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Spychips, RFID, Big Brother and the End Times

I read with interest a review of Katherine Albrecht’s new book, The Spychips Threat: Why Christians Should Resist RFID and Electronic Surveillance. Albrecht writes from a Christian perspective about Radio Frequency ID (RFID) devices, which can be placed on boxes, put under cars, woven in clothing, or incorporated into identification cards, among other things. These devices do not require any power source of their own, but rather work in a passive way; they allow anyone with another device, called a “reader,” to remotely activate the device and automatically obtain information on the person carrying the RFID tag. These tags are so small that you may carry one without even knowing it.

There are a number of non-religious reasons to be concerned about the spread of RFID tags. Microsoft has developed software that allows retailers to use RFID to track packages and the people carring them, and corporations such as Wal-Mart and Michelin Tires are working on plans to incorporate the chips into their products (and by extension, into your life). Even more disturbingly, the Department of Homeland Security has issued a request for vendors to manufacture a RFID system to track people’s entry and exit via foot, car, or bus at borders, seaports and airports, with the ominous option of use by nebulous “other federal agencies.”

Anyone who fears the rise of a big brother style police state in which we are all being monitored should be concerned by the development and deployment of RFID systems. However, Albrecht has a more unusual objection: she maintains that the implementation of RFID technology may represent the “Mark of the Beast” referred to in the Bible’s Book of Revelation, Chapter 13. Some subcutaneous (beneath-the-skin) versions of RFID, she points out, might lead to the fulfillment of Revelations’ prophecy: “a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image.” Albrecht writes in her book that “Interestingly, an implanted RFID device like the VeriChip could potentially cause such a tormenting sore if it is subjected to a strong source of electromagnetic radiation.”

Albrecht’s argues that because RFID may represent the onset of the End Times predicted in the Book of Revelation, the technology should be strongly opposed. But I am confused. For two thousand years, Christians have been hoping and praying for the Second Coming of Jesus, which is the end result of the trials and tribulations of the end times in the Book of Revelation. Why work against the Second Coming? Wouldn’t you want these events to come to pass, in order to get through the tricky bits and get to the Rapture?

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