Interesting article over on American Chronicle – I always love the fact that when someone thinks Christian, they think of these guys, other fringes of Christianity and me all in the same breath. Yikes! Here’s some, the full story if you follow the link.
The practice of serpent-handling began in some of the churches in Appalachia in the early 1900s and remains an observance in some places today, from Georgia to Pennsylvania. Its popularity has increased and diminished through the years. According to Ralph Hood, a professor of social psychology and the psychology of religion at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, serpent handling is currently at a rather low level of popularity. Such fluctuations are characteristic of a faith that persists throughout Appalachia.
Serpent handling has always been controversial and in many areas it is illegal, yet it shows no signs of disappearing from its traditional home in Appalachia.
For these practitioners of serpent-handling, handling snakes is simply following the gospel to the letter. They say that other folks don’t do this because their churches don’t believe, or it’s just something they’re scared of, “They come to that scripture but want to jump over that part because it’s a deadly thing,” says Junior McCormick a serpent-handling pastor from Georgia.
“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.” -Mark 16:18, the King James Bible.