Tom Hayden is mayor of Flower Mound, a town located between Dallas and Ft. Worth, Texas. He made national headlines recently when he declared at a city council meeting that 2014 would be the "year of the Bible" in his city.
Mayor Hayden says he was inspired by former Dallas Cowboys player Chad Hennings. "He said God puts people in positions to honor him," Hayden recalls. The mayor hopes to encourage all the residents of his town to read the entire Bible together in a year. Daily passages are posted on a website created by Calvary Chapel of Flower Mound.
Ronald Reagan made a similar declaration in 1983; Pennsylvania lawmakers declared 2012 the "Year of the Bible" in their state as well. Hayden said of his proclamation, "There's more attention being drawn to it than we ever thought." However, he didn't make his proclamation for personal notoriety, declining an invitation to appear on the nationally televised Fox & Friends talk show. His goal was simple: "I hope God will bless my town."
Did the mayor do the right thing? His critics claim that he overstepped his elected authority. A local rabbi responded, "I think he needs to realize that I and the other people who voted him to office voted him in as mayor, not as Bishop of Flower Mound." Opponents are also concerned that the proclamation is unfair to the Muslims, Hindus, Baha'i, Zoroastrians and Jews who have houses of worship in their city. Some might ask if a Muslim mayor would have the right to declare the "Year of the Qur'an." Is the mayor's act fair to his constituents who have no faith commitment?
Supporters might argue that the mayor's action represents the vast majority of his constituents. Mr. Hayden estimates that 99 percent of the reaction he's received has been positive. And they might defend his right to make his personal beliefs public. The mayor states that his action was taken solely by himself and is not an order on behalf of his municipal government.
Sociologist James Davison Hunter has demonstrated that culture is transformed from the "top down" as people of influence use their platform for change. I'm convinced that God is calling more Christians into public service than are answering his call. Is Mayor Hayden's declaration an inspiring example of a Christian using his public influence as salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16)? Or did he overstep his public trust?
Please share your thoughts in our comments section. And ask the Lord how he wants you to use your God-given influence for good. My friend Chad Hennings is right: God puts people in positions to honor him. What position has the Lord entrusted to you today?
Publication date: January 13, 2014