A man died after being bitten by a rattlesnake, which he had taken to church because the Bible says believers “shall take up serpents.”
Dewey Bruce Hale, 40, was bitten during Sunday services at New River Free Holiness Church and died at home late that night, the sheriff’s office said. The death was ruled accidental.
“The Sheriff’s Department was not called by family or the church,” said Sheriff Jerry Brogdon. “Nothing was reported. If he had gone to the hospital, it would’ve all been different.”
Witnesses said Hale took the rattlesnake to church in a box and was bitten on the hand when he took it out.
Martha Hale, a cousin of the victim, said church members take the Bible literally, particularly a passage in Mark saying that one sign of those who believe in Jesus is that “they shall take up serpents.”
“Many have been bitten and were healed at that church,” she said.