DALLAS - Wylie, Texas, Mayor Eric Hogue says he believes women can do "anything and everything" - so long as they don't lead public displays of religion.
Hogue is defending his beliefs after the release of an email in which he requests that only male members of a Christian missionary group say a prayer before a City Council meeting.
The exchange between Hogue and the city's mayor pro tem, Jeff Forrester, was posted Wednesday on a Facebook page that focuses on the city's politics.
Forrester emailed Hogue last week about the group, Youth With a Mission, asking for the mayor's thoughts about arranging for its members to attend the council's next meeting.
On Sunday, Hogue replied, saying it was a good idea - as long as "those leading the public prayer be young men."
Hogue, who also is the minister of Wylie's Cottonwood Church of Christ, quoted two New Testament verses he said he interprets literally.
The first, 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, 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 any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church."
The mayor also quoted a passage from 1 Timothy that says, "Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence."
Hogue wrote that he has always asked for men to lead invocation, while acknowledging that "not everyone may agree with me, but I can't go against my conscience."
Hogue did not respond to a request for comment from The Dallas Morning News, but he spoke to local television stations about the email, telling KXAS-TV (NBC5) that his belief extends only to public acts of religion.
"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," he said.
He reiterated that to WFAA-TV (Channel 8), saying, "I believe a lady can be president of the United States. I believe a lady can be CEO of a company, the superintendent of a school district." But in the Church of Christ, he said, women don't lead worship services or singing - only classes for women and children.
Hogue also pointed to his 33-year marriage as a sign of his respect for women.
"My wife would not stick around if I was anti, you know, like that," he told WFAA. "I mean, we are equal partners in everything."
Forrester told WFAA he doesn't share the mayor's beliefs and was surprised by the email, but he added, "I've never observed Mayor Hogue ever speak ill of women."
Hogue, 56, has been Wylie's mayor for 12 years and is not seeking re-election this year. In addition to leading the church, he is a professional magician and formerly performed as a clown named Clinky.
Hogue told NBC5 that he suspects the outcry over his email may be motivated by politics after this month's election was moved to November because of the coronavirus pandemic.
"I think the main thing is the budget cycle is coming up, and they would like to have the new council in place," he said. "I totally get that, but we are living through a pandemic."
(Staff writer Charles Scudder contributed to this report.)
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