Grand Jury Decides Not to Indict Snake-Handling Pastor
According to recent information from WBIR.com, Campbell County pastor Andrew Hamblin will not face any criminal charges for possessing more than 50 venomous snakes. Evan Johnson of WBIR cited that in November state wildlife agents seized a number of reptiles, including rattlesnakes and copperheads, from the Tabernacle of God church. Hamblin and his congregation are part of a Christian sect that believe in the Holy Spirit’s ability to protect them from dangers, such as poisonous snakes. The parishioners have since rallied around their pastor in support. According to one church member, the raid infringed on their constitutional rights.
"To me it violated my right as an American to have my freedom of religion. It shouldn't matter to people if the Lord moves on me and I feel like I need to take up a six-foot rattlesnake. I should have that God-given right,"
Although a grand jury chose not to indict Pastor Hamblin, the seized snakes will not be returned. Currently, they have been placed in the Knoxville Zoo.