I do not see how putting your life in danger has anything to do with believing in Jesus Christ
It is following the commands of Jesus Christ.
16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
18 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.
18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.
19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.
Now, that being said, they believe they are doing as Jesus has instructed in these verses. The bible also says “when that which is prefect has come, all signs and prophecy shall cease.” These signs, Snakes, Tongues, and Poison were given to the first century Christians who did not have a bible to validate what they were saying. They were given these powers from God to further the cause. We, present day Christians, can not claim these powers.
How would you feel about all the bad press if one of them gets bitten and dies? Maybe you wouldn't care but I can bet some of the other hot keepers who fight this press everyday would care.
We have had this debate many times. Virtually no press comes from keepers getting bitten. You see small write ups in the back of local papers. The citizens do not care. The small articles are picked up by herpers like us and circulated around the net, but again the general population does not care. Escaped snakes is what catches the attention of the public and leads to new laws. Two cases in point, TN and AL.