Tag archives for Snake Salvation

National Geographic joins his family, friends and community in mourning the loss of Pastor Jamie Coots. In following Pastor Coots for our series Snake Salvation, we were constantly struck by his devout religious convictions despite the health and legal peril he often faced. Those risks were always worth it to him and his congregants as…

“I like the spirit movin’, but I don’t like them snakes movin’.” – Ricky Skaggs Snake Salvation Pastor Andrew Hamblin was fast-tracked to become a bluegrass superstar when he was younger, but gave up his musical dreams to become a preacher and handle snakes. Playing bluegrass music is a forbidden practice in Hamblin’s Holiness faith.…

Law-Breaking Snakes

Inspired by Snake Salvation to start wrangling poisonous serpents? Newsflash – the practice of “handling reptiles in a dangerous way” has been illegal for over 60 years. After five churchgoers died from snakebites in church in 1947, snake handling was banned in every Appalachian state except West Virginia. But Snake Salvation Pastors Jamie Coots and…

Tonight on Snake Salvation, disaster strikes when Pastor Jamie’s father Greg Coots is bitten by the copperhead he handles in church. Greg, a bishop of the Holiness faith, has endured three snake bites before. And at age 61 with an enlarged heart, refusing to get treatment for the copperhead bite could mean death. Copperheads aren’t…

Anatomy of a Snakebite

“I handle snakes because I wanna go to heaven. When the death angel comes it’s time to go, and I don’t believe you can rush it.” – Little Cody Coots When a cottonmouth bites Little Cody Coots, he’s hit with excruciating pain and numbness. And when he tries to go snake hunting on Louisiana’s Laddo…

With winter fast approaching the heart of Appalachia, Pastor Andrew Hamblin and Pastor Jamie Coots are in a desperate race against time: if the pastors can’t find and capture venomous snakes before the serpents go into hibernation, they won’t be able to practice a key sign of what they believe are the true believers of…

Imagine if your path into heaven was contingent on holding deadly snakes above your head while speaking and singing in tongues. Based on a Bible passage that suggests a poisonous snakebite will do no harm as long as its handler is anointed by God’s power, some devotees of this unconventional ritual practiced in 100 churches…