At this week’s Butte County Board of Supervisors’ meeting, Pastor Steve Grandy of the Jubilee on the Ridge Church delivered the invocation, which referred to the “Father” three times and then ended, “I pray the blessing in the name of Jesus.” An invocation calling on Jesus may be legal for only one more supes’ meeting. That’s because by Oct. 9, the day after the next scheduled meeting, referring to Jesus in a prayer before a California governmental body may well be illegal. On Sept. 9 the Second District California Court of Appeals upheld a ruling by the Superior Court of Los Angeles that an invocation given before the Burbank City Council and ending “in the name of Jesus Christ” violated the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. It did so because of the reference to Jesus, which to the court’s interpretation endorsed a certain religion—Christianity—over all others that do not recognize Jesus. Such an endorsement, the court ruled, “sends a message to nonadherents that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community.” The government, in other words, may not endorse a specific religion. Simple.

Now the city of Burbank may appeal this to the state Supreme Court within 10 days of the decision’s becoming final, which is Oct. 9. The Supreme Court then has 90 days to grant a review. And if it takes the case, the appeals court ruling becomes “depublished,” or unenforceable. But if the Supreme Court decides not to hear the case, it becomes law. What that means is pre-meeting prayers may mention “God” because God is a generic entity common to many religions. However, Buddha, Allah, Zeus, Thor, Landrew (from the original Star Trek) or any other beings who are the focal points of religions may not be mentioned in the course of the spiritual pep talks that precede so many of this country’s governmental meetings. The Burbank case stems from a suit filed by a man named Irv Rubin, who objected to hearing Jesus being called upon to watch over the local councilmembers. Turns out that Rubin, a member of the Jewish Defense League, is currently incarcerated on charges of conspiring to blow up a mosque.

Once again the Greater Chico Chamber of Commerce, that business body that receives a big financial shot in the arm each year based on a vote from a majority of the Chico City Council, has announced its endorsements for the November election. I just got word of that pending announcement, which the press release says will happen tomorrow (Wednesday, Sept. 25). That cuts real close to when our paper has to be together and on its way to the printer. So I’ll go out on a short limb here and assume I know those endorsements. For Chico City Council the chamber will tap incumbents Maureen Kirk and Dan Herbert along with candidate and dentist Ross Bradford. For school board it will name Scott Huber and incumbents Donna Aro and Ann Sisco. Doug LaMalfa and Rick Keene will get the chamber nod in the 2nd and 3rd Assembly districts. And Sam Aanested will be anointed the chamber’s man in the 4th District Senate race.

One day later, I learn I’ve hit on only seven out of nine, which, in my defense, is better on average than what Chris Webber can hit from the foul line. I air-balled two of the endorsements for school board. The chamber gave its blessings to Rick Rees and Janet Walther instead of Sisco and Huber. It also endorsed Rep. Wally Herger, but in my defense the press release never said the chamber was making an endorsement in the 2nd Congressional District.

I didn’t know former Enterprise-Record Editor Jack Winning well (see Newslines, page 10). I spoke with him only a few times over the years, but each encounter was a very pleasant exchange. He was always polite and forthcoming. I interviewed him a couple of times for stories I was working on, and we’d inevitably laugh about how fellow journalists always make for the worst interviews. I did know that Winning cared deeply about the newspaper business and held a lot of respect and compassion for those who worked for him. I may not have agreed with him on any number of issues, but I will say that Winning was as up front and an honest as you could expect a person to be.