Bill No. 666

Do you think John of Patmos, as he scribed away in exile, ever had the premonition that his words would carry such weight 2,000 years later, in the democracy labs of the world’s most powerful nation? Probably not.

Last week, as all eyes turned to Arizona and its controversial immigration bill, the state’s legislature quietly passed a rather intriguing measure. It may soon be illegal, if Governor Jan Brewer gives her seal of approval, for an Arizonian to “intentionally or knowingly [create] a human-animal hybrid.” Strange as it sounds, the law would not be the first of its kind. Louisiana passed a similar bill in 2009.

No, a mad scientist is not on the loose in the desert state, unleashing unholy mutants. Instead, the law is a prohibitive measure meant to cut off any unseemly scientific experiments at their root. So it operates in the same spirit as another recent spat of odd state laws. Last month. a bill moved forward in Georgia to outlaw the implanting of microchips in humans. The measure had already been passed in the state Senate, sponsored by, yes, two guys named Chip.

Georgia lawmakers support the bill as a protection of privacy, calling it a necessary preemptive strike against the potential invasion of personal liberties. But officials in other states offer a different, more revelatory justification. The chief sponsor of a similar bill in Virginia said that microchips are, quite likely, the “mark of the beast.”

This deep concern for the eschatological evil of microchips is shared by the recently apprehended Christian Militia from Michigan. (In case you were wondering, they were just released from jail.)

On the surface, Arizona’s potential bill sounds similar. It comes off as a stand against Apocalyptic monstrosities. But, in reality, it is a rather cryptic invocation of an old ethical battleground. If passed, the bill would make it a felony to conduct certain types of embryonic stem cell research.

I’ll stay on the lookout for laws that prohibit giving amnesty to the Antichrist.

Mark Bergen is a contributing editor at KtB. He lives in Chicago and blogs here.