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Snake Salvation Pastor Dies from Rattlesnake Bite during Worship Service

Reality TV star refused hospital treatment as ‘totally against his religion.’
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After sustaining numerous snake bites over the years, a prominent serpent-handling minister and co-star of Snake Salvation died Saturday night after a rattlesnake bit him during a Kentucky church service.

Jamie Coots, 42, died two hours later in ...

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Displaying 1–35 of 35 comments

Doranna Cooper

February 28, 2014  10:45pm

Many "religions" are started because someone took a phrase in the Bible out of context. I have family who are missionaries in areas that have weird fevers and malaria. If they become bitten and ill they certainly don't sit down and wait for Gd to heal, they seek the best medical treatment available, in other words they use common sense. God doesn't expect us to act stupid over a phrase in the Bible. I remember a professor at BIOLA say that many churches/religions got their start from misinterpreting the Old King James.

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Rick Dalbey

February 24, 2014  1:35pm

Van, I'll never give up my snakes. You'll have to pry them from my cold dead hands. Of course, being from the theologically liberal wing of the church, I prefer garter snakes....Just kidding. The rest of the church? Like all six of them. These folks are so far beyond the pale. The founder believed you weren't saved unless you could dance around and do the Hokey Pokey with a rattler. George Went Hensley (1880–1955) introduced snake handling practices into the Church of God Holiness in 1910. Winters are long in Appalacia and you have to think of something to do to stay entertained. He later resigned his ministry and started the first holiness movement church to REQUIRE snake handling as evidence of salvation. Is that not heresy? Should he even be considered part of the church? Hensley died of...a snake bite in 1955. Death by snake bite has never stopped these folks.

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Van PastorMan

February 24, 2014  11:37am

The best thing to come from this death is for the rest of this church to abandon this idiotic practice. Even in the Christian world you just can't fix stupid. Sure I sound harsh,but think about what this man was doing. He was playing with fire. Snakes are poisonous!!!!!! Helllllllllooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!

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audrey ruth

February 22, 2014  2:13pm

Wow, David, it sounds like you fall on the 'pride' side, judging everybody else here. Do you really think it is not possible for believers to be genuinely sad for these guys, and wish they could read those verses without seeing an implied commandment there for believers to do life-threatening things? Sheila, I missed that show (the woman handling a snake) - as I said, I only watched one or two. The National Geographic channel is definitely jumping on this story; they had a program on the air this past week which focused on this guy, and had a "memoriam" at the end. I watched part of it, enough to realize that the woman I mentioned earlier (who threatened to leave her hub if he didn't quit handling snakes because she was afraid he would die) is not this guy's wife. His wife was featured on this past week's show (an interview from an earlier show) backing him up and saying she was proud of him. I wonder if she still feels that way now.

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audrey ruth

February 22, 2014  12:54pm

ITA with what Rick said about Paul's experience. I have often thought that his experience on Malta gives insight on the scripture passage in Mark, which does NOT command believers to do life-endangering things on purpose (handling snakes or drinking poison.) As someone else here said, Jesus said we are not to test the Lord our God - He said this when the devil told Him to jump off a cliff, quoting an OT verse out of context in the process. It is very revealing that the devil did not quote the next verse.

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David Lloyd-Jones

February 22, 2014  12:21am

This is a horrible event. It makes us all guilty of sin: Half of us for laughing at the dumb bunny's misfortune; the other half for pride, congratulating ourselves for not laughing. -dlj.

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Sheila Warner

February 21, 2014  9:42pm

First of all, video I saw had a woman handling a snake. Secondly, I agree with the comment on the irresponsibility of National Geographic of putting this show on the air. It was, in effect, promoting a dangerous practice. Finally, I agree that it is a mistranslation of the Bible that cost this man his life. We are to rightly divide the Word of Truth, not take a passage or two out of the context of the larger point being made. Why do Christians cooperate with secular media, as in Duck Dynasty, in the first place? Do they really think that they are somehow promoting Christ and the Gospel? Look at how the network which carries DD turn on Roberson so quickly. It only relented because the customers wanted it so badly, and that means more PROFIT for the network. We cannot serve God and mammon.

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Chuck Maglaughlin

February 21, 2014  8:53pm

@ Rick Dalbey, These were idioms. They were a well known part of the East's culture and language for thousands of years. Paul's experience with a snake had nothing do with the snake handler verse. Better not sail too far out or you might not be able to row back.

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Bret Hammond

February 21, 2014  7:43pm

You've got to admit though, he died doing what he loved. I mean, right up until that point when he was bitten and then killed by that snake.

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Rick Dalbey

February 21, 2014  6:31pm

Charles what makes you think this promise was an idiom rather than a promise of protection for the preacher of the gospel? Paul literally was bitten by a poisonous snake and shook it off into the fire. I'll bet he was glad for the promises in Psalms 91, Mark 16 and the healing from snakebite in Numbers 21. Mark 16 is very much like Psalm 91 where the believer is given a promise of protection from the plague and from cobra bite. Satan tried to tempt Jesus to employ Psalms 91 and leap off the roof because it promises angels will protect you. Jesus did not laugh and say, that's an idiom Satan. He said we were not to presumptuously test God. These are promises of protection for Gospel workers in primitive lands, not invitations to test God. Nor are they idioms.

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Charles Maglaughlin

February 21, 2014  4:31pm

“Piece of cake” – when someone says that the assignment they just finished was a "piece of cake", it does not mean that their professor gave them a red velvet cupcake for their midterm paper! What “piece of cake” actually means is that something is very easy to complete. "Handling serpents” is an Aramaic idiom. An idiom is a word or phrase that is NOT to be taken literally! Jesus spoke Aramaic. In the East, an enemy is called a “serpent or snake” because he acts slyly. Moses handled a serpent, Pharaoh, by his tail; that is, he triumphed over him. Jesus' disciples understood what He was telling them. Neither Jesus nor His disciples had ever tried to handle a snake or drink deadly poison. Had they done so, they would have sinned by tempting God. “Drinking any deadly thing, or poison” means attacks against one’s character. Idioms are present throughout scripture. King James Bible translators had no clue about Aramaic or idioms. Thus, you have ignorant backwoodsmen bringing shame and dishonor upon Christ and His Holy infallible(when translated properly) Word! Some western scholars have even gone as far as deleting a number of verses from this chapter, stating that “Jesus would not have encouraged his followers to handle deadly snakes or to drink poison.” No wonder atheists have a “field day”(idiom)with mistranslated scripture.

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audrey ruth

February 20, 2014  12:38am

I watched an episode or two of this show, and IMHO it is very irresponsible of National Geographic to even have it on the air. Nobody kept the snakes cold in any way. I saw this guy on the show. He was bitten twice before, suffered horribly, but survived. Eventually a venomous snake ended his life. Michael, I think the scripture you quoted about a SOUND MIND is very appropriate to this topic. Rick, ITA with what you said about Paul's experience. I have often thought that his experience on Malta explained the scripture passage in Mark, which does NOT command believers to do such things on purpose (handling snakes or drinking poison.) Yes, there ARE women in these churches - they just stay far away from the snakes (they're definitely wiser than the guys), and one of the wives on the show threatened to leave her hub if he didn't quit it, because she was so worried about him dying. Come to think of it, it might have been this guy. Unbelievable. And unbelievably sad.

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Rick Dalbey

February 19, 2014  1:13pm

Gee, where's all the women in this church? I thought Church was a good place to meet girls. I wonder if the Liberal Snake Handler Churches play with garter snakes?

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Rick Dalbey

February 18, 2014  9:58pm

I would actually freeze them. For a month or two. Rock hard. I've also actually heard of some of these guys in Appalachia who drink concoctions with strychnine it. There's a discipleship program for ya.

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albright39 .

February 18, 2014  8:01pm

Based on the research that I have done many snake handlers refrigerate the snakes or keep them cold so that they are more docile.

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Rick Dalbey

February 18, 2014  5:08pm

The promises of protection in Mark 16 are given to missionaries and evangelists who spread across the world preaching the gospel. It was very fortunate Paul had those promises. When he was shipwrecked on the Island of Malta he was bitten by a very poisonous serpent. He simply shook it off into the fire. Afterwards he began to lay hands on the sick starting with the Governor of the Island, Publius "all the other sick people on the island came and were healed." The promises of Mark 16 seem very much like the promises of Psalm 91. "For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. You will trample upon lions and cobras; you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!" Notice the serpents here. Satan tempted Jesus and quoted this promise. Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’ We should never purposely put ourselves in harm's way to test God.

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Bob Bobo

February 18, 2014  12:53pm

I'm not doubting this brother went to heaven. After all, its all about grace. But, his actions is what most non beleivers look at and say "you chrstians are crazy". There is alot of bad theology out there like the "health & Wealth", crowd, and so on. The difference with this one is people die............and they still do it. God help us.

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albright39 .

February 18, 2014  11:51am

My revised, corrected and updated 2nd edition comment "Bad theology kills. An all of this based on a addendum to the Gospel of Mark that very well might Not have been a part of the original text.

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MICHAEL

February 18, 2014  9:25am

im with Jason, wjhere the poison drinkers at ? okay then. God gave us a a spirit of love power and a SOUND MIND. playing with venomous snakes is not using a sound mind. prayers for them.

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JAMES M DORTON JR

February 18, 2014  5:53am

http://www.gotquestions.org/snake-handling.html

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Ronald Windham

February 17, 2014  7:33pm

I'm with Indiana Jones on this one, "Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?"

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Wit D

February 17, 2014  7:18pm

Rick:> thanks for your reply. I think it is more than " someone some where," faking tongues.... It is not up to me to find out anything. It is up to me to search the scriptures and rightly divide the world of truth and apply it to this issue and any other issue of false and faulty doctrine. Blessings to you....

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Rick Dalbey

February 17, 2014  6:54pm

Wit; I don't fake speaking in tongues. I've been praying in tongues daily for 42 years. As Paul said "For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also." That is something I do as well. I doubt the editor of Christianity Today is faking it. I know my 86 year old father and 83 year old Mother certainly aren't faking it. I know Paul wasn't faking it. Or the 12 Ephesian men in Acts 19, or the 120 disciples at Pentecost, or the Household or Cornelius. Forget Mark 16 if you'd like. Forget that Paul said to "Forbid not speaking in tongues." I doubt that everyone in the Assembly of God denomination is faking it. Or Everyone in the Foursquare denomination or everyone in Calvary Chapel, or everyone in the Vineyard. But you're right. Someone, somewhere is probably faking it and its up to you to find out who.

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Wit D

February 17, 2014  6:25pm

Rick :> are you suggesting that because you and the editor and millions speak in tongues that people don't fake the gift of speaking in tongues ? Please understand, it is part of the faulty exegesis of Mark 16 which this pastor have taken a step further...

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Rick Dalbey

February 17, 2014  6:24pm

JG, is anyone arguing about the practice itself? Do we have any snake charmers in the audience? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? And what are you calling adjacent practices? There's a great way to cast aspersions! Gee willikers.

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J G

February 17, 2014  6:08pm

Jeepers, guys. First let's mourn the premature and unnecessary passing of a brother. Then let's regret the misguided doctrine on display, and how it brings disrepute on the gospel of Jesus. OK, NOW you can all argue about the practice itself, the adjacent practices, and the validity of the last verses of Mark. Go!

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Rick Dalbey

February 17, 2014  4:06pm

I agree albright, it "very well might have been a part of the original text."

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albright39 .

February 17, 2014  3:57pm

Bad theology kills. An all of this based on a addendum to the Gospel of Mark that very well might have been a part of the original text.

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Ken Anderson

February 17, 2014  3:09pm

Clearly a wrong title on the email. "Pastor Dies During Worship Service"

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Will A

February 17, 2014  2:49pm

This death was from both ignorance in general & ignorance of the Bible as a whole.You have to take any one verse in the Bible & see if it's consistent with what the entire Bible says. Haven't these snake handlers ever noticed the following verses in the Gospel of Luke? 9 The devil led him(Jesus) to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; 11 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[d]” 12 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’[e]” This text, plus the fact that the verses of the Bible sited by snake handlers to support their practice aren't found in the oldest known manuscripts of scripture should be ample evidence that these folks have some severe flaws in their theology.What a waste!

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Rick Dalbey

February 17, 2014  2:46pm

Those promises were in case of danger while in the service of ministry, not random invitations to tempt God. A deadly serpent bit Paul after he was shipwrecked on an island. He shook it off into the fire and did not die. He took advantage of a promise of God and continued to preach the gospel. The same with the school of the prophets in Elijah's day. They accidentally began eating stew with poison gourds in it. God answered prayer and these young seminarians survived! And Wit, don't lump in speaking in tongues with the one mention of protection from accidental snakebite. Paul said "I thank God that I speak in tongues more than you all." Speaking in tongues is thoroughly dealt with in the New Testament and was ubiquitous for all believers of the time. Mark Galli, editor of Christianity Today, speaks in tongues as do I and millions of devoted evangelical Christians and most international Christians today.

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Wit D

February 17, 2014  2:38pm

This is part of the bad theology and false doctrine presented by "many" in the pentecostal and charismatic churches concerning ; speaking in tongues; healing, and now picking up serpents; I have not heard about any pastor drinking poison.... If only speaking in tongues can bite, many will stop faking it.... until then they will continue to misuse and abuse the holy scriptures. [Mark 16 v17]. May his soul find rest in our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Roger Morris

February 17, 2014  1:53pm

More stupidity from American Evangelicalism. A fine example of leaving one's brain at the front door of the church.

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D. McDonald

February 17, 2014  12:05pm

Well said Jason Whittington! This story is just a good example of the pitfalls of having a bad theology.

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Jason Whittington

February 17, 2014  11:47am

The same Bible that says, "they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them", also says, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." By the way, where are the poison drinkers?

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