Snake Handling, a Pentecostal Pastime Essay

Snake Handling, a Pentecostal Pastime Essay

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In the King James’ Version’s Gospel of Mark, chapter 16, verse 18, it is stated that, “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.” This reading has been looked at under many different shades of light. This speculation has led to many different ideas about the seriousness of the translation of the word of the Lord. For over a century, people of Appalachia have taken this line of the bible and turned it into the focus of the Christian worship services. How strictly should these Pentecostals take the word the bible? What makes these snake-handlers so different from other Christians? What can the serpent-handlers do to make their worship practices not get such a bad rep from the outside? I believe that if the serpent handing Holiness Pentecostals can create a centralized authority for their worshiping ways that displays their behavior as welcoming and friendly, they will be able to better educate the public about what their mission is all about, and become a stronger and more respected group.
Appalachians have been scrutinized by several outside sources as being inbred, uneducated, wild, violent, drunk, crazy, and the list goes on and on. However, one of the negative stereotypes that tend to stick out more prominently than others is that people in Appalachian folk are crazy, serpent handling, Christians. In order for the people of the Appalachian Mountain region to figure out a way to get over this stereotype and move forward in their quest to be no longer considered “outdated”, they must first break down and fully understand what they are going up against.
The region’s religion is characterized by the people’s sense of independ...


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...21. Primary Search. Web. 22 Apr. 2014.
Joines, Karen Randolph. Serpent Symbolism in the Old Testament: A Linguistic, Archaeological, and Literary Study. Haddonfield, NJ: Haddonfield House, 1974. Print.
Kimbrough, David L. Taking up Serpents: Snake Handlers of Eastern Kentucky. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1995. Print.
La Barre, Weston . They Shall Take up Serpents; Psychology of the Southern Snake-handling Cult. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1962. Print.
Moehlman, Conrad Henry. How Jesus Became God; an Historical Study of the Life of Jesus to the Age of Constantine. New York: Philosophical Library, 1960. Print.
Pullen, H. W. Modern Christianity, a Civilized Heathenism. Boston: William F. Gill and, 1875. Print.
Straw, Richard Alan., and Tyler Blethen Urbana: University of Illinois. High Mountains Rising:
Appalachia in Time and Place. 2004. Print

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