A new TV series has been announced that will examine the religious practice of snake handling. The show, announced today by National Geographic Channel, follows two pastors, Jamie Coots and Andrew Hamblin, as they lead their congregations in the controversial ritual.
"Snake Salvation" is set to premiere Tuesday, Sept. 10, at 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. ET/PT.
"Based on a Bible passage that suggests a poisonous snakebite will do no harm as long as its handler is anointed by God’s power, some devotees of this unconventional ritual practiced in 100 churches in the U.S. believe not participating will leave them destined for hell," the cable channel says in its announcement.
The show’s two central figures "frequently battle the law, a disapproving society and sometimes their own families to lead their faithful followers to righteousness," the announcement says. It adds: "To them, handling snakes is nothing short of a commandment from God. You can call them crazy, but they are determined to keep their tradition alive no matter the cost."
Matthew Testa, the executive producer of the series, adds: “Jamie and Andrew take huge risks in practicing their faith, not just in terms of the danger posed by the venomous serpents they handle, but also from law enforcement. But they firmly believe they are commanded by the Bible to take up serpents as a sign to non-believers, and feel strongly they are exercising their religious freedom as guaranteed by the Constitution. They often say, ‘God’s law trumps the law of man.’"
Please click here to read the full announcement from Nat Geo and find additional details on the series.