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Handling snakes is practiced in a handful of fundamentalist churches across Appalachia, based on the interpretation of Bible verses saying true believers can take up serpents without being harmed. The practice is illegal in most states, including Kentucky.
Long died about four hours after the bite was reported, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.
Officials said Long attended East London Holiness Church. Neighbors of the church told the newspaper the church practices serpent handling.
Snake handling is based on a passage in the Bible from the Gospel of Mark that says a sign of a true believer is the power to "take up serpents" without being harmed.
The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, written in 1779 by Thomas Jefferson, proclaimed:
"[N]o man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities."
Originally posted by network dude
this is a law to aid in stupid people remaining safe to procreate. I disagree with limiting religious practices. These folks should be able to get bit by snakes if that is what they chose. It will help the gene pool.
The states of Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee have passed laws against the use of venomous snakes and/or other reptiles in a place that endangers the lives of others, or without a permit. The Kentucky law specifically mentions religious services; in Kentucky snake handling is a misdemeanor and punishable by a $50 to $250 fine.
These are some of the signs that will accompany believers: They will throw out demons in my name, they will speak with new tongues, they will take snakes in their hands, they will drink poison and not be hurt, they will lay hands on the sick and make them well.”