Michael Thompson

An Oklahoma requirement that driver’s license applicants submit to “biometric” digital photographs – which are “stored and shared” without the applicant’s knowledge – is a violation of religious rights, charges a lawsuit filed against the state’s Department of Public Safety and several individuals.

The suit names Public Safety Commissioner Michael C. Thompson.

The state has told the plaintiff, Kaye Beach, that she must submit to the biometric requirement to obtain a license in the state, and there is no exemption based on religious beliefs.

The lawsuit contends the requirement, however, violates the Oklahoma Constitution because it “substantially” burdens Beach’s free exercise of religion and does not accommodate her sincerely held religious beliefs.

The case seeks a ruling that “in order to comply with the Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act, the state must provide an accommodation to Ms. Beach … which allows her to submit a low-resolution non-biometric facial photograph in order to obtain a driver’s license.”

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“Whether a biometric ID card in the form of a driver’s license or other government-issued form of identification is the mark of the Beast or merely the long arm of Big Brother, the outcome remains the same – ultimate control by the government,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, which is handling the case.

“As Kaye Beach’s case makes clear, failing to have a biometric card can render you a non-person for all intents and purposes, with your ability to work, travel, buy, sell, access health care, and so on jeopardized,” he said.

In March, Beach applied to renew her driver’s license with the Department of Public Safety, the organization reported. Upon learning that the biometric photographs used by DPS are stored in a database that is managed and accessed by international organizations, Beach repeatedly voiced her religious objection to the practice and asked to be allowed to use a low-resolution photograph for her license. Beach subscribes to the Christian belief, detailed in the Bible’s book of Revelation, that Christians must not participate in a global numbering identification system.

Rev. 13:16-18 and 14:9-11 “explicitly commands believers to not participate in a global numbering identification system using the number of man, and eternally condemns participation in that system,” the lawsuit contends.

Officials with the state agency declined to respond to a WND request for comment.

The institute’s report said Beach met all of the other requirements for a license and was deprived of that opportunity – “including the ability to acquire prescription medications, use her debit card, rent a hotel room or obtain a post office box” – only because of the state’s refusal to provide a religious accommodation.

The case was brought in district court of Cleveland County. Rutherford Institute attorneys point out that the state’s requirement for a biometric photograph does not serve a compelling state interest and that the state has other means for furthering any such state interest.

It notes that Beach was told “the interoperability and open architecture format for the high-resolution biometric facial photograph used by motor license agents as required by DPS to take the photographs for driver’s licenses in an internationally set format determined by the United Nation’s International Civil Aviation Organization …. and that the database into which her facial biometric data is placed is managed and accessed by a self-described international organization called the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.”

The case also alleges the rule violates her privacy and is an unreasonable warrantless search.


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