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The Serpent Handlers

The Serpent Handlers

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Church members who take Mark 16: 17-18 as a central tenet of their faith call themselves Signs Followers. Previous accounts of the Signs Followers focused on the sensational aspects of the religion: picking up poisonous snakes, drinking strychnine, speaking in tongues.

Within these churches are several families whose history in the tradition stretches back as far as the religion itself, which dates only to 1910. In The Serpent Handlers, the authors use extensive interviews with the participants to tell the stories of three of the most prominent snake-handling families the Brown family of Cocke County, Tennessee, the Elkins family of Jolo, West Virginia, and the Coots family of Middlesboro, Kentucky.

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