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Amy is Editor and Writer for Berean Research. She has been a broadcaster and freelance writer for 25 years.

"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. 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 Reply
  2. 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 Reply
  3. 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 Reply
  4. 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 Reply
  5. 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 Reply
    • What is the purpose of handling snakes in your church?

      August 27, 2013 at 4:33 AM Reply
      • Anonymous #

        Well, that's not all we do, and It doesn't happen every time we go to church like some people think. That's just Part of God's word and we believe you have to Believe EVERY SINGLE thing that the Bible says we must believe in, thus what the Bible says Mark 16:16 "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." and then it goes on to say in verse 17-18 "17,And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new toungues; 18, 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." the key word in my point is "believe and be saved" it says right there that he that "believeth not >shall< be damned" theirs no if's or buts about it. The Bible also says a Believer (IS) a doer, so if we are going to say we believe it we must be a doer of it. The purpose of serpent handling is that its a (Sign) to show others that the power of God can let them handle deadly serpents with No harm. we dont just go to church and say "Hey I'm gonna handle a big rattler today" we have to WAIT on the Holy Ghost to Instruct us and be covered in the anointing before we can do it, if we do it on our own we stand a chance on being bitten and dying and if its on our own we are tempting God. Now alot of people still don't understand it (I used to think it was foolish before i was saved) its Not the snake that makes people believe it the Power of God and the edification they can (FEEL) from it. The Bible says "Perfect Love casts out Fear" which means if you're scared of it and the snake is moving around like crazy chances are they aren't anointed and instructed by God to be doing it, when our people handle them and they are Truly Truly anointed, the serpent looks like a shoe string or lays perfectly still and people aren't afraid. Now I'm not saying our people are perfect, some have missed it and been bitten but sometimes their is no harm when their bitten (which means they don't swell or hurt) their is MUCH Much more to the Bible and we believe in all of it Handling serpents is just a small part of what we Believe and the Bible backs it up. Hopefully I have made more sense in explaining why we do what we do. But remember we are NOT the Jesus Only's and do NOT condone this new show coming out reason being in my previous comment.

        August 27, 2013 at 11:15 AM Reply
  6. 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 Reply
    • Anonymous #

      Well I guess >Jesus< saying " And these Signs SHALL follow them that believe……" was just something that he decided to say just for fun… I highly doubt it, but everyone has got an opinion that they're entitled to, I have stated mine and I hope that they will help someone to understand more of why we believe what we believe and have an open mind to try and understand it. But As for me I will stand upon what the (Lord) has taught my Heart and go right on singing a song that we sing sometimes "I'm one of them Holy Ghost believers I know about the Gifts and Signs and I've seen to much already to change my Pentecostal mind, I'm one of them, Well I'm not ashamed to tell you I'm one of them….
      – God Bless

      August 27, 2013 at 11:50 AM Reply
  7. 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 Reply
    • Anonymous #

      As I said earlier when people just grab a snake when they are (Not) under the anointing that's when fatality happens…

      August 27, 2013 at 12:54 PM Reply
      • That's a good excuse to get out of this teaching, but Christians are always "under the anointing" because we are always indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Noting in the text indicates one must have some kind of special anointing. And my previous comments stand, that this is not prescriptive.

        August 27, 2013 at 1:10 PM Reply
      • I just noticed you are posting under Anonymous. I usually don't reply to people who post that way. Why are you hiding who you are? That's rhetorical, btw.

        August 27, 2013 at 1:12 PM Reply
        • Anonymous #

          Well we believe you don't have the Holy Ghost until you are baptized with it which is when you speak in other tounges as evidence that you've got it, but that's another topic and I am posting under anonymous because I would prefer that my name not be in it, my name isn't important, what's important is what I have been posting

          August 27, 2013 at 1:54 PM Reply
          • Anonymous #

            But I'm done commenting on this I made my point about everything and I'm not going to argue with anyone, Jesus doesn't like that. There is NO One in this world that can change the mind that my God gave me. I'm not trying to make anybody believe our beliefs I was just explaining why we do, we believe the whole word or God, it's not a bag of trail mix you can't just pick out the pieces you like and throw away the rest, but I have made my point and I feel I have Stood up for the truth….
            -God bless everybody :)

            August 27, 2013 at 2:10 PM
  8. 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 Reply
    • Rose – Excellent response and explanation of the passage – thanks for posting this.

      August 27, 2013 at 3:20 PM Reply
  9. 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 Reply
  10. 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 Reply

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