Snake Handling


Every religion has odd things on its fringes, things that make most of its adherents cringe and wince, and which they are not eager to share with outsiders. These things are not so much dirty little secrets as examples of pathology, unwell people who express their psychological illness in religious terms. Every religion is keen to put its best foot forward and to present itself to the world in a way which will inspire credibility and confidence, and so these unwell people are never mentioned in public if it can be avoided. In Christianity snake handlers are one example of the dodgy things on our fringes which we prefer not to highlight.

Happily snake handlers represent a tiny fraction of the Christian population, and so do not often intrude into the public face of Christianity. It seems as if snake handling entered into the Christian world in the early twentieth century through the fundamentalist Protestant churches of the American Appalachians. Scholars often credit (if that is the correct word) Mr. George Hensley (1880-1955) as the father of American snake-handling, introducing it into the Pentecostal Church of God Holiness sect in Birchwood, Tennessee around 1910.

The inspiration for the practice seems to have been our Lord’s words in Mark 16:17-18 that those who believe in Him would speak in new tongues, and pick up serpents. This passage, which is not original to Mark’s Gospel, but represents an early addition, refers to the Church’s experience in the Acts of the Apostles. The speaking in tongues is of course a reference to the glossolalia mentioned in Luke’s account of the day of Pentecost and in other passages in Acts (Acts 2:1-4, 19:1-6). The bit about serpents refers to St. Paul’s experience of being bit by a viper after his shipwreck on the island of Malta and suffering no harm from the bite (Acts 28:1-6).

This last event was clearly exceptional; Paul was not deliberately handling the serpent, but was bit by chance as he was gathering wood for a fire. Mr. Hensley normatized this single event and made it into a sine qua non for believers, a test and demonstration of saving faith. Mr. Hensley felt that if one had true faith, one could handle venomous serpents with impunity and not suffer harm. He died following a snakebite received during one of his services in Altha, Florida in July 1955. The number of snake-handlers in the Protestant world is (thankfully) statistically infinitesimal. Those wishing to eavesdrop on this tiny segment of liturgical insanity may watch the 1967 film about it entitled, Holy Ghost People, available here.

The temptation afflicting the snake-handlers is, sadly, not confined to the American Appalachians. It appears that the desire to presume on divine protection is a perennial one among religious people of all kinds: one hears of Muslims licking their holy sites in Iran during the Covid pandemic, trusting that Allah would protect them. And, closer to home, one hears of Orthodox Christians proclaiming that no one could become sick in church, since God’s divine energies there would shield them from the germs of the Covid virus since they were in a holy place.

What are the roots and motivations behind this kind of fundamentalism? Any question regarding motivation is bound to have multi-faceted and perhaps elusive answers. But it seems clear that at least one force driving such motivation is fear. The world is a big and often scary place, a place where tragedy, heartbreak, and perplexity abound and where the comfort of security and certainty is hard to find. The fundamentalist therefore takes refuge in imagined certainties and imagined securities. This gives him a sense of control, and a feeling that although others may be at the mercy of tragic and capricious fate, he is not. He enjoys an immunity to the forces afflicting other men, for he has access to special knowledge and power. The Holy Ghost People of the Appalachians handle snakes because this reinforces their sense of power, security, and immunity.

The price tag for such superstitious fanaticism is high, especially during a pandemic. Compared with the 100 or so people who died from snakebite during the church services of the snake-handling sects, many more people have died around the world from the Covid virus that they contracted while at worship services. Clearly God’s divine energies do not protect the faithful from germs if the germs are present in church.

What is at stake theologically is the contrast between faith and presumption, and between sacraments and magic. Too many people view their faith in God as a kind of magic which will somehow override scientific realities and save the person exercising such faith from harm. I remember a similar kind of pseudo-faith operating in charismatic circles of my youth, which encouraged the faithful to claim their healing, dispense with medical advice and medicine, and ignore escalating symptoms as a test sent from God or as the work of the devil. Some discovered such faith was misplaced, and they died as a result. On a more Biblical note, one remembers the suggestion of the Enemy that Christ fling Himself down from the pinnacle of the Temple, trusting that God would overrule scientific laws such as gravity and that angels would save Him from the consequences of such presumption. As one can read in the Gospels, Christ declined, saying that such a suggestion was impious and sinful, and that it amounted to tempting God.

Prideful presumption is what is involved in all such acts, whether the act involves trusting that God will nullify the power of germs in church, or that He will grant immunity to snake venom, or that He will overcome the force of gravity. Experience has shown that God will do none of these things, but rather that He expects His children to live wisely in the world He has made and not presume on His grace. The present Covid crisis will, God willing, pass away soon enough. The temptation to presumption, however, remains, and should be resisted whenever it raises its hoary head. We Orthodox rightly have contempt for the snake handlers, with their substitution of presumption for faith. We must not follow their lead now.

Editor7/18/2020 10:18 am
Comments will now be closed on this article. Too many ad hominem attacks, and to much vitriol.
Anna Stickles7/16/2020 4:51 pm
"Funny, I see the absolute belief in "science" as fundamentalism, too. In the religion of the world, people believe that if they follow what an "expert" tells them, they are somehow mystically protected, as well. Perhaps there is a need for critical thinking across the board." Gail, this really sums up the whole problem with this article. As Fr Peter notes, it's comes from a mindset that accepts the authority of science and ignores the call of the Church to transform our mind. The first level of contemplation that the saints of the Church tells us to struggle for is to see God's providence in all things. In the ancient world the pagans believed that the sun and moon, or other physical forces including plagues or famine, or rain and plenty were controlled by the gods. During the enlightenment a new paganism arose. one that taught that all those ancient beliefs in the gods were just superstition and that the movements of the material creation were completely determined by impersonal absolute laws operating in a world in which God was absent. God created the clock and let it run with no personal involvement. In a way it is a type of Nestorianism - or with the same philosophical absolute split between God and His creation. It is really a type of atheism, even when clothed in deist clothing. The Patristic teaching that God's energies, His own presence and personal will and providence, interpenetrate and determine every movement of the material creation, has been replaced with a deist heresy that has become pandemic in our society. It is an unseen virus sickening our faith and perceptions.
Dmitri Karamazov 7/16/2020 4:00 pm
It is not reasonable to compare snake-handling to so-called "fundamentalists" who just want to go to church and pray and receive God's good gift which comes down from above. A person who chooses to pick up a deadly serpent to test God is different from someone like St Paul who incidentally picks one up. Christians may get sick incidentally, but none of us are choosing to carry germs to test God. I'm an uneducated American hillbilly and I can see that's clear.
Gary7/16/2020 12:50 pm
Let's not devour each other. We may have different ways of looking at things but let us remember the words of St. Paul in 1 corinthians chapter 8. We don't need to make each other to stumble. There are some things that are essential for our salvation and some things that are good to do but maybe not essential. For example the veneration of Icons. During veneration we say or think a small prayer, cross ourselves, bow and kiss the Icon. If we don't kiss the Icon but do the other things in good faith, is the veneration void? Whether or not I kiss the Icon does God accept my devotion and veneration? I think the Eucharist is one of the essentials. We can't catch a disease from God unless we receive it in bad faith. I think multiple spoons are silly. We need to distinguish between essentials and non essentials and remember that this virus and government interference is temporary. I don't know about the world but in America Church services have been restricted but not shut down. There are fewer people at services but the priest can take communion to anyone. If the governments are trying to shut Churches down that is a different thing entirely. There are multiple issues here and we can all have strong opinions but let's not devour each other. And pray for our Patriarchs and Bishops.
Constantin7/16/2020 4:57 am
I wonder what all those priests and hierarchs and luke warm Christians will do when God will reveal in their conscience that they were played by the devil, hopefully not follow Judas path all the way. Lord have mercy on us !
Niko7/16/2020 4:07 am
The tragedy of our priests preaching like this, that we should have weak faith in God, will weaken the faith of our children for the next generation. Cowardliness will become a rule. They will not kiss the icons and their own mother (Panagia) for fear of germs! What blasphemy and destruction we hand to our children. COVID may go away but our Orthodox way of life will die in a liturgical reformation if Priests continue like this. Over 50% of people have Herpes Virus, but do we dare not venerate the saints for fear of this? Is this okay? Do Orthodox Christians have an increased prevalence of herpes from whole communities kissing icons? Of course not! Because the Holy Icons are Holy and do not transmit sickness and death but Grace and Life! Kyrie Eleison!
Gail Sheppard7/15/2020 8:42 pm
Funny, I see the absolute belief in "science" as fundamentalism, too. In the religion of the world, people believe that if they follow what an "expert" tells them, they are somehow mystically protected, as well. Perhaps there is a need for critical thinking across the board.
Anna Stickles7/15/2020 8:08 pm
It is the fundamentalist, delusional Christian that has "a feeling that although others may be at the mercy of tragic and capricious fate, he is not. "?????!!!! Lord have mercy! This was a very poorly written article. Of course while we may die from catching the virus, and even catching the virus in Church, this is never a result of capricious fate. Those in Christ are intimately within the bounds of God's Providence, and this is especially so in Church. I am so sorry to hear Fr Lawrence saying this and expressing a view of the world that sees creation in terms of an impersonal law of science rather than God's personal providence for all people. I agree we should not be rash, but let those who have faith, and those who live in fear and try to make up for this through a delusional or infantile (St Paul uses the word carnal) faith, leave them in the hands of God's providence, but don't blame and criticize them. Let us look at our own sins and not the sins of others. St Paul specifically says that we are to cover over those who are weak in faith, not expose them. This article lacks both mercy and a proper ecclesiology that recognizes that the Church and it's material aspect as being within a new reality - that reality that we call Christ's Body.
Fr James Bozeman7/15/2020 7:26 pm
Great article. Not much more to say.
Antithacus7/15/2020 7:04 pm
In this crisis I have noticed a disturbing tendency for people to consider unbelief towards the civil authorities to be the greater sin, despite their proven history of fraud and deception.
Fr. Photius Avant7/15/2020 5:43 pm
What a wonderful article. Fr. Lawrence articulates the Orthodox ethos magnificently. Proponents of the notion that one cannot get sick at Church do not know their Church history. There have been a few occasions when bishops closed the doors of temples on account of plague. The plague that tore through Russia in 1771 comes to mind. In that case, several parishes closed not because of bishops’ orders, but because the plague killed everyone, including the priest. Bishops later decided to close parish doors to keep people safe. Anecdotally, if I had a nickel for every time I personally got sick at Church, I could buy a small Blizzard from Dairy Queen.
Dutner Nilus 7/15/2020 5:26 pm
Every bishop, upon being made a bishop, makes a solemn promise to "accept all which they (the Holy Fathers) have accepted and to reject all which they have rejected." Similarly St. Nilus of Sora reveals that we "are to do NOTHING without the witness of such writings" of the Holy Fathers. Thus we are to follow the Saints, and especially their consensus in EVERYTHING. Yet are we doing this today? Which of our Saints, during the numerous and more deadly plagues of the past: closed the churches, changed how we receive Holy Communion, forbade the kissing of icons, or said "holy things, or even God Himself can act as conduits of disease and death"? No one of them ever dared to utter such blasphemies! Thus it should be evident that this article is reflective of some new innovative (renovationist) "Orthodoxy" - for the thoughts expressed in it are not submissive to the mind of the Fathers, to the mind of Christ.
Fr. Peter Alban Heers7/15/2020 3:40 pm
Dear Editor, First, let me say that I’ve always appreciated this website and so many of the articles that you have posted. It’s precisely because of my high estimation of your efforts that I feel compelled to write the critique I have of this particular article, by which, most unfortunately, the high level of scholarship and piety that characterizes your site is severely compromised. Thank you for your attempt at an explanation, however, I think you missed some important points which I’d like to bring up: We are sympathetic to your position, given that the Metropolitan Tikhon closed his churches and the Moscow patriarchate has lost more monks and clergy than other Local Churches, However, none of what you write, or the author of the article presents, proves or even gives evidence that the victims contracted the sickness *in the holy temple of God*. Indeed, there is no way to demonstrate that the Temple is the culprit rather than the refectory or yard, for example. But the entire weight of your argument rest on this assumption. And the impugning of the Temple of God - and by implication God’s Grace therein - which comes by way of this assumption is the greatest error presented. Indeed, it is poisonous to church life. Forgive me, but I humbly submit to you that in your reply you have missed the point of at least several of the comments of the readers: it’s not about a person having superlative faith but about the fact that the Grace of the Temple of God must be considered; sadly, rather it is, if not disdained, ignored. This makes the matter at hand a very important theological matter and thus our theology of the Divine Energies and of the Temple of God must be considered. In both your reply and the article this is not the case. (As an aside, your readers should know that dogmatic theologians in Thessaloniki and Athens have said clearly and unequivocally that *doubt in the grace of God in the holy things in the holy temple* is akin to blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.) Finally, you wrote at the end of your intervention: “We should be open to the possibility that God is protecting us, even through unbelieving medical authorities. We have to be humble.” I think this is precisely the point some of those who are objecting to the unfortunate article are attempting to make: it is preposterous to say that God is protecting us through unbelieving medical authorities and yet we are not protected by God himself *in the temple of God*. You are in effect calling us to put our trust in men and not in God. It is precisely humility which should lead us to the conviction of the the holiness of His Temple, standing in awe of God in His holy place, grateful to Him for His condescension and the continuation of His incarnation *in and through the holy things,* which are conduits, not for corruption, but of His divine energies, of which, of corse, there is no corruption. Sincerely and with love in Christ, Archpriest Peter Heers
Bette Maria7/15/2020 1:08 pm
Thank you so much for all claryfying comments. :) We must do as the apostle says: "Prove all things; HOLD FAST THAT WHICH IS...GOOD ."
sherlock_holmes7/15/2020 8:59 am
" Clearly God’s divine energies do not protect the faithful from germs if the germs are present in church. " ...What about Jesus healing the Ten men with Leprosy ( germs inside their bodies),is it True ? Or about all the miracles in our Church which are not in accordance with the modern science,the miraculous story of Lazarus being brought back to life by Jesus.In Church everything is personal,it is not only about germs and nameless faithful and divine energies present in the Church but Jesus Christ our God,Saints,Angels and Ivan,Caterina,John,Peter,Lawrence,Eva,Lazarus,the Ten men with Leprosy(don't know their names),Judas...God knows their hearts and why they go to Church,if are afraid of death or not,of getting sick or not,if they put first the kingdom of Heaven or this earthly life.I have seen many Christians during this mild pandemic going to Church,getting the Holy Communion almost weekly,confessing,kissing the holy Icons,Priest (Jesus) hands and I haven't heard of anyone getting sick. If Jesus considered that this is better for them who are we to oppose it ? Of course,the best way is the kings way,God works with humility through doctors too if they are not corrupted by politics,fear or greed or know for sure how this virus works.
sherlock_holmes7/15/2020 7:18 am
" One hieromonk in a Moscow monastery made a wise comment to the "we'll never get sick by receiving Communion" fanaticism: "So, if I receive Communion and then someone immediately pours gasoline over me and lights me with a match, I won't burn?"...The answer would be,yes,most likely he (the monk) will burn ( and hopefully go to Heaven ) but not because of the Holy Communion but the person who puts him on fire......O Thou Who by Thy inscrutable Providence did prepare the world for eternal beatitude and Who appointed Times and Seasons and the ManNeR of our end...!
Anthony N7/15/2020 6:27 am
Thank-you Father Peter Heers. Your comments are what we all needed to hear.
Gary Cox7/15/2020 5:13 am
My problem with Fr. Farley is that he has written things in the past to insinuate that protestants have salvation without the Orthodox faith. If that is true then what is the point of teaching Orthodoxy? What would be the purpose of the Orthodox Church and faith? I wish he would expound on his view of attaining salvation. If he is in line with the concilliar mind of the Church then I might trust him. Will you give us some details Father Farley?
Trevor7/15/2020 4:54 am
Fundamentalist has the same pavlovian negative connotation as conspiracy theorist. Any intellectually honest person would concede that a majority of history is moved by conspiracies, and conspiracy abounds in the scriptures. To denounce orthodox fundentalism is veering towards denouncing the fundamentals; dogma, which are the rings of the ladder to which we ascend to the Truth. Did not our ancient brethren stand bold and witness the faith as heathens and pagans scrambled when pestilence broke out? It wasn't about not getting sick, it was an issue of priorities; fear of God first, and love of neighbor second. I confess I don't have answers, only what history and my conscience show and tell. Something has been fishy about covid since the beginning and for some time it was scandalous to me that many churches chose to shut down. They weren't forced, they chose. Our Lord said no man can add a cubit to his life by worrying.
Paisios 7/15/2020 4:40 am
Even if we could get sick in Church, so what? Why are we changing worship out for fear of death? This isn't complicated.
Basil Hill-Zeck7/15/2020 3:32 am
The author writes, "We Orthodox rightly have contempt for the snake handlers..." The definition of contempt (according to Google) is, "The feeling that a person or a thing is beneath consideration, worthless, or deserving scorn." I, an Orthodox Christian, have no contempt whatsoever for snake handlers, nor shrine-licking Shiites, nor people who's opinion about viruses differs from mine. Hopefully those who read this article won't think that the author speaks for all Orthodox Christians in reality.
Editor7/15/2020 1:58 am
We posted this article because we liked the way Fr. Lawrence addressed the idea now circulating that it is impossible to get sick in a church, and the prelest that some people are in when they presume that they will be divinely protected from any danger by virtue of their superlative faith. The author does not even mention Holy Communion in the article. Obviously, if he were afraid of germs in Holy Communion he could not as a priest have been able all these years to bring himself to consume the Holy Gifts after all the faithful, as is our Orthodox practice. Unfortunately, some of the reactions in the comments actually portray a sectarian spirit of condemnation. Here in Russia, it is obvious that the churches and monasteries that observed the prescribed safety measures scrupulously suffered little or no infections, while those that ignored them suffered very high infection rates and even deaths among their inhabitants and parishioners. One hieromonk in a Moscow monastery made a wise comment to the "we'll never get sick by receiving Communion" fanaticism: "So, if I receive Communion and then someone immediately pours gasoline over me and lights me with a match, I won't burn?" Yes, of course there are examples in the Lives of the Saints, such as that of St. Leo of Catania, who passed through the fire with a sorcerer to prove a point and save people from the sorcerer's wiles. He was unharmed while the sorcerer burned. But we have to be realistic about our own supposed sanctity, and not tempt God. Read also the story in the Lausac History about the monks in the desert without any food. One said, "God will feed us, we have to have faith". Soon they encountered a wild heathen who offered them food. One monk accepted it while the other refused, saying, "God will feed us." Of course he died of hunger. He didn't see that God was feeding them through that heathen. We should be open to the possibility that God is protecting us, even through unbelieving medical authorities. We have to be humble.
Greg Jennen 7/14/2020 11:30 pm
this is complete and utter nonsense. Equating Orthodox Christian mysteries with wack-job cult members. Reprehensible and moronic. You should be ashamed.
Fr. Peter Alban Heers7/14/2020 8:35 pm
P.S. to earlier comment: In the Orthodox Church, which is the Body of Christ, the Temple of God, the consecrated, “baptized,” Temple where the Holy Spirit descends as on Pentecost and fills all with Light and transforms men into God-men by Grace, where not only the bread and wine but the faithful themselves are changed into the Body of Christ, where NOT ONLY the Holy Communion is sanctified, so as to make it and all that touches it (i.e. the holy lavida (spoon)) impossible to be a communicant and carrier of sin, death and disease (which are the result of the Fall AWAY from Life), since He is Life, a Fire which burns away all impurity, but INDEED ALL THAT WHICH IS HOLY and SET APART by God because God dwells therein - such as the Holy Icons, the Holy Relics, the Holy Antidoron (blessed bread), and even the hand of the priest, who is the type and in the place of Christ and whose hands touch the Immaculate Body, or even the Holy Embrace shared by the priest and faithful (when we say “Christ is in our midst; He is and ever shall be!”) - all these are SANCTIFIED and thus FREE of corruption, which is a fruit of the fallen world. Therefore, in the Orthodox Church - whether or not all understand this or act upon it, of even if nearly all are ignorant of it and fall away from it - it is at least faithlessness, if not worse (God forbid!), blasphemy, to treat the Holy Things of the Holy Temple - consecrated and set apart by and in God! - as common, that is, as we would and do in the supermarket, bank or post office. Therefore, it is a fall away from this self-understanding, this experience of God’s Grace, this Way of Being in Christ, to bring into the Holy Temple, as into a common place, masks, gloves, multiple spoons (for fear of communicating viruses) and the like. In the Temple of God, consecrated and sanctified by and to God, the Church of Christ has nothing to fear (fear is of the evil one), for the members of the Body are in the Temple of the Body, in the embrace of the Father, in the communion of the Holy Spirit.”
Fr. Peter Alban Heers7/14/2020 8:34 pm
It is very problematic, and presumptuous, when we take our experiences as heretics, or the experiences of heretics, in general, and judge on this basis the experiences of Orthodox Christians, and indeed, in this case, of those having great trust in the Divine Grace of God *in the Temple of God,* as exhibited by many monks on Mt. Athos and, indeed, in the monasteries in America. It is shockingly presumptuous to suppose that snake handlers and their presumption has anything to do with the faith of Orthodox in the Grace of God *in the very Temple of God.* There were several lines in the article which struck me, but this particular line stood out: "...many more people have died around the world from the Covid virus that they contracted while at worship services. Clearly God’s divine energies do not protect the faithful from germs if the germs are present in church." I am wondering on what basis the author has made such a categorical statement? Has there been a worldwide study done of people who have become ill in Orthodox Churches? Could there be such a study? Is it even possible to know where exactly one contracts sicknesses, when, for example, monks in monasteries are together most of the day, together with pilgrims, and also are in the Temple, where, it should be noted, they actually have little direct interaction (at least on Mt. Athos, in my experience). On what basis can the author make such a blanket statement as "many people have died from the virus they contracted while at 'worship services'"? Another sentence struck me terribly: "Too many people view their faith in God as a kind of magic which will somehow override scientific realities and save the person exercising such faith from harm." One should be very careful here, as there are plenty of people who say exactly this about our Faith in the Divine Eucharist, the Holy Communion, being impossible to infect anyone. Do we not believe just this: that the Divine Energies of God, the Presence of God Himself, in the Chalice miraculously and mysteriously nullifies or overrides all corruption, including, of course, that which brings sickness and death, and thus saves those who with faith approach to commune from harm? Is this a matter of magic or of faith? To the faithless, who have no discernment of spirits, magic looks a lot like faith. Another line of sad note supposes that those who approach God and His Presence in His Temple with faith that He is not the author or conduit of corruption (i.e. they are Orthodox Christians) are actually putting God to the test as tempters, as little demons, in other words! The comparison is tragically mistaken. In the first instance, the devil is provoking God to be an impassioned man, whereas in the second instance the faithful are trusting God to be. . . God in His Temple. Our Saints witness to the holiness and immaculate state of the Holy Temple, and this faith is not a presumption of proud men but an experience of God "“In truth the church is an earthly heaven,” our great righteous one and man of prayer, the ever-memorable pastor of Kronstadt, Saint John emphasizes: “where God’s altar is, where the awesome Mysteries are celebrated, where the Angels minister with men, where there is uninterrupted glorification of the Almighty - there heaven truly is, and the heaven of heavens.” "St. Germanos, Patriarch of Constantinople, writes: “The church is the temple of God, a holy place, a house of prayer, the assembly of the people, the body of Christ. The church is an earthly heaven in which the supercelestial God dwells and walks about.” Furthermore, the Church and the Church Temple are, according to St. Maximos the Confessor, related as the soul and body of man are related. When we enter the Temple of God we encounter and enter into a divine and spiritual reality, the Body of Christ. And one could go on... Our problem is not too much faith, but not recognizing, let alone throwing off, our sick rationalism.
Greg Jennen7/14/2020 7:56 pm
This my friends, is utter nonsense. Cowardly and dangerous... but all too prevelant.
John7/14/2020 5:38 pm
This is the same priest who writes obsessively about his belief in the false theory of Darwinian evolution, and has written before about his desire to censor our Holy Week services to avoid offending the Jews (or liberal Orthodox). Perhaps I could refer to these strange beliefs as "odd things on the fringes" or a "psychological illness." Fr Lawrence also writes repeatedly about his fellow Orthodox people being "fundamentalists." I for one do not believe that I can catch a cold or a "pandemic" or anything else from receiving Holy Communion from the Chalice with one spoon, nor from kissing the Chalice, nor from venerating icons, nor from kissing the priest's hand, nor from kissing the Cross. That's not because I believe in magic or because I am a "fundamentalist" but I do not believe that deadly diseases and illness can be transmitted from holy things. What is the point of his article? He wants churches to remain closed? He's trying to compare a large number of Orthodox people (the majority of us?) with snake handlers because we are tired of wearing the masks, tired of not being able to venerate icons, and tired of seeing priests sanitizing communion spoons in alcohol, and the like? Is it possible for someone to get sick in church from something by being sneezed on or standing too close to someone? I don't know - maybe. The flu can be deadly for people too, but I don't ever recall seeing the old ladies or anyone else ever wearing masks in church before during flu season. So people don't want to get sick - but does that justify all of these extreme ridiculous "sanitary guidelines" that are causing such sadness and confusion among the faithful? If Fr Lawrence wants to maintain these practices in his church, he can go ahead. As for the rest of us, I'm sure, that most of us are ready to move past this nonsense.
Joseph Bell7/14/2020 5:36 pm
I see the bent of this article and this photo and it is clear. The editors of this venue are engaging in the very thing that they claim to detest. This article is sensationalism. It is a wolf in sheep's clothing.
JJ7/14/2020 12:03 pm
What a sensible and sane article! There should be more articles on this site written as an antidote to the unhealthy fundamentalism which has poisoned many.
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