Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Well, All We Can Say Is That's Kentucky ~ by Legal Pub

 Coots have been accused of being Kooks before the latest incident! The responses has always been, "well this is Kentucky." The recent death of Jamie Coots, the "snake-handling" pastor, in Kentucky has raised the constitutional issue of separation of church and state.  Jamie Coots was a pastor at the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name in Middlesboro, Kentucky. Coots died after being bitten by a rattlesnake during a weekend church service.  Coots was handling rattlesnakes as part of the celebration.  It is expected that the late pastor's son Cody Coots plans to carry on the tradition.

"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."

If Mark's portion of the Bible tells folks to handle serpants, should it be legal to do so? Members of the Pentecostal Church of God apparently think so. Is dancing with poisonous snakes during church services. and worse than Kevin Costner in Dancing With Wolves?  If bit, do the faithful have a right to rely on God to heal them?  The Commonwealth of Kentucky seems to say snake handling is illegal.  KRS §437.060 state that any person who displays, handles or uses a snake in connection with any religious gathering shall be fined $50 to 100. So the Kentucky legislature says poisonous snake-handling is illegal but we won't slap you with a penalty as severe as the bite.  Sounds like a speeding ticket or an overdue library book fine, if  you ask us here at Legal Pub. To us the real question is whether a state has authority to regulate a practice that is primarily faith-based. Our Constitution's First Amendment states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." The 14th

Does Kentucky have the power to regulate religious activity under the police power of a state? Some conduct can be regulated for the protection of society. In Lawson v. Commonwealth, Kentucky's Supreme Court considered the snake-handling statute and held that the state could properly regulate the time, place and manner of religious exercise where the regulation is necessary for the safeguarding of the health, good order and comfort of the community. In other words, if Kentucky folks are dumb enough to be around snakes, then we may just fine them one handful grab into the Sunday collection plate.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Snakes make for great biblical tales.