Here’s the story, as reported by the AP:
‘Very Religious Community’ Gets Rid of 666 Phone Prefix
Friday, December 28, 2007
REEVES, La. — After decades of living with what Mayor Scott Walker calls a stigma, residents of this southwest Louisiana village are getting a new telephone exchange, one without the biblical connotations attached to their current 666. …
There are three churches in town, two Bible and one Baptist, and fewer than 450 homes, he said. In the Bible, 666 is depicted as the mark of the beast, and those taking the mark would be associating themselves with Satan, he said.
“It’s been a 40-year battle” to change the number, he said, counting at least four failed attempts.
This year, after a resident contacted the mayor with questions about the prefix, Walker said he polled residents and found overwhelming support for a change. He worked with the phone company, CenturyTel, and the state Public Service Commission among others to make the change. He said he began publicizing the option Sunday, addressing first the local churches and then reaching out to local media.
“It’s been a black eye for our town, a stigma,” he said. … “This is a good town. … We’re good Christian people.”
However, this irrational fear of the prefix 666 has nothing to do with Christianity; it is primitive superstition, on par with a fear of the 13th row on airplanes. No self-respecting Christian with a remotely sophisticated view of religion would worry about such trivial matters. From a Christian perspective, I imagine that God would prefer a charitable deed to an effort to change one’s phone number. That said, the rise of evangelical Christianity accompanies a certain disdain for the principles of science. The basic rejection of evolutionary biology is barely more sophisticated than numerological superstition. New-age mysticism, environmentalist mysticism, superstitious practices , and anti-scientific evangelical Christianity are symptoms of the same cultural problems.
But it’s still a pretty damn funny story. And, speaking of funny, catch Ricky Gervais’s reading of Creation.