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Mayor of Wylie responds to backlash of circulated email

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In an email that has been circulating between Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Forrester asked Mayor Eric Hogue, the mayor stated that that women cannot lead prayer at public city council meetings because the Bible forbids it, citing multiple verses from the new testament.

This afternoon, another email has been released online in which the mayor responded to the public backlash of his comments.

“Recently, an email I sent to Mayor pro tem Jeff Forrester has been circulated regarding my thoughts on a group coming to lead the invocation before a city council meeting,” Mayor Hogue said in the email. “In the email I quote a couple of Bible scriptures of why I believe the way I do, but in the email I also state, ‘I understand not everyone may agree with me, but I can’t go against my conscience.'”

The mayor recounted when he was one of the council members who supported the appointment of the Mindy Manson for City Manager.

“She recently retired after serving as the longest City Manager in our city’s history, and I still miss her leading our community. I believe a woman can hold any position in the public or private sector and should be paid equal to any man,” Hogue wrote.

“First, please know that I believe a woman has every equal right that a man does,” the email states. “I have also never told a woman, scheduled to lead the invocation at a meeting, that she cannot lead a public prayer. During my years of public service, 12 years as the mayor, seven years as a council member and three years as a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission, a number of women and men from all types of religious organizations have led our invocations.For many years we had different organizations and individuals work with the city staff to find volunteers to lead the invocation before our city council meetings.”

Hogue said that in more recent years he has had to pick a a member of the city council, city staff, an audience member or myself to lead the invocation just before city council meetings and that the “groups and individuals who had volunteered in the past were no longer able to consistently find individuals to come lead the invocation. In these cases, based on my religious beliefs, I have looked for a man, whom I knew to be active in a religious organization, who I believed would feel comfortable leading a public prayer and asked them if they would like to participate.”

He claimed to have not forced his religious beliefs on any “citizen, staff member or city council member, but I have also not compromised my beliefs just to appease anyone.”

“If I am asked my opinion, as I was in this case, my beliefs are going to factor into that decision-making process. I would hope that any person, including any elected official, would do the same thing,” Hogue wrote. “I am not asking you to agree with me, my religious beliefs, or my political beliefs, I am simply explaining why I responded the way that I did to this request from the mayor pro tem.”

Hogue finished the email in saying that it was not his intent to offend anyone.

“In all my years of service to the city of Wylie I have always tried to promote and support all our citizens no matter their race, religion, or gender,” Hogue wrote. “I also recognize that this is a free country and as has always been the case, if any citizen wants to lead the invocation, or the pledge of allegiance at one of our upcoming meetings, all you need to do is contact the city secretary’s office at Wylie City Hall, and you will be placed on an upcoming agenda. To my knowledge, no one who has ever made that request, has been turned down.”

In an interview with NBC DFW, Hogue said he had always chosen a man to lead the invocation in his twelve years as mayor.

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