Andrew Hamblin, the pastor of the Tabernacle Church of God in La Follette, is suing to change Tennessee law over what he claims are restrictions on how he and his followers worship. The twenty-one year old pastor is a Pentecostal Church. According to Hamblin“My main thing is to see lost people saved. If I could tell the world just that, but I’d love to do it under the anointment of God with two ‘rattlers’ in my hand!”
That is correct, Hamblin is a snake handling preacher. Tennessee law prohibits the ownership of venomous snakes. Hamblin did take the issue before the Campbell County Commission, but the commissioners rejected calling on repealing the law ten to two. Hamblin has said that he is disappointed, but understands why it was rejected.
Hamblin’s services do not allow anyone under the age of 18 to handle the snakes and new members must prove that they are dedicated to their faith before they can handle them.
Hamblin stated that he will continue to fight to change Tennessee law noting that “Our people of our faith deserve that, just like any other people of their faith deserves the right to have legal grounds to say, ‘Hey, I can worship how I feel led to worship.”
Snake handling preachers have been known to die from the bite of a venomous snake. Among herpetologist, the cotton mouth PK, short for preacher killer, was famous for doing just that. It is unclear how the courts will rule on this issue.