Really my only complaint about this past season of Justified was they killed off the serpent preacher way too early in the season. For those that do not watch that show, fire off, um, spoiler alert on the preacher dying, second, start watching, it is constantly the best show on television. Spoiling the fourth season a little more, the reason he died was that his sister, unbeknownst to him, drained his serpents of their venom, and when someone brought a non-drained snake to church, the preacher handled it, was bit, and died.
His death was disappointing because I thought the snake preacher would make a good foil for Boyd Crowder. If you also wanted to see more serpent preachers, you are in luck because there is now an entire show dedicated to the profession: Snake Salvation, premiering tonight on the National Geographic Channel. It should be noted these people are morons. Really anyone who takes the Bible as a literal guidebook is a moron. The Bible is just one long parable on how to live your life, which boils down to be good to others. But these morons actually say that because Jesus said “Thou shall take up serpents,” handling snakes is just as important as the Ten Commandments. Seriously people, “Thou shall take up serpents” did not make the stone tablets for a reason, it is not important. Here is the exact quote:
“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)
What is worse, not only do these people handle venomous snakes; they also refuse to seek medical attention if bitten claiming if they die, it is God’s will. And it is clear that they do not have a sister draining the snakes of their venom because one of the pastors lost a finger, quite gruesomely, as it literally fell off (and be warned there are graphic pictures). The pastors even take about one of their brethren who died from a bite. And then years later, his son succumbed to the fate. Hopefully the grandson, if there is one, learned from his kin’s mistake and become a school teacher, or anything that does not involve snakes.
Forget Hannibal or The Walking Dead, Snake Salvation is the scariest show on television because these people are the real deal. Thankfully we are only down to about a hundred snake handling churches in the country, and such practices, as well as snake hunting, are outlawed in Tennessee where these preachers live (hopefully the authorities pay them a visit after the show airs). But as crazy as these people are, it is hard to turn your eyes away.
Snake Salvation airs Tuesdays at 9:00 on the National Geographic Channel.