'Mark of the beast' student loses RFID lawsuit

Posted by Emma Woollacott

A Texas student has failed in her bid to ban RFID tags from her school on the grounds that they're the 'mark of the beast'.

At the beginning of last year, the Northside Independent School District started equipping students at its 112 schools with the tags as a way of monitoing attendance. John Jay High School was one of the first.

However, 15-year-old sophomore Andrea Hernandez refused to wear the tag, claiming it represented the Biblical mark of the beast, and launched a lawsuit.

"We must obey the word of God. By asking my daughter and our family to participate and fall in line like the rest of them is asking us to disobey our Lord and Savior," explained her father.

She was suspended, and continued with her lawsuit - despite the fact that the school finally caved in and allowed her to change campus, or wear the identity card without the RFID tag. This still amounted to wearing the 'mark' of the program, she said, and moving campus would cause her harm.

But District Judge Orlando L Garcia for the Western District of Texas in San Antonio ruled that Hernandez hadn't, as she claimed, suffered 'irreparable injury'.

"Any harm that Plaintiff believed she would suffer as the result of wearing a Smart ID badge containing a chip has been removed. And Plaintiff will not suffer irreparable injury if she is transferred back to her home campus, Taft High School, which she attended in the past," he concluded.

"There has been no harm to Plaintiff, and there is no foreseeable harm to Plaintiff in the future. On the other hand, tying the District's hands and preventing its administrators to exercise their discretion always raises a concern. The scales tip in the District's favor."

Hernandez was represented by the Rutherford Institute, which is distinctly unhappy at the decision.

"The Supreme Court has made clear that government officials may not scrutinize or question the validity of an individual’s religious beliefs,” says president John Whitehead.

"By declaring Andrea Hernandez’s objections to be a secular choice and not grounded in her religious beliefs, the district court is placing itself as an arbiter of what is and is not religious. This is simply not permissible under our constitutional scheme, and we plan to appeal this immediately."