JEFFERSON CITY — A dire, apocalyptic prophecy in the Bible’s Book of Revelation is getting a new audience: state legislators.
Several evangelical Christian groups say the federal Real ID Act, which will standardize state drivers licenses and link them to corresponding national ID numbers by 2009, represents the “mark of the beast,” the devilish number 666 that is attached to the godless.
The nearly 2,000-year-old passage is referenced along with the prophetic locusts, plagues, oceans of blood and rivers of fire found in the Bible. Soon after, according to scripture, the antichrist takes control of the world and Jesus Christ returns.
In short, new national ID numbers could spell the beginning of the end, some Christians believe.
“This is getting treacherously close to prophecy in the scripture,” said Irvin Baxter Jr., founder and president of Endtime Ministries in Dallas.
And some Missouri legislators are listening.
Any bets on Cynthia Davis being one of them?
Most religious scholars agree that this beast in Revelation is a metaphor for the Roman emperor Nero who persecuted Christians and Jews in horrific ways that were likely to be remembered only a couple of generations later when Revelation was written.
But some evangelical Christians take the “mark” of Revelation more literally, and believe that a number-based identification system in the U.S. will eventually spread throughout the world, only to be used by a global dictator (the antichrist) who will control international trade with the numbers issued under the Real ID program.
Their concern, according to Craig Treadwell, Baxter’s national radio talk show co-host, is that anyone marked in such a way during the Great Tribulation “will be lost for eternity,” and won’t be raised to heaven after the second coming.
State Rep. Jim Guest, a frequent participant on Baxter’s radio show, is sponsoring a bill that would exempt the state from complying with the federal law.
The Missouri House overwhelmingly approved Guest’s bill last Thursday, 146-4. It has moved to the Senate for consideration.
146 – 4 !? The only scary thing is if that vote was really based on end-of-time predictions.
But Guest, who has recruited legislators from 35 other states to introduce legislation opting out of the Real ID Act, said he has received hundreds of phone calls, e-mails and letters from constituents who are more fearful about Biblical prophecies coming true if the program goes unchecked.
“Some people are genuinely worried about it,” said Guest, who called himself a practicing Methodist. “These are people who believe that a national ID number symbolizes something religiously evil.“