Wednesday, August 19, 2020

It Wasn’t the ‘Mark of the Beast’ — I Hope


  (Photos © 2020 Greg Richter)

It was the mid-1980s when I picked up a copy of a book by Mary Stewart Relfe, Ph.D. titled “The New Money System: 666” which set about explaining how the newly implemented UPC barcode system was actually a cleverly hidden numerical system that — once decoded — contained the very thing John the Revelator had been warning humanity to avoid for almost two millennia: The Mark of the Beast.

I’m no stupe, so I read this book with a wary eye. After all, I’d already been through Hal Lindsey’s “Late Great Planet Earth” end-of-the-world claims and so far … bupkis.

But Relfe’s arguments actually made sense. Mind, you do have to ignore a lot of the advertising clippings and other anecdotal examples she includes in the book that she seems to think point to the Anti-Christ or the Mark of the Beast. But she does lay out a good case that the UPC code contains a “hidden 666” in it.

Let me explain:

On most UPC codes on products you buy (You can go get a canned food product or anything else you wish to check me out on this.) there is the long set of lines of varying widths with numbers beneath them. Those numbers actually correspond to the lines above them. (That’s why when something doesn’t scan, a cashier has to type those numbers in manually.)

Now, there are actually two sets of numbers. There are two skinny lines at the beginning of the code to tell the scanner to start reading, then another set to tell the scanner to stop reading the first set and start reading the second set, then there’s a third set of skinny lines to say, stop reading altogether. 

Relfe decoded all those numbers from both sides and figured out which sets of lines were which numbers. You can check her chart against any UPC code on any product in your house and she’s got it right. 

But here’s the kicker: Those start and stop codes? They’re not just their own code — they also are the same code for one of the numbers on the second side. Can you guess which one? Yep: Six.

So this is all pretty intriguing in nineteen-eighty-whatever I’m reading this. I mean, the Mark of the Beast in the book of Revelation is all about not being able to buy or sell unless you have it on your hand or forehead, and now here it is on everything you want to buy. I mean, sure, you can put a barcode on something, to make it easier to track and to do transactions — but why must you include a 666 on it? Those start and stop codes could have been just another number — or just bars that were no number at all.

So, there’s that. It’s all very spooky and scary sounding. But if I’ve told this to people in all the years since you know what happens? Their eyes glaze over. Or they think I’m a conspiracy theorist.

As it turns out, Relfe was a bit off. To the naked eye the 6 and the start and stop codes do look alike, but there is some white spacing at the end of the 6 that isn’t at the end of the start and stop code. Still, why make them look so much alike?

Admittedly, if you read the rest of Relfe’s book — and she wrote some of others I’ve never read — a lot of her stuff sounds a bit out there. And she makes some predictions that as of 2020 have not come true. She seemed in 1982 when she penned this tome — she refers to herself as a prophet of God, by the way — to believe a worldwide “transaction card” was immanent and would be replacing cash.

I still use cash.


So all that to say that just because something makes very good sense to you and even lines up with your biblical worldview, it might not always pan out.

Mary Stewart Relfe died in 2011, so we can’t ask her what she thinks about the current theories that keep landing in my personal messages. She wrote books about the Y2K and the 9/11 attacks, so she might well have been passing these theories right along to her Facebook friends even though her prophecies from the 1980s have yet to pan out.

One theory is that Microsoft founder Bill Gates created the pandemic so that he could then supply the cure and then secretly implant a microchip when people get the vaccine.

All it takes is a common-sense examination to see that this makes little sense. Gates has a net worth of $114 billion and has set up a foundation to give much of it away. What is is goal here?

But let’s say, for sake of argument he does have some world-domination goal and is, in fact, the False Prophet or the Anti-Christ depicted in the Bible. For a person with such means and ability — he runs a giant tech company — why would he need to invent a new virus, then invent a cure, to hide his microchip inside. That’s horribly inefficient — and time consuming.

A smart guy like that would have taken an already existing virus — the flu — which lots of people already get vaccinated for anyway, and snuck his microchip in that. Not to mention all the childhood vaccinations your kids have to get. 

You think you’ve nabbed Ol’ Bill before he could shoot you up with his COVID shot? If he wanted to get you, he would’ve already done it.

The Bible doesn’t indicate anyone will take the Mark of the Beast by deception, but willingly. So there’s little to fear someone is going to sneak it inside your body. Dr. Relfe didn’t even think that.

Look, if you don’t want to get a coronavirus vaccine, by all means, do as you please. But if you are avoiding it because you think you’re thwarting the Mark of the Beast you’re probably just deceiving yourself, possibly to your own detriment.

Yes, Mary Stuart Relfe did sort of find a “666” in the UPC code, but nobody to date has made us put it on our hands or foreheads. If they do, that’s the point at which I’ll say no. And unless you are going to stop buying everything that has a UPC code on it, you’re already headed to hell in a shopping basket. Keeping your sleeve rolled down when they start with the shots ain’t gonna save you.

If you’ve seen this or any of the other theories going around social media that sound outrageous, don’t pass them on just because they sound like the could be true or because the person who sent it to you is someone you trust. Check it out for yourself.

Be like those in Berea who listened to the message of the Apostle Paul and Silas and double-checked it against the scriptures to see if the message was accurate.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Is Trump Helping Church Divide Sheep from Goats?

Donald Trump has done a lot of things in his historic run for the presidency. One that truly caught my friend Phil Durt by surprise was what he believes is a dividing of the "sheep and the goats."

People are ending friendships over Trump -- real ones, not just on Facebook or on Capitol Hill -- and Christians have been split as well. Some, like Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore find Trump anathema to Christianity. But lots of others, including broadcaster James Dobson, may not necessarily like Trump, but feel he will at least keep the ship from sinking as quickly as Hillary Clinton.

Of course, those are the theologically conservative Christians. Many on the theological left are quite happy with Clinton and are universally opposed to Trump.

But those on the right are split. Phil doesn't hold that the anti-Trumpers are the sheep and the pro-Trumpers are the goats in his scenario. There are some of each in both groups, he says. And some of each backing Clinton, for that matter.

But the fight is getting most everyone to show their true colors, he said, making it a lot easier discern which really belong in the sheep pen.

Could God have raised up Donald Trump for such a purpose at this time? Phil thinks it's possible.

"For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth,"  Paul writes in Romans 9:17.


Owen Tew is the pen name for Greg Richter, a freelance writer whose work regularly appears on Newsmax. He also has had his work posted on, The Clyde Fitch Report, The Huffington Post and The Hill. Follow him on Twitter at @owentew.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Advice to a Democratic Voter Wanting to Vote Republican

A friend of mine who is a Democrat recently said he would not vote for any of the Republican candidates in a general election. Still, he is considering voting in Alabama's GOP primary on Tuesday, and was wondering who he should vote for. 
Here's my answer:
Depends on which candidate you least like to see as president, should the eventual outcome be a Republican. The nominee is going to either be Trump, Rubio or Cruz. If your goal is to do all you can to stop Trump, I'd say vote for either Rubio or Cruz so they could get closer to stopping him. Alabama this year is awarding GOP delegates as winner-take-all by congressional delegation, so you should probably vote for who has best chance in your area. I don't remember where you live exactly, but OTM or Shelby County would probably be Rubio. Anywhere else in Central Alabama is probably Cruz. Now, if you most want to stop Cruz -- or Rubio -- then vote for Trump. But if you want to vote for the least conservative candidate, vote Kasich. Kasich won't win any delegates in Alabama, but if you just are making a statement of which is closest to your thinking, that's who I'd advise.
Of course, not everyone is in a state like Alabama. Some do winner-take-all statewide, and some proportion the votes statewide. If you're in winner-take-all, just apply the advice I give above statewide instead of by your district. If proportional, vote for whomever you like best out of Trump, Rubio and Cruz.

This is a tweak of the advice I gave Republicans in Iowa ahead of the caucuses, which you can read at The Clyde Fitch Report.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Fact-checking Obama on Guns: NRA's Real Opposition to Smart Guns

President Obama and CNN's Anderson Cooper discuss guns. (CNN)
President Barack Obama had an interesting argument during his Thursday town hall on CNN as to why the National Rifle Association opposes the sale of smart guns.

According to the president, "It has not been developed primarily because it's been blocked by either the NRA, which is funded by gun manufacturers or other reasons." (Read my reporting at Newsmax about it here.)

He's right that the NRA has persuaded gun makers not to produce smart guns, which could be fired only by the weapon's proper owner. Such technology uses either a chip worn in a watch or bracelet with must be close enough to the handgun to allow firing, or by recognizing the owner's grip.

Obama makes it sound like the gun manufacturers don’t want to sell such handguns to the public and has thus gotten the NRA to somehow put a stop to it.

There are two logical inconsistencies with that statement.

First, why would someone who makes a product be opposed to expanding their market and producing new products that some consumers want? Some people who don't own handguns now might be persuaded to become customers if they felt they could buy a safer product.

Second, even if they were opposed to making smart guns, why would they need a lobbying group to halt their own production of such a product. If they don't want to manufacture smart guns, they simply don't have to.

But if you parse Obama's words carefully, you'll notice he ended that sentence with "or other reasons."

He's right about that. And here is the other reason:

Back in 2002, New Jersey passed the Childproof Handgun Law, which aimed to decrease the number of children accidentally getting their hands on a gun and firing it – a noble goal.

But the law says that within three years of any gun shop owner in the United States beginning sale of a smart gun, every new handgun sold in New Jersey must be a smart gun.

Gun shop owners don't like this because it limits customer choice. It's like if New Jersey had said that once any candy store in the United States began selling peanuts covered in chocolate with a hard candy coating, that's the only kind of candy that could be sold in New Jersey. As soon as Peanut M&Ms hit the market, you couldn't buy regular M&Ms – or Snickers bars or Cracker Jack.

So you could either sell smart guns in New Jersey or you could sell no handguns at all. Smaller manufacturers would be cut out while the big boys like Smith & Wesson rake in all the money. People who want regular handguns would likely drive to another state to get them if that's even legal.

And smart guns are more expensive than their regular counterparts. A person like me who has never had children and rarely has them visit might feel he is wasting money to buy a smart gun. Or maybe he's responsible enough to keep his guns locked up without having to shell out the extra bucks for a smart gun.

So, yes, the NRA does oppose smart gun sales, but only insofar as New Jersey's law would trigger lack of choice.

"We'll work with the private sector. We'll figure out whether or not this technology can be developed and then give everybody a choice in terms of the kind of firearm that they want to purchase because I think that there will, in fact, be market for that and over time," Obama said Thursday.

We've heard something like that before – something about keeping our plans and our doctors if we like them.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Will Trump Hold Evangelical Appeal?


Trump with his Bible at Council Bluffs, Iowa
I'll be interested to see how Donald Trump's appeal to evangelicals continues following his rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa on Tuesday night.

Trump began the rally waving his Bible and noting that he is a Protestant and a Presbyterian in particular. It appeared to be obvious pandering to evangelical Christians, a strong voting bloc in Iowa, which starts the voting when it holds its caucuses on February 1.

Trump noted that his mother gave him the Bible and had written "This is Donald Trump's Bible" inside.

What evangelicals will notice that others may not is that the Bible was in pristine condition. It hasn't seen a lot of wear and tear. He hasn't spent hundreds of hours studying it.

My first Bible.
That doesn't mean Trump hasn't studied another Bible, saving that one because it was a gift from this mother. But when I see it I think of the Bible my grandmother gave me when I was 14. It, too, was inscribed. And it sat in pristine condition for five years.

When I truly gave my life to Christ, that was the only Bible I owned, so it was the one I initially studied. I still have it, but now its edges are frayed and its binding is duct taped.

Hugh Ross' tattered first Bible. (Greg Richter)
I've also seen Reasons to Believe founder Hugh Ross hold up his first Bible. It's tattered.

Still, a pristine first Bible isn't enough to make evangelicals see trump as a phony.

But not long afterward, Trump noted that one of his rivals for the Republican nomination, former New York Gov. George Pataki, had just dropped out of the race.

"Somebody else dropped out, but there's not much to split up because he was at zero," Trump said, not even mentioning Pataki's name and bascically kicking him while he was down.

Meanwhile, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, whose Cuban-born father is an evangelical pastor, offered words of praise for Pataki.

"I’m grateful for Governor George Pataki’s many years of dedication to our nation and to the state of New York — particularly while serving as Governor on September 11th," Cruz wrote on his Facebook page. "He brought experience and knowledge to the race for the Republican nomination, and as a result, helped prepare our eventual nominee to win in November and take back the White House."

Cruz's response is more likely to resonate with evangelical Christians, who may not support someone like Pataki for president, but who also don't believe in being unnecessarily mean to him.

As for Cruz, Trump closed out his rally repeating an old line in which he questions Cruz's own evangelicalism.

"Just remember this – you gotta remember, in all fairness, to the best of my knowledge, not too many evangelicals come out of Cuba, OK?" he said. "Just remember that. Just remember."

Trump again held up his pristine Bible as he closed things out.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Sheriff: 'I Will Not Name the Shooter'

Sheriff John Hanlin (Douglas County Sheriff's Department)
Media outlets have been questioning all day why the gunman who killed at least 10 people at an Oregon college had yet to be identified by police.

The reason, it turns out, may be because the sheriff didn't want to give him credit. John Hanlin, the sheriff of Douglas County, Oregon, the gunman carried out his carnage at Umpqua Community College, said the will never utter the name of the man, who was killed by police, and urged the media not to do so either.

"Let me be very clear: I will not name the shooter. I will not give him the credit he probably sought prior to this horrific and cowardly act," Hanlin said at a press conference Thursday night. "Media will get the name confirmed in time. But you will never hear me mention his name."

He also encouraged the media not to use the man's name, even though some already had done so.

"We encourage you not to glorify and create sensationalism for him. He in no way deserves this," Hanlin said.

Media outlets had questioned why the man had not been identified by police even though he had been dead for several hours and his name was showing up on social media.

The debate over whether to name the perpetrators of mass killings has long raged, with some arguing that they are getting glory they seek when they are named. Others the public has a right to know any public information about such crimes, including the name of the perpetrator.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Ariana Grande Must Time-travel to Kill Hitler

Since we can't make all the rednecks stop waving the Confederate flag – or make Donald Trump stop spitting on the Mexican one – it's time we make an example of someone.

We must force Ariana Grande to go back in time and kill Hitler.

The public doughnut-licker, who also sings and acts, has apologized for putting her cooties on some yummy ringed delights in a California bakery and then leaving them for another customer to buy and eat.

I can only hope Homer Simpson is not on that jury.

But she also voiced her disgust for Americans and America itself.

It was the second act that really got her into trouble. She got dropped from singing at baseball's All-Star Game – understandable since baseball was America's pastime in times past.

But no longer. Now, you can just buy us the peanuts and Cracker Jack.

And that was Grande's point: Americans are fat and getting molto grande, and that's what she was really saying in her "I hate Americans" comment. But this is the epoch of taking people out of context because it gets clicks.

Sure, she apologized – twice – but that's not good enough anymore. Neither is explaining what you meant. You must do penance.

Here, Grande could kill two birds with one stone. Not literally, of course, or she'd be in trouble for that, too.

Perhaps you saw the recent study that found that women are far less likely than men to be willing to travel back in time to kill Hitler. If you didn't, here are some links to stories about it on USAToday, the NewYork Post and The Independent

If you don't care for such sensationalism, here's a link tothe actual study, titled Gender Differences in Responses to Moral Dilemmas: A Process Dissociation Analysis, which uses waaay boring terms such as deontology and utilitarianism. Blech.

If you'd rather eat a pre-licked doughnut than read that report, let me sum up: Men are gung-ho to make like Marty McFly – or Sherman and Peabody – and kill Der Fuehrer, while women worry about the consequences of their actions.

Clearly, it's all consequences schmonsequences with Ariana Grande, so she'd be the perfect woman to go back in time and kill Hitler. She could prove her America-lovin' bonafides by blasting our World War II nemesis to smithereens.

Maybe she could pose as his food taster. She likes licking food before giving it to someone else to eat. Then BOOM! Have him screaming Mein Gott! before he ever writes Mein Kampf.

As to that second bird: It's all about gender equality. If Ariana Grande succeeds in her quest she will become not just a national hero, but an international one. She can write her ticket for the rest of her life. Not even Rob O'Neill, the Navy SEAL who killed Osama bin Laden, is that universally adored.

As for the rest of us, maybe such a giant accomplishment could restore the word Grande to its true meaning, instead of small, as most drinkers of overpriced coffee have come to believe.

Owen Tew is the pen name for Greg Richter, a freelance writer whose work regularly appears on Newsmax and The Clyde Fitch Report. He also has had his work posted on The Huffington Post and The Hill. Follow him on Twitter at @owentew.