THE SOUTH: Paralyzing Prayers

And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name they shall 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. . . . Mark 16: 17-18.

Among many Southern hill sects this Biblical injunction has caused violent dissension. Conservatives hold that a believer who accidentally tromps on a snake will be protected by the Lord. More radical brethren consider it "phenomenal doctrine." They catch and baptize snakes drape them over their necks and arms with only the paralyzing power...

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