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Thursday, 28 January 2010

Welcome to "Christian" Lancaster, CA

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I was on my way to work this morning and saw the above story in paper in the newspaper rack at the drive-thru window. Needless to say, I was intrigued by the title and bought a paper. I read the story and I'm sure my mouth fell open several times as Lancaster, CA mayor Rex Parris was revealed to be a complete nut job. Later, in the morning I shared the story with my cube-mate who lives in Lancaster. She was horrified as she read the story and said "I voted for the man, but didn't realize he was such a nutcase." Another coworker, who is pretty religious, said her pastor attended the meeting and was shocked by the mayor's statements.

I'll post the complete story from the Antelope Valley Press, along with my comments from each section. I don't usually post a complete story, but in this case I'm commenting on all sections of the story. Here is the story on their website.
Parris Touts City as a "Christian" Community
Mayor's address focuses on crime, culture, green energy
By Gerry Price
Valley Press City Editor/Assignments

LANCASTER - Mayor R. Parris sees his city as strongly Christian, and he's proud of that.

"We're growing a Christian community, and don't let anybody shy away from that," he told an audience of 160 people, mainly pastors and their spouses, during his State of the City address Tuesday at the John P. Eliopulos Hellenic Center.

He said he wants the community's electorate to validate a Christian stance in the April municipal election, in which a ballot measure endorses prayers at city meetings, specifically with permission to invoke a specific deity, including Jesus.
How can this possible be anything but divisive? The mayor wants a "Christian city". What does this even mean? Does he want a higher percentage of Christians living in the city? Or does he want a town run by Christians for Christians? And if this is supposed to be a city run meeting, why is the audience mainly Christian pastors and their wives? What about switching the word "Christian" to "White", then the bigotry is instantly obvious.
While Parris, who is running a second term as mayor in April, sail he didn't care which candidates the voters favored. "I do want them voting for that prayer amendment," referring to a measure asking voters whether or not the City Council should seek religious guidance before its meetings.

The council put the measure on the ballot after the American Civil Liberties Union sent the city a letter of warning that said allowing "sectarian" prayers, such as those that mention Jesus Christ, at governmental meetings is divisive and unconstitutional.

"I need them standing up and saying we're a Christian community, and we're proud of that", he said, speaking of his multimedia Powerpoint presentation flashed a big-screen picture with a large Christian cross and and the phrase "Growing a Christian Community."
Currently the ACLU is suing the city of Lancaster for the use of sectarian prayers before city council meetings. But even worse in addition to the sectarian prayers, Mayor Parris has also limited the denomination as well. Only a couple of pastors are allowed give the prayer.
[Correction - Currently the ACLU has not sued the city of Lancaster yet. They are waiting to see if the ballot measure allowing sectarian prayers passes.]

If the measure passes, hundreds of residents should petition petition the city to allow them to pray in the name of various deities. That would be hilarious. How can they possibly turn someone down without making it obvious the city prefers only Christian prayers? Personally I prefer the goddess Bastet, since I love cats.
Asked afterward whether his talk of being a "Christian community" tends to leave out or anger residents who are not Christians, the mayor said he doesn't mean to exclude anyone.

Noting that he had a meeting scheduled that evening with members of a local gay and lesbian organization, Parris said "My vision of it is not a vision of exclusion. It’s a vision of attraction. I understand for so long it had an exclusionary feet to it. That doesn't mean we shouldn't do it. We should remove the exclusionary aspect to it."
The mayor says he wants a Christian community and says he can't see how that is divisive. What a crock of shit. How can stating a Christian community is better than a community that is not exclusively Christian not be insulting and divisive? It's like when Christians advertise they would like to talk to the "lost". How can this be anything but insulting?
Parris maintained in post speech remarks that a Christian city had a better sense of community that an "atheistic city", and said that the progress Lancaster has made over the past several years came about because of the sensor of cooperation between the various elements in the city.
What the hell is an "atheistic" city? Some place in North Korea or China? Or the former Soviet Union? Certainly no place here in the United States that I know of. Or perhaps he is talking about some city that is not expressively Christian? It's like when some Christians refer to anything non-Christian as "atheistic". Or perhaps he is confusing a neutral stance of not mixing government and religion as "atheistic"?
As a prime example, he referred to the recently announced 31% drop in the Lancaster crime rate in the last two years, commenting, "That 31% is the difference between a city that is dangerous to live in vs. a city that is safe to live in."

Despite the best efforts of the Sheriff's Department, that drop wouldn't have occurred without the cooperation of all the city's departments and its citizenry, Parris said.

"It was all of us coming together," he said.
What's with all of the statistics? References please, Mayor. I've spent time in places where the crime rate was low, a lone woman could walk around freely at midnight and never be disturbed. But these are places I would never live in. For in those places, there is little to no freedom to speak and write as one pleases.
Parris praised the jump from 118 active Neighborhood Watch groups in 2008 to 192 in 2009, and an even greater hike in involvement in Business Watch.

Other city-led actions took a large step to reduce what he called "hyper vigilance" of youth, which led them to become vulnerable to gang involvement.

Specifically, by allowing graffiti, truancy, roving pit bulls, and gangs to proliferate, we were putting our children in harm's way, Parris said.

To that end, the city:
  • Cleaned up graffiti in 18,114 locations in 2009.
  • Removed 1,034 pit bulls from city streets during that same time frame.
Paris also touted the planned Voyager Sky Sentinel project, which will allow a Sheriff's Department official to keep an eye on crime from above the city from some 8,000 feet above the ground.

He noted that, during one demonstration of the aircraft, the brainchild of aviation pioneer Dick Rutan, he was able to see every detail of an accident or crime in real time.

He discounted any idea of the plane infringing on the privacy of law abiding individuals, noting, "This device will not do anything a current (Sheriff's Department) helicopter can't do.

At the same time, by using the aircraft "we'll be able to utilize services like we've never done before."

I honestly believe we're on the way to becoming the safest city in America," Parris said, despite the many reasons that shouldn't happen, including the city's proximity to a state prison and the high number of parolees in the community.
I'm almost beyond words at this. All I can think of is the quote by Benjamin Franklin, "They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security." The mayor has strayed far, far from the American vision of our founders.
The mayor also praised the introduction of Community Impact Homes in the community.

The first two, one near Piute Middle School and the other in the Trend tract, are run by personnel from Grace Chapel and Central Christian Church.

Parris said, "We're not putting churches (running neighborhood houses) in every impoverished neighborhood. I'd like to put them up in every neighborhood.

The mayor also said he would like to have health workers operate out of the community houses.
I would like to see how these houses are financed. Are the churches renting them? Can only Christian groups rent them? Here is a video of the dedication of the Trend Community House.



The video starts off with the mayor, Rex Parris telling of his vision of overworked parents being helped (or preyed upon) by a house in every neighborhood run by an evangelical Christian church. If the Evangelical Churches are renting these houses, can't other groups rent as well. The Satanist Community House would be one happening place, with large pentagrams in the windows, and heavy metal blasting the neighborhood. Or a Rastafarian house, with mighty clouds of pot smoke drifting over the neighborhood. HehHehHeh. Perhaps the AV Freethinkers can get a house as well.

Then the mayor hands the podium over to a Pastor Dave Prather from the Central Christian Church, with the remark "Now he is responsible for an entire neighborhood." WTF? If I lived in that neighborhood, I would be insulted at the patronizing tone. No one is responsible for me but myself.

Pay attention at 4:15 in the video where Concepcion Harris says "We're here to transform the neighborhood for Christ. That's what we're here to do." And the mayor wants one of these in every neighborhood? Holy Church-State entanglement, Batman. Talk about preying upon those too poor to afford decent daycare.

Also notice the cross symbol. Apparently, this is the new city symbol for Lancaster CA. Lancaster's previous symbol was a California Poppy, representing the California Poppy Reserve west of the town. I've noticed the new symbol the last year or two. I liked the poppy better. It was much nicer and more representative of the city. Interesting note, the video is no longer hosted at the city's website. I found it on Youtube and downloaded a copy for myself.
He also said that on Sundays, church buses should be stopping at homes in all the neighborhoods to take children to church.
You mean these buses? The mayor is probably a member of Lancaster Baptist Church. I've done some searching, but he never comes out and says which church he is a member of. But the Lancaster Baptist Church always seems to be involved in city business. (I've heard this from some friends.) I also have a vision of surveillance drones busily flying over the city on Sunday morning, searching for those children not going to Sunday school.
Another area the mayor praised was the city's support for the arts, especially in the development of Lancaster Boulevard as a mecca for artists and patrons of the arts, and as a place for fine dining.

Noting the opening of the Brooklyn Deli and Giannini Bistro and the upcoming opening of BeX, the mayor bragged, "Pretty soon, when you go out to eat, you'll be going to Lancaster Boulevard. They'll have better restaurants than the (Antelope Valley) Mall, and more fun, too."

Upon revealing a slide titles "Alternative Energy Capital of the World," Parris said a Monday meeting between a foreign company and a "major home builder" will lead to the construction of 10 of the most energy efficient homes in the world within the next year.

Touting the "best sun in the world" and the Valley's nearly constant winds as wonderful sources of green energy, Parris said a planned trip to China will allow him to meet with representatives of a major company that builds batteries designed to store green energy.

The mayor also said the city hopes to be announcing that 6,000 to 10,000 new jobs will be coming in the near future.

Other statistics cited by Parris were a 36% drop in fatal collisions from 2008 to 2009, the elimination of 5,421 illegal dump sites during 2009, and the repair of 24,129 pot holes in that time frame.

Managing Editor Charles F. Bostwick contributed to this report.
The above sounds like the city has neglected large problems for a long time, then suddenly realized how bad things were. The mayor sure seems to like bragging about himself a lot. How exactly did the city reduce the number of fatal collisions?

This photo was taken the day before at a city council meeting where city council woman Sherry Marquez had to defend statements she made about Muslims on her Facebook page.

Do a search for Mayor Rex Parris on Google and check out the craziness. He seems to have the jobs of mayor and theocratic dictator confused.

Story continues here.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'd like to go back to the "Good Old Days" when we fed chrixstains to Lions!

Anonymous said...

I think he is obnoxious and egotistic! They need to pull their heads out of their you know whats!!

Anna Lemma said...

Wow Anon,you really need to lay off the coffee. The mayor is a major control freak, no doubt about it. People need just not to elect the idiot for the next election.

Anonymous said...

Well, someone needs to speak up... and if no one else will do it, then I make it my pleasure to do so. Chrixstianity is a VIRUS...that sickens the mind! And as Christopher Hitchens says RELIGION POISONS EVERYTHING!

Transplanted Lawyer said...

A quibble - the ACLU has not yet sued Lancaster but has threatened to do so. It is holding off until after the elections to see if the "random sectarian prayer" initiative passes. If it does, then the ACLU will sue; otherwise, it's adopted a "wait and see" posture.

What bugs me is that Rex wins whether or not the city does. If the ACLU sues the city, Rex's base will cheer him on for "fighting the good fight" against those "godless liberals" and that will BOOST his already-good chances at re-election. This will happen even if the City has a losing hand (as it quite obviously does under the case law) and winds up having to not only lose in court but pay the ACLU a bunch of money for the privilege of having been sued by the ACLU and lost. Apparently this use of taxpayer money, to rally Rex's base before the election, is one that the Mayor believes is a good one.

Anna Lemma said...

Thanks, I'll add a correction to my post. I'm sure you know a whole lot more about the situation than I do. I probably should have looked up whether or not the ACLU had actually gone ahead with the lawsuit yet.

The whole situation really sucks for the residents of Lancaster. I hope they can see how Parris is manipulating and exploiting the whole situation for personal gain at the expense of the city.

Rox1SMF said...

This mayor needs to be schooled in the Constitution!

Has Jesus made any headway in decreasing the meth trade in Lancaster? ;)

Kev said...

Transplanted Lawyer is right on the mark: this is how Parris behaves to get attention from his base. Nothing would energize the local religious types more then to frame the upcoming election as a choice between him and the godless Anti-Christian Liberals Union.
Payback is a bitch, though. Because he's in bed with developers and offers them the run of the place, just as soon as housing values begin to rebound, the developers move in, and residents there suddenly find that thir housing values are being sorely undercut by new subdivision homes.
Let the lesson be, you get exactly what you deserve. It's why I left the Antelope Valley after 19 years. I hoped for too long, but the area probably is beyond helping itself. Housing is a lousy deal there, because it's not a particularly good investment.
SO: Parris will play this game every time elections approach, and he will keep his position as long as he wants it, and the voting Parris-ites will keep supporting him. History demonstrates this: the previous mayor was pastor of one of the big churches in town. He was never voted out. He just finally got so old, he gave it up...

Anonymous said...

Krixstianity..... it's a little like when you step in shit... it takes a long time to get rid of the stink!

uzza said...

Congratulations on writing a great post. This story is on other sites, but yours is the only one that gives all the details. Excellent analysis.

Dwayne Walker said...

Thanks for posting this! If it wasn't for your site, I'd have no idea what's going on in Lancaster since I don't live there and don't want to pay the AV Press any more than I have to.

Linda said...

Even though I have broken every commandment at least twice and continue to break my favorite ones, I consider myself Christian because I love like Christ. However if Rex is Christian, I think I'd rather worship with the Mongols, at least they are honest about thier intentions.
L kc R.

Anna Lemma said...

Thanks uzza and Dwayne. I spent a few hours searching on the Web to find more information about what the Mayor and his friends are up to. From what I've seen,it looks like the Mayor will pander to whomever he thinks will help keep him in office. Since Lancaster is a heavily conservative Christian community, those are the people he sucks up too, regardless of what he may actually believe.

Dwayne Walker said...

Your welcome! I'm visiting this site often to keep tabs with Lancaster. I think the Freethought communities of Southern California should treat the City of Lancaster with the intensity and dedication they devoted to the City of San Diego when it came to the Mount Soledad cross.

The situation is Lancaster is far worse than the Mount Soledad cross issue and sinking even deeper!

Sieglinde said...

I know a few Wiccans and Asatru who live there so I found about this fairly early on. Watch the cable channels in the local area. We get the Rex Parris ads on our cable channels in Ridgecrest, CA. What a tool!!! He is such an ambulance chaser.

Sieglinde said...

I know a few Wiccans and Asatru who live there so I found about this fairly early on. Watch the cable channels in the local area. We get the Rex Parris ads on our cable channels in Ridgecrest, CA. What a tool!!! He is such an ambulance chaser.

Caleb said...

I'm reading this and asking myself how many of you people have talked to the mayor or Marquez personally to figure out if some of these assumptions are true...as far as "separation of church and state"...read the Constitution...the phrase never appears in it...there is nothing wrong with Christianity working in the government...the Constitution only says that the government cannot interfere in the establishment of a Religion whether that is in the government itself or in a neighborhood...I would say that Islam is pretty established and that Marquez is entitled to freely speak against those of them who want to kill Americans like you and me...BTW...Christians are the most discriminated against...point and case...no one is shocked that Obama is a muslim while the first mention of Marquez as a Christian brings disdain...the notion of the cross, God forbid...the building of a city mosque, no big deal...praying in Jesus' name, offensive...praying in Allah's name...no big deal...If you actually take the time and research the lives of the founding Fathers of our nation, in detail (which I doubt the majority of you have)..you will find that the establishment of this nation, according to them was to have and protect the freedom to worship Jesus Christ as God...read their diaries, read the other documents they wrote, the accounts of the things they said...you will find that, for the most part, the Lancaster City Council knows that 2+2=4

Anna Lemma said...

Well Caleb, exactly what universe are you living in where a majority population (73% in the US) is some sort of poor victimized minority? Also the first admendment to the US constitution says that the government may not have an "establishment of religion". That means that the government may not establish a religious standard or favorite or establish an official religion. The government may not play favorites among religions. I think that some of your fellow Christans who may actually be persecuted in parts of world would regard you as a whiny crybaby.

Anonymous said...

There are lots of negative comments here by people who seem to be very offended by people in the community taking time from their lives in order to help out neighbors in their community. Forget about R Rex Parris. Do any of you posters know what Neighborhood Impact actually does? If not, pick up a paintbrush, a rake, or a broom and help clean up some of the neighborhoods the organization is involved in. First weekend in October every year in either the Piute or Trend areas. But if you're offended by hard work on a volunteer basis and don't want to help someone less fortunate than yourselves, you might want to stay home. Warning: you'll give up several Saturdays once you've done one clean-up day.

Anonymous said...

Linda, you've broken all the commandments twice? So you've murdered people -- twice? And you say you love like Christ. Either you don't know what the commandmensts are or you love like someone other than Jesus Christ.

Anna Lemma said...

Well Anon,you are certainly making a lot of baseless assumptions about me and the readers of this blog. I've spent a lot of years taking in foster teens and homeless teens (mainly kicked out of the house because of homosexuality).

A lot of people want to help at a distance or only a few days a week, but don't want to help every day as myself or hubby do. I'm not saying that that help is not appreciated, but actually very few people are willing to take in a teen over 18 who just needs several months to graduate and get a high school diploma. A lot of these kids just need some support for a few months.

Anonymous said...

We can't look at community wide problems as a partisan.

The fact that this program sought by Lancaster to unite neighborhoods through the use of non-profit organizations seems to be only as divisive as this website allows it to be, as we believe it to be.

Truly anything can be divisive if we choose it to be so.

Having an atheistic club is devise because it contributes to the notion that Atheists are on an opposing ideology then theists. Which is a fact that we find to be true about Christian clubs and any ideology; there is an inherent contradiction between opposing ideologies; there are yes's and no's.

We can't buy into that idea or else we will just be striving against ourselves.

I would encourage us to be supportive of each other and to focus on what is important. We have some crappy schools and some crappy crime rates and the Christians are doing the best at solving those problems.

So instead of looking at this with a partisan lens and being jealous that another community group is making headway why don't we say good job, but let’s try this "insert better idea here"

J said...

Secularists, skeptics, and non-believers have rightly pointed out the problems of fundamentalists in the military, yet there are other Church-state issues---ie, the separation clause as it applies to public institutions such as education, police, courts. What of school districts controlled by religious fundamentalists of whatever sort?? (usually xtian...but at times, mormons, jews, muslims..or even pagans). In fact, many fundamentalists--and creationists-- work as teachers and administrators in AV schools, and supposedly progressive Socal as a whole.


Churchies tend to hire other churchies, as well--ie, Principal McHoneypott, a mormon lady, may have a few potential teachers to choose from, and one is a Miss Starblossom, who is also LDS--a member at her temple! . Odds are...Miss S. will get the position, over the non-LDS or ..non-religious.

Anonymous said...

This is America, and of course any group can rent or buy a Lancaster foreclosure home. That being said, research the origins of social work. Look at Hull House in Chicago. Living among those in need is the most effective way to model change for them and to serve them. It's easy to live in a big house across town and tell others how to survive their plight. It's quite another to live alongside of them and fight for positive change with them. How can you criticize anyone trying to help our city, even if is not your preferred methodology. Grow up already!

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Anonymous said...

Me and my family are new to the area and we're are not christian, actually we're Jewish so from what the mayor is saying, is that our new home is for Christians only , wow can you say Nazi idealism.