public, and now Mayor Hogue is being asked to answer for his reported discriminatory policy. But the mayor is not backing down despite pointed criticism, insisting that his beliefs are based in the Bible, and that he “won’t compromise his beliefs to appease people.”

Sexism? In the Bible?

In his original response to the email, Mayor Hogue quoted 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 as biblical evidence to justify his views. The verse says:

"Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church."

Apparently, Hogue believes that passage should not only apply word-for-word to life in the 21st century. He later told a local news outlet that “I am a Church of Christ preacher and I am a member of the Church of Christ and we take the New Testament literally.”

Invocation Altercation

But is Hogue’s interpretation accurate? Terry Firma, a contributor for The Friendly Atheist blog, points out that the 1 Corinthians passage cited by Mayor Hogue only applies to women when they’re in the church, and not when they’re in the public square. Putting it rather bluntly, Firma writes, “Dude, it’s right there: the sixth, seventh, and eighth words. Also, the last three. In. The. Church.”

But Hogue disagrees. “What I will say is a woman can do absolutely anything and everything but if we're in a public setting, in a religious setting, the bible teaches that she's not to say a public prayer or to lead the singing or to deliver the sermon.”

Unsurprisingly, these words elicited an angry response from some folks on social media:

Where Are All The Women?

Allowing women to lead public prayer or even become clergy is a fairly recent development (in the grand scheme of things), and one that many traditional-leaning denominations have refused to accept. Nonetheless, as the line of progress continues marching forward, it has become an unavoidable debate in religious circles.

Some people view women becoming religious leaders as an obvious step towards fostering a more inclusive and fair faith community as a whole. But traditionalists, using passages like the one cited by Mayor Hogue, say it’s forbidden by the Bible and thus out of the question.

From a legal standpoint, an elected official preventing women from delivering a religious invocation before a city council meeting seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen.

But this debate goes far beyond one Texas town’s city council meetings. Is there really anything dangerous or sacrilegious about women taking leadership roles in the church? Do you see these rules changing anytime soon?

47 comments

  1. Mary E Benoit's Avatar Mary E Benoit

    Another reminder of men using religion to silent women. There are numerous churches which have women ministers. We need to separate government and church. These “community leaders should pray before the meeting in private then go to the meeting.

    1. Robert Lee Hall's Avatar Robert Lee Hall

      Well said, Ms. Benoit! (Just don't say it at a public meeting in Wylie, TX; they might think you're praying and throw you out.)

  1. Robert Hauck, MD, FAAP's Avatar Robert Hauck, MD, FAAP

    Pastor/Mayor Hogue's views are not only an incorrect interpretation of the Biblical passage but also discriminatory and illegal. Another equally important issue should be addressed --- the elephant in the living room, so to speak. Is it appropriate and legal for a city council meeting to include a prayer, whether a Christian or other faith's prayer? I think not. If the council wishes to open its meeting with good vibes a "thought for the day" would be acceptable, but never a prayer. Roberto in WA

    1. Ronaldo's Avatar Ronaldo

      "Separation between church and state" did not really become a legal issue until the Everson vs Board of Education in 1947. Prior to that, one can find multiple statements from our Founding Fathers and the Supreme Court that claim otherwise. In 1892, the U.S. Supreme Court stated on record that "our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind. In this sense to this extent, our civilizations and our institutions are emphatically Christian." President Jefferson came up with the original line about the separation, but did so in response to the Danbury Baptist Association about their concern regarding a rumor that the Congregationalists were slated to become the national denomination. The statement was intended to mean that there would be no national church at all, regulated by the government.

  1. Paul J. Fumero's Avatar Paul J. Fumero

    Only a christian religious fool talks this way. Who says that GOD is a man? Sometimes I wonder where we would be as a civilization if we did not have religion... Texans are insane people mostly... specially the crazy evangelicals.

    1. Alexander Clarke's Avatar Alexander Clarke

      These are the same people that didn't think women should vote or be doctors or police/fire or anything other that school teachers and nurses. The are of the opinion that women should be kept in their place. Many religions require that men and women pray separately and some religions teach that women are property. Religion does more harm than good.

      1. Tom's Avatar Tom

        Alexander...well said...Peace...Tom B

      2. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

        I'm a crazy Texan, but worship women like goddesses, especially in my bedroom. And in Wicca the high priestess is above the high priest. I even think I have a closer relationship with Mother Goddess than Father God, so you won't hear me protesting a woman leading prayer. I bet that preacher started out Catholic. I wonder if he also insists that his prayer leaders where dresses, like Catholic priests.

    2. Patricia Ann Wileman's Avatar Patricia Ann Wileman

      For a website that supposed to be about ministers somebody hasn’t been reading the Bible. God is a man we do not know what he looks like because there’s no pictures. Jesus is a man and we don’t really have pictures of him either. The Holy Ghost he is a man. And the three of them are one of the same and don’t ask me how to explain it they just are.

      God recognizes a woman as well as a man. A woman can preach they can be a minister they can be a chaplain. The Lord did not say this is a man’s world and only men can preach the gospel. If you guys are ministers please read the Bible. Woman is not a second rate citizen.

      It does say men take care of your wives as Jesus takes care of the church. Does not mean to abuse. However when it comes to the word and preaching the gospel it is not one over the other when it comes to the teaching of the word. So I don’t have the Scriptures handy right now so you guys are all so-called ministers I think on here go look up some of the stuff. But I’m beginning to think this is not a Christian website of any kind apparently. And I’m not saying there’s not Muslims others out there. 

      There’s the 10 Commandments. However Jesus said he made a new commandment which was love. And if you have love you won’t abuse the 10 Commandments because if you have love you won’t kill you won’t steal and so on. Some of the words on here are the way people speak really amazes me and not in a good way. 

      1. Susan Igo's Avatar Susan Igo

        Ms Wileman, I am a Christian (follower of Jesus Christ). But, this is not a Christian site.

        While we have no photographs of Jesus, I do believe, according to the Bible he was a man.
        However, I have never thought of God as a man, why are you so certain? The Holy Spirit a man? I don’t think so.

        While I don’t believe 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 should be taken as literal, Mayor Hogue is correct in his Bible verse.

  1. T Kosse`'s Avatar T Kosse`

    Women voted him into office, they can also vote him out of office.

    1. flugo's Avatar flugo

      Excellent!

  1. Vern Dee Wall's Avatar Vern Dee Wall

    1 Corinthians 14:34-35

    If you read the verses before and after that you find that it refers to people prophesying in a church meeting. The prophets are instructed to tell their women not to interrupt. There is no application to a town council meeting.

    A Christian minister ought to know that.

    1. Darryl Mizer's Avatar Darryl Mizer

      The scriptures were written for inspiration for that time period. Culture and religion are not the same. Trying to use historical references as a guide for today is tantamount to us using horse and buggy for transportation.

      1. Vern Dee Wall's Avatar Vern Dee Wall

        "The scriptures were written for inspiration for that time period." The premise is false.

      2. Gary James Thomas Garrett's Avatar Gary James Thomas Garrett

        I thought the Bible was supposed to be eternal truth and all that kind of nonsense - But I guess we agree that it isn't, but if it isn't that means it's fallable, no wait that can't be right either....

  1. Rev. Jonathan Peebles's Avatar Rev. Jonathan Peebles

    Sounds like Saul to me he despises homosexuals and woman although I have my opinion that is because he fears what he really is. My big problem is church is not supposed to be mixed with state!

  1. William Waugh's Avatar William Waugh

    "I AM A MEMBER OF THE CHURCH OF CHRIST".......and we interpret the bible literally!!!........Blah, blah, blah. Wonder what Mary Magdelan would have to say about that? ........Im guessing somewhere between a forth and eighth grade comprehension level.

    1. Darryl Mizer's Avatar Darryl Mizer

      2000 years is a hugh difference in life-style and religious insight. I am a "Progressive Revelationist.) For me, it is logical for me to look back through historical and biblical documents. God has always been with us. The story of the beginning shows two people who were nomadic, can't read or write no one to learn from. We may consider them prehistoric man, which they were. Going forward the old testament gives a progressive view of man. God adds his understanding of his surroundings. Each generation has added to man's understanding and how to succeed at life. And here we are. Our progressive intelligence is a gift from God. We now understand the benefits of our surroundings more than ever. The original message is the same as it was in Christ's time. Matthew 34-40 is clear what is necessary to serve Christ. That mission will never change if we are true Christians.

      " 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."

      This is it! The importance is helping our brothers and sisters who need help rather than keeping our focus on the heavenly. We are believers in Christ if we do the work of Jesus. He gave us the way into heaven. He knew we would have the poor and hurting with us through generations. The interpretation of the bible is secondary.

      1. Gary James Thomas Garrett's Avatar Gary James Thomas Garrett

        I like the scientific theory of evolution - norms were established for the betterment of all by people that wanted to serve their self interest - cooperation works better than division. The whole earth is an ecological system of cooperation, our downfall is the our separation from the Mother. We are now destroying the earth to satisfy the unsatiable appetite of your god, You know, the cruel misogynistic abusive god whose first "miracle" was to punish women by multiplying their pain during childbirth - gee what a great guy.

  1. Ivette Garcia's Avatar Ivette Garcia

    It's a shame that the bible is used ,once again, to impose someone's personal views and beliefs.

  1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

    I think that both males and females should be allowed to talk to as many imaginary friends as they wish. It’s been going on in asylums for years ever since mankind took compassion on them.

    🦁❤️

  1. Gail Dobson's Avatar Gail Dobson

    Why do we keep electing people who hold their personal beliefs to be more important than their job to uphold the Constitution?

    1. Alexander Clarke's Avatar Alexander Clarke

      Because we are just plain stupid.

    2. Tom's Avatar Tom

      Technically the Equal Rights Act was never passed so the constitution doesn't expressly give women the same rights as men. Why states won't ratify that is beyond me.

      1. Master Wolf KSC's Avatar Master Wolf KSC

        It probably can’t be ratified at this point. We really need to launch a new one.

  1. Rev. Dennis's Avatar Rev. Dennis

    The bible also says we can sell our daughters into slavery. How would this "literal" interpretation of passages play out today? It also says that women should not work outside the home "literally" yet the Mayor does not share this view. He is first and foremost picking and choosing what to follow and next he misses the context of the bible.

    1. Gary James Thomas Garrett's Avatar Gary James Thomas Garrett

      That's kinda the Christian way.

  1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

    I think it's a shame that the bible is ever used for anything other than what it was originally meant for: rolling papers. Toke it up!

  1. Jimmy Lee Baker's Avatar Jimmy Lee Baker

    If it were not for women using their gifts and talents, churches would not exist in this country. I have and would gladly sit under the teaching and covet the prayers of women pastors.

    1. Gary James Thomas Garrett's Avatar Gary James Thomas Garrett

      If it wer'n't for women none of us would even be here.

  1. Master Wolf KSC's Avatar Master Wolf KSC

    I would like to lead a prayer for them. I am an ordained Dudeist Priest, as well as ULC Minister, Pastor (retired) of the Great Spirit Community Church, an ordained minister in the FSM tradition, a Wiccan, a Druid, a Satanic, a Thelemic Wizard, and a Certified Dischordian Pope. Also a member of the LGBTQ 🏳️‍🌈 Community. I think I could press almost all of their buttons at once. I have never been designated a woman, but I know a few women with the exact same pedigree as mine.

  1. Gary James Thomas Garrett's Avatar Gary James Thomas Garrett

    Why should there even be prayer in the first place at a public government meeting? Why is there any debate at all about what is intended by bible? The Bible is clearly a totally misogynistic manuscript and the mayor has a totally accurate idea of it's meaning. He is following what is said in the Bible, and that is exactly the problem. Many religions, and particularly those that worship the "one and only" (meaning christians and muslims), have many ridiculous ancient ideas including the idea that women are supposed to have no power and should always bend to the will of "the man". The Bible advocates the idea that one way to aquire a wife is to rape a women and then pay her father a certain amount. Eve is the reason for the fall of man. Jobs' wife is not even important enough to dwell upon because God provided him with a replacement wife that was even prettier. When people realize how disgusting the Bible actually is, perhaps the "what does the Bible really mean" debate will finally be finished. In the meantime, welcome to government religion, no women allowed to participate, Christian Sharia law.

    1. Amy Varela's Avatar Amy Varela

      I agree. 100%

  1. T Kosse`'s Avatar T Kosse`

    Comment has been removed.

  1. Clay Serenbetz's Avatar Clay Serenbetz

    A good reason to pass the ERA. Good luck in the Senate.

  1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

    If it was only going on in asylums the world would be a much better place.

    1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      It appears the world is just one big hospital 🤪

      🦁♥️

  1. Mariah Lanier Maloy's Avatar Mariah Lanier Maloy

    All I know is, I grew up in an extremely fundamentalist Pentecostal church. However, there were women teachers, preachers, and leaders; women were encouraged to lead. I remember a Mother's Day sermon about how women are the backbone of every church: they bring their children with them and eventually their husbands follow.

    My Granny, who may have only had a 2nd grade education but was extremely wise, interpreted that passage as women aren't to chitchat and gossip in church, as women are wont to do ( don't get me started on this whole sexist thing that women don't gossip; we do and I know it for an absolute fact from experience which is why I prefer men as friends). Remember, Paul had congenial relationships with many Christian women leaders!

    And this is coming from a decidedly Pagan person...

  1. Milanko Djurdjulov's Avatar Milanko Djurdjulov

    I left a comment it may be lost, did not have my password but email was there. Thanks Deacon, Milanko

  1. David Davies's Avatar David Davies

    The problem is living in those ancient times still and following a 2 thousand year old book that was written and rewritten by men and only men at a time that is completely different from today, who wanted different things to follow what they think and how they felt. Instead of just loving and caring for all, they pick and choose what they want to believe and they love to exclude. It's sad, we need more love and caring and less exclusion.

  1. George D Jonte-Crane's Avatar George D Jonte-Crane

    His interpretation of scripture is heavily skewed. Anyone, even a small child, may lead prayer if he or she feels something on his/her heart that they need to voice.

  1. Thom's Avatar Thom

    The Mayor is a Church of Christ Pastor. The C of C does not allow woman to lead prayer and be a major part of the church service. This is his personal and biblical belief. He is an idiot but, he is following the church's beliefs and teachings. I am sure he has been brought up this way in thinking and believing. The sad part is, he is expecting the rest of the community to believe what the C of C believes and I think here, he is wrong. I believe woman have been a major part of religious life and should continue to do so. The folks who wrote the Bible made a few alterations to reality regarding the importance of Mary Magdalene, in my opinion. The bible depicts her as a prostitute because she was written this way. Evidence has been brought to light which shows how Mary M was actually a very important part in the life of Jesus. Why was she there at every major turning point of his life? Why was she there at his death? Why? Because evidence shows Mary M was Jesus' wife. Now, if the people who study and read the bible don't look outside of the lines and I don't think they will see the truth. This Mayor, in a town just a few miles from my home, has made a huge political mistake but, then again, I don't think he was planning on running for office again.

  1. Robert Lee Hall's Avatar Robert Lee Hall

    I'm assuming he is not familiar with the female Apostle Junia - she was a Christian before Saul/Paul, and was highly respected at the time Paul was preaching. And let's not also forget that many prominent Biblical scholars believe that several of Paul's letters were not written by him, but were forgeries in his name to put forth a separate agenda (including the most misogynistic one). Guess he's just ignoring those facts, if he's ever been educated enough to know of them....

  1. Alexander Clarke's Avatar Alexander Clarke

    Well, it is Texas. Nothing new here.

    1. CB Cuff's Avatar CB Cuff

      And with men like the Mayor, Texas will always remain a one star state.

  1. James Walter Riggs's Avatar James Walter Riggs

    Of course it’s sexist... but that’s what the Bible says. What are ya gonna do?

    Oh yeah... call BS, take back your tithes and Sundays and go fishing.

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