Just reading about another snake-handling pastor who died from a snake bite.
My feeling about these folks is: go for it. If you want to risk death for your beliefs, why not? It's not like there aren't enough people alive in the world to fill in any gaps you leave behind.
The CNN article mentions that people like Jamie Coots takes this passage from the Bible's Gospel of Mark literally: “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.”
Reading that, I just had to wonder: so if you really do take it literally, why do you only handle snakes? It seems like you should also drink bleach before you start your sermon. That is a deadly thing, so "it shall not hurt them," right?
Obviously the answer is: Wrong. It will kill these people each and every time. Without fail.
So why do they handle snakes but not drink bleach or give comfort to humans who are dying from a bacterial infection that cannot be stopped by antibiotics?
It seems pretty clear: snakes won't always bite them, and if they do, the bites are not always deadly. They are ready and willing to take a risk - and if they survive, they can attribute it to their spiritual purity, the hand of god, whatever.
The article also mentions that adherents to this selective faith 'say there are other
spiritual reasons to handle serpents. Practitioners often describe it as
a mental and emotional rush, as if they were touching the hand of God. "They almost always use drug metaphors, like 'higher than any high
you can experience," said Paul Williamson, a professor of psychology at
Henderson State University in Arkansas who studies serpent handlers.'
Right and that, too: it gets them high.
Drinking bleach? I don't think you will get any sort of high from that.
I am agnostic when it comes to matters of religious faith and God. Maybe there's a God, maybe there isn't. So I don't really get religious people. But I do admire and respect people who stick to their faith and practice is without hypocrisy.