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Lancaster voters approve prayers before mtg.

April 15, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Voters in Lancaster overwhelmingly approve a controversial ballot measure that allows the City Council to continue beginning its meetings with prayers. By a 3 to 1 margin, in Tuesday's general election, voters approved the measure. But, the issue is far from over.Peter Eliasberg, managing attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, said the ACLU is considering taking Lancaster to court if the prayers are allowed to continue. Critics say Christian prayers are usually delivered. But, city officials say clergy of different faiths are invited to lead the opening prayer.

"In a constitutional democracy such as the United States of America, some basic rights are protected by the Constitution and cannot be determined by a vote," said Eliasberg. "For example, a majority of voters could not outlaw Republican political rallies, or ban the construction of mosques, temples or churches within city limits."

Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris, who won re-election over four challengers, said he is confident the measure will hold up in court. The controversy first came to light earlier this year when Parris remarked that he was "growing a Christian community" in Lancaster. He later apologized for those remarks and said he realized his words offended non-Christians.

Associated Press contributed to this story