Reality star Jamie Coots died last night an apparent poisoning from a venomous snake bite. While the official cause of death will not be made public for a while, police were called out after Coots was bit by one of his many snakes. The reality star had his own show on National Geographic Channel, Snake Salvation. In it Coots handled various types of snakes as part of his church. The pastor believed that a venomous snake bite would not hurt him as long as he believed in God.
Prominent among the small circle of snake-handling pastors in Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee and Alabama, Coots gained recognition as a reality TV star; now that he has died the church may pass on to his son Little Cody.
Coots had survived other bites, including one that cost him the middle finger on his right hand. A firm believer in God, Coots felt that the snake bite was God’s will, was quoted as saying that he would just as soon leave the church as have a doctor look at a bite. With the earlier injury he waited until it rotted black and left the bone exposed before breaking the finger off. It is rumored that he kept it in a jar for his wife.
After the bite last night, Coots refused to go to the hospital or accept medical treatment, according to authorities. The police were called out at first to the church and were told that Coots had returned to his home. When they arrived at the reality stars’ residence Jamie Coots admitted to having a snake bite but still refused medical treatment and died a short time later.
While snake handling has been outlawed in Kentucky since 1940, prosecution is rare because of a reluctance to prosecute someone for their religious beliefs. Occasionally charges are brought though, and Coots was convicted in 2013; he served a year of probation for crossing into Tennessee with venomous snakes. The Tennessee wildlife officials confiscated the snakes. According to National Geographic he was also arrested in 2008 for having 74 venomous snakes in his home.
This is not the first time there has been a fatal snake bite at Coots church. In 1995 Melinda Brown died of a fatal snake bite. Her husband passed away later on at a church in Alabama also because of a snake bite. The followers of Coots church believe in a literal translation of the King James Bible from a verse in Mark 16:17-18 that talks about handling of serpents and drinking poisonous drinks.
According to the Lexington Herald Leader, most mainstream Pentecostal churches do not follow this same doctrine at least not in the strict sense that the snake-handling churches do. Followers of Coots church will point out that their beliefs are not that different from other Christians, they just take a more literal stance than some other churches. Even though there have been other people who died from snake bites at the reality stars church, it is not likely that any legal action will be taken in Jamie Coots death.
By Rachel Woodruff