Snake handling a crime?

Snakes have played a visible role in religious texts and sacred practices around the world. No aardvark handed Eve a Honeycrisp or Fuji.

A Tennessee pastor is now fighting state charges over possession of the slithery wild animals, which he uses in his sermons. “This is a fight for freedom of religion,” argues Andrew Hamblin, pastor of the Tabernacle Church of Guide and a star of “Snake Salvation” on the National Geographic Channel. The state seized about 50 snakes from the church’s “Snake Room,” including venomous copperheads, cottonmouths, and rattlers. 

  —Diane Richard, writer, November 20


Image: Shawn Poynter for The New York Times

Source: ALAN BLINDER, “Tennessee Pastor Disputes Wildlife Possession Charge by State,” New York Times, November 15, 2013