November 18, 2010

Greek Church Takes on 'Antichrist' in ID Card Row

November 17, 2010

Senior clerics in Greece have told the state in no uncertain terms that vigilance is required to prevent the antichrist from making a manifestation on new ID cards to be issued next year.

The authorities must ensure that the cards contain no mention of the number 666, which in Greek Orthodox tradition is associated with the antichrist, the Church of Greece said in a statement.

"In no way should the 'citizen card' contain the number 666, either in visible or invisible manner," the Holy Synod, governing council of the Church of Greece, said after a meeting between canon scholars, legal experts, computer specialists and government officials.

"The Church is obliged to protect personal freedom and defend the integrity of the faith," the Holy Synod added.

State planners have pledged to take the observation on board, it said.

The new cards are to be finalised early next year.

The Church is officially part of the state in Greece.

Frequently criticised as backward and superstitious by liberal circles, Orthodox custodians strongly adhere to tradition surrounding the number 666, which appears in the biblical Book of Revelation, believed to have been written by the Apostle John in the first century AD.

Also known as the figure of the Beast, the number has led ultra orthodox clerics to oppose the use of bar codes on goods, as well as electronic checks carried out under the border-free Schengen Area of which Greece is a member.

A decade ago, the Church of Greece had fought tooth and nail to prevent the removal of religious affiliation from the previous batch of identity cards issued to Greeks, even organising a referendum on the issue.

At the time, religious minorities such as Catholics and Jews had successfully argued that the inclusion of faith on the cards could expose the bearer to discrimination.

Read also: The Greek "Citizen Card" and the Orthodox Response