A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Snake Salvation is a docuseries featuring people handling snakes and fire while practicing their religion. Although these activities are discussed in an informative context, kids should be reminded that they can lead to potentially fatal injuries. Expect some gruesome images of snake bites and bloody, rotted limbs (sometimes in jars), that resulted from getting bitten. There's some occasional iffy language ("crap"), and some dangerous snake hunting, too.
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What's the story?
SNAKE SALVATION is a reality series that features people practicing the tradition of snake handling in the name of God. The series features young Tennessee Pastor Andrew Hamblin, and his former mentor, Kentucky Pastor Jamie Coots, two Pentecostal preachers who are continuing the 100-year-old tradition of handling deadly snakes, fire, and other dangerous things as a way of celebrating God's presence. They allow cameras into their church services to document how they pray, speak in tongues, and praise while holding the serpents. When the number of snakes they have in captivity dwindles, they must go out and hunt and capture snakes that they use or trade for those they can use for church services. The risk of getting bitten and poisoned is high, and when it happens, prayer is used as a cure. It's dangerous, but for these worshippers, it is a small price to pay for practicing their faith.
Is it any good?
Snake Salvation offers a voyeuristic look into the world of a specific subset of Pentecostalism that believes that handling snakes and fire brings them closer to God by allowing them to experience God's protection. They also underscore some of the challenges they face by practicing their religion, including being forced to break the law when they hunt for or handle snakes in areas that ban these practices.
It's interesting, but viewers may be disturbed by some of the practices highlighted here, including the general refusal to seek medical attention when people are bitten. Some may also find the patriarchal norms church members adhere to a little troubling, too. But the overall series offers a non-judgmental glimpse into a religious community that considers its faith, and its snakes, to be central to their way of life.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about different religious practices. Throughout history, different religions have practiced painful, dangerous, and/or fatal activities, like circumcisions, human sacrifices, and handling poisonous animals. Where do these practices come from? Is it appropriate for lawmakers to regulate these activities, especially in countries where people enjoy freedom of religion?
How does the media portray religions and religious practices that are different from the mainstream? Are shows like this one designed to teach viewers about different religions, or are they really designed to showcase how strange they are?