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California and the West

Deputy Sues to Have His Social Security Number Removed

Court: Man wants 'mark of the beast' deleted from his records. Ventura County will seek to dismiss the case.

April 23, 1998|HILARY E. MacGREGOR | TIMES STAFF WRITER

VENTURA — Declaring his Social Security number the modern-day equivalent of the Biblical "mark of the beast," a Ventura County sheriff's deputy has gone to court to demand the county rid him of the cursed number.

Deputy Patrick Dain, 42, is seeking to force his employer to delete the number from his records--something the county has refused to do for four years--and pay him more than $25,000 in damages for pay lost because of his time-consuming battle.

He is also asking an undefined sum for the mental suffering he claims to have endured as a result of slander and libel.

"Due to my religious beliefs, I do continue to assert that the county remove all references to my former Social Security number for the following reasons," Dain wrote in an October 1996 letter to the county. "I believe that the number is associated with the mark of the beast as stated in the holy Bible, the Book of Revelations, Chapter 13, Verse 16. . . . Because of what I believe the number represents and is associated with, mere use of the number is abominable to me."

Deputy County Counsel Noel Klebaum said his initial reaction to the case, which was filed with the county March 25, was "incredulity."

"I've never heard of this kind of case before," he said.

A private attorney handling the case for the county is filing a motion today to dismiss the suit.

But the case is not without precedent; many evangelical Christians object to numbers assigned to them by the government.

In October 1997, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled that a driver's license applicant can refuse to give the Department of Motor Vehicles a Social Security number for religious reasons. The court ruled that the DMV must accommodate five men who contended that the numbers are "the mark of the beast."

Dain, a Camarillo resident who is representing himself in court, has been with the department for 20 years and works now in the Thousand Oaks substation of the Sheriff's Department investigating property crimes.

Calling himself a Christian of no particular denomination, Dain said he was saved by grace at age 17, but his concern about Social Security numbers began about four years ago.

"The biggest thing that woke me up was current events," Dain said. "Drawing parallels between current events and the Book of Revelations--the way the world is going toward one world government, and not wanting to be part of that."

The number of the anti-Christ beast given in Revelation's Chapter 13 is 666. But some evangelical Christians speculating about Bible verses dealing with apocalyptic "last days" have feared that the "mark of the beast" could be an identifying mark or number without which no one can buy or sell anything in today's world.

By accepting Social Security numbers today, they believe they will play into satanic hands.

"I don't want a number," Dain said earnestly. "I think those numbers are going to be used in the last days. They have to have a system, and the Social Security numbers are the perfect system for tracking everyone on the planet. . . . I am not willing to be part of that."

Dain began his fight to rid himself of the number four years ago, and the federal government allowed him to withdraw from the Social Security system, according to his suit. However, the county is still using the number for employment records.

His wife has a number, as do two of his children. His youngest son does not. He is trying to get the other two children's numbers deleted as well.

He said Ventura County Sheriff Larry Carpenter has been sympathetic to his predicament, as have most of his superiors--with a few exceptions. Some officers, he said, call him a "kook."

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