If there is any one aspect of supernatural belief that is completely nuts, it has to be the practice of handling snakes to test one’s faith.
During my magical thinking days I might have thought I’d seen a ghost, or had a moment of déjà vu that made me believe in some angelic force, or supposedly had a premonitory dream, or even maybe I prayed and thought that prayer came true in some sense; but never could my disposition for the supernatural prompt me to test what I believe, in the face of poisonous snakes.
According to the Wiki page, Snake Handling seems to be an American phenomenon, originating in the Appalachian Mountains. The page tells us, not surprisingly, that the practice is derived from passages from the New Testament.
And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. (Mark 16:17-18)
Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. (Luke 10:19)
So here we have it, belief in the supernatural gone wild. According to what I have seen in videos, the practice involves a congregation that sings gospel music while men of faith parade around the room grappling rattlesnakes, maniacally boasting their connection with God.
The presiding factor over the matter is to suggest that because one believes so deeply in the power of God, the loving creator will, in return, and through the intervening medium of a supernatural force, protect them from harm.
I guess Pastor Wolford wasn’t as clear as he thought he was in his relationship with God. What I find most intriguing is that, once again, we have the behavior of people being governed not just by belief in and of itself, but in the words of a religious text. I find it very interesting that in the modern age, when we have man-made crafts scanning objects throughout the solar system and that science has led the medical field into the capability of producing human organs with a computer printer, that the words of a two-thousand year old book can still be taken seriously. Let me rephrase that to be respectable: religious texts are important for understanding our past as humans; this is about as seriously as they should be taken.
Of course, it was the science of the Internet that helped me to realize the reality about the supernatural, so I can hardly blame humans for the lack of self-introspective progress. However, it is kind of uncanny that even during those days when I did believe, I always had a nagging sense of, “Huh? Moses parted the Red Sea?”
Nevertheless, having come to terms with reality, I am just glad I was able to escape from the champing fangs of religion with my life. Sadly enough, there are millions who do not, and maybe we can examine more of these in our next edition of Belief in the Supernatural Gone Wild: The Suicide Bomber.