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Handling Snakes for the Lord

“And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”  Mark 16: 17-18

Well it says it in the bible so it must be true. The practice of snake handling was introduced by George Went Hensley in the early 1900’s and became part of the southern Holiness Movement. The idea being not to worship snakes but to handle them safely and fearlessly as a sign of salvation and God’s protection. If believers truly had the Holy Spirit within them, Hensley argued, they should be able to handle rattlesnakes and any number of other venomous serpents. They should also be able to drink poison and suffer no harm whatsoever. Snake handling as a test or demonstration of faith became popular wherever Hensley traveled and preached in the small towns of Tennessee, Kentucky, the Carolinas, Virginia, Ohio, and Indiana. Sister-churches later sprang up throughout the Appalachian region where it continues to this day.

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Snake Handling

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Oscar Hutton

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1945 --- 1945- Lewis Ford is shown as he draped a rattlesnake about he neck of a member of his congregation. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

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