Religion: Pentecostal Bite

According to Mark 16: 18, Jesus promised that believers would be able to "pick up serpents" or "drink any deadly thing" without harm. Taking that promise literally, some members of Pentecostal sects in Southern Appalachia prove their faith by handling venomous snakes and drinking poisons.

Last year, at the Holiness Church of God in Jesus' Name in Carson Springs, Term., an assistant pastor and a church elder died after drinking strychnine during a snake-handling ceremony. Soon after, a circuit court judge signed an injunction prohibiting snake handling at the church but—curiously —permitting the...

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