“Snake Salvation” Preacher/Reality TV Star Dies From Snake Bite

Pentacostal preacher and former reality TV star Jamie Coots died from a snake bite after refusing medical treatment. Coots, who was one two snake handling pastors in the National Geographic (NatGeo) Channel series Snake Salvation which followed the antics religious practices of Coots and Andrew Hamblin. Coots’ grandfather founded Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name; Hamblin is former member of the Coots’ congregation who launched his own struggling church.

Nearly a year ago Coots plead guilty to violating exotic animal laws for keeping vipers. While  Kentucky outlawed snake handling in churches in 1940, judges are reluctant to prosecute practioners of this sect of Christianity, who also believe in laying on of hands to heal the sick, speaking in tongues, casting out of demons, and that

if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them.

The latter belief explains moonshine and Oxycontin addiction.

It was not reported what type of poisonous snake killed Coots. He lost a finger to a rattlesnake bite in 1998 after refusing treatment, saying

It’s a victory to God’s people that the Lord seen fit to bring me through it.

However, one of Coot’s parishioners was not so blessed. In 1995, Melinda Brown died from a rattlesnake bite after being bitten while snakehandling during a service. After her death, police considered prosecuting Coots under the Kentucky law, but a judge ruled against moving forward. Because, freedom of religion.  (So then why do some people get upset about other faiths’ religion practices?)

Sadly for Pastor Coots,  God may have been channeling Shakespeare yesterday:

How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child!

Or God may  just have taken the day off. Like it says in the Bible.

Snake Salvation aired for one season last year. It was not renewed, but excerpts are available on YouTube. NatGeo issued the following statement, but did not disclose if they will air reruns of the reality series.

In following Pastor Coots for our series ‘Snake Salvation,’ we were constantly struck by his devout religious convictions despite the health and legal peril he often faced. Those risks were always worth it to him and his congregants as a means to demonstrate their unwavering faith. We were honored to be allowed such unique access to Pastor Jamie and his congregation during the course of our show, and give context to his method of worship.  Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.

I wonder if the mallards will now turn on Duck Dynasty‘s Phil Robertson.

Screenshot, Snake Salvation trailer

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Lisa Derrick

Lisa Derrick

Los Angeles native, attended UC Berkeley and Loyola Marymount University before punk rock and logophilia overtook her life. Worked as nightclub columnist, pop culture journalist and was a Hollywood housewife before writing for and editing Sacred History Magazine. Then she discovered the thrill of politics. She also appears frequently on the Dave Fanning Show, one of Ireland's most popular radio broadcasts.