Religion in Society

Lancaster, Calif. Mayor Wants to Grow "Christian Community"

| by Mark Berman Opposing Views

Flying in the face of laws that separate church and state, the mayor of a Southern California town is calling for daily prayers at city council meetings in an effort to promote Christianity.

"We are growing a Christian community, and don't let anybody shy away from that," Lancaster mayor R. Rex Parris said in his State of the City speech, according to a report in the Antelope Valley Press. He urged residents to support a city ballot measure that would authorize the prayers at council meetings.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Daily News, Parris expressed surprise that some religious leaders object to Christian prayers at city meetings. He blamed opposition on activists who "want a fight," the newspaper reported. "They want their 15 minutes of fame," he added.

Nonsense, said Kamal Al-Khatob, head of the Islamic Institute of the Antelope Valley. "This is not what America is all about," Al-Khatob said. "America is for everybody." He told the Daily News that the mayor's belief that Lancaster is a Christian community alienates Muslims.

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Is there anti-Muslim sentiment in Lancaster? Lancaster city council member Sherry Marquez recently wrote on her Facebook page that the beheading murder of an Islamic woman by her husband in New York shows that vicious murders are what Muslims embrace.

"This is what the Muslim religion is all about -- the beheadings, honor killings are just the beginning of what is about to come to the USA. We are told this is a small minority of Muslim's (sic) in America, but it is truly what they are all about."

Activists answer this bit of hateful rhetoric by saying that equating that murder with the tenets of Islam is as wrong as saying all Christians are murderers because an extremist was convicted of murdering an abortion doctor.

Lancaster is the sixth-largest city in Los Angeles County. It is located about 70 miles north of Los Angeles, in the Antelope Valley.