Pentecostal snake handlers - They actually prefer the term serpent handlers, but, I have long standing tradition of not respecting the wishes of stupid people. Also, I think snake handling sounds dirtier, so- are a tiny subset of x-tianity, that believes handling poisonous snakes to be a way of both testing and proving their faith in god. This particular brand of religious based idiocy was created in the late 1800's, by George Went Hensley, in a small church in Tennessee. And is currently practiced primarily in a handful of tiny congregations throughout the Appalachians, and other parts of the southeastern United States.
Because, somehow, "Snake handling Preacher Killed By Snake", was
shocking enough a headline to make national news. Though to me, it's
about as shocking a story as the one associated with, "Man stands in
Rain, Ends Up Wet.", would be. This, thankfully tiny group of religious nuts, managed to find it's
way into the headlines last week. When -apparently- famous snake
handling preacher Mack Wolford,, succumbed to a bite he received from a yellow timber rattlesnake at an evangelistic event in a state park about 80 miles west of Bluefield, in West Virginia
Now, obviously, a man is dead, and that's very sad for the people who
cared for him. But I have another rule: It's impossible for anything
tragic to happen to you, if you choose to deliberately engage in in the
practice of tempting death on a regular basis. This rule applies to extreme
sports, snorting chemicals for recreation, fans of The Dave Mathews Band*, and most certainly,
irritating venomous animals as a means of asserting your belief in your
invisible friend's will to protect you from harm. Which is the whole point of snake handling in the first place.
But while believers in the godly virtues of snake fondling do justify their practice of deliberately pissing off poisonous creatures, as a means of showing their dedication to god. There are also, according to those who practice the ritual, a number of misconceptions about their beliefs. The most common of which being that the faithful believe they either cannot get bitten, or that if they
are, they will not die, thanks to some special protection granted them
through their covenant with god. Personally, I suspect this particular
"misconception" exists primarily because the entire faith is based, as far I can tell anyway, on two quotes from the new testament. Both of which specifically mention escaping death and or injury at the hand of venom and poison, based on a special covenant with god:
(Mark 16:17-18) And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they
cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up
serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them;
they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover -
And- (Luke 10:19) Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and
over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt
So apparently, turns out god was serious about the, taking up and treading
upon of serpents and scorpions bits, just not so much with the, avoiding
death and harm, bits. Which is great. Cause, ya know,
otherwise it's really hard to explain to people how your particular brand of BS
could be true, when those who practice it continuously die as result,
despite god promising you that very thing would not happen.
*Publicly broadcasting the music of Dave Mathews is CLEARLY an act of aggression and hatred towards others. Like all violent acts, it is only reasonable to assume you may someday justifiably suffer retribution, as a direct result of your own actions.