Death of snake handling preacher shines light on lethal Appalachian tradition
Mack Wolford and his father were both serpent handlers who died of snake bites.
June 1st, 2012
09:19 PM ET

Death of snake handling preacher shines light on lethal Appalachian tradition

By Julia Duin, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Mack Wolford, one of the most famous Pentecostal serpent handlers in Appalachia, was laid to rest Saturday at a low-key service at his West Virginia church a week after succumbing to a snake bite that made headlines across the nation.

Several dozen family, friends and members of Wolford's House of the Lord Jesus church in tiny Matoaka filled the simple hall for the service, which lasted slightly more than an hour. At the request of pastor's widow, Fran Wolford, media were forbidden inside the building.
Wolford's own dad was a serpent handler who died from a snake bite in 1983.

Mack Wolford, who was 44,  was bitten by his yellow timber rattlesnake at an evangelistic event in a state park about 80 miles west of Bluefield, in West Virginia’s isolated southern tip.

He enjoyed handling snakes during worship services, but it’s a tradition that has killed about 100 practitioners since it started in the east Tennessee hills in 1909.

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In recent years, Wolford feared the tradition was in danger of dying for lack of interest among people in their 20s and 30s. It’s why he drove to small, out-of-the-way churches around Appalachia to encourage those who handle snakes to keep the tradition alive.

“I promised the Lord I’d do everything in my power to keep the faith going,” Wolford said last fall in an interview I conducted with him for the Washington Post Sunday magazine. “I spend a lot of time going a lot of places that handle serpents to keep them motivated. I’m trying to get anybody I can get.”

He hadn’t much hope for churches in West Virginia, where serpent handling is legal. Some surrounding states, including Tennessee and North Carolina, have outlawed it. He had his eyes on a Baptist church near Marion, North Carolina, where, he said, “there’s been crowds coming” and its leaders wanted to introduce serpent handling, the law be damned.

“I’m getting the faith started in other states, where I am seeing a positive turnout,” he said. “Remember, back in the Bible, it was the miracles that drew people to Christ.”

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Wolford wanted to travel to the radical edges of Christianity, where life and death gazed at him every time he walked into a church and picked up a snake. That’s what drew the crowds and the media; that’s what gives a preacher from the middle of nowhere the platform to offer the gospel to people who would never otherwise listen.

“Mack was one of the hopes for a revival of the tradition,” said Ralph Hood, a University of Tennessee professor who’s written two books on snake handlers and is probably the foremost academic expert on their culture. “However, I am sure others will emerge, as well.”

Indeed, others are emerging, including a growing group of 20-somethings clustered around churches in La Follette, Tennessee, and Middlesboro, Kentucky. Their individual Facebook pages show photos of poisonous snakes and “serpent handling” appears on their “activities and interests” lists.

Pentecostal serpent handlers - they use "serpent" over "snake" out of deference to the Bible - are known for collecting dozens of snakes expressly for church services.

At church, they’re also known to ingest a mixture of strychnine - a highly toxic powder often used as a pesticide - and water, often from a Mason jar. These same believers will bring Coke bottles with oil-soaked wicks to the church so they can hold flames to their skin.

Key to understanding this culture are a pair of verses from the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament: “And these signs will follow those who believe: in My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

Mainstream Christians - Pentecostals included - do not believe Mark 16:17-18 means that Christians should seek out poisonous snakes or ingest poisonous substances.

But experts say that several thousand people – exact numbers are hard to come by – in six Appalachian states read the verse differently. Known as “signs following” Pentecostals, they see a world at war with evil powers and believe it’s a Christian’s duty to take on the devil by engaging in the “signs.”

Thus, a typical service in one of their churches will also include prayers for healing and speaking in tongues.

But it’s the seeming ability to handle poisonous snakes without dying from their bites that makes these Pentecostals believe that God gives supernatural abilities to those willing to lay their lives on the line. If they are bitten, they refuse to seek antivenin medication, believing it’s up to God to heal them.

At the Church of the Lord Jesus in Jolo, West Virginia - one of the country’s most famous “signs following” churches - a group of worship leaders passed around a rattlesnake at a service last year on Labor Day weekend. The snake twisted as it was passed from man to man.

The women clapped, and one tried handling the serpent but quickly gave it back to a man. The pastor, Harvey Payne - who has never been bitten by a serpent - posed for the cameras, the reptile twisting and curling.

“My life is on the line,” he exulted. “All Holy Ghost power!”

If a believer is bitten by a snake and dies, these Pentecostals reason, it is simply their time to go.

“It devastated me,” one Tennessee serpent handler confided to me about Wolford’s death last week. “It just shook my very foundation. But (handling snakes) is still the Word of God.”

Vicie Haywood, Wolford’s mother - whose husband died 29 years ago from a rattlesnake bite during a worship service - is heartbroken. But she has no doubts about the righteousness of serpent handling. “It’s still the Word, and I want to go on doing what the Word says,” she told the Washington Post on Wednesday.

Last fall I asked Wolford if handling serpents wasn’t tempting God, a common question from mainstream Christians.

“Tempting God is disbelief in God, not belief in Him,” he said, citing an incident in the Old Testament in which Moses slapped his staff against a rock to provide water in the desert rather than speak to the rock as God had commanded.

By using his own resources – a stick – rather than counting on God to act when Moses simply spoke to the rock, the patriarch was condemned for lack of belief and forbidden to enter the Promised Land.

He added that he regularly drinks strychnine during worship services, to show God has power over poison.

“In my life I’ve probably drunk two gallons of it,” Wolford said. “Once you drink it, there is no turning back. All your muscles contract at once. Your body starts stiffening out. Your lungs; it’s like you can’t breathe.”

He’d gotten sick from strychnine a handful of times. “I was up all night struggling to breathe and move my muscles and repeating Bible verses that say you can ‘drink any deadly thing and it won’t hurt you,’ ” Wolford told me, recounting one episode. He said a voice in his head taunted him as he struggled to recover.

“The devil said, ‘You’re going to die, you’re going to die,’ ” he said. “You can’t go to the hospital. There is not a lot they can do. But (seeking medical help) means you’re already starting to lose faith.”

After he was bitten last Sunday, Wolford may have thought his faith would bring him through that trauma, as it had so many times before. He had four spots on his right hand from where copperheads had bitten him.

When he finally gave his family permission to call paramedics, about eight hours after being bitten, he must have known his battle was near over. By the time he arrived at the local hospital in Bluefield, he was dead.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Death

soundoff (7,439 Responses)
  1. a


    June 3, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      B 12

      June 3, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • Jason


      June 4, 2012 at 4:49 am |
  2. Snake

    Don't blame me man....the dude was askin' for it.

    June 3, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
  3. Rick James

    You know what's funny? He finally concluded that God wasn't gonna save him, so he called the EMT. Too late for him, though. That's what he gets for being stupid.

    June 3, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      That is exactly right.

      Stupid is as stupid does!</b!

      June 3, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
  4. mike

    A circus somewhere has lost a well qualified candidate.

    June 3, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
  5. Peteyroo

    If these guys were really serious about their snake handling, they'd be handling Black Mambas and Taipans.

    June 3, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      They don't because they're weenies!

      June 3, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
  6. SDC

    None of these morons have bothered to research their own cult; everything after "Mark 16:8" was added at least a hundred years after their cult leader was supposedly executed, including the bits about "handling serpents", "drinking poison", and so on. It is sad how gullible some people can be.

    June 3, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • juanmoretime

      Well, I guess you can attribute this to inbreeding in appalachia.

      June 3, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
  7. David

    Let's be very clear, whatever god you believe in could care less if you handle a snake or not. If your God is worried about a man made tradition less then 100 years old then they have too much time on their hands and I would suggest they should turn their concerns to more important issues.

    June 3, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      Shri Rahu and Shri Ketu the snake gods might care! Sssssssssssssssssss!

      June 3, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  8. True Story

    A. Mary Magdalen was a hooker
    B. Hookers have syphilis
    C. Jesus "hung out with" Mary Magdalen
    D. Syphilis causes dementia
    E. Dementia makes you delusional and say insane things
    F. Jesus was delusional and said insane things
    Conclusion: Jesus was not a magic man from the sky, he just had syphilitic dementia.

    June 3, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • niknak

      Jesus was an opportunist.
      That whole carpentry career was not really working out, so he decided to try the whole storefront preaching scam.
      He had a bit of an in with Mary being his mom and the 3 wise guys stuff at his birth.
      Was a pretty good ride until the SEC, I mean the Romans strung him up for getting on their turf.
      There has never been a better scam invented then religion.
      Has been taking money from the poor for thousands of years, and unfortunately will be doing so for thousands of years more.

      June 3, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      jesus never got with a woman. he hung out with 12 dudes. he had long hair and wash board abs...

      gaydar BEEP BEEP BEEP!

      he may still have been syphilitic though.

      June 3, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • dan

      A. You are an imbecile.

      June 3, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • Really?

      Syphilis came to the Old World from the Americas 1400 years after Christ. If you are going to be silly, at least study up on your history.

      June 3, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • BigRed

      Wow, totally ridiculous.

      June 3, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • juanmoretime

      You're a prime example of what drugs can do to the mind. True story? You doing bath salts?

      June 3, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • John Null

      Lets be clear on this point. There is no human being alive on this planet who can possibly know who, what, when, where, how and why the text in the bible is present and reads the way it does ( in the English translation of the Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic written text ) whether the KJV, NKJV, NIV or any other eNgLiSh tRaNsLaTiOn. The arguments for each are endless and all but impossible to get it just right, word for word and infallible. We don't have all of the facts yet. Until then, just believe in Him.

      I have never considered the text to mean," actually pick up pit vipers and drink poison," to prove that your faith in God is intact. There are plenty of ways for people to prove their faith in God and never even consider pit vipers as being useful in the task. I don't see Jesus picking up vipers or demonstrating the way to live for God as being a," show me the money," or else lifestyle ( according to the Gospel's ). I sure don't see people rowing out on a lake during a violent storm ( twister's, six foot waves, hundred MPH winds ) to try and match Jesus' " sleeping in the bottom of the boat " episode where His disciples feared for their lives and woke Him up to calm the storm... and He did. People make poor choices then try to make god responsible for their health and well being. Note: only Jesus got out of the boat. His disciples waited inside. They weren't prepared yet to follow in His footsteps. When they were, He empowered them.

      There is another text where the Apostle Paul got bit by a viper while he helped others make a fire. He shook the snake off into the fire and had no ill effects from the bite. Acts 28:3-6

      After Jesus dispelled " a legion " of demons from the demoniac of Gadara, the healed man asked Jesus to take him along when He ( Jesus ) sailed away after the cleansing. Jesus is quoted as saying," no, I want you to go back home to the cities where you lived with friends and family. Show them how the Lord has shown you mercy." Mark 5:18-20 ( and he did )

      Keep your faith in Him, not in your own abilities.

      June 3, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
    • Answer

      @John Null

      The latest estimate of the time remaining for our Milky Way is about 4.5billion years (give or take a few 100,000 years). You cretins of faith will at most disappear in the next 1000 years, but I'll give you room to beg and plea that you will carry onwards.

      So here comes the question: whatever will you do with those empty prayers that can't help you build anything to settle far far away from this ending? Will you fools be redeemed and have a divine intervention? LOL

      June 3, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
    • Reformed Ex-Christian Nutjob

      One scam better than religion at duping the poor, the lottery.

      June 4, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • One problem

      syphilis comes from the Americas... Columbus brought it back with him. Try again!

      June 5, 2012 at 8:48 am |
  9. niknak

    Please please please you 20 something evangelicals pick up snake handling.
    Get bit and die, especially before you procreate.
    One more piece of evidence that religion is practiced by creepy people.
    Just like witch craft.

    June 3, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Paris Hilton's Terrifying Witch Coven

      I'll take a Wiccan to a Christian any day

      June 3, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Based on the posts of the so-called Christians here, I'd agree.

      June 3, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      i am an theist. i have some a cousin that is wiccan. him and his wife were married in a wiccan ceremony, which i attended. it was actually a very beautiful and simple ceremony.

      the difference between christianity and wicca is that wicca doesn't have all the negative cr@p christianity has. there is no wiccan book telling it's followers to kill g.ays, disobedient children, non-virgin brides, anyone working the weekend, etc. they don't have a holy book that promotes slavery, h.omophobia and misogyny. the one thing they do have in common is they both promotes ignorance. both teach there is a god (and with wicca a goddess as well), for which there is no evidence. basically, both teach "magic". at the end of the day, both teach bad information. but christianity has some very prejudicial and self-destructive philosophies woven into its bad information.

      so yeah, i generally prefer wiccans over christians.

      June 3, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Paris Hilton's Terrifying Witch Coven

      Actually, I was just hoping for a nice little tantric orgy.

      June 3, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      meant to say an atheist, not "an theist".

      June 3, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • niknak

      was not trying to offend witch craft, just making the comparison for the fundies.
      I know a wiccan and she and her husband are stand up peeps.
      Unlike most fundies, that when you scratch just below the surface are the exact opposite of stand up.

      June 3, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  10. DrJames

    These sick people are a self-eliminating problem.

    June 3, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  11. Bootyfunk

    another republican vote romney won't be getting. 🙁

    June 3, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  12. Be

    Do not want to speak for Dorothy, but her summary of the religious right seems too apply to both catholic and protestant alike.

    June 3, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  13. Doc

    in the name of Charles Darwin, I hope this man did not have too many kids.....

    June 3, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  14. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    June 3, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • niknak

      Prayer changes nothing.
      Because when you get sich and pray, you then go to the doctor who uses SCIENCE to heal you.
      Then you go back and tell everyone how well the prayer worked.
      You religious people are fools.

      June 3, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • fortunately I don't get "sich" too often

      Too bad spelling is not included with SCIENCE.
      Oh, by the way God created science and prayer unlocks the secrets of science.

      June 3, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • niknak

      And your proof that god created science is what?
      Because you said?
      Or that I miss hit a key?
      Luckily, every year interest in religion is decreasing and you and your ilk will start to die off.
      Hopefully man will free himself from the scurge that is religion in my lifetime.

      June 3, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • Bet

      @ fortunately

      Prayer doesn't unlock the secrets science. If it did, the churches would be responsible for discovering life saving medicine, space exploration, and correctly explaining the natural world. Religion blocks scientific discovery every chance it gets.

      Working your ass off in a laboratory, using the scientific method, an.alysis and reason unlocks the secrets of science.

      June 3, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • BigRed

      Funny that we see your trolling comment that prayer changes things again and again and again. Can't you be a bit more creative? Or is that a tall order for fairy tale believing fools?

      June 3, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Sorry y'all...I'll put down the crack pipe now. I get a boner every time I post my one-liner and see all you fools respond.

      June 3, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • sipsen

      Prayer unlocks science. That is how the pope knew Gailieo was a heretic and sentenced him to house arrest for the rest of his life.

      June 3, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      June 4, 2012 at 10:37 am |
  15. anna capella

    is anyone concerned about the snake??? how is that pitiful thing going to get that taste out of its mouth? this is surely cruelty to animals.

    June 3, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • what is up, y'all?

      Did the man's witnesses kill the snake or let it go? I would think that it should have been fed after being put through hell.

      June 3, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • jungleboo

      Someone on the blog reported yesterday that the snake was stoned by those present.

      June 3, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Not surprising. When I hear crap like this, I can only hope hell exists so such azzholes can suffer the same fate.

      June 3, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  16. WhatsHappening

    Signs of bad times coming

    – Man of God dies doing his thing

    – Devaint sodomites getting social acceptance, 'marriage' and recognition

    – Marriage becoming so loose, getting out of one is like getting out of a cell phone contract : just pay the penalty! The kids be damned, morality be damned! its me, ME and ME again

    June 3, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Dorothy

      Ummmm....maybe we are just now realizing who the good guys really are:

      The religious right agenda for the courts: 1) Keep minister out of jail for illicit se x ual activity. 2) Get control of women's reproductive rights at all cost. 3) Protect all our worldly goods from taxes and lawsuits.

      The gay agenda for the courts: 1) Marriage – so they can live in legally recognized monogamous, committed relationships. 2) Family – so they can raise their children (many who were rejected by straights) as a couple in a loving nurturing home. 3). Service to Country – through military service.

      It seems like it is pretty evident which group a real God would smile upon.

      June 3, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • WhatsHappening

      Im not defending creepy priests. Thats the catholics. In fact the church investigation led to conclusion that coz they allowed gays into priesthood they had this child molestation problem. May be true, I dont know.

      June 3, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • what is up, y'all?

      The pastor tempted life. He did not tempt Yahweh, that would have been stupid! His life is over, but I am sure his children profited from his earthly existence. We are all better off now.

      June 3, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Bet

      @ whatshappening

      If you don't know the difference between a pedophile and a hom.ose.xual, you are beyond ignorant.

      June 3, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You have a masters and can't spell simple words like 'deviant'? Yeah, sure you do, you lying sack.

      June 3, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • BigRed

      Sounds like things are getting on track to a better world. Christians have had over 2000 years to achieve something but all that their god has brought us is ignorance and cruelty. Enough.

      June 3, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • BigRed

      Virtually no gays are child molesters. Almost all child molesters are straight. That's a fact jack.

      June 3, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
  17. Henry

    These presumptuous s-h-i-t eating s-o-d-o-m-i-t-e-s are like a flea stating that the dog they are feeding and riding on does not exist!!

    June 3, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Dorothy

      ummmm....right Henry.....because the idiot who got bit by the snake and died has it down right?

      June 3, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
    • Blake

      So "Judge not, lest thou be judged" doesn't apply to you?

      Your simile makes no sense at all. Though in all fairness to you, you are just plagiarizing it, because you have no oroginal thoughts at all and must repeat the thoughts of others so as to pretend to have thoughts of your own.

      Christians . . .

      June 3, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • At death atheists believe

      How do atheists know what is right and wrong?

      Oh yeah that's right.They can "tell" what is right or wrong

      June 3, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • No, not so

      Very easy. I don't like to hurt people and I don't like it when I get hurt and I don't want to live in a world where people (especially the ones I care about) get hurt, so I try hard not to hurt people.

      I don't want to be the kind of person who steals and I don't like it when I get robber and I don't want to live in a world of robbery, so I don't steal.

      And so forth.

      And are there benefits to being decent? You bet! Theft is a one-time gain, but cooperation is ongoing prosperity, and unlike theft does not rick reprisal. Same is true of love and courtship instead of rape.

      You really have to be a moron to think that morality comes from religion. Heck, most of the "morality" in the Bible is so insanely immoral that it is unimaginable to me to do things that God demands, like killing your children for being disobedient.

      Here are two pieces of evidence that prove my point – studies have conclusively proven that in practice atheists commit less major crime than religious people, and are less supportive of war and torture. And, God, Jesus and the Bible are fine with slavery, where we atheists find it very immoral – our morality is superior!

      If morality came from religion, religious people wold be more moral than seculars, but the opposite is true.

      June 3, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Bet

      @ at death

      I don't need a sky boogie man and a book of myths to babysit me or threaten me into behaving with compassion and empathy. I have a far better idea of right and wrong than the god portrayed in your bible does.

      June 3, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Try to take it easy on ADAB. It's merely a kid posting nonsense on mommy's computer. It has no clue about life at all.

      It thinks everyone needs a sky daddy to enforce good behavior, because it needs its parents to enforce curfews and rules; it's just a kid.

      June 3, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
  18. MC Frat Boy

    This type of behavior goes against everything that I remember church to be about. This sounds more like voodoo.

    June 3, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • It's like this . . .

      You could say that about an religion and denomination that is other than what you were raised with. Why does that make your religion right and the others wrong?

      All people do that – they are born into a religion, and that one is true because they were raised in it, not because they ever encountered any real evidence (which of course they did not). All believers believe because another human told them it was true; their belief is not based on evidence but heresay. They usually then let their imagination go, and interpret their imagination as God, and fool themselves that they had a religious experience, but it was only imagination.

      Want proof? Ask religious people in your own church to describe their personal experiences with God, and you will consistently find yourself thinking they are mistaken and a bit nutty when they tell you. Because they made it up, just like you.

      Ever notice that God always agreees with you? Ever notice that God only tells you are wrong if you already felt you might be wrong, and never ever when you were sure you were right? It's because your God and your imagination are the same thing.

      June 3, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • jungleboo

      @it's like this:
      Beautifully presented. Thank you.

      June 3, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Nii

      Its unfortunate people who hve not experienced the presence of God talk like they know how it feels like. I n some friends were lughing at xtian "prophets" when i suddenly felt a strange passion and prophesied to the person who was instigating the laughter! I didn't think we were wrong but God did!

      June 3, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Nii

      I am not a religious person though n that time I cried a bucket out of shame. It was the beginning of me seeking spirituality above religion. I knew the bible n went to church but never cared much about it. U atheists n Fundamentalist literalist Xtians r same to me. Blind belief=blind disbelief.

      June 3, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Really?

      You were mocking people and didn't know it was wrong, and you needed a divine intervention to reveal the incredibly obvious to you?

      June 3, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Really?

      Nii, you ARE a religious person. Religion is the service of worship of a God, and you undeniably do both. You are attempting to say that you reject ORGANIZED religion, but that is totally untrue either. The Bible is, by definition, organized religion. It is the great organizer of Christianity, and the differences in the churches is merely differences in emphasis of the Bible.

      We see a lot of that "not religious but follow Jesus" nonsense here, and while we appreciate your implicit acknowledgement that organized religion has a hideous record that you are trying to dissociate yourself from, it is utterly untur3e.

      Let me prove it. What church do you attend? If you attend, you are alligning with an organized religion. Do you attend other churches, like Catholic of Mormon?

      The only way for you to be what you claim is to believe in a God that is not Jesus or Allah, to not obey any ritual associated with those religions, and to not read any scripture. You see, all those things are organization.

      Yes, it is a common dodge lately, the "don't follow organized religion" scam, but it is just a facade. Any scrutiny at all reveals they do, in a big way.

      June 3, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Nii

      You r confused! If mocking was implicitly wrong u won't engage in it at all here! We usually mock when we feel we r right. And that is what I felt. I felt all the prophecies n miracles were BS n so did my friends. I don't think u understand de term religious as I used it. You cud've asked!

      June 3, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Nii

      In terms of spirituality de terms spiritual n religious 've different meanings. I'm spiritual-I valiue spirituality over religion. De opposite is religious-those who value religion over spirituality. I believe for e.g.that an Atheist who loves his neighbor as himself will go to heaven if it exists.

      June 3, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Nii

      A religious xtian wud say if u r not a xtian then u have no portion in Heaven. Christ, the disciples and Prophets taught spirituality not religion. I argue with religious xtians in my own church a lot. I'm a Messianic Jewish Anglican. Which organized religion is that? I can't laugh!

      June 3, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Nii

      U r a religious Atheist. I meet spiritual Atheists here too and we agree on a lot. Christ and the Apostles n Prophets taught spirituality not religiosity. In fact they frowned on it. I hope u can see the Bible as i do but few religious do whether they be religionists or secularists.

      June 3, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Nii

      Being pious is being faithful to the pursuit of spirituality in the context of your religion. That is not wrong as a strong Atheist or Bhuddhist or Muslim or Christian can be spiritual as well. I do not reject organised religion. I reject religiosity that makes religion an end in itself.

      June 3, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  19. Orwell prefers Guyana punch

    At least Conservative Jews outthink most of the US Christians on the historical accuracy of the bible. No religious snake handling with them. Must have better sense and connections to God.

    NYTimes: The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim.'

    June 3, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • ahksehl

      The snake handlers make up less than 1 tenth of one percent of US Christians. Shall we consider all jews to be the same as ultra fanatical Haredi?

      June 3, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • ahksehl

      you mean like those lubavichers who were convinced their reb was the messiah wand would rise from the dead?

      June 3, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • ahksehl

      You mean like the time a kosher Deli in Brooklyn accidentally served non kosher hotdogs and the resulting violence and anger divided the community. The deli owner you see,l sent a goy employee out to buy some hot dogs when their stock ran out and the unknowing employee bought chicken hot dogs that he thought would be OK. The problem was that they were not officially certified as Kosher. The resulting violence was featured in youtube videos. How about the great scandal of the orthodox community sheltering child molesters and shunning those who spoke up about the violation of their children. Please. You are just a pathetic christian hater.

      June 3, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
  20. grumpymedic

    Dumb is as Dumb does-the NEXT Generation.

    June 3, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.