In this edition of Your Modern World, we have a group of farmers bringing suit against the government because they think RFID tagging of livestock constitutes the mark of the beast per the Book of Revelation. These farmers, primarily Amish, refuse to use RFID tags to identify their cows, pigs, and so forth, because it goes against their religion and they object to the government forcing them to use the technology.
I’m all for the separation of church and state, and I think it works both ways: the government shouldn’t be interfering with the Amish’s religious beliefs any more than the Amish’s beliefs should influence government policy. However, if the Amish expect to sell their products outside of their communities, they need to suck it up and abide by the law. I fail to see how placing an inert tag in a pig’s ear — which will later be scanned by the buyer — violates their tenets against the use of technology. They could use a paper tracking system, in which case an RFID tag would be no different than a stamped tag, until they make the hand-off to the buyer.
Of course, saying all that validates the stupidity of the mark of the beast allegation. Do we even know what the mark is? The bible quote in question is:
Rev. 13:16-17 – “He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.”
Okay… What is this mark? What does it look like? Is it literal or figurative? Also, it refers to men with the mark of the beast, not beasts with the mark of men. Whether we define the beast as an animal, a demon, or Lucifer, it seems to me an RFID tag doesn’t apply. Men created RFID tags, not cows or mythical monsters.
An RFID tag is nothing more than a number, period (and it’s a lot bigger than 666). It becomes the key in a database of whatever information the farmers and/or the government decide to associate with said key. It’s no different from branding an animal to say “Hey, this cow is mine.” Or tattooing a number on an animal. Or hanging a stamped tag from their ear. Or whatever method these farmers use to track their animals.
One thing separates a database maintained by pencil and a databased maintained by computer: convenience. They both do the exact same thing. Yet somehow once electrons become involved, some people move off into the world of magic and superstition.
Reading deeper into the article, I love how the prevention or avoidance of terrorism is becoming a convenient excuse to justify lawsuits. In a nutshell, the suit claims that if the farmers have to quit farming because they refuse to participate in placing the mark of the beast upon their livestock, the terrorists win.
Whatever. If this suit actually makes it to court, I’ll lose a lot of faith in our legal system.