It’s the mark of the beast ... I didn’t want to risk my relationship with God to try to take that number. —Codie Thacker, high school cross country runner

A Kentucky high school student refused to run in her regional cross-country race she had been training for since June because of the race number she was assigned, 666, which she said conflicted with her religious beliefs.

“It’s the mark of the beast. It’s what the Bible says,” high school junior Codie Thacker said in an interview with LEX 18 News. “I didn’t want to risk my relationship with God to try to take that number.”

According to the LEX 18 News segment, Thacker and her coach tried to get a different race number, saying 666 violated Thacker’s values, but they were turned down by three race officials. But a spokesman with the Kentucky High School Athletic Association said officials would have changed the number if they had known it was for religious reasons.

Thacker said rather than race with that number, she would not run “because it makes me sick just thinking that my name was associated with that number.”

Cross-country coach Gina Croley stood by her runner’s decision.

“I couldn’t have been prouder if she had won the entire regional race,” Croley told LEX 18 News.

Responses to Thacker’s motives vary, with some saying her refusal to wear the bib number was an overreaction.

“I am a religious person, but this is so dumb,” said SoldforParts, a commentor on the article. “It’s just a number. Get over it.”

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Others praise the high school student for being true to her values.

“I’m not very religious, but I stand behind the teen standing up for what she believes in – even if I think it’s totally crazy,” wrote Maria Guido in her article “Kentucky Teen Sits Out Race Because She Refuses to Run for the Devil.” “She stood her ground and I like to see teens doing things like that. But frankly, it’s her problem she didn’t raise the objection in time for the number to be assigned to someone else, or ceremoniously burned or whatever.”

The 666 scripture Thacker referred to is found in Revelation 13:18, which reads, “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.”

Abby Stevens is a writer for the Faith and Family sections. She is a graduate of Brigham Young University–Idaho. Contact her at