Biff: Relationships over the long haul |

Biff: Relationships over the long haul

Jeffrey Bergeron
Vail CO, Colorado

Sam moved to Austin, Texas for sex.

In truth it wasn’t simply sex Sam was interested in. Sam wanted a girlfriend and he read that Austin was the best city in America to meet single women. Sam is now twice married and twice divorced; he recently moved back to Colorado.

I’ve also had friends move away from the high country for weather and recreational reasons. If you enjoy long summers and a mild spring, life at nearly two miles above sea level might not be for you.

The same could be said of some recreation choices. Those of you who love to surf should consider moving to a state with an ocean.

Likewise, if you can’t get enough of divine inspired poison-drinking and snake-handling you need to relocate to West Virginia.

The truth is: If you are one of those who feel God’s will dictates that you to “take up serpents” in church, West Virginia is the only state where you can do so legally.

In Kentucky for instance, if during your church service, as a display of faith, you are moved to pick up poisonous snakes, drink strychnine or place a flaming can of kerosene under your chin, you could be fined up to $250.

I’ve become slightly obsessed with snake handling. It began with an e-mail from a reader in regard to one sentence of one column that is featured in my book.

The sentence in part reads, “I’d pray with the fervor of a snake handler that my mother would remain quiet until the church service was over.”

The e-mail I was sent read: “You know nothing of spiritual fervor. If you want to know what fervor is, go to this link.” The link directed me to a video about religious serpent handling in the Appalachian Mountains.

From that link I found countless other videos and several columns and articles about the practice.

For over 300 years various sects of Pentecostals have followed teachings in the Book of Mark: which reads in part {“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.”}

Some Pentecostals have taken that to mean God wants church services to include nuzzling venomous snakes, drinking poison and speaking in a language that only God understands. (I can relate; I speak in an accent only folks from Massachusetts can fathom.)

I’ve watched almost a dozen videos and read a few articles about the world of religious serpent cavorters and I’m of the mind: If it works for them, why not?

I will say they seem like a happy bunch. The videos show them dancing, praising, blissed-out on God and otherwise practicing what they preach in terms of a willingness to suffer or die for what they believe in.

Would I do it? No. But I own four bicycles and almost a dozen pairs of skis; I have other interests.

And when you consider taking up serpents in terms of some of the other aspects of religion ” virgin birth, resurrection, healing prayer, the Pope’s hat ” it doesn’t seem as implausible. And I’ll say it again: These snake-handlers seem really happy and certainly devoted.

Now for my disclaimer. I believe snake handling should only be done by consenting adults and those people who don’t owe me money, and never while operating a motor vehicle. But for the rest of you, I liken it to the ski-resort lifestyle of the ’70s and ’80s, “If it feels good, do it.”

I feel honor bound to remind you all, in every state but West Virginia, snake handling is a crime.

It certainly is possible that this could be an attraction that the PR types could use to help market the state.

But unlike big wave surfers making a pilgrimage to Hawaii, lovers of cold weather moving to the mountains of Colorado, or even my buddy Sam heading to Austin to get divorced twice, I don’t think there are enough of the inspired to over populate West Virginia. Though I will say Sam plans to forward this column to his two ex-wives to see if they might want to relocate.

Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on RSN TV and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at

Biff’s book “Steep, Deep and Dyslexic” is available from local book stores or at

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