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‘Mark of the Beast’ fears spark legal challenge over student tracking chips

November 21, 2012


The number of the beast is 666 by William Blake.

At a protest last month, John Jay High School sophomore Andrea Hernandez called the school’s newly-mandated student-tracking system a violation of her religious rights. “I feel that it’s the implementation of the Mark of the Beast,” she told, the brainchild of Austin-based libertarian and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

For months Hernandez and her family have fought with Northside ISD officials over the district’s “Smart ID” pilot program, which puts radio frequency tracking chips in student IDs. Starting this year, all 4,200 John Jay High School students must wear the new ID tags, which track their movement around campus. Northside has said that it may in the future expand the program to all of the district’s 112 schools.

While civil liberties groups have loudly decried Northside’s pilot program as an Orwellian breach of privacy, the Hernandez family has largely objected on religious grounds. They’ve protested outside the school, spoken out at school board meetings, and Hernandez this month tried to pass out fliers on campus criticizing the program.

Last week, Hernandez’s father got a letter from the district saying his daughter’s no longer welcome at John Jay High School. The district instead ordered her to report to Taft High School when school resumes Monday, Nov. 26.

The Hernandez family called on the Rutherford Institute, an East Coast civil liberties group. Institute president John Whitehead told the Current the group plans to file for a temporary restraining order Wednesday to keep Northside from kicking Hernandez out of John Jay. Northside officials couldn’t be reached for comment.

The key here is these people have strong religious beliefs, and they stand by them,” Whitehead said. “There are a number of Christians, evangelicals that feel any kind of tag or device you put on people like that could be the Mark of the Beast out of Revelation.”

For evangelicals like Hernandez, the tracking-chip program bears an eerie resemblance to the end-times warnings in Revelation 13:16-18, which speak of the so-called “Mark of the Beast”:

He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.”

In the letter to Hernandez’s father, district officials say Hernandez would be allowed back to John Jay if she wore the student ID without the battery and tracking chip. The Hernandez family, who couldn’t be reached for comment, has refused, according to Whitehead. “They felt that would be endorsing a program they fundamentally can’t support on religious grounds,” he said.

John Jay students use the new ID s to access the school’s library, cafeteria, and to sign up for extracurricular activities. This student could not use the library facilities, the cafeteria facilities, she wasn’t even allowed to vote for the homecoming king and queen,” Whitehead said. “So she’s already suffered damage. She’s being treated unequally.”Michael Barajas

*Update: A Bexar County judge granted the Rutherford Institute’s request for a temporary restraining order Wednesday, the organization said in an email Wednesday afternoon. There will be a court hearing on the preliminary injunction next week. You can read the Rutherford Institute’s court filing here.


  • aTexasDude

    I can understand her objection for religious reasons. But to say she has “suffered damage” because she cannot access the library, cafeteria or other places is a stretch. She will face the same issues when she gets a full time job, as many companies require an employee to carry a badge for ID purposes and to gain access to various places within the building.

  • legit_taxpayer

    The schools only job- is to teach and educate. Not track- and monitor profits from breathing humans.

  • SS

    What a joke!!!!! Mark of the Beast is a permanent mark on the forehead or right hand….. not a plastic ID card that she is rid of after graduation……if she graduates.

  • Guest

    Yeah but you know kids can be cruel. She probably catches major heat for it. Making a big deal about it and all. Adults can also be sued for retaliation or harassment in the workplace (& should just over all know better), not sure if kids in school can be held responsible in any way.

  • Dilbert

    Regardless of your religious beliefs, this program is a serious threat to your civil liberties. It all starts innocent and sweet like this is for your protection, but sooner or later, the government will use this to limit your freedom.

  • ghana

    No one has a right to demand you wear a tracking device unless you are a jew in Germany 70 years ago. Kinda feels familiar though doesn’t it?

  • Baka_man

    Just get the card and then put it on a dog, let the school waste all that time trying to figure out why you are making all those rounds to the back of restaurants, lol.

  • Mike

    So she isn’t ok with getting a tracking device so that the school could tell her whereabouts in case of emergencies, but is probably using a droid or iPhone and most likely using the location mode in which the phone company is tracking your whereabouts all the time!!!
    Your arguement is invalid!

  • Albert J Longoria

    The real mark of the beast is your credit score.
    Andrea Hernandez should remain at home and have her parents school her on how to get additional special treatment costing taxpayers money. The Hernandez family demands to be treated inequitably then complains about the inequality.

  • just flo


  • taxpayer

    Get over it,wear the id and hit the books. Mark of the beast,people will do anything for attention