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Lancaster mayor comes under fire from Muslim organization

February 5, 2010 |  4:34 pm

A Muslim advocacy organization is requesting a Department of Justice investigation into whether comments made by Lancaster’s mayor were unconstitutional.

In his State of the City address last week, Mayor R. Rex Parris said Lancaster was “growing a Christian community.”

"And don't let anybody shy away from that,” he said to an audience of ministers. “I need [Lancaster residents] standing up and saying we're a Christian community, and we're proud of that."

The Greater Los Angeles area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations sent a letter Friday to the department requesting an investigation into whether Parris’ comments violated the Constitution’s Establishment Clause, which bans the government from supporting or endorsing a religion.

"The divisive statement made by the mayor, when analyzed in context of other recent developments, represents a disturbing pattern by the city of Lancaster," said Hussam Ayloush, executive director of CAIR-LA.

Parris said he stands by his comments.

A spokesman for the Department of Justice wouldn’t comment on whether it had received the letter or whether other groups have complained about the mayor’s comments.

Complaints like the council's are “reviewed to determine what action, if any, is appropriate,” said Alejandro Miyar, a department spokesman. 

-- Raja Abdulrahim