MICROCHIPS AND ANTICHRISTS…. Virginia’s House of Delegates spent some time this week debating a bill to prevent employers or insurance companies from implanting microchips in Virginians’ bodies against their will. There’s no effort underway to actually impose involuntary chips on anyone, but lawmakers just want to be sure.

Part of the concern is based on privacy rights, and part of this is motivated by a desire to “save humanity from the antichrist.” Seriously.

Del. Mark L. Cole (R-Fredericksburg), the bill’s sponsor, said that privacy issues are the chief concern behind his attempt to criminalize the involuntary implantation of microchips. But he also said he shared concerns that the devices could someday be used as the “mark of the beast” described in the Book of Revelation.

“My understanding — I’m not a theologian — but there’s a prophecy in the Bible that says you’ll have to receive a mark, or you can neither buy nor sell things in end times,” Cole said. “Some people think these computer chips might be that mark.” […]

[T]he growing use of microchips has collided with the Book of Revelation…. David Neff, editor of the magazine Christianity Today, said that some fundamentalist Christians believe that bar codes and implanted microchips could be used by a totalitarian government to control commerce — a sign of the coming end of the world.

The legislation passed yesterday.

Some state lawmakers found all of this hard to believe. “We’ve got a $4 billion hole, and we’re spending time on microchips,” said Del. Albert C. Pollard Jr. (D). “At least when Nero fiddled, they got good music.”

Virginia isn’t the only state where this is come up — Georgia’s state Senate is apparently supposed to take up the issue next week.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.