|People are free to worship whatever faith they choose (or none at all) -- the First Amendment is delightfully clear on that front. Our very country was founded to give religious liberty to all who seek it.
However, Hayden's proclamation raises concerns for those Flower Mound residents who do not follow the Bible, or choose not to follow his specific interpretation of it. Such statements from public servants made in their official capacity strike me as going against the spirit of the protections provided in our First Amendment.
I can mockingly ask if Hayden will now ban pig products and shellfish, ripped jeans, tattoos, mixed-breed dogs, or shaving one's face in Flower Mound during his Biblical year.
Or, we can raise the question of whether such a move was necessary for strong public policy, or if it might be perceived as exclusionary and detract from the business of government, which -- last I checked -- was supposed to operate separately from any church or organized religion.
We should not elect our public servants to promote one religious agenda over another. And while it strikes me that progressives and conservative Christians should be able to find common ground in morals such as caring for the sick, clothing the poor and feeding the hungry, it seems that those who cling most tightly to the Bible in the public sphere also advance policies that go against government practicing most of Jesus's teachings.
"Ignore the progressive parts, bro. It's cool."
What does Hayden hope to gain by declaring 2014 the year of the Bible? Does he mean to follow its words literally, and shape municipal policies in direct accordance with his interpretation of its teaching? Does he mean that we should all carry concern for our fellow citizens in our hearts no matter what our faith (or lack thereof)? Or does he mean to privilege one religion over others and potentially make his own constituents feel uncomfortable or unwelcome in his city?
Whether Hayden intended it or not, it's hard to not to expect the last of those three to be the likely outcome. That's not leadership, and I don't think it's even keeping with the spirit of the First Amendment. All Flower Mound residents should feel welcome, regardless of their religion -- and that's exactly the opposite of the sentiment created by declaring 2014 the "year of the Bible."