“These is broadbands from out of Oklahoma,” Preacher Jimmy Morrow said as he gently took up the two adult copperheads from a “serpent box” at his tiny church in Del Rio in rural Cocke County. “Jesus name,” he said, as he gently placed the poisonous copperheads on a bible so Dudenbostel could photograph them, then speaking in “the unknown tongue” adding, “Heylocita ha ta ta ta.”
Morrow is a true believer in a steadily dwindling religious practice that’s been around in the rural Appalachian South since the early 20th Century, commonly referred to as “snake handlers.” They prefer the term, “serpent handlers” because it’s more biblical (Mark 16:17-18) and useful to distinguish between non-poisonous reptiles and the poisonous ones.
“Why copperheads?” I asked, “This bible verse doesn’t say anything about taking up poisonous snakes.”
“Why, anybody could pick up a-ol’ blacksnake,” he answered.