Writing this column makes me something of a public figure. My email address appears in my byline every week, so anyone who wants to fire off their thoughts and opinions to me on any subject can easily do so.
As you might imagine, some of those thoughts and opinions are rather interesting, to say the least. For example, one of my readers recently informed me that the biblically prophesied end times are unfolding on the world stage right now, and Obamacare is playing a key part in mankind’s imminent demise.
According to this individual, Obama is conspiring with shadowy Illuminati to bring about a global government that will rob us of all of our freedoms. I won’t go into all the details of this overwrought conspiracy theory (which involves an inexplicable alliance of powerful atheists in the U.S. and Muslim extremists in the Middle East) but I found one particular claim this individual made to be especially intriguing and worthy of careful examination.
According to my “source,” there is a provision within the Affordable Care Act that mandates the implantation of a microchip inside everyone who signs up for a health care plan under the act. And this microchip, which would allow the government to track the movements of all who accept it, is apparently none other than the “mark of the beast” that we are warned of by the Bible to avoid being branded with if we want to avoid the fires of hell.
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That scenario would be quite alarming if there were a shred of truth to it, but of course there is not. A quick trip to snopes.com revealed that this rumor, which has been bouncing around the Internet for a while, was based on a misinterpretation of an early version of the ACA that called for a nationwide tracking database of implanted medical devices (things like pacemakers and artificial joints.) The database was to be used as a tool to quantify the effectiveness of these devices and facilitate the distribution of manufacturer recall notices.
Somehow the proposal to create such a database morphed into an evil plot to implant us all with tracking devices in the imaginations of certain willfully ignorant people. The kicker is that by the time the law reached its final form, the plan to create the implantable device database wasn’t even a part of it and thus was never implemented.
Looking into this tall tale reminded me of what I experienced in the 1970s when the book “The Late Great Planet Earth” was all the rage. That book, which was quite a hot topic of conversation in the Baptist church I attended at the time, claimed that the end-of-the-world scenario that some Christians believe is described in the Book of Revelation was almost certain to occur before the end of the 1980s.
There is a passage in Revelation that was interpreted by the book’s authors to prophesy that the generation that witnessed the re-founding of the nation of Israel (which occurred in 1948) would not “pass away” before the end times commenced. The authors believed that a generation, in biblical terms, was equal to 40 years, so it was likely the whole thing would be over and done with no later than 1988.
If you bought into that line of thinking (and I swallowed it hook, line and sinker at the time) you followed the news carefully for evidence that the apocalypse was unfolding and we were at the end of human history.
But here we are nearly 30 years later, and I’m a whole lot more skeptical these days of anyone who claims to know how and when the world will end based on their “inspired” reading of apocalyptic passages in the Bible.
Speaking of the time when heaven and earth would “pass away,” Jesus said “about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Can I get an “amen”?
Bill Ferguson is a resident of Warner Robins. Readers can write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.