A few small Christian sects practice the handling of poisonous snakes in the belief that they will be protected against harm. The willingness to place themselves in such apparent danger is seen as an important element of their faith. Such beliefs may be based on these Bible verses from the Gospels. The Gospel According to Mark 16:17-18 "And these signs shall accompany them that believe: in my name shall they cast out demons; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall in no wise hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." The Gospel According to Luke 10:19 "Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall in any wise hurt you."
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If God Was a Rattlesnake, Would You Pick it Up?
Review of the book 'Salvation on Sand Mountain: Snake Handling and Redemption in Southern Appalachia' and general discussion of the practice.
New Georgia Encyclopedia: Snake Handlers
Article on the practice, with photo and bibliography.
Snake Handlers and the Law
Information about laws applicable to religious snake handling in several Appalachian jurisdictions.
Skeptics' analysis of the practice of snake handling, including the scriptural basis and an explanation of why participants are seldom bitten.
Snakebite Kills Preacher: Should Snake Handlers Be Subject to Prosecution?
Snakebite kills local preacher and the press asks, Should snake handlers be subject to prosecution?
Sound Portraits: John Brown, Jr., Serpent Handler
Radio documentary recording the words of a preacher who later died from a snake bite. Includes audio file and transcript.
Wikipedia: Church of God with Signs Following
Article about the Pentecostal holiness churches which practice snake handling.
CBS News: Woman Dies After Snakebite In Church, Kentucky Woman Killed After Being Bitten During Serpent-Handling Service
Linda Long, 48, died after being bitten by a snake during a serpent-handling service at church in London, Kentucky. Handling reptiles as part of religious services is illegal in the state. (November 07, 2006)
Snake Handlers Hang On in Appalachian Churches
Article by Brian Handwerk for National Geographic. (April 07, 2003)
Last update:March 20, 2016 at 8:16:10 UTC