Snake-handling preacher dies of snake bite

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Jamie Coots (Image: pastorcoots2012, YouTube)

MIDDLEBOROUGH, Ky. — A Kentucky pastor who starred in a reality show about snake-handling in church has died — of a snake bite.

Jamie Coots died Saturday evening after refusing to be treated, Middleborough police said.

On “Snake Salvation,” the ardent Pentecostal believer said that he believed that a passage in the Bible suggests a poisonous snakebite will not harm believers as long as they are anointed by God. The practice is illegal in most states, but still goes on, primarily in the rural South.

Coots was a third-generation “serpent handler” and aspired to one day pass the practice and his church, Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name, on to his adult son, Little Cody.

The National Geographic show featured Coots and cast handling all kinds of poisonous snakes — copperheads, rattlers, cottonmouths. The channel’s website shows a picture of Coots, goateed, wearing a fedora. “Even after losing half of his finger to a snake bite and seeing others die from bites during services,” Coots “still believes he must take up serpents and follow the Holiness faith,” the website says.

In February 2013, Coots was given one year of probation for having crossed into Tennessee with venomous snakes. He was previously arrested in 2008 for keeping 74 snakes in his home, according to National Geographic. Tennessee banned snake handling in 1947 after five people were bitten in churches over two years’ time, the channel says on the show site.

On one episode, Coots, who collected snakes, is shown trying to wrest a Western diamondback out of its nook under a rock deep in East Texas. He’s wearing a cowboy hat and a T-shirt that says “The answer to Y2K – JESUS.”

The pastor is helped by his son and a couple of church members.

“He’ll give up, just sooner or later,” one of the members says. “Just be careful. Ease him out.”

The group bags two snakes, which a disappointed Coots says hardly justifies the trip to Texas.

“Catching two snakes the first day, ‘course we’d hoped for more,” Coots says in the video. “We knew that the next day we was gonna have to try to hunt harder and hope for more snakes.”


  • FaithC

    “Bible suggests a poisonous snakebite will not harm believers as long as they are anointed by God.”

    I guess god un-anointed him.

    • Faith is f

      Umm, the Bible doesn’t say that at all, it states that,’they will pick up snakes; if they should drink anything deadly, it will never harm them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will get well.”

      Nothing about anointing anyone…….get it right

      • Renee

        FaithC was quoting the article, not the Bible. The article states “…the ardent Pentecostal believer said that he believed that a passage in the Bible suggests a poisonous snakebite will not harm believers as long as they are anointed by God.”
        That quote came from the 3rd paragraph. Read the article before bashing someone else.

      • dewey

        the bible also says that in the Garden of Eden, doG punished Adam, Eve and the serpent….he’s usually pretty specific in his punishment and he never said anything about Satan, but Christstains equate the serpent with Satan, even though the bible specifically says he wasn’t there…..another one is the rapture….never says the word “rapture”…not to be found in your bible, but there’s a lot of folks waiting on it….Christstains ain’t the smartest people

  • JNJ

    The bible says nothing about hunting after snakes so you can prove you are anointed by God. There is a world of difference between trusting in God when faced with harmful situations and looking for harmful situations to prove God will protect you.

    • FaithC

      I have to agree with you. I am not afraid of snakes, but I am not stupid enough to handle ones that can kill me.

      You know if this man is with god right now, god is saying, “Son, what were you thinking?”

  • (Have-Faith)

    One old preacher dies of a snake bite. Look how many Jim Jones took out with Grape Kool-Aid. Now watch how many our government gets with the Obamadosntcare Health care package.

  • Russell Leonard

    If I was in a church that started handling snakes I would ask them where the back door was. If they said they didn’t have one then I would ask them where would they want one.

  • Alan

    That verse says the “APOSTLE that believes” can survive a snake bite, or poison and raise the dead, and the believing “APOSTLES” went forth and did that to CONFIRM the word (Mark 16:20). The Bible is now confirmed and there is no need for apostles or miracles to prove it. These pentecostals need to leave that man made religion and just study their Bible better!

  • June Scott

    I am a Pentecostal Minister and believe in the Power of The Holy Ghost but God has not told me to pick up an ole rattlesnake in the natural and so I will not. We have to rebuke that ole serpent (the devil) in our daily lives spiritually in the name of Jesus. I have no use for a rattlesnake by any means. If I accidently step on one, I trust God to protect me. These things are deadly! May God bless and help us all in our pilgrimage upon this earth. God loves us!

  • dirk diggler

    The idiot deserved it and anyone that feels any pity for him are just as dumb as he was. Good riddance dipshit.

  • Saundra Nettles

    It’s sad that people misrepresent the Word of God and actually believe that they are correct. There will be many false teachers, prophets and apostles. This error has been going on for a long time. That’s why proper interpretation of scripture is so important. We are not to tempt God with crazy stuff. The power this scripture is speaking of is IF there is need for a miracle from God… Believers, can trust God that a snake bite will not hurt them. Definitely, not trying to be bitten to prove a point. God’s Word has purpose to deliver one who believes when in trouble; not like A MAGIC ACT…PROVEN FATAL.

  • June Scott

    Please read Acts 28:1-6 and you will know how God can protect us from the serpent’s bite. This is completely different than just reaching and picking up the serpent. Ecclesiastes 10:8 tells us, “He that diggeth a pit shall fall into it; and whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him.” Read Numbers 21:5-9. Jesus tells us in John 3:14-15, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Friends, Moses lifted up that brazen serpent on a pole for the people not to die from the ole serpent’s bite and Jesus was lifted up on an ole rugged cross so that we would not perish in hell but live forever with Him in His Kingdom.

    • Alan

      OK – I read Acts 28. This is a comparison of apples and oranges. The preacher was handling a snake in a worship service – as worship of some sort to God. There is NO VERSE asking people to handle snakes as worship to God. Quite frankly, God is smarter than that!

      The other facts you fail to realize is Jesus said that NOT DYING from a snake bite is a benefit of an APOSTLE. In Mk 16:14 – He rebukes the apostles for a lack of BELIEF and then tells them, in vs 17 that these signs will follow the apostles who will BELIEVE in him: tongues, snakes, poison, healing, and demons. The preacher in the story was wrong for several reasons, but mainly because he wasnt promised to live through a snake bite, cause hes not an apostle.

      • Alan

        Yet June Scott, you fail to realize the same verse you agree with that says only apostles had these gifts from God to use also includes the healing of the sick next to the deadly poison and snakebites. NONE of you NON-Apostles have these gifts. If you claim to do the healing (in a worship service –just like the snake preacher – than u can do the deadly poison and snakes, they are all lumped in together as a group. Your theology is inconsistent.

        Before your respond to this- ask yourself – have I ever healed a broken leg instantly, ever put an ear back on a head, or even closed a gaping wound. No – those “miracles” would prove you to be a fake healer. And if you still want to respond, ask yourself why you haven’t went up to the children’s hospital and healed all the kids there. You cant heal and the snake preacher cant get bit and not be hurt – because you people did not receive this gift given to the apostles.

  • June Scott

    In Acts 28:1-6 this was not a worship service. Paul accidently picked up the serpent in the sticks he gathered to put on the fire. Praise God as the others looked on, he did not die from the venon. I pray that if I accidently step on or pick one up in sticks or something by accident that God will protect me. I will never intentionally pick one up in or out of Church. May God bless you all. I do realize that that is their business if they do this. I just ain’t going to do this.

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