Mayor R. Rex Parris Honored With Prestigious Defender of the Faith Award From the Christian Law Association

LANCASTER, Calif., June 19, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The City of Lancaster is often in the limelight due to its progressive leadership, innovative endeavors and savvy partnerships. Recently, accolades were presented to Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris for advocating a more traditional posture – the right to pray in City Council meetings.

Following the City of Lancaster's victories at both the U.S. District Court (July 2011) and the U.S. Court of Appeals (March 2013); the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of invocations at City Council meetings in a similar case, Greece vs. Galloway, in May of this year. The history-making case reinforces freedom of speech protection, including that of spiritual leaders and churches. As such, during its 2014 Spiritual Leadership Conference, Lancaster Baptist Church honored Mayor Parris for his courageous stance for citizens' right to pray in public meetings. Even grander scale recognition was then bestowed upon the Mayor when he received the Christian Law Association's (CLA) Defender of the Faith Award.

"It is important that each of us take a stand for our personal beliefs," said Mayor Parris. "As Americans, the government protects our right to do so. The City of Lancaster took a stand to defend our residents' right to pray - the way they choose - at our invocations. Thankfully, justice not only prevailed for our community, but also for cities across America."

The inherent benefit of spiritually-led leadership may seem obvious to most; however, the issue of including an invocation at every City Council meeting struck a negative chord with certain groups. Consequently, a lawsuit ensued, challenging Lancaster voters' approval of the City's Invocation Policy (Measure I, April 2010). The Invocation Policy had been originally adopted by the Lancaster City Council in August 2009. The latest victory regarding public meeting invocations has set precedence in defense of prayer within municipal-based assemblies.

The 2014 Spiritual Leadership Conference included more than 2,200 pastors and people of faith who supported Mayor Parris' efforts toward spiritual freedom. Dr. Paul Chappell, Pastor of Lancaster Baptist Church, presented the Defense of Freedom Award to Mayor Parris, with the Lancaster City Council present to represent the united vision of local leadership. Following Pastor Chappell, CLA Founder and President David Gibbs, Jr. recognized Parris with the substantial Defender of the Faith Award. Brett Harvey, the attorney who won the Supreme Court case in New York, was also acknowledged during the ceremony for his diligence and the effectiveness of his organization, Alliance Defending Freedom. The Republican National Committee's Director of Faith Engagement Initiative, Chad Connelly, was in attendance, as well.

"I thank God for this opportunity to help defend the rights of believers," stated Mayor Parris at the Conference. "I am truly honored to have contributed to this history-making case. But we all know that it was your ongoing prayers which brought this case to victory. Thank you."

CONTACT: Joseph Cabral, City of Lancaster (661) 723-6053 or cell (661) 400-1353 jcabral@cityoflancasterca.orgSource: R. Rex Parris Law Firm