During the school year, maternal grandmother Mary Goswick will have custody of the children, Jonathan, 12; Jacob and Jeremiah, 7; Sarah, 5; and Daniel, 4, the juvenile court judge ordered.
His ruling said that the paternal grandparents, John and Peggy Brown, who also believe in handling serpents, can have custody of the children during the summer and during holidays as long as they don't take the children to services where snakes are handled.
The Browns, who have their own snake-handling church in Marshall, North Carolina, have admitted that they have already taken the children to a snake-handling service, in violation of a previous order from the judge, but said they would refrain in the future.
Their son, John Wayne "Punkin" Brown Jr., a preacher from Parrottsville, Tennessee, had been bitten more than 20 times over an 18-year period before he suffered a fatal snake bite in an Alabama church last October. He was 34.
His 28-year-old wife, Melinda, mother of their five children, died of a bite in 1995 at a religious revival in Kentucky.
The book of Mark in the Bible's New Testament calls serpent handling one of the "signs" that true believers must follow.
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