How's this for a lead-in paragraph:
In completely unrelated news, Jesus Camp opened at the E Street Cinema in DC this weekend, and has gotten fairly good reviews. It's a documentary examining a fundamentalist training camp where kids are trained to take back America for Christ through a series of disturbingly militant metaphors.
Also completely unrelated: When I was in high school, a Pentecostal fundamentalist actually exorcised me. We were waiting for rehearsal for Godspell, where I was going to play Judas of all people, and the conversation turned to evolution and then to religion. Naive as I was, I couldn't believe that someone actually wouldn't believe evolution, but I was a little more shocked when the girl told me that her faith gave her spiritual powers.
"Powers?" I said. "What kind of powers?" I don't remember if handling snakes was part of her answer, but I remember that there was something about healing, and then she noted that she could "see and cast out demons."
"Demons?" "Yes." "You really believe that?" "Yes."
So I told her to go and knock herself out with the casting, at which point she began speaking in tongues, grabbed me by the forehead, and shoved me back into the wall, then looked very proud of herself. I don't know if you've ever been around people who speak in tongues, but if you're not a part of that culture it's terrifying. It sounds silly, but it's not. Those who believe in these kinds of things are not kidding around. They have an agenda.
Just a few unrelated facts. Nothing to worry about here.