Depending on who you are and what you believe, this story may either be darkly hilarious or a true testament to one’s unyielding connection to their faith.
Rev. Jamie Coots, known as a “snake preacher” died due to receiving a snake bite on his hand during a church service at the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name.
A member of the Middlesboro, KY congregation called 9-1-1 to report the bite, but by the time an ambulance arrived, Coots had already left. Emergency personnel found Coots at his home.
His wound was examined and he was notified of the risks associated with a poisonous snake bite, the biggest one being death. Coots was offered medical assistance and a ride to the local hospital. Coots refused any medical attention according to a statement by Middlesboro Police Chief Jeff Sharpe.
An hour after emergency response workers left his home, law enforcement officials, emergency personnel and a coroner returned to find Coots dead.
He absolutely should have prosecuted back in 98. Faith or not he got someone killed. http://t.co/F7QMF5sLvu
— dave (@gwenexperience) February 17, 2014
RIP Pastor Coots. Being a snake handling preacher is controversial but he truly was just doing what he believed was God's will for him
— Abigail Blake (@Abgrace17) February 17, 2014
History channel apparently needs a new snake handling preacher for their reality show. Last one got killed by snakes. Go figure.
— trifecta (@3fecta) February 17, 2014
Coots was the co-star of a reality show based on his unconventional snake handling religion. The belief in handling poisonous snakes comes from a literalist interpretation of passage Mark Chapter 16, Verses 17 to 18:
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.
In other words, all one needs to believe is that poisonous snakes will cease to be poisonous and faith alone is enough to neutralize the poison. This is very likely the logic that was at the heart of Coots refusing medical treatment.
As it turns out, Coots had two similar brushes with death when bitten by snakes back in the 90s. This time Coots was not so lucky.
Image via Wikimedia Commons