The beast of the Book of Revelation intruded into the banter of the House of Commons on Thursday when a motion calling for the disestablishment of the Church of England was numbered 666.

The last book of the Bible says 666 is the number of a beast that "had two horns like a lamb, and ... spake as a dragon," and that "doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men."

"It is incredible that a motion like this should have, by chance, acquired this significant number," said Bob Russell, a Liberal Democrat lawmaker.

"It looks as though God or the devil have been moving in mysterious ways," he said.

The motion simply states: "That this House calls for the disestablishment of the Church of England" — in other words ending its status as the country's legally established, official faith.

Such motions rarely result in any action, but are used by members to publicize issues. Other members may sign the motion as an indication of support.

By Thursday afternoon, the number of the signers was three.

The Church of England, created by King Henry VIII's breach with Rome, is the legally established faith in England. The monarch, by law, is obliged to be a member, and has the title of Supreme Governor of the church.