'Mark of the Beast' Drives Away Amish

August 19, 2007

Author: Pat Shellenbarger

Source: The Grand Rapids Press


BLANCHARD -- Glen Mast doesn't own a computer, doesn't want one, but he and other Amish farmers complain the state Department of Agriculture is insisting they tag their cattle with electronic chips in violation of their religious beliefs.

State agriculture officials say the radio frequency chips are necessary to track animal diseases and protect public health. Mast and other Amish farmers say the chips' 15-digit number is the Mark of the Beast warned of in the Bible's book of Revelation.

"We're a people who are inclined to mind our own business," Mast said, sitting in the wood shop he operates without electricity on his Isabella County farm. His small herd of dairy cows lounged in the shade of the barn. Across the road, one of his sons raked hay with a team of horses. "We're never happier than when we're just left alone," Mast said. "That's all we're asking."

All over Michigan, Amish farmers are resisting the state program requiring that all cattle be tagged with the electronic chips before they can be sold. Some say they will quit farming if it comes to it. Some say they will leave the state.