First up from the God Machine this week is a story out of Congress, where a prominent House Republican introduced legislation, which ended up being far less interesting than the bill number it received (thanks to my colleague Will Femia for the heads-up).
Rep. Joe Barton (Texas) isn’t about to have his prized legislation get tagged with a 666 – the number of the beast. […]“It quickly became clear that the original bill number carried many different negative connotations,” Barton spokesman Sean Brown said in an email.”
Most proposed legislation is assigned a sequential bill number, without any regard for supernatural beliefs, and plenty of measures have accepted 666 as a bill number in previous Congresses.
But when Barton’s bill to lift restrictions on crude oil exports, his office balked. House officials agreed to change the designation from H. Res. 666 to H. Res. 702.
Steve M. reminded me that the Texas Republican isn’t alone among politicians with concerns about the three-digit number (which apparently is the subject of a diagnosed phobia). After President Reagan left the White House, he and Nancy Reagan bought a home in California. The street address was 666 St. Cloud Road.
As the L.A. Times noted, the Reagans “had the address changed to 668 to avoid the ‘number of the beast.’”
Also from the God Machine this week:
* Some of Pope Francis’ more progressive admirers will probably not be pleased with news this week from the pontiff: “Pope Francis gave his blessing on Wednesday to a referendum that would ban marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples in Slovakia, which will be voted on this Saturday.”
* Religious tensions in India: “Hundreds of Christian protesters clashed with police in India’s capital on Thursday as they pressed demands for government protection amid concern about rising intolerance after a series of attacks on churches. Demonstrators were pulled on to police buses as they tried to march from one of New Delhi’s largest cathedrals near parliament to the residence of Home Minister Rajnath Singh.”
* And in a week in which vaccinations inexplicably became a political issue, TV preacher Pat Robertson told his audience he’s not only skeptical about vaccines, he’s uncomfortable with fluoridation of water, too. The next big litmus test in presidential Republican politics?