A man has died after being bitten by a snake during a church service and refusing to be seen by doctors.
Worshipper John David Brock was injured while handling the snake at a service in Jenson, Kentucky, when the reptile sunk its teeth into his arm.
The Bell County Sherriff’s Office said the 60-year-old decided not to seek medical treatment after being given the nasty bite at the small town’s Mossy Simpson Pentecostal Church, instead going on to his brother’s home where he died from the injury.
According to an obituary, Mr Brock was a follower of the Holiness faith and had worked as a coal miner over half of his life for 36 years.
Snake handling is a common practice at services in some sects of the Church, particularly in Southern Appalachian states.
It’s thought that pastors use the creatures to demonstrate how Christians are protected by God from harm and worshippers hold them high whilst singing and dancing.
The tradition is taken from a passage in the Gospel of Mark which claims followers of the faith can “pick up serpents” without fear of injury.
This has been met with controversy in the past, particularly following similar recent deaths caused by snake bites.
Previous congregations have been evicted from churches over the practice, while professional reptile handlers have also warned of the dangers.
In February 2014, pastor and reality TV star Jamie Coots died after being bitten by a venomous rattlesnake during one of the practices at a church in Middlesboro, Kentucky.
Last year, a landlord renting out a church in Tennessee evicted paster Andrew Hamblin after it was reported he became tired of congregants being killed and injured by snakes.
The centuries-old tradition is mainly practiced in hyper-religious communities in America’s deep south, and uses venomous snakes such as rattlesnakes, cottonmouths and copperheads.
According to the relevant Bible passage from which the practice originated, followers of the Christian faith “will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover”.
Lead Image: Churchgoer John David Brook died as a result of his injuries following the snake bite (file image).
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