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Mayor denounced for saying Lancaster is 'growing a Christian community'

January 31, 2010 |  2:17 pm

Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris drew criticism from a leading Muslim group today after saying in his annual State of the City address that the high desert town was “growing a Christian community.”

"We're growing a Christian community, and don't let anybody shy away from that,” Parris told the audience of ministers gathered for his address.

“I need [Lancaster residents] standing up and saying we're a Christian community, and we're proud of that," the mayor said.

The Greater Los Angeles area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations denounced the statement and said it plans to file a complaint about the mayor's remarks with the civil rights division of the U.S. Justice Department.

“Elected officials should not use their public positions to impose their religious beliefs on others," said Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of CAIR.

The mayor, reached by telephone today, said his remarks did not intend to impose his faith on others, and he said he would make no apology. 

“This is just about very few people wanting to get their 15 minutes of fame,” he said. “I guess they got it.” 

 -- Garrett Therolf

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