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Snake handlers dwell at the edge of the spiritual frontier — a community of people who are willing to die for their faith three times a week in church. Members of the Pentecostal Holiness Church take up venomous serpents to prove their faith in God. The practice is still widespread in Appalachia, though mostly hidden.
The herpetologists at the Kentucky Reptile Zoo have been following the activities of Pentecostal snake handlers for years. ..."The animals that I've seen that have come from religious snake handlers were in bad condition," says Kristen Wiley ... "They did not have water. The cages had been left not cleaned for a pretty long period of time. And the other thing we noticed is there were eight or 10 copperheads in a container that was not very large."What's more, she says there was no fecal material in the container, which indicated the snakes were not being fed. Riley says a snake that may be dehydrated, underweight and sick from close confinement is less likely to strike than a healthy snake. Moreover, the venom it produces is weaker.
An entirely different view of religious snake handling comes from Whitfield Gibbons, an authority on snakes of the Southeastern U.S. at the University of Georgia."I think most snakes, a rattlesnake or a copperhead, if you are gentle with them after they've been in captivity and [you] pick them up gently, they won't bite you. So, it wouldn't matter what [your] religious belief was," Gibbons says.He does not recommend that anyone try this.
How??? Just how stupid can people be???