Snake Handlers?


#1

religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/nrms/Snakes.html

Any snake handlers here on this forum? I was out in the hollers of Kentucky today and met this man who collects rattle snakes for his church services. Can anyone explain these following biblical verses and put them in context? Anyone here converted from this faith to the Catholic Church? This is where they get their ideas. By the way, the above link is all about the Snake Handling Churches. God bless.

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”

Mark 16:19-20: “So then after the Lord has spoken unto them [Jesus’ disciples], he was received up into heaven, and set on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following”

Luke 10:19: “Behold, I give unto you the power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over the power of the enemy: and nothing by any means shall hurt you”


#2

Do you mean to say that you don’t have snake handling at your Church?

I just clicked on the link you provided and found the following very interesting:

Regarding the snake handler movement:

"Founder: Although other people prominently figure into the history of this religious movement George Went Hensley is commonly considered the “[father] of contemporary serpent handling” (Burton 1993, 7).
[list=1]
[/list]Date of Birth: Born around 1880 [No specific date exists]-died July 25, 1955 [from a snake bite] (Kimborough 1995, 133)."

He died from a snake bite!!!


#3

One Question,

Why rattle snakes? I never see them using gaboon vipers or black mambas. I don’t see any snake type restrictions in the scripture . They should try a few African species.

On a serious note, it is totally wrong to be suicidal in faith. Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. I don’t understand how someone could bring there kids to a church full of snakes.

-D


#4

[quote=Darrel]One Question,

Why rattle snakes? I never see them using gaboon vipers or black mambas. I don’t see any snake type restrictions in the scripture . They should try a few African species…
[/quote]

I imagine they use what is locally available. In India, snake charmers use indigenous indian cobras. If this sect were to branch out to Africa you would probably see them using african species.


#5

I’ve been around a few people from the Appalachian south, and I’ve never known, or met anyone that knew, any snake handlers. From what I’ve heard and read, I think the numbers are very small and dying out.

It does, though, make for sensational documentation, whether in video, photographs, or text. I’ve seen some very memorable video of it. Problem is, that sort of thing really sticks in the mind and can give a false impression of how prominent these practices are.

For example, I’ve got a National Geographic book on life in the U.S. mountains, and wouldn’t you know it, there are pictures of snake handlers in there. Go figure. The ordinary person just browsing through that book might get a false impression of how common it is.


#6

Interesting, the local news recently did a story on this topic. They visited a small church I think in Appalacia. This one particular snake handler had been doing it for a couple of decades.

He had been bit many times including on his finger very recently. My guess is that his system has develop quite an immunity to the bites, he still gets sick from it.

The story also mentioned that one such snake charmer died (not sure when that happened).

I wasn’t that impressed with it. IF they didn’t get bit or didn’t get sick or did NOT actually DIE :bigyikes: :banghead: from this then I might lend more credence to what they were doing.

The reporter was impressed, when he went to the service he got so much into the music and dancing that he got nutty enough to take up a rattler himeself, what an idiot !!! :whacky:


#7

woo hoo!! Good ol’ Applachian Kentucky hollers. This is my home. I wouldn’t say snake handling churches are “dying out.” They’re just not very public. In addition to Kentucky, they can also be found in Virginia, West Virginia, and maybe even Ohio (particularly southern Ohio). Some of them also insist on drinking strichnine (sp?)/


#8

[quote=Curious]woo hoo!! Good ol’ Applachian Kentucky hollers. This is my home. I wouldn’t say snake handling churches are “dying out.” They’re just not very public. In addition to Kentucky, they can also be found in Virginia, West Virginia, and maybe even Ohio (particularly southern Ohio). Some of them also insist on drinking strichnine (sp?)/
[/quote]

Yes, they mentioned the self poisoning also. They had a lab measure the level of poison in the solution and it was much much less than anything that would hurt you.

OF course if this stuff builds up in your system like arsenic, it could be quite a problem down the road.

There really ought to be an 11th commandment, Thou shalt not be stupid or insanely reckless. :whacky:


#9

[quote=Curious]woo hoo!! Good ol’ Applachian Kentucky hollers. This is my home. I wouldn’t say snake handling churches are “dying out.” They’re just not very public. In addition to Kentucky, they can also be found in Virginia, West Virginia, and maybe even Ohio (particularly southern Ohio). Some of them also insist on drinking strichnine (sp?)/
[/quote]

Hello curious…southern Ky. here. We don’t have any snake handlers in my neck of the woods…But we have menenites (sp?)…The order is very much like quakers But they are allowed to use cell phones, drive cars…basically everything. Once I saw a young menenite girl dressed in full, including her little bonnet, water ski-ing.

No offense to any menenites…I find them fascinating!


#10

There were several of these types of churches around us when we lived in Indiana - but as someone else noted, they were not very much out in the public eye.

The churches looked like little whitewashed warehouses - nothing to distinguish them from the outside - and some of the congregations meet in the garages of the people who own and maintain the snakes.

eaaaaaggghhhhhhh… I’m turning green just thinking about it…

:eek:


#11

Hi Curious, everyone:

Well, I did some searching on snake handlers and maybe they’re not “dying out”, after all… Here’s from National Geographic:
news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/04/0407_030407_snakehandlers.html

Somewhere on another link I think I saw that the numbers of people who attend snake-handling churches might be around 5000, which makes them larger than some other sects I know of.

In the video of a snake handling service that I saw, not all were handling snakes. But all, or nearly all, were getting “in the spirit”. And it showed some drinking poison.

I’ve spent some time in the southern Appalachians and never heard of any snake handling. Heard some good snake stories though: snakes that would break in pieces when stressed, snakes that would spit, snakes that would grab their tale with their mouth and roll like a hoop. All told to me by a gentle, wonderful man who would neither confirm or deny the information.:wink:


#12

sweet3fawn.homestead.com/TheRattleSnakeStory.html

for the soundtrack of a humorous snake-handling story by Wendy Bagwell. :smiley:

DaveBj


#13

[quote=Curious]woo hoo!! Good ol’ Applachian Kentucky hollers. This is my home. I wouldn’t say snake handling churches are “dying out.” They’re just not very public. In addition to Kentucky, they can also be found in Virginia, West Virginia, and maybe even Ohio (particularly southern Ohio). Some of them also insist on drinking strichnine (sp?)/
[/quote]

I hail from Southern Ohio, and there are rumors that one of the country Churches not too far from my parent’s home occasionally handles snakes. They keep if very secretive, though, I am guessing for legal reasons.


#14

[quote=At His Feet] Heard some good snake stories though: snakes that would break in pieces when stressed, snakes that would spit, snakes that would grab their tale with their mouth and roll like a hoop. All told to me by a gentle, wonderful man who would neither confirm or deny the information.:wink:
[/quote]

I live in Middle Tennessee, and I heard about the “hoop snakes” from my Grandmother. They have (according to the story) two little “horns” that protrude from their head, so that when they assume their hoop form and roll down a hill, they strike their intended target with the horns. They are very lethal. Some loggers were out in the woods when a hoop snake came at them. They managed to dodge it, but it struck a large oak tree. When they returned the next day, the tree was completely dead and dried up. So that’s some pretty potent venom!

Hoop snakes are actually a relative of the “bull roarer” snakes, which, of course, are known to stand straight up on their tails and roar like a bull.

You can’t make this stuff up! (I should hasten to add that my Grandmother was an otherwise fairly normal person.)

There actually is a type of cobra that spits its venom, but not in the U.S. I am heavily inclined to doubt the existence of the “glass snakes” which break in half and crawl away in different directions.:slight_smile:


#15

Thanks Sebaldus ! That part about the horns, I’ve never heard that before!

Where I spent some time up in the mountains, there was said to be a man who got a job “cutting filth” with a long handled scythe and a hatchet up on a farmer’s hillside. According to him, the rattlesnakes were so plentiful up there that you had to watch where you stepped. So he got a couple of sections of stove pipe and put them on his legs below his knees. He said that when he walked across the hillside, the rattlesnakes would strike out at him and “it sounded just like the Fourth of July”! :smiley:


#16

I grew up in WV, next door to a snake handling preacher. He had been bitten over a hundred times. I can tell you he was a good man who truly believed he was doing what the Lord wanted him to do to witness to others. Personally I thought he was nuts. But then I’m afraid of snakes. He used rattlesnakes because that’s what was in the area. But once at a revival meeting they had a cobra they managed to “acquire” elsewhere.


#17

They keep if very secretive, though, I am guessing for legal reasons.

Some time ago (and maybe even present day) there was a big hoopla about the children that attended of such churches, and them getting bitten and denied medical care and such.


#18

[quote=Lillith]Hello curious…southern Ky. here. We don’t have any snake handlers in my neck of the woods…But we have menenites (sp?)…The order is very much like quakers But they are allowed to use cell phones, drive cars…basically everything. Once I saw a young menenite girl dressed in full, including her little bonnet, water ski-ing.

No offense to any menenites…I find them fascinating!
[/quote]

Did you get a picture? That would be a great ad for them.


#19

[quote=At His Feet]I think the numbers are very small and dying out.
[/quote]

Small wonder.

The verses EsclavoDeCristo originally quoted speak of God’s protection for his apostles during a certain period of history. Such miracles are called “the signs of an apostle” (2 Cor. 12:12) and are not normative for today.


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