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Amy Spreeman is founder and co-blogger at Berean Research and also a contributing blogger at Pirate Christian Radio’s Berean Examiner blog. She has been a broadcaster and freelance writer for 25 years. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

"Christian" reality show about snake handlers debuts in September


Pastor Andrew Hamblin of Tabernacle Church of God in LaFollette, Tenn., preaches while holding a snake above head.

Oh dear. A new program titled “Snake Salvation” about Christians who worship using venomous snakes, is coming  this September to your cable network.

Here is the program description from the National Geographic:

“Jamie Coots and Andrew Hamblin struggle to keep an over-100-year-old tradition alive: the practice of handling deadly snakes in church. Jamie and Andrew believe in a Bible passage that suggests a poisonous snakebite will not harm them as long as they are anointed by God’s power. If they don’t practice the ritual of snake handling, they believe they are destined for hell. Hunting the surrounding mountains for deadly serpents and maintaining their church’s snake collection is a way of life for both men. The pastors must frequently battle the law, a disapproving society, and even at times their own families to keep their way of life alive.”

Snake handlers in some sects of Christianity often quote the King James Version of Mark 16:17-18, which they believe contains a command from Jesus that His followers “shall take up serpents” without fear of harm.

Actually pastor’s in this bizarre movement have died from handling poisonous snakes. Read more here.

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19 Responses to “"Christian" reality show about snake handlers debuts in September”

  1. Denise #

    I agree with you 100% they act like this is the only thing in the Bible and for them to say people that don't handle snakes in church will die lost is absurd!!

    September 24, 2013 at 9:36 AM
  2. Rose #

    ' it’s not a bag of trail mix you can’t just pick out the pieces you like and throw away the rest'

    But we don't take verses out of context and apply them in a way there were never intended.
    When we do that, we have mishandled the Word of God and deceive ourselves.

    August 27, 2013 at 3:27 PM
  3. Rose #

    And do you also 'drink deadly things'…poisons… in your church services then? Is that also a regular practice? If not, why not? It is mentioned right in verse 18 next to snake handling.

    Commentary by David Guzick on Mark 16: 18

    "This promise is to be understood in the context of the dangers inherent in the worldwide spread of the gospel, as when Paul was bit by a snake and preserved on the island of Malta (Acts 28:1-6). Jesus never intended drinking poison or handling snakes to be a specific test or measure of faith."

    This seems reasonable to me since Jesus started out this dialogue in verse 15 with this command: "Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature". It was in the context of what the believers would encounter as they 'went into all the world'…many dangers, difficulties and persecutions…but God would protect and preserve them so that the gospel would be spread far and wide after His Resurrection and Ascension. That is the proper context for the verse you are quoting. You have taken it OUT of context to make it apply to today… that it should take place in church services like some kind of ritual or proof of faith. Scripture does not teach that.. Not at all.

    Matthew Henry on Mark 16: 14-18

    This passage describes: "His (Jesus) appearance to the eleven with the commission he gave them to set up his kingdom in the world, and full instructions and credentials in order thereunto, (v. 14–18).

    Verse 18: "They shall take up serpents. This was fulfilled in Paul, who was not hurt by the viper that fastened on his hand, which was acknowledged a great miracle by the barbarous people, Acts 28:5, 6. They shall be kept unhurt by that generation of vipers among whom they live, and by the malice of the old serpent. (4.) If they be compelled by their persecutors to drink any deadly poisonous thing, it shall not hurt them: of which very thing some instances are found in ecclesiastical history."

    Of all the special signs given to the disciples, Henry says, "With what assurance of success might they go about executing their commission, when they had such credentials as these to produce! "

    I know you are very sincere and convinced what you are doing is Biblical. But context is everything when interpreting Scripture, and the context here does not support this practice in churches today.

    "I've seen to much already to change my Pentecostal mind…"

    Just because we see something happen does not make it necessarily of God. Our eyes and emotions can deceive us, as can Satan. Our final authority is always Scripture…taken in the full context of the passage.

    August 27, 2013 at 3:10 PM
  4. If that's what Jesus meant, then no Christian would die handling the snakes, but many have in those churches.

    August 27, 2013 at 12:49 PM
  5. There is no command to handle snakes. It seems to be a reference/prophecy about Paul, who was bit by a poisonous snake and did not die. There is no reference or instruction in the letters to the churches regarding handling snakes. I think this could be in the category of testing God. And clearly it is not a sign since many do die after being bitten. That makes it look like a lie to unbelievers.

    August 27, 2013 at 11:33 AM
  6. Anonymous #

    These people are "Jesus Only""Oneness" which is a False Doctrine (they have a different spirit), the Bible doesn't back them up, the Bible says there are THREE that bare record in Heaven, the FATHER, SON, And HOLY GHOST. I attend a Church that (Does) handle snakes, I believe in it 100% (under the >REAL< Anointing) we believe in ALL 5 Bible signs and the 9 spiritual gifts but Our salvation is Defiantly not through a serpent it is through Jesus Christ who died upon the Cross, no snake ever died for my sins. Therefore the name "Snake Salvation" is R-E-T-A-R-D-E-D, The genuine Holy Ghost Is NOT for a show, this will only make people think we are ignorant (more than they already do). We do not allow video cameras in our churches (The Real Holiness churches) for several reasons but this is a good example why. I am writing this to tell people that The TRINITY Believers do NOT condone this ignorance and we are NOT associated with them in any way.And we hope you wont fall for their False belief. This show needs canceled it only brings Persecution to all Christians (like we need anymore persecution) especially to the Pentecostal Holiness denominations. Everyone I've talked to agrees with me that this show is going to be a major disgrace to Gods True Believers and we Pray that it is canceled.
    — Sincerely,
    A very Agitated Holiness Believer.

    August 26, 2013 at 4:26 PM
  7. Deborah Pembleton #

    Apparently they missed some verses: Luke 4:12 "And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." Deuteronomy 6:16 " Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah." Matthew 4:7 "Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." What they are doing is testing God, not themselves. I am fully confident that if we find ourselves in a dangerous situation doing God's will, He most certainly protect us. When we put ourselves in dangerous situations foolishly, from our own will, is when tragedy comes.

    August 19, 2013 at 6:25 AM
  8. Oh by, what an interesting line up this September…there's "Preachers of LA" and now there's this. Shows the world like religion if not to be amused by it, and not have Jesus as Lord and Savior…

    August 13, 2013 at 8:46 PM
  9. sherrell #

    This is sad!
    This verse is not for us today, we are in the dispensation of grace not Israel's program.

    August 10, 2013 at 12:05 PM
  10. Not long ago, a pastor in one of these churches died from a snake bite, and I watched a long TV report on it. But his church was a Oneness church. I recently read that about 1/2 of these snake handling churches are Oneness Pentecostal churches; the other half are Trinitarian Pentecostals. Something to keep in mind (not sure about the church in this article).

    August 9, 2013 at 11:38 AM