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May 31, 2012 3:36 PM by Joe Bevans

Pastor dies from snake bite

BLUEFIELD, W.Va. (AP) - Funeral services are scheduled Saturday for a snake-handling pastor who was fatally bitten during an outdoor service Sunday near Bluefield, W.Va. The Rev. Mack Wolford was an enthusiastic believer in a disputed Bible verse that most scholars think was tacked on to the Gospel of Mark. It quotes Jesus as saying that believers "shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them." On Sunday, witnesses say the 44-year-old Wolford sat down next to a rattlesnake, which bit him on the thigh. Instead of seeking immediate medical help, friends and family prayed for his healing. Photojournalist Lauren Pond, who attended the service, says Wolford died about eight hours later. Snake-handling worship services are outlawed in many states, but are legal in West Virginia.

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