VANCLEVE, Ky. -- After months of asking for a new telephone number, the Kentucky Mountain Bible College has finally dropped the 666 prefix that disturbed Christians who recognized it as the biblical mark of the beast.
"We're just elated that the number has been changed," said Rob Roy MacGregor, the college's vice president of business affairs. "It was like we had this Scarlet Letter attached to us."
The college is now removing the number from printed material, including its official letterhead.
The 666 prefix had been the only one available in Vancleve since telephone service arrived here. The need for more phone lines forced telephone companies to add new numbers, and the college tried for several months to get the new 693 prefix.
"We were glad we could finally get a number that the school is happy with," said Kaye Davis, general counsel for Access Point, a North Carolina-based telephone company that serves the college.
In the Book of Revelation, 666 is stamped into people's foreheads or right hands during the last days. Those who receive the mark, according to Scripture, are damned to eternal punishment.
MacGregor said the beast represents Satan. True Christians, he said, will not accept the mark.
Davis said it took longer than expected to change the prefix because the college wanted to keep the last four digits of its number - 5000.
The Rev. Vaughn Rasor, pastor of First Baptist Church in nearby Jackson, said this week that most people seemed to see the 666 prefix as a curiosity.
"If people start giggling when I give my phone number, I know they have at least read the Bible," Rasor said.