June 5, 2012

Young snake handlers grasp the power of faith

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RNS photo by Shelley Mays/courtesy USA Today

RNS photo by Shelley Mays/courtesy USA Today

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (RNS) While older serpent handlers were wary of outsiders, these younger believers welcome visitors and use Facebook to promote their often misunderstood -- and illegal -- version of Christianity. They want to show the beauty and power of their extreme form of spirituality. By Bob Smietana.

  • Charlie

    God instructed his people to handle serpents — but also to drink “deadly things.” What do the serpent handlers drink to carry out God’s will?

  • Kevin

    I can’t speak for these handlers in particular, but many serpent handlers do drink doses of strychnine or other poisons during worship in order to meet that requirement of Mark. If you’re interested you might take a look at a book called Them That Believe: The Power and Meaning of the Christian Serpent-Handling Tradition, by Ralph W. Hood Jr. and W. Paul Williamson (Berkeley, 2008).