Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris has apologized for trying to grow a Christian community.
During his State of the City speech on Jan. 27, the mayor said, "We are growing a Christian community, and don't let anybody shy away from that."
That comment, supporting a ballot measure to authorize Christian-specific prayer at city council meetings, quickly attracted criticism and federal action. The Council on American-Islamic Relations filed a federal civil rights complaint on Friday.
On Monday, the mayor held a news conference with various religious leaders to apologize, the Antelope Valley Press reported:
"I sincerely apologize to anyone who felt excluded," the mayor said.
"Our communities are robust and vibrant when we do everything we can to facilitate all churches and all faiths and ensure they have a vibrant role in the community
"When we have diversity we have friction," Parris said. The question, he said, is "how to have a robust community without making anyone feel excluded."
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Representatives from the Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Jewish communities attended Monday's event. CAIR executive director, Hussam Ayloush, said he welcomes the mayor's apology.
Parris said he still has a lot of congregations to visit over the next year, the Antelope Valley Press reported.
"For us to have a vibrant and healthy community requires vibrant and healthy synagogues, mosques, churches and temples," Parris said.
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