What is the difference between superstition and religion? Is it a quantitative difference? A systematic notion? If you compile a certain number of superstitions under one label, can you call it a religion?
Often the difference is a fundamental matter as old as human association; whatever one person believes, he or she would call a religion. What their neighbor believes, though, if it does not match up, is merely superstition. The underlying theme is one of knowledge and ignorance. If you have the “right” faith, it is knowledge. If you have the “wrong” faith, it is merely superstition, the stuff of ignorant people.
Which brings us to a BBC News report from the town of Reeves, Louisiana:
Christian residents of Reeves have been complaining since the early 1960s about being given the prefix, 666 – known in the Bible as the “number of the beast”.
For the next three months, households will be able to change the first three digits of their phone numbers to 749.
Mayor Scott Walker said CenturyTel’s decision was “divine intervention”.
However, he admitted it helped that Louisiana’s two senators had also lobbied for the change with the phone company and the state Public Service Commission.
“It’s been a black eye for our town, a stigma,” he said.
“I don’t think it’s anything bad on us, just an image,” he added. “We’re good Christian people.”
I agree with Mayor Walker: the fact of the 666 prefix code certainly should not reflect poorly on the town or its residents. Unfortunately, the superstition speaks volumes. These are, after all, “good Christian people” who, apparently, are afraid of their telephones.
And I used to think the Seinfeld episode was stupid ….