The mayor of Flower Mound, Texas has declared 2014 to be the “Year of the Bible” in his town. According to Fox News of Dallas-Ft. Worth, Mayor Tom Hayden wants to pre-emptively dedicate 2015 as a Year of the Bible, too.
“There’s so much benevolence on helping your fellow person,” said Hayden to Fox. “And the morality that helped build our country is based on the values that are found in the Bible. And as we look at problems, maybe we’re getting away from those values. And in my little small way, I want to encourage people to get back into those values.”
Dave Muscato, communications director for the group American Atheists, Inc. told Raw Story in an interview, “I think it’s unlikely that he’s unaware that this is unconstitutional. This is just speculation, but I think this is something he’s doing because he thinks the people of his town want him to.”
“It blows my mind that he thinks this is a good idea anyway,” Muscato continued, pointing to the dozens of cases on the docket where government officials have tried to impose religious beliefs on the population in spite of First Amendment prohibitions against exactly that.
“He talks about wanting to get back to ‘Biblical values,’ but if he does, he’s clearly never read the book,” he said. “He talks about benevolence, but that’s not what the Bible says. It explicitly calls for the execution of people who do not worship the Judeo-Christian God.”
“First of all,” said Muscato, “that’s heinous, but second of all, it’s in direct contradiction of the First Amendment’s protections for freedom of religion.”
The mayor has worked with local church the Calvary Chapel of Flower Mound to establish a website that will direct citizens to study specific Bible verses each day.
The church said that the website is designed to serve “as a connecting point to fulfill the Mayor’s vision.”
Muscato questioned the wisdom of guiding a community that includes minors to study the Bible when the book is so full of murder, depraved sex and cruelty.
“In the Book of Kings, Chapter 2,” he said, “God calls on a couple of bears to maul 42 children to death because they made fun of somebody for being bald.”
“Or Genesis 19, when Lot’s two daughters get him drunk and rape him on two separate nights so that they each can get pregnant.” He scoffed, “And these are the values you want to get back to?”
Mayor Hayden, he said, most likely has advisors who are informing him why it’s a bad idea to violate fundamental tenets of the U.S. Constitution, and knows that in the end courts will strike down his idea. But that, Muscato said, isn’t generally the point of these sorts of initiatives. The point is to generate controversy and lock down conservative votes.
“There are really two types of religious people,” Muscato said. “There are victims who have been indoctrinated and then there are liars who are conning people. I don’t want to paint with too broad a brush here, but most politicians fall into the latter group.”
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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