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Lancaster mayor apologizes for his 'Christian community' remark

February 9, 2010 |  4:50 pm

Members of Los Angeles-area Islamic organizations said Tuesday they welcomed an apology from Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris, who drew criticism after telling an audience of mostly Christian ministers that he was “growing a Christian community.”

"This episode demonstrates that we must all come together as Americans to uphold the constitutional principle of separation of church and state, and to maintain the values of inclusiveness and fair treatment," Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the greater Los Angeles area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said in a statement.

Parris touched off a firestorm after saying in his Jan. 27 “State of the City” address that Lancaster was “growing a Christian community, and don't let anybody shy away from that.” The mayor added that he needed the community to stand up and say “we're a Christian community, and we're proud of that."

On Monday, Parris acknowledged to a group of local leaders, including representatives of Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Jewish communities, that his remarks might have caused a lot of people to feel left out.

Kamal Al-Khatib, founder and president of the American Islamic Institute of Antelope Valley, said in a statement that he accepted Parris’ regret, and hoped the mayor would now “work with the rest of the community to help heal the division and tension that his remarks caused over the last 16 days."

-- Ann M. Simmons