The Devil Came Down To Georgia: Christian Challenges Termination After Refusing To Wear Sticker With The Number 666

There is an interesting religious challenge in Georgia where factory worker, Billy E. Hyatt refused to be marked with the sign of “the Beast” and was fired by Plaint Corporation. Plaint found Hyatt less than compliant when he was asked to put on a sticker proclaiming that the plastic factory was accident-free for 666 days. He refused and said that, to do so, would have cost him his eternal soul. Instead, it cost him his job and he is suing.

A devout Christian insisted that the number would mark him with the number of the Beast as detailed in the Bible’s Book of Revelation. He had worked for the north Georgia plastics company since June 2007 and said that he “grew nervous” when the number of accident-free days crept town the 660s. Rather than engineer an accident, however, he tried to explain that wearing the number would condemn him to hell. After a three-day suspension, he was fired at a human resources meeting. He is now seeking not just back pay but punitive damages under the theory that the company was making him choose between his job and abandoning his God.

There are a couple of problems with the claim. First, I have already identified the Beast in a prior column as Michael Eisner, former CEO at Disney. Second, many scholars believe the actual number is 616, not 666. It turns out that 666 may be the ancient equivalent to a typo. Papyrus 115 is a fragmented piece of papyrus that dates back to the 3rd century and was not translated until the 20th century. Researchers were surprised to see that the papyrus included “616” as the sign of the Beast. If true, Hyatt was likely already wearing the number and lost his soul 50 days before (yes, I would like the company lawyers to make this argument with attribution in the upcoming hearing).

Here are the more often read passages:

Revelation 13:16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
Revelation 13:17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
Revelation 13:18 Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six. (666)

This passage has previously led to problems when 666 appears on papers or in conversation for some Christians.

The more serious problem is that the legal basis lacks any merit. It is ridiculous to suggest that a company must conform to such eccentric or extreme religious views. If someone wants to go through life avoiding a particular whole numbers, they are free to do so like those people who will stay at a hotel with thirteen floors but not one with a 13th floor on the elevator. You cannot, however, force everyone else to adhere to your idiosyncratic obsession.

Source: CBS

31 thoughts on “The Devil Came Down To Georgia: Christian Challenges Termination After Refusing To Wear Sticker With The Number 666”

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  2. Waddell Laney my father died in 2006 and he circumcised himself in1973 and he did not shoot the sheriffs until 1981 because his wife (my Mother) asked the courts to admit him in a hospital so that he would take his medicine for schizophrenia and when they went to pick him up he asked them to get off of his property or they would be shot .

  3. I’m from Minnesota and had a pastor friend of mine pick up new license plates for my truck one year. In Minnesota the numbering system was three letters followed by three numbers. He chuckled a bit as he handed me the plates, the last three numbers were 666. He said I could bring them back as the license department couldn’t force you to accept a license
    plate with that number. I kept the plates but it was nice to know that the
    state wasn’t forcing me to do so.

  4. Who gets to decide what’s a “crazy belief” unworthy of accomodation? I would not be surprised if there are more people who believe in the “Left Behind” books than Jews or Muslims in this country. Does that mean we could fire somebody for wearing a kippah (or yarmulke) on occasion since there are fewer believers?

    If not, why not?

    This reminds me of the “Freedom of Religion only refers to Protestant Christian sects” nonsense. Jefferson et al were very much aware and respectful of other religions – all the way to the point of the Jeffersonian “Sect of One”. The state should be very, very careful when deciding what isn’t a legitimate belief that deserves protection.

    In this case accomodation would have been trivial and would not have offended, much less endangered, his coworkers. I have a really hard time finding any sympathy for the company here.

    Rhetorical question – say he was dismissed for his actions subsequent to this lack of accomodation, e.g., for subordination. Would that make a difference if the precipitating cause was a violation of his rights? Or is that totally irrelevant? I can see an argument both ways and it seems similar to the classic problem with “fighting words”. A lot of people think they’re above such a strong response until they get hit with the right words themselves.

  5. I think the company overreacted. Letting him not wear the tag for one day seems like such a minor accommodation. Now it’s going to cost the company a fair amount to defend the firing. Plus I’m sure the local fundies will be up in arms supporting him.

    It was only going to be for one day–if an accident happened the clock would reset; if no accident happened the next day would be 667 (the neighbor of the beast) and the problem would be solved.

  6. Well they made it past 666 hopefully….. Maybe it is the true mark of corporate America……Today at least…

  7. As an atheist I view the whole thing as stupid but firing someone for not wearing a sticker seems excessive.

    If there’s nothing more to the case than him saying I don’t want to wear the sticker because of my beliefs then the company needs a good kicking in the courts; it doesn’t seem a massive adjustment to make in catering for a person’s religious convictions and it would surely be over after a day. It’s not like he insisted he wear a colander on his head in observance of the flying spaghetti monster.

  8. According to various articles, the employee had raised the matter in advance with his manager and was told it wouldn’t be a problem. Given the minimal effect on operations (one employee not wearing a sticker for one day), it doesn’t seem unreasonable for him to rely on that assurance and show up to work on the day in question.

  9. surfpnsbch 1, November 21, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    SolomonвАЩs great wealth

    2 Chr 1:13
    The weight of gold that came to Solomon yearly was six hundred and sixty-six talents of gold.
    =========================
    S/he who has the gold makes the rules.

    Quaint … it is the new now baby.

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