'Snake Salvation' Exclusive: Pastor Says Serpent-Handling Movement Could Be as Mainstream as Southern Baptists (Part 3)

CP: How does handling poisonous snakes while worshipping God help your faith, or your relationship with God?

Hamblin: It don't necessarily help my faith or my relationship with God. Like I've always told [others], my faith don't lie in a snake, my faith lies in Christ. All that it is, is a sign to the nonbeliever of God's power. I always go back to healing the sick or anything else. If someone is miraculously healed, it's not done for the believer. The believer already believes in Christ and already believes in his power. It is done for the sign to the nonbeliever, that there is a God in heaven and that they can experience this same greatness as anyone else can.

CP: So, for you, serpent handling is a form of evangelism?

Hamblin: To me, it would be…just like faith healers, you've got Benny Hinn [as] one, they've got these megachurches with faith healing. We do the same thing, but we don't have people lining up in wheelchairs because it takes, to me — and no offense to nobody — but it takes something real to heal a sick [person], not a scam or a show. This is not done for a show, this is not done to glorify myself. Serpent handling, speaking in tongues, healing the sick, anything that is done, should always be done for the glory of God.

But I would go as far as saying that's what it is (evangelism). It's a sign to the nonbeliever, to say, 'You don't have to do this. You don't never have to do this. But let me introduce you to a man who can let you do it.' And when they begin to learn about Christ, their mind is no longer focused on a rattlesnake as much as it is on 'I want to learn about Jesus.'

CP: Do you think the serpent-handling tradition might grow stronger due to "Snake Salvation?" Or might the tradition eventually die out?

Hamblin: My personal opinion is that it has never died away and it never will. In Bell County, Kentucky, there are probably 60 churches alone that handle serpents regularly like we do.

If every Christian that believed in taking up serpents would step up to mainstream media like me and Pastor Coots have … we could be as mainstream as the Southern Baptists. But because of, whatever the reasons may be, they stayed backward, they stay out of the spotlight. We've had more persecution, not from sinner people or people who don't understand, we've had persecution from other serpent-handlers that we was wrong by doing the TV show, that we're bringing a reproach. My answer to them is this: If you're ashamed of it, don't do it. If you're ashamed of what God has taught you to do, then don't do it. I don't care if there's a camera around or not.

To me, it will never go away. To me, it will only grow stronger. To me, through these TV shows, it's gonna restore faith. People might not never take up serpents, but people...who knows. In a year's time, I may have a church as large as Billy Graham's crusades, you never know. My dream is to be able to convince my fellow Christian pastors, no matter what denomination, let's work together. Let's lay these differences aside. Let's work together to see the lost saved, to see our nation be prayed for, to see our government be prayed for, to see these ones that are bound by drugs, suicide, depression, and alcohol and different things... Let's pray together and believe, 'Hey, that man's a snake handler, that man's a Catholic priest, that man's a Baptist pastor...' Let's all agree together that God can and still does perform miracles in this day and time.

CP: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Hamblin: We welcome everybody, anyone and everyone that reads this...I do have a Facebook page, they are more than welcome to contact me. If they want to come to our services and be with us, they're more than welcome. And if there's anything else I could ever do for anybody in this world, let me know and I'll do my best to go the extra mile.

Watch a clip from "Snake Salvation" in which Pastor Hamblin lets his two sons handle a snake: