School Installs Amazing Technology; Christian Complains About the ‘Mark of the Beast’

At the beginning of school last year, our teachers’ cafeteria was closed… so if we wanted lunch, we had to get it from the same place the students did. That meant longer lines during an already-short lunch period… (not to mention 3289423 awkward interactions with students).

But I wouldn’t mind that much if we took a page from a school in Louisiana and found a way to speed up the whole lunch-buying process:

Moss Bluff Elementary School in Louisiana is looking to streamline lunch payments by implementing a palm vein scanner program

Florida’s Pinellas Schools were the first to adopt palm scanning technology to pay for lunch last fall under a voluntary program. The technology uses infrared light to read unique vein patterns connected to meal plans.

“It’s two seconds to buy a meal. Literally, two seconds,” Edward Rutenbeck, senior user support analyst with Pinellas Schools Food Services told WTSP.

COOL! Plus, it’ll help schools collect money from unpaid lunch fees, which is a big deal. Parents can opt out of the system if they feel uncomfortable with it, but it sounds like a win-win!

… unless you’re crazy and you want to transfer your children to another school because this technology is evil:

“I was very, very mad,” said parent Mamie Sonnier. “Disappointed.”

“As a Christian, I’ve read the Bible, you know go to church and stuff,” said Sonnier. “I know where it’s going to end up coming to, the mark of the beast. I’m not going to let my kids have that.”

… the hell?

Thankfully, the school is ignoring her and installing it anyway.

I’d love to know what types of infrared technologies Sonnier already uses in her life. Does she go grocery shopping? Use a remote control? Are those things evil, too?

Also, how does the reporter not follow up on that comment? Where’s the “What the hell are you talking about”? Did she ask and someone edited it out? Either way, we all missed out on a potentially beautiful moment.

(Thanks to Dick for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Bruce_wright

    “Some say it’s amazing new technology.  Some say that demons are behind it.  We will report on both sides equally after these messages …”

  • Mr. S

    There’s a running conspiracy theory that says the government will install microchips in people, which are the marks of the beast the bible refers to.

    • Liz

      My boss subscribes to this… he has told me time and time again that the Verichip is the mark of the beast and he will NOT take it. He is completely out of touch with reality, living in a delusional, paranoid fantasyland.

      • Charles Pfeiffer

        Is that why he’s the BOSS and you work for him?

  • https://agoldstardad.wordpress.com/ Fozzy

    At least she didn’t lop of her kid’s hands to prevent them from being scanned.. thats about the level where these cretins operate. 

  • http://www.bullshitexpress.com Izzy

    Obviously she doesn’t work for a living.  Lots of companies use these as a time clock.  I always hated them, but never feared them.

    • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

      Every company I’ve ever worked for used an electronic time sheet where you logged in and filled it out. By your logic, I’ve never worked for a living either because this kind of technology is new to me, too.

  • http://wordsideasandthings.blogspot.com/ Garren

    I grew up with this idiocy. Not a huge fan of the Catholic church, but at least they manage to interpret Daniel and Revelation in a semi-reasonable way that doesn’t involve “Left Behind” style conspiracy theories.

    Spoiler: Daniel was written during and about the oppression of the Jews under Antiochus IV. Revelation was written during and about the oppression of the Christians under Nero. They both use apocalyptic and prophetic imagery to code their messages.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

    So, the mark of the beast is something that we all were born with and can’t get rid of? I guess Satan wins this round.

    • AAA

      Does she not realize that if this is the mark of the beast, then everyone has had this mark since the beginning of humanity?  Even (gasp!) Jesus!!!  Or that any unique pattern (veins, fingerprints, retinas, etc) could also be the mark?  These things did not just appear because somebody invented a scanner to read them.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JBAMPHNDKNSKDNVTY3VRYGWMYQ Jack

      TRUE CHRISTIANS DO NOT HAVE VEINS!

    • http://www.facebook.com/don.gwinn Don Gwinn

      Thanks, Julie.  That’s more or less what I came into the comments to post, and now I don’t have to.  :)

      The Mark of the Beast was supposed to be a mark that would be “put upon you” so that you could prove that you had permission to “buy and sell,” wasn’t it?  

  • CelticWhisper

    I worry about future privacy implications if we’re conditioning kids to accept biometric authentication at a young age.  There is obviously no devil/Satan/whatever, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ill-meaning people in government and big business who would want to get their hands on more biometric data and are salivating at the thought of a new generation being raised to view hand-scans as commonplace or “cool.”  We’ve already had “police workshops” where kids get fingerprinted to “see how it’s done” and then have the records kept by the PD.  There’s potential for abuse here.

    I’d want to see the district privacy policy before I OK’d this for my kid.  Anything short of “Officials found to be responsible for data leakage will be sentenced to 20 years in federal PMITA prison” wouldn’t cut it.

    • http://www.inklesspen.com Jon Rosebaugh

      Why “PMITA prison”? Why should we not only accept but encourage rape, as long as it happens to people we don’t like very much?

      Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”. Sounds to me like our “justice” system is violating human rights.

      • CelticWhisper

         I agree that our “justice” system often seems like anything but what it purports to be.  That said, “Federal PMITA Prison” is invoking (the shortened version of) a long-established meme which is effective at conveying a “worst of the worst” notion quickly and efficiently.  The literal implications are incidental and beside the point of the meme, which was, in its original usage, intended to be taken in contrast to a best-case-scenario outcome description.  The point of my usage of the meme, far from encouraging prison rape, is that those responsible for leaking confidential biometric data which can individually identify students should receive harsh punishment as a means of discouraging such information leaks.  This is, in turn, to foster confidence in the system by assuaging the doubts of privacy-minded parents who would otherwise opt their children out of it.  “We won’t leak your data, and to that end, employees know that if they do, they find out that maybe hell is real after all.”

        Personally identifiable information, especially immutable kinds such as biometrics, are a cat-out-of-the-bag scenario.  Once that data gets disseminated, it’s very difficult (effectively impossible) to re-privatize it.  Doubly so if the data pertains to a minor who cannot independently pursue legal avenues to defend themselves.  The only way to protect that data is to prevent it from being leaked in the first place, and so extremely harsh punishments like no-parole maximum-security prison sentences are a means of raising the stakes of getting caught high enough that no gains are worth the risk.

        • http://www.inklesspen.com Jon Rosebaugh

          It’s sad that you think prison rape is merely a “meme” to represent “harsh punishment”. The literal implications are hardly incidental; that you think they are does not speak well of you.

          • Guest

            Wow dude, calm down. My first thought was “Office Space” when he said PMITA prison, and I realized it was a euphemism for harsh punishment. He is not saying he literally wants errant employees raped. Take a chill pill.

            • CelticWhisper

              Thank you for that – that’s exactly my point.  I was working on a third-degree riot-act response to Jon but this pretty much says it.

              I don’t know what’s wrong with people today.  Glad I’m not the only one who saw his responses as way off-base.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IKVVNPKPMBDXQJDAIREAS5IQLM Mike

           Never heard of Wikileaks and Assange?

          • CelticWhisper

            Oh, I’ve heard of them.  In fairness, I think this is a bit outside the scope of their intended goal, which is to shine a light on government and corporate corruption.

            Unless that was your point – that the people responsible for leaking the kids’ data should, themselves, be exposed on Wikileaks.  Which I would call “poetic justice.” :)

        • Ibis3

          Blah blah blah rape is okay if it’s punishment blah blah blah.

          • CelticWhisper

            First off, YOU ARE WRONG.  Not sure how much more clearly I can make that to half-wits like you and Rosebaugh.

            Secondly: Jesus goddamn christ, fuck the internet.  You try to make a salient point about the privacy implications of technology and you wind up with thick-skulled, thin-skinned assholes with OCD and chips on their shoulders jumping down your throat over your usage of idioms.

            Yeah, I have a vindictive streak a mile wide and am a privacy fanatic – I WANT to see bad shit happen to people who leak kids’ biometric PII.  If you want to call me a bad person as a result of it, when you’re clearly missing the point I’m trying to make to everyone else here, that’s quite fine and fuck you too.

            Do I want a strong deterrent to violations of kids’ privacy?  You betcha.  Does the public consciousness associate “maximum-security prison” with “prison rape”?  In most cases, yes it does.  Do I condone prison rape?  Of-fucking-course not, and you’re a goddamn mouth-breathing idiot if you think otherwise.  Prison rapists, just like any other rapists, deserve to be thrown in solitary confinement and abandoned to their inevitable insanity born of prolonged and uninterrupted isolation.

            Newsflash: It is possible to reference something via popular culture without actually endorsing the thing being referenced.

            Look, if you or yours suffered at the hands of a rapist, I’m sorry for that – that shit shouldn’t happen and those responsible deserve, as I said, to be locked up alone in a dark room 24 hours a day and left to scream themselves hoarse at things that are only there in their minds.  Okay?  Okay?  RAPISTS DESERVE TO BE FORCED TO PERMANENT CLINICAL DEMENTIA THROUGH ISOLATION AND MENTAL TORTURE.  But what I’m not sorry for, and what you will not be receiving any apology for, is my usage of off-color humor to make a point.  Sometimes things offend us – it’s called life, and I don’t particularly care to examine my every word with a fine-toothed comb just to weed out any flippant remarks that people may object to.  Maybe that’s not terribly compassionate.  Maybe I don’t terribly give a fuck.

            Now if you’d care to comment on how kids’ biometric data can be abused by corporations or government agencies, then please do.  I’m done indulging your self-righteous indignation and I’m done derailing this thread in order to do it.

      • amycas

         Thank you

    • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

      I certainly agree that the district or school needs to be clear about potential privacy issues. That said, these types of scanners do not typically contain any information that can be misused. That is, they do not work by storing something like a palm print which somebody else could use to fake an identity. They work more like public-key encryption. A hash of some sort is generated when the palm is initially scanned, and that is all that gets stored. You can’t work backwards from the hash to recreate the palm print. (Well… that’s the theory, anyway. We all know that hackers can be quite ingenious at finding security holes.)

      BTW, most of us have probably seen movies where biometric scanners are defeated by the simple method of hacking out a valid user’s eyeball, or cutting off his finger. One reason that palm vein scanners are becoming popular (increasingly showing up in ATMs, especially outside the U.S.) is because they are very hard to fool this way. Without blood flow, you don’t get a scan. So at least parents don’t have to worry about their kids getting their hands hacked off so some bully can get a free lunch (which lends a whole new meaning to “give me your lunch money”.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/matt.freshfield Matt Jones

    It’s evil, because it is, because I believe in the bible, because I do. The local Walmart has a tin foil promotion. Time to make a new hat?

  • Justin Miyundees

    The first rule of nut club is you don’t talk about nut club.

    • Bubba Tarandfeathered

       Nut Club was the beginning, now it’s moved out of the basement, it’s called Project Moron.

  • Joe Zamecki

    I’d like to hear more about why this has something to do with the mark of the beast. That’s a number on the skin of a human who’s destiny has been spoken for by Satan, I believe. What has that to do with a machine that reads a persons vein pattern in their hand? It doesn’t leave a mark, correct? I think the news report should have included a more detailed explanation from the Christian parents who are complaining. Especially the lady they interviewed, because she gave what seemed like a lazy half-answer, when talking about the reason why she’s being interviewed. Like everyone’s already on the same page with her…? I don’t think so. 

    • OverlappingMagisteria

       It refers to the second beast of revelations.  Rev 13:16-17:
       “It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads,  so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.”

      Since the students are required to use something in their hand in order to “buy or sell” then it is close enough for the nut. Though the scanner reads your veins. If your veins are the “mark” then we already have it.

      Oh, and you are supposed to ignore the bit where the mark is the name or number of the beast. See, in order to properly interpret scripture, your supposed to only pay attention to half of it. Whichever half is most convenient to you.

      • Isilzha

         Technically the xians should think the veins are a god-given mark!

  • http://twitter.com/the_ewan Ewan

    OK  – she’s a loon. But I’m not sure I’d feel any different about whoever thought that biometric palm scanners were a reasonable solution to this problem.

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    This sort of nonsense has been going on for years around various non-cash payment systems. Credit cards were associated with “the mark of the beast”, various RFID schemes have been, pay-by-smartphone… you name it. Basically, anything that can get analyzed in a way that it has some numerical component (and what can’t?) has been tied to “the mark of the beast”. These people are beyond crazy… although in Louisiana, crazy is unpleasantly close to the norm.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    As a Christian, I’ve read the Bible, you know go to church and stuff,

    As an intelligent person, I’ve read several books, you know, think thoughts and stuff.
    As a sane person, I’ve used my five senses, you know, be in reality and stuff.
    As a good person, I’ve cared about other’s needs, you know, be nice and stuff.

  • A3Kr0n

    Do they provide sanitizing lotion after touching something  3289423 other kids have already touched?

    • Ryan

      You mean, like doorknobs?

    • http://crrodriguez.clavid.com/ crrodriguez

      That is non-sense and would cause more damage in the long term.

  • advancedatheist

    This ignorance doesn’t surprise me. The christian tradition has had no self-policing or quality control since the Reformation, so generations of fundamentalists and evangelicals have absorbed idiotic propaganda like this:

    http://media.chick.com/tractimages67491/0007/0007_12.gif 

  • viaten

    I always wonder if the parent and people like her think and act that way because they think it’s true or because they want it to be true.  Maybe it’s some combination of both.

  • Octoberfurst

     Prepare to hear the wingnut community roar in faux outrage in 5–4–3–2–.
    I grew up with this kind of crap. The government was the enemy and any day now they would institute a one-world government where everyone would be required to have “the mark of the beast!”  The infamous “666.”  So I can see the fundies going nuts over this.
      But as others have said, has this woman never had her grocery card scanned at a check-out line?  What’s the difference? I worked at a State prison for over 20 yrs and we had to have our ID cards scanned to get into and leave the prison. These people are making a mountain out of a molehill.

    • http://twitter.com/butterflyfish_ Heidi McClure

      My mother used to go on about that crap, too.  She was raised SDA, plus she loved a “good” conspiracy theory. She also firmly believed in Backwards Satanic Messages in that awful rock-and-roll music. Ugh.

    • Isilzha

      It’s funny how many people here often refuse to believe that this kind of crazy is much more prevalent than they realize.  To me it was a normal part of my environment!  I couldn’t begin to count how many of these types of conversations I’ve heard when I was growing up.

      One of the more frequent conversations happened every time our number was published in the church directory or given out to someone new.  See, our telephone number had 666 in the middle!  Almost everyone was shocked that our parents hadn’t changed it.  I’m not sure why they didn’t, but what they told everyone is that since there was a hyphen (6-66), it was OK.

      • Octoberfurst

         That’s quite true. In virtually all the churches I attended in the past they all believed in that end times nonsense.  Hell, when I was growing up Hal Lindsey’s “The Late Great Planet Earth” was practically required reading! (Interestly enough, none of his prophecies came true. What a shock.)
          Then of course we had the infamous “Left Behind” series that people couldn’t get enough of. It’s sad how gullible so many people are.

  • rg57

    Yet another solution without a problem.

    Placing everyone’s hand on a palm scanner just before they eat lunch together (with those same hands) sounds like an excellent way to spread disease.

    • Bo Tait

      Maybe there’s a hand sanitizer beside. Problem solved?

    • http://crrodriguez.clavid.com/ crrodriguez

      Let Carlin explain it for you –> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnmMNdiCz_s  

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-De-Fleuriot/611844223 Mike De Fleuriot

    How many of you remember the Christian story of the UN using orbital lasers to tattoo the mark on everyone. That story has an example of how they would do it, in which they claimed to be able to tattoo 666 on the sides of hundreds of fish in the sea per hour. 

  • TiltedHorizon

    Neo-Luddism + “church and stuff” = batshit crazy.

  • onamission5

    I’m old enough to remember people freaking out that bar codes were the mark of the beast, and backwards masking in that evil rock music was the message of the beast. Whatever happened to that furor, anyway? (i’m guessing cd’s)

    Humans are really, really embarrassing.

  • jdm8

    I think it was originally imagined as a tattoo or some other visible marking. Using the structure that’s already part of you doesn’t even qualify for that.

  • RobertoTheChi

    It should hurt to be so simple-minded…

  • Ravenmaster9

    It’s so ridiculous what Christians think technology is.. “Mark of the beast”?? I mean, come on so Thomas Edison and all those great inventors and scientists are demons, according to what that silly fairy tale claims??

    Get real people

  • CoboWowbo

    Oh silly Christians. I wouldn’t want anyone who rants about “the mark of the beast” to be in my child’s school anyway.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/A37GL7VKR3W6ACSIZPH7EID3LI rlrose63

    I don’t think it’s the infrared part she’s concerned about… it’s the reading the veins part which she feels might end up leading to some sort of tattooing process at some point in the oh so remote future.  IT’s really a shame that mythology might be the downfall of our technology in this country.

  • Eli

    Actually, she was making a statement about where this type of technology in our culture is going to end up.  She didn’t say anything about the palm scanning being the actual mark of the beast.  Maybe you should listen to it again.  Sounds like to me she’s the type of parent that is looking out for even the most subtle dangers in life that involve her kids and is prepared to act to keep them safe.

    I personally think we need more parents willing to make these types of decisions without the fear of what people like you will say about it.  

  • Akak907

    Wait, you have your own teacher cafeteria?  Really? I’ve been teaching for years and have never seen this.  Now I’m jealous.

  • http://www.travismamone.net/ Travis Mamone

    The funny thing is the Beast in Revelation actually represents Caeser, not some future dictator. But even then, it doesn’t mean one day in the future over half the world will have to buy stuff using some numerical code on their hands. It just means don’t align yourself with the powers that be.

  • RobMcCune

    Rev 13:17 ”
    And that no man might buy or sell tater tots, save he that had the mark,…”

  • Isilzha

    Wouldn’t the veins be a mark put there by god?  The students aren’t being marked in any way, they’re being read!

  • Casey McKinnon

    Agreed. I’m sick of reporters not following up with ridiculous comments based on superstition. Instead they use the quotes as if everything they just said is valid and true. Poppycock.

  • HealthMatters

    666 and evasion of privacy aside, are we assured that scanning is perfectly safe? Even ultra-sound has its detractors though it is routinely used by gynecologists. What is the cumulative effect of every day scanning on the body? Does anyone know? Scanning a bottle or a packet is quite different from scanning the flesh.

  • Roscoemaries

    Can you say false prophet, know all, see all and one anti-christ to run it.

  • Aaron Scoggin

    You know what you do when an insane Christian threatens to take their kids somewhere else?

    You jump in the air and click your heels together… N stuff.

  • Aaron Scoggin

    Palm scanners, really? Oh, this is just the beginning. Soon, the government will want out addresses! And then they just might want to give each of us specific numbers that validate our identity, which could be used to steal that identity! 

    Oh, the humanity!

  • http://www.themonthebard.org/ Themon the Bard

    FYI — the whole “Mark of the Beast” thing has to do with a the Book of Revelation (or the Apocalypse of John), which has a passage about the “end times” where a mark is placed on everyone’s hand or forehead, and they will not be able to buy or sell without the mark. This is the so-called “Mark of the Beast.” Christians are not supposed to take this mark, or they will not be among the “elect.” Which means they go to Hell, or get Left Behind, or some such thing: depends on the sect, I imagine.

    Back in the 70′s there was a big epidemic of Rapturitis, and this was the Evangelical topic of paranoia as the various scanner technologies started to become affordable for businesses. It doesn’t matter how the scanner works — it has to do with a mark on the hand or the forehead that allows you to buy or sell. Even, apparently, if it’s a mark you’re born with, like your fingerprints or the veins in your hands.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TGR7RW465AZH7CWWID7EYMHJJA Lily

    will the device help spread germs? 


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