Ignoring the obvious phallic symbolism preferred in modern snake cults… if the snake is the symbol of evil, why is it so prominent among our most revered symbols? Primarily I am referring to the medical profession’s caduceus, a winged staff with two snakes entwined around it, but I’ll start with modern snake handling Christians.
Followers of the Church of God with Signs Following handle snakes regularly as part of their worship service, believing that their faithful practice preserves them from poisons. This faith tradition appears to be entirely American and dates to the 1910 timeframe with the work of George Went Hensley of Tennessee.
These worshippers appear to be very Pentecostal, preferring worship to include much singing, dancing, healings, and speaking in tongues. It is not uncommon for them to do all of this with a snake in each hand and/or wrapped around the neck. These are no ordinary garden snakes, either… most prefer something a bit more deadly, like the copperhead or diamondback.
The snakes are believed to be incarnations of demons which are being defeated by the followers’ belief. The basic premise of the practice is that among the faithful of Jesus, one need not fear snakes or poison at all, as the Gospel passages cited below seem to suggest.
Personally, I find it foolish… but faith is what it is. These folk will either earn themselves a front row seat at God’s dinner table… or a Darwin Award. It’s hard to say which would be more appropriate.
 Mark 16:18; Luke 10:19
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