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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rush on Baptism in Antichrist Scare

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Colombians flocked to churches Wednesday to have themselves and their children baptized in response to rampant rumors that the Antichrist is about to arrive.

Nearly 20,000 people were baptized in the capital this weekend, almost 10 times the average, church leaders said Monday. Baptisms were up in the rest of the country as well.

Many Roman Catholic faithful fear their souls will be possessed by the devil if they don't receive the holy sacrament before the Antichrist arrives.

According to the New Testament, the Antichrist will bear the number 666, and many believe he must be born on June 6 of a year ending in the number six. Thursday, June 6, is the sixth day of the sixth month of 1996.

But church leaders dismissed the scare as superstition.

"This [perception] comes from a lack of knowledge of the gospel," Mons. Octavio Ruiz, a Bogota bishop, told Caracol radio. "Many people have not learned the core of the gospel and are easily misled by superstitions."