Faith in snake claims life of Pentecostal pastor


coots1The word faith is often used as a conceptual synonym for hope, trust, or belief.

Almost always we associate faith with religion – its doctrines or teachings of the God we worship – seeking a greater understanding of Him and how man can attain salvation.

For those who have this kind of religious faith, I don’t see any hazards of them practicing it.

The same cannot be said, however, of the members of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name church in Middlesboro, K.Y., used to be headed by their Pentecostal pastor Jamie Coots, which practices the handling of deadly snakes in church as their way of worshiping and attaining salvation.

Coots handling venomous snake during church service.

Coots handling venomous snake during church service.

After years of handling venomous snakes and even experiencing excruciating bites before, Coots finally succumb after being bitten by a rattlesnake during a church service.

Family members of Coots, 42, refused medical treatment for him. He was pronounced dead about two hours after the rattler sank its fangs into his right hand.

Snake-handling, which is illegal in most places, is practiced as a test of faith and guided by the theory that true believers will not be harmed.

Snake handlers, who follow a literal interpretation of the King James Bible, base their belief on Mark 16: 17-18, which reads: “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.”

Snake handlers believe they are obeying a biblical command in picking up snakes.

Coots appeared in a National Geographic television show titled “Snake Salvation” about Pentecostal preachers who defy the law to use serpents as part of their religious services.

Having faith in Divine Authority for salvation sake is a worthwhile practice, but faith in “snake salvation” – that I find idiotic.


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