Mark Randall “Mack” Wolford believed that the Bible mandates that Christians handle serpents to test their faith in God — and that, if they are bitten, they trust in God alone to heal them.
He and other adherents cited Mark 16:17-18 as the reason for their practice:
“And these signs will follow those who believe: in My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
“I am looking for a great time this Sunday,” he wrote May 22 on his Facebook page. “It is going to be a homecoming like the old days. Good ’ole raised in the holler or mountain ridge running, Holy Ghost-filled speaking-in-tongues sign believers.” “Praise the Lord and pass the rattlesnakes, brother.”
Wolford, the son of a serpent handler who himself died in 1983 after being bitten, was bitten by a rattlesnake during the homecoming and died.
"I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ." Galatians 1:6-7