And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils: they shall speak with new tongues;
They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover. Mark 16: 17,18
Al Clayton writes Folkstream founder Tom Davenport "The interest in snake handlers began with a newspaper report of an arrest at a church outside Newport, TN. This really upset me and friend, Will Campbell and Will drove over to Newport to talk with the sheriff and see if some sensible settlement could be reached. They succeeded and the little church was allowed to continue its services.
Campbell's history of helping folks in trouble goes way back. He walked with the school children in the Little Rock insanity. He was fired from the University of Mississippi for playing ping pong with a black person who was doing one of the marches through Mississippi. .
These church services were so unusual to me, that I couldn't delete them from my database, so I started visiting and photographic different 'Jesus Name' churches in Alabama and Georgia.
At these church services, snakes were taken up,tongue talking or speaking in tongues, strychnine drunk , flaming torches passed under hands and feet, loud, loud music, dancing, rolling on the floor, really exciting stuff. Services started in a mild, restrained way but the tempo went way up, really quick.
I can remember thinking that I could keep count of all the snakes and who had which snake but at one service, I felt something brushing against my elbow. I looked around a some guy had a four foot rattlesnake by the tail and its head was brushing my elbow. I left the service quickly and went outside to lean against my truck, gather my wits, or whatever, thinking like Fred Sanford...this might be the big one.
It wasn't and I went back in and kept shooting.
I began thinking that a movie of these services could provide a better illustration of events than still photos. I bought a Canon Hi-8 video camera and started shooting with that. The sound and motion of the video was really exciting to me so I kept at it , got an editing house in Atlanta to help and advise and we put this together."
Filmed in churches near Kingston, GA and Scottsboro, AL.