This Sounds About Right

Yesterday I caught most of this story on NPR . It appears the reason snake-handling Pentecostal preachers are rarely bitten is not because of the holy spirit but because they systematically abuse and neglect their animals:

“The animals that I’ve seen that have come from religious snake handlers were in bad condition,” says Kristen Wiley, curator of the Kentucky Reptile Zoo, a facility in the town of Slade that produces venom and promotes the conservation of snakes. “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.

She says snake-handling preachers who don’t take care of their snakes are “setting themselves up for a safer encounter during their services when they use a snake that is in bad condition to begin with.”

And then there was this:

In a follow-up call, I asked him how long his snakes usually live.

“Average is probably three to four months,” Coots says.

The Kentucky Reptile Zoo reports that well-cared-for snakes live 10 to 20 years or longer in captivity.

I always thought snake-handling preachers were just egomaniacs trying to call attention to themselves. The snakes — and God — are just props. The fact that they abuse their animals to tilt the odds in their favor doesn’t surprise me a bet.


Filed under animal cruelty, religion, religious fundamentalism

9 responses to “This Sounds About Right

  1. Can you imagine what miracles GOD might be called upon to perform if the snakes were surreptitiously fed some nice fat mice and THEN taken for a nearer walk with JESUS?

    • better yet: sneak in some freshly caught wild copperheads and trade ’em out the night before, so that not only are they fit and strong, they are =pissed=. An angry copperhead does NOT fuck around…

  2. Ariando

    Animal abusers?I’m not in the least surprised.

  3. SiubhanDuinne

    Poor snakes.

  4. These people infuriate me! When god becomes a cloak for conning, it’s the worst kind of karma.

    Can’t they get arrested for animal cruelty?

  5. There’s another documentary that I watched on TV. It takes a while for snakes to replenish the venom in their system after sucking out the snakes’ venom just before the service.

  6. Is this evil or incompetence? I can easily imagine that the kind of person who wants to handle snakes on the theory that God will protect them will assume that God will provide for their snakes, too.

  7. I’m dead set against animal abuse. I say to hell with them, let them drink poison instead.

  8. GregH

    The serpent tempted Eve, so for these cray-cray Fundies, abusing the snakes is just payback. LOL