For years, claims have spread that Hobby Lobby doesn't use bar codes at its stores because they are the Biblical "mark of the beast." In the Book of Revelation, the mark of the beast indicates people who worship "the beast, the Antichrist," and is a "symbol of opposition to God," according to Dictionary.com. According to Wired, people have been claiming that bar codes are the mark of the beast since the 1970s.
"Someone just told me that Hobby Lobby doesn't use barcodes because they're afraid they're gonna be used for the mark of the beast," a TikTok post said on May 9, 2023. When we looked while writing this fact check, the post had 1.5 million views on the platform.
We found the same video posted to YouTube by the original creator. We found other posts about the claim on social media platforms, like a 2021 Twitter post, a 2022 Reddit post, and a 2023 Tumblr post.
While it is true that Hobby Lobby doesn't use (and has never used) bar codes, we found no evidence that the reason the company eschews them has anything to do with the notion that they are the mark of the beast. The company's website states, "We have considered scanning at our registers, but do not feel it is right for us at this time." We reached out to the company about the claim and will update this fact check if we hear back.
Hobby Lobby founder David Green wrote about why the company didn't use bar codes in the 2005 book, "More Than A Hobby: How a $600 Start Up Became America's Home & Craft Superstore." We found the text of the book in the Internet Archive. "I've taken so much grief for not having a POS (point-of-sale) system that scans and records information from bar codes on the product, that I finally made a list of the reasons why," Green wrote.
These are the reasons discussed in the book:
- Human beings can't read a bar code.
- A lot of our product comes from cottage industries in Asia that couldn't mark their goods with bar codes if they tried.
- Inventory control by computer is not as accurate as you think.
- Employees take more pride in their work when they know they are in charge, not some faceless machine.
- Customer service is better.
- The time savings at check-out is minimal — and easily squandered.
- Reprogramming the computer for sales would take a huge effort in our case, because we put so many individual items on sale each week.
- Twenty million dollars is a lot of money.
None of those reasons was religious in nature. At the time of publication, no reputable publications had reported that Hobby Lobby doesn't use bar codes because they are supposedly the mark of the beast.
We've previously fact-checked other claims about Hobby Lobby, including a false advertisement that claimed the store was only open to Christian customers.