We’ve talked in the past, particularly on the podcast, about the new “reality” show on National Geographic called “Snake Salvation”, where pastor Andrew Hamblin and his minuscule church of a dozen or so Christian crazies handle snakes and other nutty things because they think that’s what the Bible tells them to do.
However, what they think the Bible tells them to do happens to be illegal in the small Tennessee town that the church resides in and this causes problems. His Tabernacle Church of God in LaFollette, Tennessee has consistently harbored venomous snakes and LaFollette has outlawed the private ownership of such snakes. According to Hamblin, “This ain’t no longer just a fight for snake handling, this is a fight for freedom of religion.”
No, Larry, it is not. See, the law applies to everyone equally. I know that’s something that is probably over your head so I’ll type really slow so you might understand it, on the off-chance you’re smart enough to know how to get onto the Information Superhighway. Just because you believe a thing doesn’t mean that you have the unrestricted right to do that thing. It doesn’t matter if it’s your religion or not.
Of course, Larry could just find another town or county that allows the ownership of venomous snakes. There are quite a few in his area that permit ownership, either with or without a permit, and he could figure that out online, again, if he’s smart enough to do so. Certainly, there are states that don’t allow it, like Alabama, which forbids non-native venomous species or Arkansas, where it is wholly illegal, but Florida, for example, is fine with it, so long as you have a permit and follow local laws. Tennessee has specifically banned snake handling since 1947, he has no legal leg to stand on remaining there. Just move your church, Larry. Of course, I doubt he could find enough snake-handling crazies in Florida, he’s hardly had any luck in backwoods Tennessee.
So anyhow, Larry gets hauled into court for repeatedly violating the law and keeping poisonous snakes on his property, which is neither zoned nor licensed for such. Fish and game authorities confiscated about 50 reptiles, including rattlesnakes and copperheads, from his church and this is hardly the first time.
“That is my God given right in the United States; if God moves on me to take up a serpent, I can take up a serpent,” said Hamblin. “They came right into the house of God and just ripped them [snakes] away. That would be no different if they just came and ripped your Bible out of First Baptist.” Well yes, Larry, it would be very different. Last time I looked, Bibles didn’t escape from cages, nor were they capable if biting and killing people. Your snakes are.
Now keep in mind, I’m a reptile lover. I’ve owned reptiles and snakes for many years. I was on the local “hot team” for our herpetological society. I’ve handled venomous snakes. I still think Larry is crazy. God doesn’t give rights in the United States, society does. They haven’t seen fit to give you any such rights and your religious stupidity is blinding. It’s no wonder rational folks just look at you and shake your head. Your religious beliefs do not give you a blanket license to do whatever you want under the guise of your religious stupidity.
Personally, I think this is a pretty open and shut case. The judge has bound over the case for trial, which is supposed to pick up in early January. I hope that Hamblin gets the book thrown at him, hard enough to knock some sense into that stupid hillbilly skull. These religious retards need to understand that the law applies to everyone and that they, religious beliefs or not, have to follow the same rules as everyone else. Will he ever learn? Probably not. This is the stupidity that religion brings.