Mark 16:18: Handle Serpents and Drink Poisons

At lunch yesterday with George Meadows I learned about a tradition I never new existed: snake handling. A small number of Pentecostal churches in the U.S practice this religious ritual. According to Wikipedia, “it began as a practice in the early 20th century in Appalachia, spreading to mostly coal mining towns.” It supposedly only plays a small role in the church service and is inspired by this quote from the Book of Mark:

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 16:17-18)

And, as always, there’s an excellent, short video about the subject on YouTube:

Seems a bit like Appalachian voodoo, kinda wild and very, very particular.

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7 Responses to Mark 16:18: Handle Serpents and Drink Poisons

  1. Tom says:

    There was a church that did that near where I went to HS in ALABAMA. One of my friends was a member.

    When we tour the real South that’ll have to be a stop. We’ll subsist on noodled catfish, drink moonshine and sleep in barns and snake handling churches.

    You will have to take a vow of silence or you’ll get us killed though.

  2. Reverend says:

    Ya know, Tom, I was thinking of you when he started taling about snake handling services. Seemed exactly the kind of extreme Southern sport worship you’d be into 😉

  3. George Meadows says:

    Jim, you might want to pack some BC powders and Carter’s Little Liver Pills for that trip – though I’m not sure how effective the Carter’s pills will be outside of southern West Virginia.

  4. Ted Major says:

    For more on taking up serpents, check out Dennis Covington’s Salvation on Sand Mountain.

  5. Tom says:

    Sand Mountain is not too far from my old stomping grounds. . .

    Road. Trip.

    • Reverend says:

      Tom,
      You know I want to, and it is nice to see you are blogging again. I have been on and off my reader the last weeks, but just saw you’ve been back at it, pretty awesome.

  6. Tom says:

    Ha. If only. There are so many children now. Maybe in the summer. How cool would that be?

    I have returned from the blogging dead. I have to practice what I preach, lead by example, and try not to suck quite like I normally do.

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