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Outlaw Religion Facts

Pastor Andrew Hamblin believes God commanded him to handle snakes, and he's battling the state of Tennessee to practice his controvercial snake-handling while avoiding jail.

Pastor Andrew Hamblin believes God commanded him to handle snakes, and he's battling the state of Tennessee to practice his controvercial snake-handling while avoiding jail. (View larger version)

Photograph by NGT

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  • The longest name in the bible is Mahershalalhashbaz (Isaiah 8:1)

  • In 2010, the population size of LaFollette, Tennessee was 7,456

  • A pastor in Jolo, West Virginia, died from a rattlesnake bite during a religious ceremony in May 2012. Although snake-handling is legal in West Virginia, it is not allowed in other Appalachian states.

  • In 1983, Mack Wolford's father, a pastor, also died of a rattlesnake bite during a church service when Mack was 15 years old.

  • The Pentecostal church in Jolo, West Virginia was founded in 1956 by coal miner Bob and his wife Barbara Elkins.

  • One of Barbara Elkins' daughters died of a snakebite in 1961 when she was 23 years old.

  • During church services In Jolo West Virginia, participants handle snakes and may also drink poison or hold flames to their skin to show their faith.

  • Snake-handling has led to around 100 deaths during church services over the past century.

  • Bob Elkins had 21 grandchildren, 37 great-grandchildren and 20 great-great-grandchildren upon his death in 2007.

  • Dewey Chafin, son of Barbara Elkins, had been bitten by poisonous snakes over 130 times.

  • Barbara Elkins handled serpents for almost 50 years, however she requested that no snakes be handled at her funeral. She is quoted as saying, "The little ones might get hurt."

  • The role of the pastor encompasses more than the role of the preacher. Pastors not only preach at weekly services, but also teach and lead the congregation, providing order and structure, and following up with members of church who have not recently attended.

  • The population of McDowell County, where Jolo, WV is located, had declined by about 19% between 2000 and 2010.

  • In McDowell County, 40% of the population has less than a high school education.

  • The average income rate per person in Middlesboro, KY is $13, 345, far below West Virginia's overall average of $22,010.

  • The average income rate per person in Lafollette, Tennessee is $11,914, less than half the state average of $24,197.

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