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Platteville veterinarian Tim Thompson has seen his share of beastly behavior, but the news that he's working closely with the Antichrist himself comes as a bit of a shock. "Well no, I wasn't aware of that," he says. "Wow."
To understand exactly how his veterinary research ties into the imminent end of the world, Thompson would have to tune in to the television show This Week in Bible Prophecy, which airs several times daily on different metro-area cable channels. The show's hosts, televangelist brothers Peter and Paul LaLonde, broadcast from the Canadian side of Niagara Falls and frequently travel the United States in search of biblical news nuggets. Good Book in hand, they seek to prove, through careful analysis of current events and trends, that the "end times" are upon us. In fact, they sign off the air like this: "And if the Lord doesn't come back first, we'll see you next week."
Signs that God may indeed be about to wrap things up appear to be rife. To the uninitiated, they may also require a little explanation. That's why the LaLondes produced their Mark of the Beast and Mark of the Beast II videos --and that's where Tim Thompson and IDI Destron, the Minnesota-based livestock-identification firm he does work for, take their hits.
"This company has had microchips implanted under the skins of animals all over the world," Peter LaLonde reveals in the Beast II video. "Hundreds of thousands of animals in this country alone are already carrying these chips, and there are very real, very sincere reasons for doing it."
Among them, notes Tim Thompson, is the search for missing pets. "But there's a lot more than that," he says. The microchip "is an injectable, almost invisible device made out of a polypropylene capsule," he explains. "It's about the size of a grain of rice, but it transmits a ten-digit bar code."
That code is capable of holding a wealth of information, from an animal's geographic whereabouts, to the results of its most recent blood test, to the name of its owner. "The possibilities are amazing," says Thompson. "I mean, one sheep looks pretty much like another. If Blossom loses her blue ribbon, we can run her bar code through our computers and find her. It's a permanent ID."
And if Blossom happens to have a pernicious sheep flu, she can be immediately cut out from the herd. For that reason and others, says Thompson, he immediately encodes animals in his practice with chips of their own.
The use of the chips "makes a lot of sense," agrees Paul LaLonde on Beast II. "It sounds like they're doing all this to help you, and it's cheap [about five dollars per chip]."
But, adds LaLonde, "consider how they might be employed solving the age-old problem of identifying people." In the coming "cashless society," says Peter LaLonde, future ATM machines will need better and faster devices for verifying the identification of customers. The solution may well lie, he says, in IDI Destron's chip--embedded in humans, not animals. A simple chip under the skin, say the LaLondes, could also keep felons from purchasing firearms, track missing children and prevent all of us from cheating on our taxes.
"Doesn't it all sound so humanitarian?" the brothers ask on Beast II. "The problem is with the Bible prophecy."
Specifically with Revelation 13, which invokes a future in which people will wear the mark of the beast "in their hand, or in their forehead. This isn't allegory or symbolism," Paul LaLonde warns. "This is the mark of the beast. The government will be able to look at the data and tell you how to live your life. They can track you if you're in a cult, which they define as anyone who would die for their faith and believes they're living in the end time."
The government could even track the nutritional habits of citizens, adds Peter LaLonde on the tape. "You'd have agents coming to your door taking away your Frosted Flakes and giving you Wheaties. Imagine how you'd feel."
The LaLondes couldn't be reached for comment directly, but a spokesman at their Niagara Falls headquarters says the brothers have no intention of trying to stop technology in its tracks. However, adds the spokesman, who asks not to be identified, "If the Bible says it's going to happen, it's going to happen--we can't stop it."
"Oh yeah, we've heard all this before," sighs IDI Destron's John Weiser, speaking from the company's St. Paul headquarters. "We also heard that this is Big Brother's first big step--to put one transponder in every person. I mean, don't these people drive cars? You can get a whole lot of information off license plates, too, you know."
Weiser contends that transponders are nowhere near as "way out there" as they sound. He says that IDI Destron, which began with plastic cattle-identification tags in the 1940s, is simply riding the wave of the future. Today, he says, chips reside in Columbia River salmon, in sheep herds all over Europe, and in hordes of house pets. The federal Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve the use of chips in American food animals, he says, but the practice has taken off in Europe.
"To make the leap that this device is akin to the mark of the beast is something I cannot do, and I like to think I'm a religious man," Weiser concludes. "David Koresh and Jim Jones may be able to think that way, but not me.