Mark 16:17-18 (King James Version)
17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
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.
Luke 10:19 (King James Version)
19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
Biblical passages such as these serve as the justification for some church congregations to take up the serpent. This is not a relic of the past; the practice is alive and well in the US. Maybe not well, but alive none the less. Though most such churches are along the Appalachian chain, they can be found literally from coast to coast.
From time to time, stories of snake-handling deaths pop up in various media sources. Witness John David Brock of Bell County, KY. He took a hit to the arm, and as is often the case, refused medical help. He didn’t make it. I do wonder if he treated his bite with sips of strychnine as this is the treatment in many such communities.
My third Samantha Cody thriller ORIGINAL SIN deals with such a church and its followers. During my research I stumbled on an National Book Award nominee and many useful sites. Such as:
National Book Award Finalist SALVATION ON SAND MOUNTAIN by Dennis Covington:
Holiness Serpent Handling Website: http://www.freewebs.com/holiness-snake-handlers/
Rev. John Wayne “Punkin” Brown Jr’s Death: http://www.hiddenmysteries.org/religion/pentecostal/snakeskill-fool.shtml