By Joseph L. Conn
You can’t make this stuff up.
The Virginia House of Delegates has just passed a bill that supporters hope will keep the Antichrist at bay.
You hear a loud whirring noise, you say? That would be Thomas Jefferson and James Madison spinning like tops in their Virginia graves.
Yes, it’s true. Last week House members approved a measure that would prohibit employers and insurance companies from requiring people to implant microchips in their bodies.
I’ll have to admit that I wouldn’t want that to happen. But frankly I didn’t know there was much of a move afoot to do something like that.
As it turns out, there isn’t. But, according to The Washington Post, there are some fundamentalist Christians out there whose analysis of end-times biblical prophecy leads them to believe that the Antichrist will appear soon and force everyone to accept the “mark of the Beast” in their persons. That “mark,” they think, could easily be the microchip.
The Postreports that Del. Mark L. Cole (R –Fredericksburg), the bill’s sponsor, has both privacy and religious concerns. He thinks the microchips could someday be used as the “mark of the beast” described in the Book of Revelation.
“My understanding – and I’m not a theologian – but there’s a prophecy in the Bible that says you’ll have to receive a mark, or you can neither buy nor sell things in end times,” Cole told The Post. “Some people think these computer chips might be that mark.”
So let me get this straight: the Antichrist – the personification of Evil itself – is going to show up in America and start imposing the mark of Beast. He rolls through states such California, Kansas and Delaware, but when he gets to the Virginia line, he and his legions of demons just have to stop dead in their sulfurous tracks.
“Sorry, boys,” he’ll say. “Virginia’s got a law that says we can’t mess with the good folks there.”
You know, I’m not sure I buy it.
Far be it from me, however, to make fun of anyone else’s sincerely held religious beliefs. The Free Exercise Clause guarantees that we each can believe any darn thing we want to. I’m sure there are millions of people who think my opinions about religion are utterly ridiculous, and yet the Constitution ensures my right to hold them.
But there’s a difference between Virginia’s anti-Antichrist brigade and me. I’m not trying to pass legislation enacting my beliefs into law.
The House measure’s provisions won’t do much harm, I guess. It blocks something that almost certainly wasn’t going to happen any way. But focusing on things like this diverts legislative attention from pressing matters such as unemployment, education and state budgets.
And most importantly, it does enormous harm when legislators get the idea that it’s perfectly okay for them to enact laws based on religion.