Turtles all the way down

Pastors Argue ‘Snake Handling’ Is Their Religious Right

Posted by doctore0 on November 25, 2013

True believers = True dumbasses!!

snakewarningStanding in front of his congregation at a small Pentecostal church in Kentucky, Pastor Jamie Coots held the long, sleek body of a poisonous snake, practicing what he considers a holy Christian sacrament, but what others are calling a threat to public safety.

In tiny churches tucked away in rural Appalachia, “snake handling,” which began generations ago as an expression of faith, is turning into a fight over religious freedom.

Coots, the pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name in Middlesboro, Ky., and his followers believe that God calls upon them to handle venomous serpents and to drink other poisons. Even if they are bitten, they will refuse medical treatment because they believe that they are worthy of God’s faith, and that their fate is in God’s hands.

Using serpents during services is a long-standing tradition, one that took root in this region of Appalachia more than a century ago.

Four generations of Coots’ family have handled serpents as Pentecostal preachers, from his grandfather down through his now grown son.

But local authorities see these snakes as a reckless, even dangerous menace to public safety. Religious snake handling has been outlawed in most states, including Kentucky and Tennessee. Several snake-handling practitioners across the country have died after being bitten, and there are concerns about the poisonous snakes being let loose in communities.

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