A Texas mayor is defending an email he sent this week saying only men should lead prayers before city meetings.
Eric Hogue has served as mayor of Wylie, a suburb of Dallas, for the last 12 years. He is also the pastor of Cottonwood Church of Christ, as well as a professional magician who once moonlighted as “Clinky the Clown.”
Last week, Wylie Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Forrester sent Hogue an email asking whether a Christian group, Youth With a Mission, could lead a prayer at the next city council meeting.
Hogue responded Sunday by saying he thought it was a good idea, as long as “those leading the public prayer [are] young men.” He went on to cite two Bible verses about women remaining silent in church, saying he takes them literally.
“So I have always requested that a man lead the invocation,” Hogue wrote. “I understand not everyone agrees with me, but I can’t go against my conscience. But I would love to have the group come and visit with them and then let a couple of guys lead a prayer.”
Hogue’s email was later posted to a Facebook page focused on Wylie politics, sparking outrage. But Hogue doubled down on his statements in interviews with local TV stations.
“I believe a lady can be president of the United States,” Hogue told WFAA-TV. “I believe a lady can be CEO of a company, the superintendent of a school district. But I believe, and this is me, when it comes to [picking] somebody to lead the invocation at a city council meeting, because of those two sets of verses, I’m going to choose a male.”
Noting that said he has been married 33 years, Hogue added, “My wife would not stick around if I was anti, you know, like that. I mean, we are equal partners in everything.”
“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 bibles teaches that she’s not to say a public prayer or to lead the singing or to deliver the sermon,” Hogue told KXAS-TV, claiming the controversy is politically motivated because people are upset that Wylie’s the election had to be pushed back from May to November because of the COVID-19 crisis. Hogue is not seeking re-election.
“I think the main thing is the budget cycle is coming up and they would like to have the new council in place. I totally get that but we are living through a pandemic,” Hogue said.
A group called Women Organizing Women Democrats plans a protest outside Wylie city hall next week.
“Wylie Mayor Eric Hogue has a long history of ultra-conservative, ultra-Christian, and ultra-anti-women behavior,” the group wrote. “In his latest missive, he proves that he’s still as misguided and offensive as ever. We’re not letting this ‘public official’ get away with it any more.”
Watch the reports below.
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