Ky. Voices: Solution: More snake handling

February 16, 2013 

Roger Guffey of Lexington is a retired teacher.

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One problem that plagues the readers of the Herald-Leader is the endless tug of war in the letters to the editor section between those who believe that the last word in any argument is the Bible, because every word in it is literally true and those who believe otherwise.

For example, a Kentucky pastor is upset that authorities in Tennessee confiscated several rattlesnakes and copperheads in his possession for use in his snake-handling services. He is claiming the actions of the authorities violate his right to religious freedom.

For the uninitiated, proponents of snake-handling religious sects believe the literal translation of Mark 16:18: "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. "(King James Version.)

Far be it from me to support any action that interferes with the religious beliefs and practices of any American. I want to help him identify the true believers of his flock. I propose the following acid test for detection of false prophets and infidels:

People who quote Bible verses to condemn same sex marriage, abortion, women's rights or any other social issue must pass the new test for the veracity of the claim of Biblical inerrancy. They must take up a deadly snake and survive a venomous bite before they can express their opinions. But let's remember that God is very busy; he does not have time for the supplicants to languish for hours or days to determine if their faith is sufficient.

I suggest we replace the wimpy copperheads and rattlesnakes with the Australian inland taipan, the most venomous snake in the world. A person bitten by one has a 30-minute window to establish his piety and faith. Without the injection of the required and very rare antivenin, there are no known survivors of this snake's bite so there will be no ambiguity of the results.

Needless to say, the religious services would proceed at a much faster rate and the number of letters to the Herald-Leader from the Biblical inerrancy crowd should drop precipitously, as I am sure that my test will thin the herd.

Now we must agree on the ground rules. We take the wording of Mark 16:18 as the literal and unquestionable word of God. The supplicant cannot argue that the passage is open to interpretation, mistranslated, applied only to certain group of people or to a certain period of time. The word of the Bible is absolutely true so there is no chance of error.

The advantages of my method are considerable. If a potential Bible verse quoter survives, he or she must surely be one of God's chosen and we should all pay heed.

This will also drastically cut the number of false prophets who cheat thousands of gullible people, many of whom are elderly on fixed incomes. If this is the test of real faith, I expect that a lot fewer people will pursue the ministry as a vocation.

Letter writers will explore new ground instead of beating the same dead horse and thereby save the paper a lot of ink and paper.

Regular readers know that I occasionally tend to satire and sarcasm, but this is not the case here. I am deadly serious. If a person can survive the bite of an inland taipan without any form of medical intervention, I will certainly be willing to re-evaluate my stand on Biblical inerrancy.

The line forms to my right. Good luck.

Roger Guffey of Lexington is a retired teacher.

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