The mayor of a Texas city has announced that only men will be invited to lead guest prayers before meetings of the city council.

Wylie Mayor Eric Hogue’s views came to light in late May after he exchanged messages with the city’s mayor pro tem, Jeff Forrester, about members of a Christian group that wanted to offer a guest invocation.

Forrester emailed Hogue to discuss arranging for members of the group, Youth With a Mission, to attend a city council meeting and offer an invocation. Hogue replied that he agreed, but insisted that “those leading the public prayer be young men,” reported the Dallas Morning News.

Hogue went on to cite two Bible passages, 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 and 1 Timothy, which he said bar women from preaching. The first passage reads, “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”

The passage from Timothy says, “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.”

Hogue, who serves as the minister of Cottonwood Church of Christ in Wylie, said he interprets those passages literally and added, “I can’t go against my conscience.”

Hogue refused to speak to the Morning News about this, but did grant interviews to a few local television stations. He told one, “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 Bible teaches that she’s not to say a public prayer or to lead the singing or to deliver the sermon.”

He told another station, “I believe a lady can be president of the United States. I believe a lady can be CEO of a company, the superintendent of a school district.” He added that in his church, women can teach classes for children but are not allowed to lead worship.

The Morning News reported that Hogue, who has been mayor of Wylie for 12 years, is not seeking re-election this year. The city, with a population of about 41,000, is a north Dallas suburb.

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