Jamie Coots was a man of devout faith who believed, as part of his worship experience, that he was called to handle poisonous snakes. As crazy as it sounds, snake-handling is an old Appalachian tradition that was born from the hard scrabble and fatalistic lives of the coal miners of the mountains.
Every day, coal miners worked in dank, dark, and dirty conditions where death was an ever-present reality. Living in company houses, working for ‘fake money’ that could only be used in the company store, and a continuous cycle of coal-grimed poverty was the powerless lives of the many of the first snake handlers.
Is it any surprise that they adapted their faith to a practice that helped them feel in control and full of the supernatural power of God?
Coots was well aware he had been handling poisonous and deadly snakes. He had already lost a finger to a previous bite. Yet, on the day he died, he picked up the snakes and risked everything again and when bit, went home to his couch instead of a hospital.
Does this mean Satan won? I don’t think so. But to Jamie Coots, the devil was certainly real, and something that should not be heeded, even to the pain of death.
Read more about the life and death of Jamie Coots below.
By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor
(CNN) — In the close-knit town of Middlesboro, Kentucky, almost everyone knew what was happening inside the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name Church — including Police Chief Jeff Sharpe.
Despite a Kentucky law that prohibits snake-handling at religious events, Sharpe said he “made a decision not to involve this police department in somebody’s church service.”
“I’m not going to tell you that I didn’t know what was going on. This is a small town,” Sharpe said. “But we’re not going to bust into anybody’s church on Sunday morning.”
The trouble at Full Gospel Tabernacle began on Saturday night, when Pastor Jamie Coots, whose serpent-handling religious rituals made him a reality TV star, died after a rattlesnake sunk its fangs into his right hand.
Coots was a third-generation serpent handler and aspired to one day pass the practice, and his church, on to…
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