Not a True Believer, Apparently

Woman Dies After Snakebite In Church

LONDON, Ky., Nov. 7, 2006
Associated Press

A woman died after being bitten by a snake during a serpent-handling service at church, police said. Linda Long, 48, of London, Ky., died Sunday at University of Kentucky Medical Center, Brad Mitchell, a detective with the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday.

Long died about four hours after the bite was reported, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

Officials said Long attended East London Holiness Church. Neighbors of the church told the newspaper the church practices serpent handling.

Snake handling is based on a passage in the Bible from the Gospel of Mark that says a sign of a true believer is the power to “take up serpents” without being harmed.

Handling reptiles as part of religious services is illegal in Kentucky. Snake handling is a misdemeanor and punishable by a $50 to $100 fine. Police said they had not received reports about snake handling at the church.

Lt. Ed Sizemore of the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office said friends went with Long to a local hospital Sunday afternoon, before she was transferred to the university hospital.

Church officials could not be reached for comment.

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