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Them That BelieveThe Power and Meaning of the Christian Serpent-Handling Tradition$
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Ralph Hood, Jr. and W. Paul Williamson

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780520231474

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520231474.001.0001

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The Media and the Man

The Media and the Man

(p.37) Chapter 3 The Media and the Man
Them That Believe

Ralph W. Hood Jr.

W. Paul Williamson

University of California Press

This chapter provides biographical details of George Went Hensley, the man generally credited with the emergence of religious serpent handling. It follows Hensley's conversion, his revelation of serpent handling, his ministry as an itinerant preacher, his influence on the development and spread of serpent handling, and his eventual death from a practice that he loved so dearly. While it has been accepted that Hensley's influence in spreading serpent handling among numerous churches it is unlikely that he had the degree of influence that is often attributed to him. One reason is the simple fact that serpent handling was more readily accepted in areas where it was an established part of time-honored folkways. The chapter concludes that a wider lens is required in placing George Went Hensley within a tradition that not only denied his credentials but also came to deny the endorsement of the religious ritual so much associated with his name.

Keywords:   George Went Hensley, serpent handling, itinerant preacher, time-honored folkways, religious ritual

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