A serpent-handling pastor in West Virginia was bitten and killed by one of those very serpents he handled. To make the story even more comically tragic, this pastor had watched years earlier as his pastor father was bitten and killed by a snake.
There’s a certain poetic symmetry in dying in the same manner as your dad, although the effect is somewhat devalued if you died while being an idiot. My dad and I could never die in the same manner because I already have my death planned as the first person to ever die from overdosing on compliments.
Serpent-handlers take their cue from a verse in the bible saying the faithful will take up serpents and not be hurt. When will these pastors learn that if they would only look outside their narrow religious perspective, they might consider the possibility that in the serpent religion it might be a test of faith to bite and kill a crazy preacher.
The article I read failed to report the serpent’s side of things or possible motives for the bite, but my guess was that this serpent did not feel comfortable with the way he was being handled.
I know the serpent community is getting a lot of bad press right now, and I’d like to call for restraint and remind people that one bad serpent does not give us an excuse to discriminate against other serpents. I actually feel pretty bad for this snake because finding work in the serpent-handling industry can be fairly competitive, and killing a pastor is a real black mark on the resume.
I wonder why the pastor would continue handling snakes after his father was killed by a snake. Maybe he had father issues and felt driven to compete with his dad, and in a way he won because his dad only lived to 39 and he made it to the ripe old age of 44.
I don’t want to offend any readers belonging to the serpent-handling religion, but I’m not a big fan of any belief system that puts me in constant contact with snakes. In fact, I’d be most likely to join a religious group that preached avoidance of snakes at all times and actually promised that instead of attracting snakes through my faith, I could repel them.