Religion makes the front page

phild2008@sbcglobal.netJuly 26, 2012 

I noticed The Tribune was getting a continuing trickle of letters to the editor about a front-page story that ran July 5. So, I went back and read it again.

The headline said, “Atheists criticize Pismo prayers.” And then I noticed another story on that same front page that also seemed to challenge traditional religion.

The other story’s headline was, “God particle is all but confirmed.” It was on one side of the front page and the Pismo prayers story was on the other side.

I bet The Tribune’s editors put those two religion-related stories on the front page on purpose. But, I was too dense to see the connection until I read them the second time.

You probably remember the prayer story. The Atheists United of San Luis Obispo had issued a news release. It criticized the invocations that open Pismo Beach City Council meetings. They are usually delivered by Paul Jones, the city chaplain.

Atheists United said that although Jones doesn’t say Jesus Christ, his invocations are obviously Christian. They said he uses expressions like “our lord and savior” and “our heavenly father.” Atheists United thinks his invocations make Pismo Beach appear to officially favor Christianity, in violation of relevant laws.

Of course, I’m just a rocking-chair lawyer, but it strikes me that the atheists have a weak case unless Jones says something like, “in Jesus’ name we pray.”

These are really unsettled times if even atheists are becoming militant. Atheists used to be satisfied to just sit back and feel quietly superior.

I sympathize with them, though. I too believe in separating government and religion with a high wall. History shows us that when governments intertwine with religion, it’s often disastrous for both.

In my hometown of Paso Robles, the City Council adopted a motto in 2006: “In God We Trust.” It hasn’t done any harm and probably makes some people feel good. But whenever I hear “In God We Trust,” a gruff voice inside my head adds, “but don’t mess with our guns.”

The other religion-related, July 5, front-page story reported that scientists in Switzerland may have finally observed a “God particle.” The particle’s official name is Higgs boson, which makes the story even harder to understand. Scientists say Higgs bosons are subatomic particles that give other subatomic particles mass or bulk and more or less hold the universe together.

But I thought scientists already knew where mass and bulk came from. Don’t I keep hearing and reading that it comes from high-fructose corn syrup?

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