“They shall speak with new tongues, they shall cast out devils, and they shall take up serpents.” According to television interviews, these famous words from the Good Book meant much more than just the law as preached. To Pastor Jamie Coots…It was the law as practiced! However they will be heard no more from the man who feared none but God, because Jamie Coots has taken his last snakebite.
Middlesboro, KY is where this story of what some would call “crazy religion” takes place. The Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name is the church where members come to watch deadly, venomous snakes slither through the hands of their pastor who they claim is doing what is chosen of him by the Lord All Mighty himself. Coots had explained in earlier interviews that handling snakes is not something practiced by everyone in the church, in fact he went on to say that only those who were called on by God were allowed to do it.
Coots told reporters he had been bitten by snakes several times and has refused medical treatment. Once the pastor was bitten on the hand and as a result of his refusal to see a doctor, his finger rotted to the point where it basically just “fell off,” said Coots. According to reporters he saved the finger in a jar for his wife. When he was asked about whether he was concerned about dying from an untreated wound, he said “I believe when it’s my time, there aint a doctor in this world that could save me.”
Linda Coots the wife of the preacher is also risk taker of sorts, as she can be seen on video holding burning flames against her face as another part of their religious practice. She can be quoted as saying, “this is a dangerous religion, and this is a deadly religion.” She goes on to say “we have seen brothers and sisters that we love very dearly die from serpent bites.” “It’s not something you play with,” she adds.
There are many recorded videos on the internet of him and others engaging in this “unconventional” form of death defying worship. Pastor Andrew Hamblin is one of them. Hamblin describes the feeling of handling these creatures as “The hair on your head, it just stands on end,” adding “It’s a powerful thing.” Experts agree with Hamblin as far as it being a “powerful thing” since a bite from one of these creatures can deliver a man “right back to his maker,” as professionals have noted. Viewers, followers and loved ones of Pastor Coots had to bear witness to that very fact on Saturday as they say good-bye to their leader. Experts in the past have also spoken not only of the potential danger to the snake handler, but also expressing concern for the snakes used in the religious practice as well, and that they may be suffering from trauma themselves, citing the loud music, dancing and overall high energy inside the church. Whether or not this is the case, one serpent has responded in no uncertain terms, and Pastor Jaimie Coots has finally taken his last snakebite.
By Aaron Thompson