The Bible clearly teaches that you reap what you sow, and if you play with rattlesnakes and refuse medical treatment after being bitten, eventually the poison will win.
So it was with Mark Randall (Mack) Wolford, the leader of a snake-handling church in West Virginia who, like his father decades ago, died this week after a timber rattlesnake bit him during worship. His sister’s account of what happened: “He laid [the snake] on the ground and he sat down next to the snake, and it bit him on the thigh.”
Wolford is the subject of a forthcoming documentary called “With Signs Following.” You can see his biblically ill-informed, ritualistic snake-handling practices in the trailer, which was released in December:
The saddest part of the story is that Wolford died thinking that God endorsed his method of worship and that his family and followers still believe it. “I’m proud of him and don’t want to see him die … but if he does, it’s still the word,” his mother says in the opening of the film’s trailer.
But hopefully filmmaker Kate Fowler’s analysis will prove prophetic about the impact of Wolford’s death: “He’s kind of been the person who kept the faith alive. I think we’ll see a sharp decline [of snake-handling worship] in West Virginia, at least of people openly practicing the faith.”
The sooner this redneck tradition disappears, the better it will be for the reputation of West Virginia because reporters no longer will have material to write stereotypical features like The Washington Post Magazine did on Wolford last fall.
Filed under: News & Politics and People and Religion and Video and West Virginia and Wildlife