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Published: October 15th 2006
It was on a business trip to Louisville- a few of us ditched the proceedings to do some sightseeing. Rented a car, and started out through the ‘bluegrass’. Went to a civil war site where they were having some re-enactment, that was interesting, especially all the little food booths that were there.
Then someone mentioned the ‘snake handling churches’, why don’t we try to find one? So we started asking around, and were told there were none in the area, but we would have to go to Eastern Kentucky. So away we went. After a few more inquiries, we found ourselves in a little town near Hazard. Someone told us where a church was that did it. We found it, and according to the sign, they were having church that night!!! We were in luck!
So we killed some time, went to a coffee shop and waited. We drove to the church and saw there were a dozen cars or so scattered around the building. We parked and the 4 of us walked in. We were greeted by a member, but no one really spoke to us, we just sort of looked out of place, because we really were. The service began with someone going to town on a guitar, with piano. Someone got up to lead the service. I recall several people sitting on the platform, and few people in the pews. We really were out of place. We tried to sing and clap, as everyone else was doing. About midway through the service, I noticed a man walk in with a little cage. I nudged one of the guys with me and said, ‘they just brought em in’. When I nudged him, I startled him. The service continued on and on, until the end. No serpents.
After the service, a few of the men came to talk with us. My friend Steve was very diplomatic and frank. He just explained that we were from California on a business trip, and that we had heard of the churches that handled serpents, and we were curious, and that we meant no harm. At that, they let down their guard, as snake handling is not legal. As they began to ‘testify’ to us, they brought the cage. We stepped back a bit… one of the men began to stammer with his lips, as he reached in and allowed a rattlesnake to crawl around on his arm and shoulder. Everyone else began to pray and go ggggggg ggggggg gggggg ggggggg gggggggg gggggggg in a very weird way. We just watched, someone else reached in and out popped a cottonmouth. We watched as the same thing happened. I took an additional step backwards. The serpents were handed from one person to another, and eventually they were put back in the cage and the ‘ggggggg gggggggg ggggggg stopped. Then they begin to explain why they did it… it was a statement of their faith. Also, they told us the pastor just died of a bite, and they were without a pastor, that elders from other churches were taking over until they got another one !! We learned that if someone gets bit and they die, that means there’s ‘sin in their life’… (sheeze)
They invited us to another meeting they were having the next night in Virginia where they said they’ll have many, many serpents that have never been handled by humans before. Aaaaa… no thanks. Had seen enough !
‘The night that me’n Doris
Went runnin’ through the forest
Way up in the Hills of Tennessee
We started makin’ tracks
When they brought out the diamondback
It scared the devil out of old Doris and me
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