Monday, January 27, 2014

Vintage, foreboding religious tract: The Mark of the Beast

This dire Christian tract was written by A.M. Fox and issued by the Pilgrim Tract Society of Randleman, North Carolina.1 I estimate that it was published sometime between 1933 and the early 1940s. The Pilgrim Tract Society, according to its own history, was incorporated in March 1938. (Its founders, though, were producing tracts years before the official incorporation.)

For additional historical context, some of the American agencies and legislation referred to in the elaborate "Mark of the Beast" illustration include:
  • Social Security (established 1935)
  • The New Deal (enacted between 1933 and 1938)
  • Works Progress Administration (established 1935)
  • National Recovery Administration (1933-1935)

Here are some interesting excerpts from the four-page tract, which is very concerned with Adolf Hitler, personal identification numbers, and ultraviolet tattoos (not necessarily in that order):
  • "Two particular baits the Anti-christ will use to coax people under his snare before they are caught and compelled to take the mark: Money and hunger. Many people are already more concerned about their ability to buy and sell than they are about their soul's welfare."
  • "The promise of big money for little work will also cause many to take their soul-damning mark which seals their eternal destinies and sends their souls to hell."
  • "You will not, perhaps, be compelled to take the number 666, but merely take your own social security number, or its equivalent, when it has become universal."
  • "Already there are dictators (un-crowned kings) springing up everywhere.2 It means only one thing: they are preparing the way for the great world dictator, the Anti-Christ ... to come and take the reins of the whole earth."
  • "Perhaps through radio television the image will be made 'to both speak and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.'"3
  • "No longer do say, 'It shall come to pass in the last days,' but it HAS come to pass. The blue eagle brought a mark of great change in America.4 In Russia, the hammer and sickle is the mark. In Germany, the swastika, and in Italy the battle ax and rods are fore-runners of the universal mark of the Beast, and are making the world mark-conscious in order to SNARE the people."
  • "Modernism, Communism, Fascism, Nazism and all other isms are hell-born and the world has accepted them without reservation though they tend to destroy all faith in God."
  • "Practically all nations have their 'number' system in operation, without which no man can secure work or buy the necessities of life. It is used chiefly for identification purposes. In all our defense work and other projects, etc., one must have his number as well as his picture in sight."
  • "The Hall Laboratories have an invention that could be utilized as a great asset in these busy times, but the Devil will, no doubt, monopolize it and bring about this very mark of the Beast. It is a fluid that can be written or tattooed on human flesh but remains invisible unless a certain light shines upon it. Now, one day too soon, when we have more license and ration books and identification numbers than we can manage, most people will gladly have their social security numbers tattooed on themselves and be privileged to 'throw away' all the red tape and march under this light in the store or the gate to their jobs and be recognized as beneficiary of all the ration requirements, etc., and be thereby ENSNARED into taking the mark of the Beast, the brand of hell."

The last section seems to be referring to the concept of ultraviolet/blacklight tattoos, but I can't discover anything more about the what and where of Hall Laboratories. Anyone have any ideas?

Related posts

1. Randleman is misspelled as "Randeman" on the tract.
2. That refers to Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Joseph Stalin, among others.
3. Television was in development through the 1920s and 1930s. It first began to make an impact and impression in the second half of the 1930s, as it was used in Germany to broadcast the 1936 Berlin Olympics and it was showcased to the American public at the 1939 New York World's Fair. Already, though, some were clearly fretting about the possibility of powerful figures using TV to influence the masses.
4. The "blue eagle" is a reference to National Recovery Administration logo. Coincidentally, I also brought this up last week in a post about Kellogg's Corn Flakes.

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