When Your Student ID is Really the Mark of the Beast

San Antonio’s Northside Independent School District decided to introduce a unique type of student ID this year. It was a radio tag, allowing administrators to track where students were at all times.

I can possibly see an objection to this solely on a civil liberties basis but Andrea Hernandez and her family oppose it for a completely different reason (PDF):

Plaintiff and her father object to the requirement that Plaintiff wear the Smart ID badge on the basis of Scriptures found in the book of Revelation. According to these Scriptures, an individual’s acceptance of a certain code, identified with his or her person, as a pass conferring certain privileges from a secular ruling authority, is a form of idolatry or submission to a false god.

In other words, Hernandez thinks the ID is the Mark of the Beast as noted in Revelation 13:16-18:

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.

This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.

Anyway, the school suspended her, the family filed a lawsuit, and for the time being, a court has granted the family a “temporary restraining order” allowing Andrea not to wear the tag. (The school allowed her to go without the tracking device while mandating the ID, but that wasn’t good enough for the family.)

Incidentally, a very similar incident took place in a Louisiana school back in August. The school had the technology to scan students’ veins and connect it to their lunch account — paying for lunch would take a couple of seconds. But a family complained because it violated Revelation.

Like I said earlier, if these families were arguing on the basis of the right to privacy, I wouldn’t be opposed to them. But they’re going well beyond that. They’re using an obscure verse in the Bible — as if they take everything else in the Bible literally — and saying that’s a good enough reason for the school to let them off the hook.

Who knows if they honestly believe any of this, but the Christian Right will no doubt line up right behind them. The school’s not violating anybody’s religious liberties, but if the Christian groups can twist a story to make it seem that way, no matter how wacky it sounds, they’ll do it.

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.