21-year-old son of Jamie Coots, Cody Coots, says he will take over where his dad left off as pastor of Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name, snakes and all. In fact, he would never think about stopping, and says,
"I don't know if he would come back out of his grave and slap me clean across the face. That's how much he believed in it. I mean he was that strong in it. He believed in it enough he died for it, so I won't step down for anyone."
Jamie Coots died last week from the bite of a poisonous snake that he was handling at the time. The Coots family and all of their congregation, and surprisingly many other congregations of the pentacostal sect (numbering around 1,000 believers), believe that handling snakes during worship is directly commanded in the Bible specifically in Mark 16:15-18, which reads,
15 "He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
Pastor Andrew Hamblin, another snake-handling pastor from Tabernacle Church of God in LaFollette, Tenn., said of his first experience with his mentor Pastor Coots,
"I had seen serpent handling on TV, but in real life he was the first man I'd actually seen take a serpent up. I handled my first serpent right here at this church straight out of his snake box. He handed my wife her first serpent."
Pastor Hamblin also has no plans to end the dangerous practice at his church.
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