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Is the national ID card the next step toward the imposition of the biblical “mark of the beast” Christians believe will be required to buy and sell during the Last Days?

That’s the contention of a growing group of believers who are working to turn back the approval of the Real ID Act by Congress last year. Public Law 109-13 requires the national ID portion of the plan go into effect by May 2008.

“There is a prophecy in the Bible that foretells a time when every person will be required to have a mark or a number, without which he or she will not be able to participate in the economy,” states the Christian website “The prophecy is 2,000 years old, but it has been impossible for it to come to pass until now. With the invention of the computer and the Internet, this prophecy of buying and selling, using a number, can now be implemented at any time. Has the time for the fulfillment of this prophecy arrived?”

The site asks visitors to sign an online petition vowing not to vote for any candidate who does not commit to repealing the Real ID Act.

The goal, states the site, which is sponsored by Endtime Ministries, is to get 100,000 signatures on the petition.

On the site is a link to purchase a DVD entitled “666 – How Close? Will the National ID Become the Mark of the Beast?”

Americans choosing not to carry a national ID, the site warns, will be prohibited from driving a car, boarding a plane, train or bus, entering any federal building, opening a bank account, or possibly from holding a job.

“This is probably our last chance to head off the mechanism before it is actually implemented as the mark,” states the site in the FAQ section. “It truly may be now or never.”

The Real ID Act requires states to participate in a federal data-sharing program when issuing driver’s licenses, making those licenses de facto national ID cards.

Touted as a tool of the war on terrorism, the ID card provision of the law, which also includes border-security measures, has attracted the most negative attention.

After May 11, 2008, “a federal agency may not accept, for any official purpose, a driver’s license or identification card issued by a State to any person unless the State is meeting the requirements” specified in the Real ID Act. While states can issue non-federal ID cards, they would not be accepted by the Transportation Security Administration for travel purposes, grounding those who don’t carry federally approved cards.

The data required to be included in each card are, among other things, the person’s full legal name, date of birth, gender, driver’s license number, a digital photo, the person’s address and machine-readable technology so the information can be ready easily by government or banking personnel.

Each state must agree to share the data on the cards with every other state.

Supporters of the law say it does not require a “national” ID card because each state issues its own cards, not the federal government. But detractors note the cards are virtual national IDs since the federal law has dictated what data must be included and that each state must share its database with the others.

The New Hampshire Senate yesterday voted to reject a bill to rebel against the Real ID system and not participate in a pilot program for which the state had been tapped. The state House of Representatives passed the measure last month, but the Senate instead voted to study the driver’s license requirements.

U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., is urging his home state to give Real ID a try, saying it’s needed to keep terrorists and illegal aliens from entering the country.

According to the Manchester Union Leader, Gregg argues that New Hampshire residents will find it difficult to get on airplanes or enter federal buildings if New Hampshire doesn’t embrace Real ID.

Groups opposed to the Real ID Act are making strange bedfellows, with Christians like those running fighting on the same side with the American Civil Liberties Union, which sponsors the website

The ACLU site decries the fact that a motor vehicles department staff person will be required to ask for immigration-status papers from those applying for driver’s licenses.

“REAL ID will inevitably cause discrimination against U.S. citizens who may ‘look’ or ‘sound’ foreign to a DMV bureaucrat,” states the site. “REAL ID requires DMV employees to decide whether someone is a citizen or foreigner before issuing a driver’s license. The law demands that DMV bureaucrats distinguish among citizens, permanent resident immigrants and other non-citizens in deciding who is eligible for a license and what type of license may be issued.

“Based on past experience when similar requirements were imposed on employers, widespread discrimination resulted against citizens who ‘looked’ or ‘sounded’ foreign.”

The civil-liberties group also slams a requirement of the law that some immigrants be issued a temporary “tier-two” license that has a prominent expiration date.

U.S. governors also have come out against the law, saying it is a huge unfunded mandate imposed on the nation’s states.

The National Conference of State Legislatures is equally opposed to the Real ID Act, saying, “Federal legislators and rule makers are negating state driver’s license security efforts, imposing difficult-to-comply-with mandates and limiting their flexibility to address new concerns as they arise. In other words, decades of state experience is being substituted for a ‘command and control regime’ from a level of government that has no driver’s license regulatory experience.”

Endtime Ministries’ Irvin Baxter, a radio host, believes the national ID is a precursor to the forced embedding of radio-frequency chips under the skin.

Baxter told the Concord, N.H., Monitor: “That’s where we are headed right now. The prophecy states that you will have to receive a mark on your hand or in your forehead.”

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