Religious Snake Handling: Background information when reading Snakewoman of Little Egypt

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Snakewoman of Little Egypt

A Novel

by Robert Hellenga

Snakewoman of Little Egypt by Robert Hellenga
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2010, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2011, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Judy Krueger

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About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Religious Snake Handling

Pentecostalism is a sect of Christianity that originated in rural areas of the USA in the early 1900s. Members believe that baptism in the Holy Spirit results in a personal experience of God, but salvation requires that they practice the teachings of Jesus Christ. They take every word of the Bible as literal truth and act on those words in order to be saved and be assured of entering Heaven.

George Went Hensley began to practice snake handling while a minister of the Church of God in Cleveland, Tennessee (a Pentecostal church which today claims 6 million members in 150 countries). Around 1909, his church became aware of his activities and prohibited it. Eventually, sometime in the 1920s, Hensley started his own church naming it The Church of God with Signs Following. Various other churches also began to follow the practice of snake handling, particularly in rural areas in the Appalachian region.

Snake handling churches are likely to include more mainstream ...

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