Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Mark Of The Beast.

      A recent newspaper story out of San Antonio tells of a 15-year-old student who is fighting her school district's “locator” chip embedded in her student ID badge. According to her, the chip is a “mark of the beast” as described in the Bible's Book of Revelation. This “mark” is a combination of letters and symbols that will be physically and permanently placed on one's forehead or right hand, indicating that the bearer is a follower of “the beast.” There will be severe penalties for refusing the mark and great rewards for getting it. Among other things “. . . no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name."
     Within the church itself, the Book of Revelation has had many different interpretations, ranging from a condemnation of the Roman Empire, an allegory of the ongoing fight between good and evil, or a forecast of the “end times.”
     Throughout the ages conservative Christians have believed in the “forecast” interpretation. To them the beast is Satan himself. In recent times the computer chip, especially when embedded in the human body, has been looked upon as a potential mark of the beast. It is incumbent upon Christians to resist receiving this mark at all costs. The San Antonio student obviously falls into this category.
     In addition to its religious meaning, the school district's ability to ascertain the location of the student at all times raises the issue of invasion of privacy. It is for this reason that an unlikely partnership has been joined between the student and the ACLU, and a Texas state lawmaker has introduced a bill into the legislature prohibiting the technology in Texas schools.
     The school district offered to remove the chip from the girl's ID badge, but still required her to wear it at all times while on school property. Again the family has refused on the grounds that it is “submission to a false god,” and that wearing the badge indicates her participation in the program. One wonders how they feel about drivers' licenses, social security cards and other forms of ID.
     In the event the case goes to court, I believe the family is likely to prevail. Generally a state has to have a “clear and convincing” reason in order to limit a person's religious beliefs. Obviously public safety, human sacrifice, polygamy, etc. meet the test, but I do not think that is the case here. But is it possible that a monetary settlement could be reached?
     One personal observation: It is my personal opinion that no matter how wild, unrealistic and ridiculous a belief is, a justification for it can be found somewhere in the Bible. Also, there are people willing to join in the practice. At what point does a particular religious belief become a superstition? Or is there any difference at all?


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