I often post entries in a category I call “too much faith will make you crazy”, but this is more a case of making you stupid rather than crazy. Lots of Pentecostals take the Bible verse in Mark 16:17-18 way too seriously.
Pastor Mark Wolford was one of those Pentecostals and he put his faith to the test repeatedly by handling venomous snakes during his services. This past Sunday it ended up being his last test:
About 30 minutes into the service, his sister said, Wolford passed a yellow timber rattlesnake to a church member and his mother.
“He laid it on the ground,” she said, “and he sat down next to the snake, and it bit him on the thigh.”
[…] The festivities came to a halt shortly thereafter, and Wolford was taken back to a relative’s house in Bluefield to recover, as he always had when suffering from previous snake bites. By late afternoon, it was clear that this time was different, and desperate messages began flying about on Facebook, asking for prayer.
Rattlesnake venom attacks the nervous system which makes it a particularly painful way to die, but it’s generally survivable if you get treatment in a timely fashion. Wolford was bit around 1:30 in the afternoon, he was pronounced dead at a local hospital around 11 that night. That’s a helluva thing to go through to prove your faith to God.
It also seems to put the lie to the claims in Mark 16 and you’d think that after enough people die in this way folks would start to rethink the wisdom of temping fate in such a fashion. Indeed, snake handling is dwindling among Pentecostals, but folks like Wolford are (or were) trying to reverse that trend.
Some folks might think there’s something honorable in Wolford dying for his beliefs, but I just see it as pointless waste. He didn’t prove anything nor did his death aid anyone in any way. At best it’s one less idiot dancing around dangerous reptiles in the world while encouraging others to do the same.