US Supreme Court rebuffs 'number of the beast' dispute

US Supreme Court rebuffs 'number of the beast' social security number religious dispute
2 min read
The US Supreme Court allowed a lower court ruling to stand against a man who filed a lawsuit demanding a religious exemption from Idaho's requirement he provide his social security number to apply for state contractor work.
The appeal had been on hold while the court considered a different religious rights case [Anna Moneymaker/Getty]

The US Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up a religious rights case involving an Idaho man who refused to provide the state his social security number in a job-related filing because he said it was "the number of the beast" - an ominous biblical reference.

The justices let stand a lower court ruling against a man named George Ricks who in a lawsuit against Idaho demanded an exemption due to his Christian beliefs from the state's requirement that he provide his social security number to apply to work as a state contractor.

The appeal had been on hold while the Supreme Court considered a separate religious rights case involving a Catholic Church-affiliated agency that sued after the city of Philadelphia refused to place children for foster care with the organisation because it barred same-sex couples from applying to be foster parents.

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The court ruled unanimously on 17 June in favour of Catholic Social Services but left certain legal questions unresolved.

The Lamba Legal rights group made a submission to the Supreme Court during the case in which it said "highlight[ed] the harm to LGBTQ youth of allowing faith-based child-placing agencies to use religious criteria to reject same-sex couples" from fostering.

Ricks, like Catholic Social Services, had asked the Supreme Court to overturn a 1990 Supreme Court ruling, called Employment Division v. Smith, that limited the ability of people to seek such exemptions.

Religious rights advocates have claimed the ruling infringes on the free exercise of religion guaranteed by the US Constitution's First Amendment.