Serpent-handling pastor tests God and fails

Snake handling_ A fading tradition

Pastor Randy “Mack” Wolford handles a rattlesnake during a service at the Church of the Lord Jesus in Jolo, W.Va. Each Labor Day weekend, the church has hosted a well-documented “homecoming” for snake handlers who believe that the Bible mandates that true Christians “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.” Wolford says: “Anybody can do it that believes it.” PHOTO: Lauren Pond / FOR THE WASHINGTON POST

The line between “testing your faith” and being stupid just got thinner.

Mack Wolford, a flamboyant Pentecostal pastor from West Virginia whose serpent-handling talents were profiled last November in The Washington Post Magazine , hoped the outdoor service he had planned for Sunday at an isolated state park would be a “homecoming like the old days,” full of folks speaking in tongues, handling snakes and having a “great time.” But it was not the sort of homecoming he foresaw.

Instead, Wolford, who turned 44 the previous day, was bitten by a rattlesnake he owned for years. He died late Sunday.

The ridiculously preventable full story can be read here.

If you want to know what the Bible says about testing God, click here.

Snake handling_ A fading tradition2

A highly venomous timber rattlesnake rests in a box in the Jolo church. About 80 to 100 deaths have been attributed to snake handling since its origins, and nearly every snake handler has been bitten, says the Rev. Bill Leonard, the religion professor from Wake Forest University. There’s a lot of pain when you’re bitten, says Wolford, whose father died at age 39 of a rattlesnake bite. “For the first couple of weeks, you swell up and break out in hives.”

One response to “Serpent-handling pastor tests God and fails

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