What’s going on here?
West Virginia started Friday keeping driver’s license photos out of a computer database for members of a small religious group who believe digital storage is a “mark of the beast” that evokes biblical prophecy.
State Division of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Joseph Cicchirillo said the group of about 50 or 60 Christians, who are not affiliated with a particular church, contacted the agency two or three years ago to object to their pictures “being on a database that can be exchanged throughout the world or hacked into.” […]
Without this accommodation, group members wouldn’t get their driver’s licenses, which the commissioner said would hamper their ability to get everyday services from insurance coverage to check cashing.
I’m all for religious accommodation, but this is a bit ridiculous. This “Mark of the Beast” nonsense is not a theological point, like the Sabbath. Its appearance in the Bible is so vague that it could be interpreted many ways. “I don’t want to clock in — it’s the mark of the beast.”
Indeed, the story includes something just that bizarre:
One of the group members is Phil Hudok, who made headlines in 1999 when he was fired as a Randolph County school teacher for refusing to require his students to wear bar-coded identification badges. Hudok was later reinstated after a circuit judge said the school board had made no attempt to accommodate his religious beliefs.
How exactly was the school to accommodate these beliefs?
And just how insane do religious beliefs have to be in order for some one to say, “That’s too much.”
Can a racist who bases his racism on twisting passages of the Bible refuse to work with a black man because it offends his beliefs? Can a Muslim refuse to work with a woman because it offends his religious beliefs?
The State should accommodate religious beliefs when it doesn’t include re-inventing a whole data management system for a few individuals (as is the case with the article above) and when the belief is not some fringe belief held by a handful of paranoid idiots.