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.

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Who Would Jesus Shoot? Part 2

Part 1 of this story consists of the ruckus that was raised when ABC “discovered” the Bible references on Trijicom’s rifle sights that were sold to the US Army and US Marine Corps. The decision by Trijicom to place bible references on scopes used in a predominantly Muslim country was a bad decision. But what was even worse were the decisions by the US Army and the US Marine Corps to allow these verses on the scopes and purchase them anyway. It seems the upper brass consists mainly of blinkered Christians unaware that not everyone follows Christianity.

Chris Rodda posts a letter sent to MRFF from a Muslim soldier about what happened in his unit when they received these weapons. I’m reposting the letter in it’s entirety here as well.

To: Mikey Wenstein [sic] and MRFF:

I am a U.S. Army infantry soldier with the rank of (rank withheld). I am married with children. I am stationed at Fort (installation name withheld). I have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan multiple times. I have been awarded medals for direct combat engagement as well as for injuries and wounds received in hand-to-hand combat. I am a Muslim American. My family converted when I was very young. I am caucasian and have a last name that does not sound ethnic. Therefore, few of my fellow soldiers know that I am a Muslim. My wife comes from a Christian tradition but rarely practices or attends church. I have witnessed terrible religious persecution in the my (number withheld) years in the Army. Most of it comes from “angry” conservative Christians in my unit chains of command and occasionally from my fellow infantry soldiers. I am very familiar with the Trijicon ACOG gunsights and have often had them as part of my personal weapons; both my M-4 and my M-16. In my first 2 deployments I saw and experienced no incidents regarding the New Testament bible quotes that are written on the metal casing of the gun sights. Many soldiers know of them and are very confused as to why they are there and what it is supposed to mean. Everyone is worried that if they were captured in combat that the enemy would use the bible quotes against them in captivity or some other form of propaganda. As an American soldier I am ashamed that those bible quotes are on our primary weapons. As a Muslim American I am horrified. As one who swore his oath to the Constitution, I am driven to fight this Christian insanity but I know if I try to do so in a visible way that I will suffer at the hands of my military superiors. I am of low enlisted rank and can be crushed easily. I am prepared to suffer, but I am not prepared for my wife and children to suffer. So I have reached out to MRFF because there is nowhere else safe to go to try to fight this thing of disgrace. There are many other soldiers who feel as I do. Many are Protestant and Catholic and they fear reprisal just as much as I do for trying to stand up to the Christian bullies in uniform who outrank us. But if you try to fight back, you are not “asking” for trouble, YOU ARE IN TROUBLE from the start. And if you are a Muslim American, the hatred is always just below the surface and ready to explode at a moment’s notice. After the Fort Hood shootings, it was so bad, even for a low profile Muslim like me, that I had to ask MRFF for help.

Nothing in my first 2 deployments prepared me for what happened with the Trijicon ACOG gun sights during my 3rd deployment to Afghanistan. I will never forget the day it occurred. It was morning and there was a mandatory formation of several companies. A very senior NCO was yelling at us which is not that unusual. He asked a private what it was that he (the private) was holding in his hand and the private said it was his “weapon” several times to which the senior NCO replied “and what ELSE is it”? FInally, the senior NCO said that the private’s rifle was also something else; that because of the biblical quote on the ACOG gunsight it had been “spiritually transformed into the Fire Arm of Jesus Christ” and that we would be expected to kill every “haji” we could find with it. He said that if we were to run out of ammo, then the rifle would become the “spiritually transformed club of Jesus Christ” and that we should “bust open the head of every haji we find with it.” He said that Uncle Sam had seen fit not to give us a “pussy `Jewzzi’ (combination of the word `Jew’ and Israeli made weapon `Uzi’) but the “fire arm of Jesus Christ” and made specific mention of the biblical quotes on our gun sights. He said that the enemy no doubt had quotes from the Koran on their guns but that “our Lord is bigger than theirs because theirs is a fraud and an idol”. As a Muslim and an American soldier I was fit to be tied but I kept it in. There were many Afghans, both civilian and military, on base within earshot of what was being yelled at us and I can only wonder in shock what they must have thought. This senior NCO was apparently also the head person of a conservative, crazy Christian group called the “Christian Military Fellowship” and made a big deal about the importance of joining to everyone. He told us all that we MUST read a book called “Under Orders” in order to make it through this combat deployment and said he had many copies for everyone. Some of my friends went and got their copies. I refused. Finally, this senior NCO ended his yelling by warning us that if we did not “get right with Jesus” then our rifles would not provide spiritual strength despite the bible quotes on our ACOG gunsights and that we would be considered “spiritual cripples” to our fellow units and soldiers. He didn’t say it in so many words, but the message was clear; if anything bad happened in a combat situation, it would be the fault of anyone who had not accepted Jesus Christ in the “right way”. I have never felt so ashamed and scared in my life. I have never hated myself so much for not speaking out. So I thought of my wife and children and endured. Every time I looked at my rifle with that Trijicon ACOG gunsight/scope with the biblical quote from the book of John (8:12), it would make me sick. If I had tried to protest, it would have made me dead. And if I’m dead I’m of no use to my wife and children.

I’ve highlighted the parts that especially convey how the average soldier realizes the dangers that Christianizing the military puts on individual soldiers. Not only “In harms way” but now “Stupidly put in even more harm’s way for no reason.”

This letter shows the harm of mixing religion with government, especially the military. Even something so small emboldens the theocrats, who then claim they are vindicated by the verse on the equipment.

Part 3 will discuss the furious backpeddling by the military and Trijicom once the story hit the national news.

Who Would Jesus Shoot? Part 1

This past week ABC News presented a story, U.S. Military Weapons Inscribed With Secret “Jesus” Bible Codes. It turns out on further reading the title was not very accurate. The Bible reference was not very secret and was not a code. The US Military contracted with Trijicon to supply them with sights for various rifles. The founder of Trijicon, Glyn Bindon, was a very devout Christian who was killed in a plane crash in 2003.

Trijicon makes the ACOG sight which is considered by many soldiers to be one of the best sights purchasedby the government. They have been putting serial numbers on them consisting of standard biblical reference numbers. This has been known for years by soldiers out in the field, even though the US Army and Marine Corps have said they were unaware of this.

Looking at Trijicon’s website, there is this curious statement “• Morality – We believe that America is great when its people are good. This goodness has been based on biblical standards throughout our history and we will strive to follow those morals.” They don’t seem to realize that the founding document for the United States, the Constitution, has no references to God or the Bible in it.

Go here for the ABC Niteline news report on the story.

Here are a few examples of the serial numbers on the scopes, more images are located here:

Trijicon’s Reflex scope, which according to the company, is “the fastest, most user-friendly gunsight in the field.” According to Trijicon, “the U.S. Special Operations Command has designated the Trijicon Reflex as a vital part of the…Accessory Kit fielded by all Special Operations Forces. This scope is imprinted with the marking “2COR4:6”, a reference to the second book of Corinthians in the New Testament, Chapter 4, Verse 6. The verse reads: “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (King James Version) (ABC News)

At the end of the scope’s model number, you can read “JN8:12”, which is a reference to the New Testament book of John, Chapter 8, Verse 12, which reads: “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (King James Version) (ABC News)

In addition to the above images ABC News also shows Iraqi soldiers training with the scopes. What do they think of this? And wouldn’t this further inflame tensions in the area and give AlQaeda more ammunition for claims that the US is on some sort of religious crusade? It seems that religion has blinded the company management of Trijicom to common sense. Since these scopes have been in use for sometime, how can the US military not know this has been going on? And what about reports of Christian commanders in the US Army bragging that the weapons are “spiritually transformed by the Lord Jesus Christ”?

Trijicon confirmed to ABCNews.com that it adds the biblical codes to the sights sold to the U.S. military. Tom Munson, director of sales and marketing for Trijicon, which is based in Wixom, Michigan, said the inscriptions “have always been there” and said there was nothing wrong or illegal with adding them. Munson said the issue was being raised by a group that is “not Christian.” The company has said the practice began under its founder, Glyn Bindon, a devout Christian from South Africa who was killed in a 2003 plane crash.

Why should it matter that the group, MRFF, that has been raising this issue along with a host of other more egregious problems is “not Christian”? Don’t non-Christians have the same rights to speak and raise complaints as Christians” Are Christians some how more human or superior than non-Christians? What a bigoted jerk. According to Rob Boston of Americans United, it depends upon who is doing the speaking for the US military if there is a problem or not.

I was shocked, however, to read the military’s response to the matter. Air Force Maj. John Redfield, the spokesman for the U.S. Central Command, told the News, “This situation is not unlike the situation with U.S. currency. Are we going to stop using money because the bills have `In God We Trust’ on them? As long as the sights meet the combat needs of troops, they’ll continue to be used.”

Let’s be clear: This situation is not like “In God We Trust” on the money. That “civil religion” affirmation – problematic as it may be from a church-state perspective — is not the same as a symbolic military embrace of one particular faith. When U.S. troops use weapons inscribed with passages from the New Testament, it’s an endorsement of Christianity, and it sends the false message to the world that the United States is a Christian country.

Thankfully, some military officials seem to understand that there is a problem. Capt. Geraldine Carey, a Marine Corps spokeswoman, told the Associated Press, “We are aware of the issue and are concerned with how this may be perceived.” Carey said Marine Corps officials will meet with Trijicon to discuss the matter.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. These Christians at Trijicom are so blinded by evangelical fervor, they cannot see the harm they are doing to the soldiers they claim they are interested in protecting.

Part 2 continues the discussion and shows an example of the harm these “harmless” references can cause.