Religion gets a break in this country unlike it does in any other democracy. While religious opinion is yanked from the podium of most democracies because it’s regarded as a philosophical belief system and therefore an unneeded encumbrance to the democratic process, this country fusses, debates, and allows these beliefs to intrude upon legislation that’s written for the benefit of all citizens with religious input demanded by those of the faith.


Religious people in this country are free to worship as they choose, even if it means handling deadly rattlesnakes as a proof of the parishioner’s devotion to God. Children are allowed to attend these services so they too can someday experience the "trance like high" of handling poisonous serpents. Only one or two states have banned this practiced, though they don’t enforce the law. Many snake handlers are bitten more than once. Those that survive say that the spirit left them and that’s when they were bitten. In the past month, several leaders of snake handling congregations have died. Their survivors explain it as "God’s will”, saying that if they hadn’t died that day from the poisonous bite of a cottonmouth, they would have died anyway from something else.


Several decades ago in colonial Africa, young men from certain tribes would attain warrior status by climbing up trees, then jumping down on sleeping lions. Those that survived being badly mutilated and viciously mauled, would be deemed to be warriors worthy of exceptional status in the tribe, allowed to take many wives and enjoy other privileges. Those that died were eaten alive by the lions. “Lion jumping” was soon outlawed by Dutch colonists but despite the prohibition, several tribes continued the practice, despite tribal leaders being prosecuted and put to death for their reluctance to put a stop to it.


I don’t expect good Catholics to start wrapping copperheads around their necks and dancing up and down in a frenzy to prove their devotion. I doubt snake handlers would go one on one with lions or drink Draino because the Bible says those who are of the faith can drink poison and survive without treatment.


I do expect government to make level headed decisions when enacting legislation without religious extremists including ancient superstition in those statutes. Its obvious God views all this with a raised eyebrow, wondering if his flock has marched twelve feet off an eight inch board.