A “serpent-handling” West Virginia pastor died after his rattlesnake bit him during a church ritual, just as the man had apparently watched a snake kill his father years before.
Pentecostal pastor Mark Wolford, 44, hosted an outdoor service at the Panther Wildlife Management Area in West Virginia Sunday, which he touted on his Facebook page prior to the event.
Robin Vanover, Wolford’s sister, told the Washington Post that 30 minutes into the outdoor service, Wolford passed around a poisonous timber rattlesnake, which eventually bit him. Vanover said Wolford was then transported to a family member’s home in Bluefield about 80 miles away to recover. But as the situation worsened, he was taken to a hospital where he later died.
While snake-handling is legal in West Virginia, other Appalachian states, including Kentucky and Tennessee, have banned the practice in public spaces. Snake-handlers point to scripture as evidence that God calls them to engage in such a practice to show their faith in him. Mark 16: 17-18 reads, “And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. 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.”
“He lived 101/2 hours,” Wolford told the Washington Post Magazine. “When he got bit, he said he wanted to die in the church. Three hours after he was bitten, his kidneys shut down. After a while, your heart stops. I hated to see him go, but he died for what he believed in.
Do you believe in snake-handling as a demonstration of your faith? Why or why not?
Source: Yahoo News
Image: The Freethinker