Fingerprints are the Mark of the Beast, Says Kindergarten Teacher

We’ve all heard stories about how some Christians pharmacists cite “conscience clauses” to withhold birth control or morning-after pills from women because those things go against their faith. (Of course, they should be fired for not doing their job.)

But this notion of religious fundamentalists thinking the rules don’t apply to them stretches beyond the pharmacy.

Pam McLaurin, an evangelical Christian and kindergarten teacher in Texas, refuses to give police her fingerprints for a background check and she’s suing over it.

Her lawsuit cites the Bible — which, in her mind, says that fingerprints are the Mark of the Beast.

Her attorney, Scott Skelton, said his client believes that the computerized fingerprinting, in which her fingerprints will be stored in a database, is the mark addressed in Revelation. The teacher does not believe that it is merely coincidence that Revelation says only those with the ‘mark on his forehead or on his hand’ will be able to buy or sell, since only those teachers who comply with fingerprinting requirements will keep their jobs, he said.

“This law prohibits the free exercise of her religion,” Skelton said in a telephone interview.

Before anyone comments that someone with her mentality shouldn’t be allowed near children, I should mention there’s no evidence that she teaches Creationism or preaches hellfire or anything like that to the children. So I’ll avoid that characterization.

As for her sanity? That’s up for debate.

Regardless, this is still a problem.

If she gets her way, what’s to stop criminals who don’t want to be fingerprinted from using the same argument? Couldn’t they refuse to give a DNA sample for religious reasons as well?

It’s a slippery slope we’d be heading down if this lawsuit gained any traction.

(While we’re at it, how could the Mark of the Beast come from fingerprints that she surely believes God created? Oh, never mind… there’s no use trying to parse the logic in her argument when there is none to begin with.)

  • http://redheadedskeptic.com Laura

    what? That’s nuts. Everybody knows that social security numbers are the Mark of the Beast.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    No, no… it’s bar codes! Or RFID tags! Or driver’s licenses!

  • Cary

    Err, she has fingerprints whether someone records them somehow or not. She’s beyond stupid.

  • http://www.relativelyunrelated.com/ Dan J

    I don’t think I’d want anyone that divorced from reality teaching my children in the first place.

  • cathy

    I’ve been fingerprinted twice in the past year, it’s a standard part of hiring for some jobs. I knew when I applied that I would have to get an FBI background check including fingerprinting (which is done at trained locations, some of which are police, some court houses, or even properly certified businesses) and this woman probably knew that too. While I do not like giving out personal information to government officials, I understood that this rule was in place to protect the kids in the day care where I was working from people who had records of abusing kids (the report does clearly differentiate between types of crimes, so the employer would be able to know a drug possession felony from an assault on a child felony). The right talks so much about wanting to ‘protect’ kids from pedophiles, so why do they always object to simple rules that make a big difference?

    On an ironic side note, unless her lawyer is about a hundred, their fingerprints are on record too. You get fingerprinted when you take the LSAT.

  • http://www.banalleakage.com martymankins

    Mike is right… it’s the bar codes – the UPC symbol. That was the cry of the religious back in the 70′s when they first started appearing, with warnings that everyone would have a UPC symbol on their hand and forehead in order to purchase anything.

    This fingerprint thing is new for someone of the ultra religious type. What’s next.. blood samples are the mark of the beast? Hemant has a general concern with this lawsuit gaining traction. It could prove to help criminals get off. It could be the new “insanity plea” if it goes much further than this lawyer and his client.

  • Heidi

    “This law prohibits the free exercise of her religion,”

    Yeah, there are a lot of laws that do that. The abolition of slavery comes to mind. God said slavery was ok, so she should be allowed to have slaves, right? Whack job.

  • http://theinevitableknitblog.blogspot.com Amy

    I thought tattoos were the mark of the beastie?

    Seriously- that bit about people having a mark on their forehead or their hand… that’s about a mark that not all people will have. Fingerprints are a mark that all people have.

  • muggle

    Before anyone comments that someone with her mentality shouldn’t be allowed near children, I should mention there’s no evidence that she teaches Creationism or preaches hellfire or anything like that to the children. So I’ll avoid that characterization

    Why? Something is way off here. She doesn’t have to teach creationism or preach hellfire for something to be way, way off. Hell, I’m willing to bet it’s something even creepier that she’s afraid fingerprinting will reveal. There’s some reason she doesn’t want to be and I’m willing to bet it’s got absolutely nothing to do with god or the devil.

    In any case, keep her fucking far away from my grandchild.

  • Valdyr

    The teacher does not believe that it is merely coincidence that Revelation says only those with the ‘mark on his forehead or on his hand’ will be able to buy or sell, since only those teachers who comply with fingerprinting requirements will keep their jobs, he said.

    Let me know when they start doing forehead-printing… I’ll start practicing my angry scowl in order to throw off the popos.

  • Brian Westley

    This is already settled law. People have attempted to avoid being photographed, or being photographed with their faces veiled, and these lawsuits have lost because the government has a good and sufficient reason for doing it. Same with fingerprinting.

  • http://primesequence.blogspot.com/ PrimeNumbers

    It’s also a slippery slope when people are forced to participate in a questionable database of fingerprints or DNA when many people have been wrongly convicted on such ‘evidence’.

    I certainly don’t agree with the teacher’s religious reason for not wanting to be fingerprinted, but I utterly sympathize with the desire to not be.

  • Miko

    Her reason may be stupid, but you shouldn’t need a reason. Each of us has rights to privacy. Not wanting to live in a conservative’s paradise totalitarian police state is reason enough to refuse. They’ve been unsuccessful in getting mandatory-fingerprinting laws, so instead they’re attacking our liberties by adding these requirements, one profession at a time.

    While an employer of course has a right to ask potential employees to waive those rights during (or after, or before) the interview process, such businesses wouldn’t do very well in a free market, as competitors with less draconian views would become more attractive to potential employees and those companies that don’t adapt would either be left with the bottom-of-the-barrel employees or be forced out of business entirely. So, issues like this really only come up because we don’t have a free market.

    In terms of criminal law, it won’t matter for too much longer anyway. The scientific evidence against fingerprinting is getting so strong that courts are starting to reject them. For exemplar prints (i.e., those taken in a police station), they’ll (almost certainly) be unique, of course. However, the sorts of partial prints that come up at crime scenes will often match hundreds or thousands of people and investigators make value judgments about who to compare the prints to. The process is always subjective and often pseudo-science. cf. the Mayfield case for a particularly egregious example.

    This becomes doubly important in the hiring scenario, as it’d suck to be denied a job based on someone guessing that your print maybe looks a bit similar to a smudged mess taken from an old crime scene. These sorts of background tests (by which I mean fingerprint based, not identification based) almost never turn up anything, and when they do the vast majority are false-positives that nonetheless wreck lives.

    There’s no science behind background-check fingerprinting. It comes exclusively from politicians playing on our fears (i.e., monsters are out to get our children) in a cynical attempt to win votes.

    People have attempted to avoid being photographed, or being photographed with their faces veiled, and these lawsuits have lost because the government has a good and sufficient reason for doing it.

    But then, it’s the government that decides whether their reasons are good and sufficient. They may not be the most objective judge of the matter. Consider what we’re doing in places like Gitmo, since that’s likely to be the new standard.

    When the government says it has a good reason to do something, it really means that it wants to do something and nothing else. And what’s good for government and what’s good for society rarely align.

  • JD

    The whole thing is silly, but I always thought the part of the “Mark” is that it’s always visible, the reason why forehead and hand. I also thought that “on the hand” meant the back side, not the fingers. As someone pointed out, fingerprints are always there and are natural, it takes a special kind of nutball to think taking fingerprints is the same as accepting the Mark of the Beast. Something also left out, is that accepting the Mark is supposed to be the same as recanting your beliefs, which doesn’t happen with any identification system in the Western World.

    But then, it’s the government that decides whether their reasons are good and sufficient. They may not be the most objective judge of the matter. Consider what we’re doing in places like Gitmo, since that’s likely to be the new standard.

    No one can be completely objective, but the judicial branch is supposed to be a separate, independent branch of the government, so it’s not necessarily a case of the fox watching the hen house. The abuses of Gitmo happened because the judicial branch was not allowed to be part of the process.

  • Siamang

    My religion is I’ll steal and eat your cookies and french-fries.

    If you stop me, that’s an infringement on my right to a religion.

    You are persecuting me because of my religion! You intolerant bigots!!!

  • beckster

    If she refuses to give fingerprints for a background check, then she shouldn’t be a teacher. Period. Whether she’s crazy or not.

  • Shannon

    Urgh, I don’t know. I’m not sure I’m for all this fingerprinting in the first place. Her reason strikes me as wrong, sure, but I sympathize with her not wanting to be fingerprinted. Especially if you follow the link and see she’s already been teaching for 22 years. This isn’t a new hire. Is she a good teacher? After 22 years on the job, I think her record should be what’s most important.

  • Kimpatsu

    She’s right not to give her fingerprints, just for the wrong reasons. No one except criminals should be fingerprinted. And those goes for border security as well. Where does this authoritarianism come from, and why are so many people so ready to capitulate?

  • http://lyvvielimelight.blogspot.com/ Lyvvie

    Wouldn’t she have to give a forehead print too for this to have any possible bearing? As it’s just fingerprints, she’s not in trouble. She just has to be sure not to touch her forehead before washing her hands.

  • stephanie

    Hey, if her fingerprints are the mark of the beast, no one is stopping her from getting rid of them. All the government wants to do is check which mark of the beast she already has…

  • cathy

    There is a legitamate reason for fingerprinting teachers. This screening kept a man convicted of brutally beating his kids in another state from getting hired at my local elementary school. This is not a random fingerprinting, it is done for good reason and with notice that it is part of the job screening.

  • http://primesequence.blogspot.com/ PrimeNumbers

    Surely following up on references from previous schools worked in would mean you’d know if a teacher was a bad egg.

    As a teacher, I’ve had to have police background checks, but they’ve never needed my fingerprints to do so.

  • Sandra

    I guess it would stand to reason that giving just one fingerprint is ok though… assuming that she has a drivers license.

  • http://no2religion.blogspot.com no2religion

    There is no question that this person is either a whack-a-loon or hiding something.

    First, fingerprints are meant to identify the applicant as to whom they say they are in order to keep predators and other miscreants away from our children.

    Second, most fingerprints are no longer taken with ink and paper, they are taken digitally and stored digitally.

    Third, the fingerprints are taken to confirm the identity of the applicant along with their SSN, DL and legal name. If there are anomalies then they can be appealed.

    Lastly, references are notoriously unreliable as most people would not put down a reference unless they new the person would say something positive. Also, employers may have an incentive to lie so they can be rid of an employee.

    As for those that say she should say no to having her prints taken obviously do not have children in schools and/or do not care for our children’s safety.

  • http://overscope.cynistar.net/ Bob

    I wonder if Pam has a Texas driver’s license. If so, she’s already given them a fingerprint; I don’t see what the big deal is. Not that I like the DPS requiring fingerprint scans to get a license, but the proverbial cat is already out of the bag.

    I hope they kick her to the curb; part of her job requirement is to verify she has a clean criminal record where it comes to dealing with children. The social benefit is obvious, the individual cost is minimal, and there’s no infringement on her right of conscience. It’s yet another crybaby Christian claiming they’re oppressed because they don’t get special treatment when they stamp their little feet and hold their breath.

    My question: what’s the real story? Looks like she works in a real mouth-breathing part of Texas (east TX, due west of Huntsville, northwest of Beaumont, northeast of Houston) so she might be for real. Then again, this may be a ruse to avoid getting fired for stealing the kids’ Tang and graham crackers. It doesn’t hurt to presume she’s not a lunatic and do a little more digging.

  • absent sway

    How has she been teaching without being fingerprinted? I couldn’t even do short term volunteering in preschool classrooms without being fingerprinted. This is standard stuff and she must have known better before getting into this line of work.

  • Navid

    I personally have no problem saying that someone who thinks there is such a thing as a beast who has a mark, which is constituted in finger prints, is not sane enough to qualify to teach anyone anything; much less impressionable children. We can’t trust her with that task, because as Bill Maher said “there is an electrical fire going on in [her] head”

  • Matt D

    I just cant believe a lawyer will take the case!

    I contacted my lawyer last week about suing an advertising company for misrepresentation (I think I’ve got a good case)and they really didnt want to know about it.

    only in litigious America i guess…

  • http://base8.lavenderliberal.com/ Buffy

    It’s high time religion/faith exemptions for laws, rules and regulations be stopped. Everyone else has to follow them so why shouldn’t people with imaginary friends?

  • CatBallou

    I wish the fundies would decide whether they want to bring on the end times or postpone them.

  • http://cranialhyperossification.blogspot.com GDad

    If we play by the rules of Revelation, it seems that the answer is quite simple. The passage being cited says, “He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand and on their foreheads…”

    Use the left hand.

  • keddaw

    Isn’t there an Amendment that stops people from giving self-incriminatory evidence. Doesn’t forcing someone to give their fingerprints or DNA go against this?

  • postsimian

    Haha, I love it! She calls the background check process “the mark of the beast,” thereby confirming why we have background checks in the first place. Way to go, system!

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    Someone should point out to this female bible literalist the following passage (bold emphasis mine).

    And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his MARK in his forehead, or in his hand, Rev. 14:9

    Obviously, the scripture is just referring to men (not women). Women can have all the marks they want.

  • muggle

    It doesn’t hurt to presume she’s not a lunatic and do a little more digging.

    Well, actually it could… especially since she’s exhibiting some signs of mental instability.

    Truly, does anyone want her around a little kid near and dear to them?

    I still say this is a camoflauge for something else. What’s she hiding that she’s so afraid of getting fingerprinted? I’m absolutely not buying the devil is it. Especially with gawd to protect her immortal soul.

  • Polly

    Isn’t there an Amendment that stops people from giving self-incriminatory evidence. Doesn’t forcing someone to give their fingerprints or DNA go against this?

    That was my first thought. Don’t we apply the 5th to DNA sampling, already? Can anyone speak knowledgeably about the legality of this requirement?

    My wife had to submit to fingerprinting when she went to work as a pre-school teacher at a private pre-school. A minor inconvenience. Not once did she entertain the notion that she was swearing allegiance to Satan and his minions by doing so; and she does believe in a literal Devil and Hell – but not in pushing her beliefs on children.

  • http://www.banalleakage.com martymankins

    Leave it to Jeff to detail the exactness in following scripture. Kudos

    I scratched by right hand mowing the lawn this last week. Does that count as a mark? lol

  • Pingback: Fingerprints, Mark Of The Beast! | Miscellanea Agnostica

  • Doubting Thomas

    I don’t think the 5th Amendment really applies here because fingerprinting is a condition of employment and they are not actually looking for a criminal conviction. Though I’m sure if a background check did show a warrant (though having worked in law enforcement I know that this is checked via other means and not fingerpints) law enforcement would be knocking on her door.

    I do believe that there’s something more to the story and there’s a real reason she doesn’t want to get fingerprinted. Sorry, but just because someone’s a Christian doesn’t mean that they won’t lie. And I do believe that she’s never actually read the bible, or has and didn’t understand it. But that tends to be par for the course for most Christians.

  • Doubting Thomas

    I don’t think the 5th Amendment really applies here because fingerprinting is a condition of employment and they are not actually looking for a criminal conviction. Though I’m sure if a background check did show a warrant (though having worked in law enforcement I know that this is checked via other means and not fingerpints) police would be knocking on her door.

    I do believe that there’s something more to the story and there’s a real reason she doesn’t want to get fingerprinted. Sorry, but just because someone’s a Christian doesn’t mean that they won’t lie. And I do believe that she’s never actually read the bible, or has and didn’t understand it. But that tends to be par for the course for most Christians.


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