The Dead Snake Handler and the Dead Poet’s Society
On February 15, Jamie Coots, pastor of Full Gospel Tabernacle in Middlesboro, Kentucky, and co-star of National Geographic’s reality show Snake Salvation, died from a snakebite to the hand. Christianity Today has the story. It was his ninth bite in twenty years. The previous eight made him very ill. Once he even lost a finger.
Snake handling as a form of worship is practiced by a small number of churches mostly in the rural southeastern United States. It started 100 years ago with an illiterate Pentecostal preacher in Tennessee who interpreted Mark 16:18 as a commandment from God.
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. (Mark 16:18, KJV)
Coots had stated that he viewed this commandment on the same level as the Ten Commandments.
Besides the fact…