After Snake Handler Dies from Poisonous Bite, Mourners Go to Church...and Handle Snakes

Dan Joseph
By Dan Joseph | February 27, 2014 | 11:44 AM EST

If your church's leader has been killed by a poisonous snake he handled, what's the best way for his followers to celebrate his life?  By handling some poisonous snakes, of course.

Days after Jamie Coots, pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name church died from being bitten by a poisonous snake, his followers returned to his church after his funeral and continued their tradition.

The theory is that God will protect the snake handlers from being bitten if their faith is strong enough.  While it may appear that Coots made an error in his calculations, his son said that dying this way was what he had planned all along.

"How many people can pray that that's how they wanted to die and got exactly what they prayed for? Not Many," said Cody Coots.  "His next request was 'when you come to my funeral, pack my snakes, and handle them over my corpse.'"

So, that's exactly what pastor Coot's flock of serpent-juggling, hillbillies did.  
The practice of snake handling for Jesus comes from an interpretation of a passage in the Gospel of Mark which says "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover."

Coot's church also spoke in tongues but there is no evidence that any of its parishioners drank poison.