Talk:Snake handling

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first amendment[edit]

That quote from the first amendment is pretty obviously not from the first amendment.... if it's from a court ruling that expounded on 1st amendment rights, that's cool, but could someone clarify that and cite it? --d

snake goddess picture[edit]

Does that fake statue of the snake goddess really belong here? ---User:Ihcoyc

I was just going to ask the same thing, especially because (fake or not) it has nothing to do with Christianity...isn't it Cretan? Adam Bishop 05:03, 11 Aug 2003 (UTC)

native americans[edit]

is there any evidence that this practice predates Columbus say amongst local Indians?

The Hopi traditional religion practiced "snake dancing" in an annual August ceremony. I believe they still do Unfortunately I must have deleted my paper on it so I'm not sure what sources I used on it. Here's some links from University sites though.

Enjoy--T. Anthony 03:55, 3 September 2005 (UTC)

I was refering to East coast tribes grazon 00:58, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Ah. Well snakes appear in some East Coast tribal myths, but basically I don't know of anything like snake handling in their traditions.--T. Anthony 11:45, 29 October 2005 (UTC)
Apologies they did it every other August and poisonous snakes I guess weren't/aren't required.--T. Anthony 03:58, 3 September 2005 (UTC)

I'd like to see a citation with regards to Calvinists originally bringing this ritual to America. I believe this is untrue. 21:48, 4 December 2006 (UTC)J. Hinton

Watch the History Channel then. There wasn't even any debate when they covered snake handling in the U.S. ~Friendly-Atheist

Relative time stat[edit]

The phrase "In the last 80 years" needs to be changed to an absolute time period. 05:05, 1 September 2005 (UTC)

Only if you can provide a darn good reason why it needs to be given an absolute time. ~Friendly-Atheist

Because we want to have an accurate article and not total hearsayCoal town guy (talk) 13:48, 28 February 2013 (UTC)

Dear Mr. "Citation Needed" on Everything Guy...[edit]

Come on... In the Risk area a lot of this stuff is a long donkey faced "Duh" and this stuff has been re-aired on the discovery network about a hundred times now. I almost suspect that someone with a religious bias may silmply take offense to any indication that snake bites can be harmful to believers or something. If someone feels a "citation needed" flag is needed on a specific point, go ahead and re-add it, but please post why on the discussion page. I won't object if you at least posit a good reason. ~Friendly-Atheist

In accordance with WP:PROVEIT, I have removed some unsourced statements from said section.--Agha Nader (talk) 20:29, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

Snake handling among early Christians[edit]

One of the mainstream Church Fathers mentioned snake sects (in Syria?), second-fourth century. This should be tracked down and given a brief paragraph. --Wetman 01:05, 12 August 2007 (UTC)

Ophites! They deserve a mention and a See also. --Wetman 01:10, 12 August 2007 (UTC)

"The Followers of Christ are zealously engaged in spreading their doctrine. Some of their members think their faith will let them handle snakes."----Winfield Courier(early kansas paper) May 23, 1878 also see Arkansas City Traveler(another kansas paper) June 5, 1878 ...I was going to make some changes to the main article but with this information you would have to revamp the whole of it.Elprofesordemente (talk) 05:06, 30 May 2009 (UTC)elprofesordemente

Snake handling churches[edit]

The deacon of the Sand Hill Church in Del Rio contacted me and assured me his church was not a snake-handling church. I recommend removing the entire list of churches, except those with snake-handling practices documented in verifiable sources. Bms4880 23:08, 12 November 2007 (UTC)

The Pentecostal Church of God referenced in the picture is not affiliated with the Pentecostal Church of God headquartered in Joplin, MO. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:42, 3 August 2010 (UTC)


I'm requesting sources for most of these churches listed. I removed the Carson Springs church, as it apparently no longer exists. Without sources, we have no way of knowing when a vandal has randomly added a church's name to the list. Also, the Snake Oil page by "Brother Randall," from which part of this list was apparently copied, is not a reliable source, and has been wrong or outdated in the past. Bms4880 (talk) 19:21, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

¶ To the segment on Risks, I added a couple of sentences on the Glenn Summerfield attempted murder case, this being a very well publicized event relatiing to snake handling and not otherwise mentioned in this article. Sussmanbern (talk) 17:40, 18 August 2012 (UTC)


The Church of God is officially recognized as a cult by Evangelical and Baptist Christians.

The practices of Snake Handling "churches" are occultic in nature, and no bible verse can justify them.

This is not a "Christian" group.

Mcapplbee (talk) 06:46, 15 February 2008 (UTC)

To me, and I would guess to many other main-stream Christians, the first thing that comes to mind is the words of Jesus: "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." I don't think this make snake handlers occultic however. Borock (talk) 18:58, 6 June 2010 (UTC)
That is in the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 4, the temptation of Jesus by the devil;
5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,
6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
The conceit of testing God (eg, snake handling) is a heretic error, but not an occult practice. Naaman Brown (talk) 23:38, 18 October 2010 (UTC)
Besides which, Mcapplbee is misusing the term occult. — The Hand That Feeds You:Bite 13:32, 20 October 2010 (UTC)
They are a sect at least and a cult most likely. They are not recognized anywhere outside the U.S. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:23, 1 September 2011 (UTC)

Bad article in need of editor[edit]

.. but editors not wanted. -- (talk) 00:21, 17 December 2008 (UTC)

Your contributions are appreciated, but good citations make them unimpeachable. Please don't be discouraged from contributing further. Andy Dingley (talk) 00:49, 17 December 2008 (UTC)
I don't want to go as far as saying it's a bad article, but it's hard to see how you can claim there is a neutral point of view for something so stupid... I was actually looking for a simple chronological list of religious idiots killed by handling snakes. It doesn't have to be limited to Christians, however. Perhaps it would be best if the table included a column for religion? In particular, I think there are some non-Christian Indian sects that also play with poisonous snakes. Nothing in the article. Shanen (talk) 04:58, 12 June 2012 (UTC)
Golly, it sure is swell to see a nice neutral phrase like idiots who have gotten killed doing this. I know its all the rage to pick on what you call dumb hicks, but in the guise of pretending to be encyclopedic, could we stop being insulting about spiritual beliefs....I do not think it would be wise to pick on religions anywhere...So lets put on our wiki mutual hug and move on shall weCoal town guy (talk) 22:53, 28 February 2013 (UTC)

Removal of File:George Went Hensley preaching.JPG[edit]

I have removed this file as it does not meet WP:NFCC for use on this article, mainly because it does not depict the actual act of snake handling, thus failing #8. Even if it did depict the act of snake handling, there are free equivalents available (e.g., the photo currently in use on the article), thus failing #1. The only articles where it would have a chance of meeting the criteria would be on George Went Hensley or an article about the trial itself. SheepNotGoats (talk) 13:25, 21 March 2012 (UTC)

I'll have to disagree. The image is specifically used in a section about the founding of the snake handling movement by George Hensley. It is used to show the person being discussed, during his protest of a snake-handling court case, so I do not believe it violates NFCC #8. — The Hand That Feeds You:Bite 14:15, 21 March 2012 (UTC)
I disagree also. The article should address the religious context of the snake handling movement - the ambiance - which the image so perfectly conveys. (Otherwise, its on par with roadside parks and alligator wrestling.) MathewTownsend (talk) 14:29, 21 March 2012 (UTC)
  • Disagree also. George Hensley is individually important to the snake handling movement, even in other churches than his own. I would agree though that it warrants adding to his article. Andy Dingley (talk) 14:32, 21 March 2012 (UTC)
  • Disagree. The image is both a picture of George Hensley, a person vital to the movement's development, and also relates to allegations of persecution of the practice. It is the most "famous" image of Hensley and illustrates the passions involved. The image is highly relevant to the subject's context. • Astynax talk 16:39, 21 March 2012 (UTC)
Comment: Keep in mind, we're discussing whether or not the photo meets non-free content criteria, not simply whether or not the photograph is relevent to the article. Does it meet all 10 points at WP:NFCC? Bms4880 (talk) 17:17, 21 March 2012 (UTC)
Only #8 really seems to be at issue here. "Non-free content is used only if its presence would significantly increase readers' understanding of the topic, and its omission would be detrimental to that understanding."
I would contend that Hensley was not only a snake-handling preacher, but was instrumental in encouraging the practice by others too. This photo of him preaching outside a courthouse during a trial against snake handling is important for the history of snake handling, the repression of it by the state, and Hensley's part in resisting this.
For use of the image on the Hensley article, it's also significant to show the literate assistant reading the Bible for the illiterate Hensley. Andy Dingley (talk) 17:35, 21 March 2012 (UTC)

Also see

Andy Dingley (talk) 18:06, 21 March 2012 (UTC)

"Legality" of snake handling in West Virginia[edit]

Snake Handling is NOT specifically mentioned in any WV law. The freedom was derived from the VA state Constitution and it was a product of Jefferson. The WV Constitution spells out religious freedon in Article 3, Section 15. The wording of this current article conveys the idea that oh, yes, in WV, there is a snake handling law, no.Coal town guy (talk) 13:46, 28 February 2013 (UTC)

Simply saying "is legal" does not amount to "there's a law about it." That said, if you know of a source that actually ties the legality of snake handling to the WV constitution, that would be a very good addition to the article. Any court records or books on that subject that you know of? — The Hand That Feeds You:Bite 18:32, 28 February 2013 (UTC)
Robert Bastress and his "The West Virginia Constitution: A Reference Guide: is tyhe best IMO...I will ref the articleCoal town guy (talk) 18:39, 28 February 2013 (UTC)

Scripture refs[edit]

Most of the snake handling churches I have atteneded only refer to the Gospel of Mark, just a FYI for those who have not gone to such a serviceCoal town guy (talk) 19:18, 28 February 2013 (UTC)

Risk, revisited[edit]

Hello all- Can anyone here, tell me the source, the verifiable source that there are people who snake handle in the Appalachians who have survived multiple snake bites by venomous snakes??? Hoe many, what number etc etc. Otherwise, this is reading no better than a badly written news article.Coal town guy (talk) 16:17, 20 March 2013 (UTC)

-Removing the bit about the crazy guy in Scottsboro. It doesn't really make sense to categorize such a specific incident as a risk. Is attempted murder a common risk associated with snakehandling? Of course not. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:57, 22 September 2013 (UTC)

editing for class project[edit]

hi there all, I will be editing this page for a class project over the next few weeks, in conjunction with the wikiproject Appalachia page. Before I make any edits, I will outline my suggested improvements in my sandbox. If you're interested, please have a look and give me your suggestions. Thank you Emgiunta (talk) 21:29, 23 July 2014 (UTC)emgiunta