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6/6/6 - a date with the devil for some, just another day in June for others

Sunday Age 14 May, 2006, pp 3
By Rachel Wells with photography by Craig Sillitoe

Drew SintonJUNE 6, 2006 - 06/06/06 - is just weeks away and a date that is generating frenzied discussion and debate around the globe, not seen since the eve of the new millenium.

Why? Because if you drop the 0s you get 666 the number of the beast, according to the Bible's Book of Revelation.

The internet is rife with speculation about the looming date with the devil. Doomsayers have declared it the day the Antichrist will be revealed, while the superstitious are fearing global catastrophes from earthquakes to terror attacks.

One website is selling "6/6/6 the date of the beast" T-shirts, coffee mugs and bumper stickers and urges people to "get your T-shirts before it's too late!"

In the UK, some expectant mothers whose babies are due on June 6 are so concerned about giving birth on the date marked by the satanic number that they have scheduled caesareans and inductions beforehand.

Others are taking the ominous date less seriously.

The Netherlands national news agency, ANP, recently reported an unusually high number of couples planning to tie the knot on June 6 which is unusual, given that it falls on a Tuesday.

The agency reported that in the Dutch city of Enschede, 17 couples had already applied to marry on June 6.

Normally, there are just two weddings in the city on any given Tuesday. One couple even requested to be married at 6:06am.

Others are planning to celebrate the once-in-a-century date.

American satanic radio station Radio Free Satan, for example, will celebrate the "sin-tennial" with Satan's Rockin' 666 Eve party, featuring performances by heavy metal and death metal bands, while the Church of Satan in Los Angeles is hosting a satanic high mass, which has already sold out.

Celebrations at the Melbourne branch of the Church of Satan will be somewhat more low-key.

"There's lots of stuff on the web with people saying it is a date to fear for biblical reasons and I read on one site that there have been at least 60 terrorist attacks on June 6 since 1970 But we're not fearing any global catastrophes," said Drew Sinton, church member and author of The Antichrist Bible.

"I think it's quite exciting."

There are also those who are cashing in on the date, with marketers seizing the day to launch movies, books and albums with anti-religious or satanic themes. 20th Century Fox will release its remake of the 1976 horror film The Omen, retitled The Omen 666, on June 6.

Provocative author Ann Coulter will launch her latest anti-liberal book, Godless.

On the same day, heavy metal band Slayer begins its Unholy Alliance Tour: Preaching to the Perverted, while a string of heavy metal and death metal artists will release albums on that day, including David Lee Roth's Strummin' with the Devil.

The Australian Skeptics have deemed the date nothing more than superstitious.

"There will be heaps of significant, and perhaps even disastrous, events that happen on June 6 this year, as there are on every single day," said the group's Lynne Kelly.

"The fact that they occur on (that date) means that people will look at those events and associate it with the date, when in fact there is no association whatsoever.

"The effect of 666 has never shown up to have any impact in any scientific testing at all," she said.

So certain is the Victorian branch of the Australian Skeptics that there is no ominous link with the devil's number, they requested 666 in their telephone number. "It hasn't done us any harm," said Ms Kelly.

"Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six" - reference to the mark of the beast appears in the Book of Revelation, chapter 13, verse 18.
* While most versions of the revelation give 666 as the "number of the beast", a fragment from the oldest surviving copy of the New Testament, dating to the third century, says 616 is the telltale mark.

* Came into popular knowledge and culture with the 1976 horror classic The Omen which spawned three sequels and a remake of the original.

* The number 666 has been found by believers hidden in such diverse places as computer bar codes and Bill Gates' name.

* Proctor & Gamble, the largest consumer product manufacturer in the US, had to fight rumours of connections with the Church of Satan, after believers found 666 in the company's famous "Man in the Moon" logo.

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