Amish farmers are to sue the US government on the grounds that plans to put electronic identity tags on livestock constitute imposing the “mark of the Beast”.
By Tom Leonard in New York
Last Updated: 11:33PM GMT 17 Nov 2008
Amish farmers say the livestock ID scheme is a violation of their fundamental religious beliefs Photo: AP
A group of seven Amish farmers in Michigan say the state’s insistence that they use radio frequency ID devices on their animals “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,” according to their lawsuit.
Some Amish, who have a booming business in producing organic milk, disagree with radio ID tagging so strongly that they said they will give up farming if they do not get an exemption.
The Amish, members of an Anabaptist Christian denomination, are best known for their literal interpretation of the Bible and their simple lifestyle.
The livestock registration is intended to create a national tracking system to help contain outbreaks of diseases such as mad cow disease, or foot and mouth.
But the Amish claim that the scheme threatens their religious beliefs because, they believe, it is part of an ongoing attempt to number every living thing, a practice mentioned in Revelations where it is linked with the Devil.
The US department of agriculture (USDA) argues that its cattle tagging plan is voluntary and that the lawsuit should instead be directed at the state of Michigan, which wants to make it compulsory.
The USDA has also pointed out that farmers, including Amish ones, are already using numbered metal studs to track animals.
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