Georgia church declares ID cards 'Satan-free'

Worshippers at an orthodox church in Tbilisi.

TBILISI - Georgia's powerful Orthodox Church has assured believers that the ex-Soviet state's new electronic identity cards do not carry the mark of Satan after being petitioned by worried worshippers.

"The Holy Synod states that from the point of view of theological and ecclesiastical teachings, ID cards as they exist today do not represent the mark of the Antichrist," the Church's governing body said in a statement late Thursday.

Some Georgian Christians had petitioned the Church, expressing fears that the ID cards contained an electronic chip marked with the 'number of the beast', 666.

The Holy Synod responded by saying that although there was no religious argument against the cards, citizens should have the right to choose what kind of ID document they carry.

The high-tech electronic cards give citizens access to a range of state services online and can also act as a 'digital signature' for official documents.

Georgia is a largely pious Christian nation where the Church wields huge influence and the Orthodox Patriarch is the single most respected figure in society.

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