A plan by the Russian government to give every citizen a tax identification number has alarmed many Orthodox Christians who fear that the numbers, along with bar codes, are hostile to the Christian faith. Discussions about the possible introduction of social security cards with bar codes have added to the growing concern here. All bar codes developed according to the international UPS standard include three pairs of parallel lines which critics suggest could represent the number 666. According to the Book of Revelation in the New Testament, 666 is the "number of the beast" (Revelation 13:18). The "beast" is also widely seen as the "Antichrist," whose coming is predicted in the New Testament, along with a series of disasters and the death of Christian believers. Although many computer experts reject suggestions that the parallel lines represent 666 or the Antichrist, many Russian Orthodox Christians are deeply afraid of the bar codes. They are also worried that tax numbers allocated to all citizens would replace their baptismal names. Application forms are being handed out to citizens across Russia. The forms must be completed to obtain a tax number. Some priests have refused communion to church members who have completed the application forms, which also have a bar code printed on them. Last month, the Russian Orthodox Church's synod took the unusual step of issuing a public statement to calm fears. The statement called on the government to reconsider the plans for the tax numbers."Many Christians who consider that the name given to them in baptism is sacred, consider it unworthy to ask the government for some new 'name' in the form of a number," the statement said. It then urged church members not to read too much into ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more