And on the ninth bite, God summoned him home

An incident in Kentucky.

A Kentucky pastor who co-starred in the TV showSnake Salvation has died of a snakebite.

Emergency personnel received a call Saturday night that someone at a church, Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name, had suffered a snakebite, Middlesboro Police Chief Jeff Sharpe said in a statement. He said an ambulance crew went to the church, but the Rev. Jamie Coots had left. The crew went to Coots’ home and found him suffering from a bite to the hand.

“After a brief examination and discussion of the possible dangers if the wound was not treated, treatment — and transport to the hospital — was refused,” Sharpe said.

So he died.

Well I tell you what – it was God’s plan. It’s a test of faith. If you can see God not save the pastor who got bitten by a rattlesnake, and still have faith, then you have faith indeed.

Coots and the show’s co-star, the Rev. Andrew Hamblin, believe in a passage from theGospel of Mark that suggests a poisonous snakebite won’t harm them if they are anointed by God’s power:

“And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 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.”

Well of course they believe it. It’s in the book, isn’t it? So why wouldn’t they believe it? If it’s in the book, you believe it. That’s simple enough surely.

Cody Winn, another preacher at Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name, said he was right next to Coots when he got bit during the Saturday evening service, according toWBIR-TV in Knoxville, Tenn.

Huh. Bitten. The word is “bitten” – past participle of bite. They bit, he got bitten.

Coots’ son, Cody, said his dad had been bit eight times before, but never had such a severe reaction.

He said he thought the bite his dad received Saturday would be just like all the others.

“We’re going to go home, he’s going to lay on the couch, he’s going to hurt, he’s going to pray for a while and he’s going to get better. That’s what happened every other time, except this time was just so quick and it was crazy, it was really crazy,” said Cody Coots.

Not really crazy if you know a little about cause and effect, or about rattlesnakes.

The Snake Salvation Facebook fan page featured a “Rest in Peace” cover photo on Sunday. A Day Of Support and Remembering of Pastor Coots was announced for Tuesday.

“I am so sorry for the family’s loss,” Janet Ellison posted. “He died doing what he felt led to do by God. Heaven gained a true warrior tonight!”

Lucky heaven.




  1. Al Dente says

    It’s on the same level as some drunk yelling at his buddies: “Hey guys, watch this!” Then doing something stupid. Only in this case it was some godsoaked preacher yelling: “Hey Jesus, watch this!” Then doing something stupid.

  2. Dana Hunter says

    “And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes in their hands and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

    Well, there’s your problem. It doesn’t say anything about “they will pick up snakes in their hands and live.” If we’re reading literally, it’s very clear God never promised faith will protect you from snakebite, just says you can pick ’em up.

  3. coragyps says

    Garter snakes you can generally “take up” without much damage. Rattlesnakes, not as safe. That scriptural exegesis stuff can get pretty involved, you know.

    My condolences to his family. I hope they learn from this.

  4. Sili says

    Huh. Bitten. The word is “bitten” – past participle of bite. They bit, he got bitten.

    Why do you insist on ruining a good point with petty complaints?

  5. Jackie, all dressed in black says

    This is Kentucky. He went and got himself snake-bit. Y’all gotta learn to speak the vernacular. 😉

  6. Al Dente says

    This is Kentucky. He went and got himself snake-bit. Y’all gotta learn to speak the vernacular.

    That should be “got hisself snake-bit” if you want to be au courant with English as she is spoke.

  7. Menyambal --- making sambal a food group. says

    It does say they will do it. It ain’t optional, folks, it is a commandment. If you say you are a Christian, you have to handle snakes.

    It is nice to have a test. I need to start packing a phial of poison with that Bible verse on it.

    “Got bit” is one way to say it around here, too.

  8. quixote says

    In case anyone here becomes tempted to try this at home, here’s some news you can use about rattlesnakes. (I’m a botanist, but have had to get up to speed on snake venom what with doing field work in Southern California.)

    Adult rattlesnakes can control the amount of venom they inject. If they don’t feel very threatened, they just want you to back off and don’t want to waste a lot of venom on you. (Venom is biologically “expensive” to produce.) So very similar-looking bites, even from the same snake, can have very different lethality.

    An interesting footnote is that baby rattlers don’t yet know how to control the level of venom, so they always pump in the full dose. As usual, it’s the cute little ones who are the deadliest.

    What I didn’t know was that handling rattlesnakes was a badge of honor among preachers. So now I’m wondering whether they have a system of extra points for more annoyed snakes and bonuses for babies and all the rest of the usual biological complications.

  9. suttkus says

    My understanding is that most of the preachers chill the snakes before handling them. Like the infidel say, trust in Allah, but tie up your camel. Doesn’t seem to show a lot of faith, though.

    Many of the snake handlers make a big show of milking the rattlers and then, SHOCK, drinking the venom right there in front of the congregation! Then, miracle of miracles that science cannot possibly explain, they don’t die or get sick or anything! Amazing! It’s almost like snake venom isn’t toxic after it’s been digested. It’s almost like that because it’s exactly like that. Snake venom is really only bad if it get into your blood stream directly. But, hey, science defying miracles are easier if you don’t understand science.

  10. jagwired says

    To make it even more ridiculous, I just learned recently from Richard Carrier’s Bible Study, during FtBCon2, that the stupid snake handling verses at the end of Mark (16:17-18) are probably just interpolations added much later to spice up a very abrupt ending to the Jesus resurrection story. It had originally ended at Mark 16:8 with Mary Magdalene and another Mary just fleeing from the empty tomb in silence and fear.

  11. Doubting Thomas says

    I guess the snake part is just about the spectacle. Otherwise they could just skip to the “drink any deadly thing” bit and be done with it. No snakes to have to maintain and or abuse.

  12. Trebuchet says

    Snake Salvation, by the way, was shown on the National Geographic Channel, which is actually run by Fox and shows a lot of right-wing crap like Border Wars, Alaska State Troopers, and Doomsday Castle. The NGS should be thoroughly ashamed of selling out its esteemed name in this way.

  13. Pierce R. Butler says

    quixote @ # 12: As usual, it’s the cute little ones who are the deadliest.

    Oh Em Gee: I’ll never be able to look at Kate Micucci the same way again!

  14. says

    Wait. I’m confused.

    So if you have true faith, you’re immune to snakebite…

    This guy wasn’t immune to snakebite. Which would imply he didn’t believe strongly enough.

    And yet “heaven” still gained a “warrior.”

    So the takeaway is, you don’t need to have faith to get into heaven.


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