THE HOLY GHOST PEOPLE – SNAKE HANDLERS IN THE Appalachia
”And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
The words above holds no symbolism. Christian fundamentalists in the Appalachian Mountains handle serpents, burn themselves and drink poison to show their loyalty to God. Their faith may have been born in poverty and ignorance. But today, with the fourth generation of snake handlers, believers belong to an educated middle class. And contrary to popular belief death is not a failure. They handle serpents as both a symbol and a sign, the possibility of death, and hence practice a ritual in which death is perpetually transcended wither by a victory over the serpent or dying in obedience to God's word and hence an assurance of salvation.