The United States Department of Agriculture urged a federal judge on Thursday to dismiss a case brought by a group of Amish farmers in Michigan. The farmers feel that a program, which used RFID tags to track and prevent disease in cattle, is an infringement on their fundamental religious beliefs and constitutes the “mark of the beast.”
The farmers contend that a Michigan law requiring the tagging is a result of a mandate created by a federally-funded grant program, and that this justifies the suit against the USDA. According to the lawsuit, filed in September in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the Michigan law “constitutes some form of a ‘mark of the beast’ and/or represents an infringement of their ‘dominion over cattle and all living things’ in violation of their fundamental religious beliefs.”
The USDA responds that their tagging program is voluntary, and that it would be more appropriate for the farmers to direct their grievances at the state. According to the USDA’s response, the farmers “cannot establish that any rule issued or action taken by the USDA either mandates the use of RFID tags on livestock located within Michigan, or, conversely, prevents the Michigan Department of Agriculture from granting appropriate religious exemptions imposed by that department.”
The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, based in Virginia, filed the case on behalf of the farmers.
As RFID technology becomes more integrated into daily life, accusations of its role as the biblical “mark of the beast” have become more frequent. The USDA’s response, however, does not directly address any Satan-related issues in the programs, either voluntary or required.
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