Tom Hayden (no, not that one), the mayor of Flower Mound, Texas, seems unfamiliar with the Constitution and with the Bible.
Mayor Hayden has proclaimed that 2014 will be “The Year of the Bible” in Flower Mound. And as Hemant Mehta says, the extent to which “this government official is using his title and office to promote Christianity is unbelievable.”
And, of course, Hayden isn’t just promoting Christianity per se, but one very particular and very strange kind of Christianity.
Hemant notes Hayden’s weird dedication of his “Year of the Bible” to his elderly father. Hayden said:
I’m very fortunate that I have a father who’s a great example. And his entire life, he’s had one goal in life: That’s to go to Heaven. And he’s 81 years old and when he dies, everything he’s ever wanted in life will be a reality.
“That’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard,” Hemant says. Me too.
Hayden is presenting a disturbingly warped version of something the Apostle Paul said in Philippians: “For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain.” For Hayden’s dad, apparently, dying is gain and living is treading water, killing time, and avoiding Earth as much as possible until he finally leaves it behind completely.
This is the otherworldly heresy of Southern white Christianity. As Christianity mutated to survive in the American South, it had to become all about “Heaven,” because even the briefest glance at life here on Earth would suggest that something was askew, what with one group of Christians claiming to own another group of their brothers and sisters in Christ. All that “joint-heirs with Christ” business had to be postponed to the next life, the afterlife — to another world, lest it threaten the status quo in this one.
That’s part of why white evangelicals like Hayden and his dad don’t pray the Lord’s Prayer every Sunday the way that most other Christians throughout the world and throughout time have always done. “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven” isn’t a prayer their otherworldly religion can tolerate.
What that leaves them with, of course, is the saddest thing you’ve ever heard — a life that is no life at all, just a single-minded focus on getting it over with. “He’s had one goal in life: That’s to go to Heaven.” Rechristening sloth as piety is not just sinfully disobedient, it’s depressing as Hell.
Anyway, inspired by the depressing heresy of his father, Mayor Hayden has decided to make his office a sectarian vehicle for promoting this view — thereby violating the First Amendment and slandering the Bible itself as some kind of chauvinist tract for those with nothing better to do in this world than sit around waiting to leave it.
The Year of the Bible has two parts: the genesis of Hayden’s proclamation borrows heavily from former President Reagan’s almost identical proclamation in 1983, and quotes various presidents while pointing out America’s founding documents are Biblically-based.
The second part is a Bible-based website: thebible2014.com.
The DFW Fox 4 News report quoted there oddly says that Hayden “points out” that “America’s founding documents are Biblically-based.” That’s not how the idiom “points out” is usually used. I don’t think DFW Fox 4 News’ sports reporters would write of someone pointing out that by beating the Eagles last Sunday, the Cowboys will be headed to the playoffs for the third year in a row. That’s not something that can be “pointed out” because it’s not true. The Cowboys lost to the Eagles, and they will not be going to the playoffs. (Again.)
Likewise, it’s not possible to “point out” that America’s founding documents are based on the Bible, because they’re not. To claim otherwise is to confess that one has never read the Constitution.
Hayden is confessing as much with his proclamation. And the DFW Fox 4 News report confesses as much by glibly accepting Hayden’s recycled Bartonism as valid history.
This raises a chicken-and-egg question: Is Hayden embracing David Barton’s lies about American history in order to justify his unconstitutional behavior? Or does Hayden actually believe those Bartonian lies and therefore not realize his behavior is unconstitutional?
That thebible2014.com site includes a page of quotations that includes some of Barton’s greatest hits — bogus quotes falsely attributed to Lincoln, Jefferson and George Washington (the very same bogus Barton quote from “Washington” that we discussed in the previous post).
The site — which seems to be run by a local white evangelical church — appears just as confused and confusing about biblical history as it is about American history:
The Bible consists of 66 books written by more than 40 different authors from all different walks of life over a period of 1,400 to 1,800 years. The amazing thing is that the Bible carries a perfect unity from cover to cover regarding its message and content, which speaks of its divine origin as ultimately written by God and not man.
That’s the first two sentences on the site. It’s not easy to get that much wrong in just your first two sentences. The folks at Calvary Chapel Flower Mount must be very determined.