February 16, 2014

"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 a means to demonstrate their unwavering faith. We were honored to be allowed such unique access to Pastor Jamie and his congregation during the course of our show, and give context to his method of worship. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time."

Dead, now, from a snake bite, here's Pastor Coots in his snake-handling devotion:

76 comments:

Oso Negro said...

I have an unwavering faith in 410 shells for snakes. My faith may not be stronger, but it's power is less hazardous to demonstrate.

David said...


We humans don't know everything.

In fact we know very little as a group and next to nothing as individuals.

Yet skepticism and humility are in chronic short supply.

Explain.


Just made this comment in the Gopnik thread and it seems to work here too.

rhhardin said...

Where is his Orpheus.

rhhardin said...

Cleopatra was bitten in the ass.

Rob said...

Verily, a land animal without legs is an abomination to God.

rhhardin said...

Orfeo Monteverdi

rhhardin said...

One of the finer Sid Caesar moments was an opera skit, where when the woman singer started, leading man Sid, in close embrace, winced at the volume.

n.n said...
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n.n said...

Let us remember the Pastor Dare in his last performance to tempt the Devil.

rhhardin said...

Orpheus gets the bad news (9:24)

Michael said...

See "Salvation on Sand Mountain: Snake Handling and Redemption in Southern Appalachia" by Dennis Covington. A fantastic book on the topic.

Mark 16:17-18:"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"

These little churches are dying out, literally, but I would highly recommend going to YouTube and viewing a service and witnessing the extravagant faith on display.





Inga said...

I would love to know what terrible awful sins he must've committed to be struck down. Why did God forsake him? What must his congregation think?

Michael said...

His congregation will attribute his death by serpent to pride. A guess.

Michael K said...

"I have an unwavering faith in 410 shells for snakes. "

Agreed. single action .44s are good too.

n.n said...
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n.n said...

Michael:

Yes, that's it. Pride is one of the "Seven Deadly Sins" with good cause. He mistakenly presumed a supernatural ability to escape natural consequences. His ego was his undoing.

EDH said...

I Believe

When I was young and full of grace
And spirited a rattlesnake
When I was young and fever fell
My spirit, I will not tell
You're on your honor not to tell

I believe in coyotes and time as an abstract
Explain the change, the difference between
What you want and what you need, there's the key,
Your adventure for today, what do you do
Between the horns of the day?

I believe my shirt is wearing thin
And change is what I believe in

When I was young and give and take
And foolish said my fool awake
When I was young and fever fell
My spirit, I will not tell
You're on your honor, on your honor
Trust in your calling, make sure your calling's true
Think of others, the others think of you
Silly rule golden words make, practice, practice makes perfect,
Perfect is a fault, and fault lines change

I believe my humor's wearing thin
And change is what I believe in
I believe my shirt is wearing thin
And change is what I believe in

When I was young and full of grace
And spirited a rattlesnake
When I was young and fever fell
My spirit, I will not tell
You're on your honor, on your honor
I believe in example
I believe my throat hurts
Example is the checker to the key

I believe my humor's wearing thin
And I believe the poles are shifting

St. George said...

It's just an alternative lifestyle.

So long as children are kept away from the serpents, keep the law out of it.

Right?

Crimso said...

"In fact we know very little as a group and next to nothing as individuals."

I think you may be correct. But contained in the next to nothing I know is to not mess with deadly snakes. What little faith I do have (and in my case it has nothing to do with religion) does not extend to courting death.

Michael said...

n.n. I am not sure the members of the Church of God with Signs Following would agree. They might just shrug off a death as an occupational hazard. I suggested pride as the fall-back explanation for a good man brought down. Old story.

Ann Althouse said...

"I would love to know what terrible awful sins he must've committed to be struck down. Why did God forsake him? What must his congregation think?"

Just offhand, I'm going to guess that they think God reached out to take him into heaven ahead of schedule because of the purity of the faith he demonstrated.

Helenhightops said...

I think Althouse is correct at 7:50. They will think he showed he was not afraid to die for his faith. This is a sad story.

William said...

No one is putting him up for a Darwin Award, and rightfully so. Implacable faith is not a marker of stupidity, but it might just as well be.

David said...

Inga, every time things turn out badly, God has not forsaken you.

ken in sc said...

There are verses in the Bible about this, that poisonous snakes wont hurt you if you have enough faith. There are also verses about loving your neighbor as you love yourself and opening your house to strangers. Guess what? That will get you killed too.

n.n said...

Michael:

I am not familiar with their church, but their faith is markedly different than most people who place it with God. What religious purpose does taming a snake serve? It seems to lack a moral element.

Inga said...
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Inga said...
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n.n said...

ken in sc:

I thought those moral principles only applied within a community of like-minded individuals. Outside that community, you throw the dice. Of course, with the prominence and irregular arrival of apostates, the risk remains elevated. Chaos kills an uncertain faith.

Rusty said...

Helenhightops said...
I think Althouse is correct at 7:50. They will think he showed he was not afraid to die for his faith. This is a sad story.

Oh. Ye of little faith.

Inga said...
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Chris Lopes said...

@Inga
The sin here would be one of stupidity. It's a sin even people who don't believe a divine being tend to get punished for.

Inga said...
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Patrick O said...

refer to comment below about science being represented by their most brilliant while religion is represented by their most ignorant.

It'd be like saying science is kooky because phrenology.

Richard Dolan said...

The line between faith and madness is not always distinct. Imagine a contemporary Abraham tying up his son on a pyre and raising the knife. Genesis offers the story as a paradigm of faith. Yet even there, Abraham and Isaac come down from the mountain separately -- the divine test had some unfortunate but predictable human consequences. A version of that story is reenacted every few years in the Bronx, when a parent feels the Call to sacrifice a child but, alas, no Angel arrives in time to stop the killing.

Faith is a powerful thing, but learning its limits and accepting that its power was intended to have limits often gets lost in the rapture.

Jason said...

Of course Inga doesn't understand. Liberals don't understand the idea of risking everything, even one's own very life, for one's faith and beliefs.

Liberals have no problem whatsoever, however, sacrificing *other* people by the millions.

I'm willing to bet this pastor never forced anyone else to handle snakes against their will or pay a fine.

Libtards are fine with that shit, though.

Inga said...

Inga understands Pentcostals far better than Jason ever could. I grew up in a Pentecostal church Jason. Assemblies of God, the same religion Sarah Palin grew up in, not snake handlers or poison drinkers, but Christian fundamentalists nevertheless. What sacrifice do you think they're making? Last I heard human sacrifice was frowned upon.

Inga said...

And Jason anyone who uses the term Libtard or Rethuglican should be dismissed out of hand. So very ignorant.

mccullough said...

Why would anyone make a tv show out of this? It's death porn.

Christy said...

Local (East Tennessee) tv news spent a long time on this story tonight and included interviews with congregants. His flock is sanguine. God called the pastor home.

Clyde said...

One hopes that not all Serpent-Americans would be held responsible for the actions of a few. Especially when they are just minding their own business and trying to win the league championship. Go Mocs!

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Inga said...

Last I heard human sacrifice was frowned upon.

I suspect that, once they got to know you, they'd be willing to make an exception.

Jason said...

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Inga, ever the idiot, thinks that snake handlers are "fundamentalist." HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA!!!!!!


Thanks for the lecture, though. Really.

Lulz.

Ipso Fatso said...

I think of AGW as the religion and Al Gore as the snake.

Inga said...

Jason, you are quite ignorant. They are about as fundamental as they come. You obviously don't know what the term fundamental means in religious terminology.

Iggy, feel free to drink poison.

Michael said...

Jason: Not sure what your definition of "fundamental" is but you can be sure that these 16:17-18 churches qualify under any normal definition of the term.

The youtube of a student project is worth a look if you are interested in the topic.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6FKvLrDMr0

Jason said...

BZZZT!!! Thanks for playing, but no, you're wrong. "Fundamentalist" does not mean "churches libtards find icky." There is a specific meaning to the term as applied to Christianity.

(A 'youtube of a student project?" Please!)

Fundamentalism as we know it traces is roots back to the publication of a series of tracts entitled, strangely enough, "The Fundamentals, a Testimony" which was first published in 1909.

The Pentecostal movement is a charismatic movement that goes back to 1901...before anyone had heard of "fundamentalism" as we call it today.

See also here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/subdivisions/pentecostal_1.shtml

Note that unlike most libtards, the BBC is able to draw the distinction, too:

Pentecostal churches aren't 'fundamentalist', although they're sometimes described as such.

Pentecostals share with Christian fundamentalists their acceptance of the status of the Bible as the inerrant word of God, but they also accept (which fundamentalists do not) the importance of the believer's direct experience of God through the work of the Holy Spirit.


I haven't yet met the libtard who knew the difference. But that's not surprising. There's quite a bit they don't know - and there's even more that they DO know that just ain't so.




jeff said...

"I would love to know what terrible awful sins he must've committed to be struck down. Why did God forsake him? What must his congregation think?" One could argue that God did not forsake him, that He made sure the ambulance and paramedics arrived in plenty of time to save him, but the pastor didn't approve of God's method. Something he might be trying to defend right now.

Inga said...

Hey Michael, did you know you're a libtard? 'Cause Jason said so, lol. Jason you are an imbecile. Pentecostalism is just sect under the umbrella of fundamentalist religions. You don't even seem to understand your OWN link.

Jason said...

As I pointed out specifically above, dingbat, The Pentecostal movement predates the fundamentalist movement by about a decade.

Holy crap, idiot. The link itself states, explicitly, verbatim, that "Pentecostal churches aren't fundamentalist."

It cannot be spelled out any clearer for you than that.

Jeebus. You're dumb enough to be twins.

Inga said...
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Inga said...

Whoever is stupid enough think Pentecostals are not Fundamentalists are not even worth engaging. They consider THEMSELVES to be Fundamentalists. I spent my first 18 years in a Pentecostal church, dumbass. This is the last time I'm explaining this to you.

"20: Evangelicals and Pentecostals
Most born-again Christians are identified as either Evangelical or Pentecostal Christians. The term evangelist originally referred to the disciples who proclaimed of the "good news" of Christ's teaching (the literal meaning of its Greek root). But by the end of the 2nd century the term was applied to the four authors of the gospel (Anglo-Saxon for "good tidings"), and evangelism to any form of conversion-oriented preaching. During the Protestant Reformation, the title Evangelical reflected Luther's emphasis on returning to the gospel message itself, free of church doctrine. Today, the Lutheran Church in Germany and several Lutheran sects in America have the word Evangelical in their names. But its most common usage developed around the turn of this century in America among conservative fundamentalists within the Methodist, Baptist, Congregational, and Presbyterian churches and Pentecostal and Holiness sects, who emphasized preaching the Bible and personal spiritual experience without the mediation of a clerical class.
Evangelicals, as they call themselves, tend to favor warmth and emotionalism over formality. Although they grew out of the fundamentalist movement, strict fundamentalists make up only a minority fringe of Evangelicalism today (specifically Bob Jones University and the American Council of Christian Churches). In a modern context, the term refers to Protestant religions that conform to the earliest teachings of the New Testament, apart from their interpretation by the Church Fathers and popes. Evangelicals do accept historic the belief in the three Persons of the Trinity. At least 14 kinds of Evangelicalism have been identified in the U.S., from Conservative (including perennial evangelist Billy Graham) to Charismatic (typified by Oral Roberts).
Pentecostalists are fundamentalist Protestants who emphasize being born again in the (Holy) Spirit, often accompanied by speaking in tongues, and healing by laying on of hands. The largest Pentecostalist churches are the Assemblies of God, the Church of God, the Church of God in Christ (the largest black Pentecostal sect), and the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, founded by famed faith-healer Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944), who is also considered the first radio evangelist.
Both Evangelical and Pentecostalist prayer meetings are likely to include hand-clapping, spontaneous prayer and testimony, tongues, faith healing, and upraised arms accompanied by shouts of "Praise the Lord!" When Jerry Falwell took control of the PTL (for Praise the Lord) during the much-publicized scandal in which Jim Bakker was convicted of pocketing millions of dollars in contributions, Bakker's followers objected largely becuase Falwell's dour fundamentalist style did not jibe with Bakker's and his congregation's more emotional, Evangelical one. Many fundamentalist Baptists, who don't believe in tongues, are put off by that kind of exuberance.
The wide-spread success of the Pentecostal and Evangelical sects has led Roman Catholic and mainline Protest churches to accept within their own denominations charismatic movements which foster an emotionally charged atmosphere in the context of otherwise orthodox worship services.

http://www.myss.com/library/religions/christianity/20_evangelicals.asp
 

Inga said...
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Inga said...


Fundamentalism

Now Jason, what do you have to say? Can you say, "Sorry Inga, I am a big dumbas."? I will taunt you with your stupidity every single time I run across you here at Althouse, LOL!

Inga said...

That would be dumbass, with two s's. Just in case you call me a dumbass for my typo.:)

Now Jason I'm waiting for my apology....don't make me wait for long.


You Who, Jason, I'm waiting.......

Jason said...

Dingbat.

You sent me to Caroline Myss's page?!?

Here's the "Daily Message:"

"Second chakra creative energy breaks us out of habitual patterns of behavior, thoughts, and relationships. 2/17/2014"

Seriously? That's what you consider a cite?

BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!

I swear, even Martin Mull couldn't parody you.

Jason said...

Here's a little secret, dingbat: Assertion is not argument.

Inga said...

Ohhhhh Jason.....

Did you happen to read the FUNDAMENTALISM hyperlink I so nicely posted for you? Dummy.

Jason said...

From your other laughable citation:

****While many different groups of Christians and denominations agree with fundamentalists on many issues, the anti-intellectual, anti-social, and reactionary tendencies often found in fundamentalism marks it off as a specific subset of evangelicalism4. ***

You know, it's obvious I had you idiots pegged when I said that libtards think any church they find "icky" is fundamentalist.

Perhaps you might want to rethink your practice of linking to warmed over sophomore term papers as authoritative of anything.

The Pentecostal movement is not a fundamentalist one. It cannot be, because its 1901 genesis in Topeka Kansas predates the publication of even the first of The Fundamentals by most of a decade. All the hate-brained, newage schlock you can find trying to pretend to be authoritative about Christianity while yapping about the "second chakra" and all the libtard-generated college term papers you can find cannot alter that timeline.

Now, I do recognize that proddies are generally pretty loosely organized (except under William of Orange and Cromwell, alas!) and individual congregations can vary. You're also a liberal and by definition not very prone to examining your premises or doing uour homework. But the intellectual history of Christian thought and the timeline is clear, as is the definite charismatic element in the Pentecostal movement: Pentecostalism is very distinct from fundamentalism.

And both your "citations" would be laughed out of any freshman religious studies course term paper.

Inga said...
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Inga said...

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/04/0407_030407_snakehandlers_2.htm

"What is it that inspires these worshipers to handle poisonous snakes? Like other Christian fundamentalists, serpent handlers' beliefs are rooted in a literal interpretation of the scriptures.

"University of Virginia—Serpent Handlers
East Tennessee State University—Religion in Appalachia
Appalachian State University—Snake Handlers

What is it that inspires these worshipers to handle poisonous snakes? Like other Christian fundamentalists, serpent handlers' beliefs are rooted in a literal interpretation of the scriptures.

These activities don't dominate services, but play a limited role within more traditional worship. "In almost all serpent-handling churches, they don't handle them all the time. They usually don't even handle them every Sunday," Burton explained.

Tom Burton, a professor emeritus at East Tennessee State University, has attended many snake-handling services and studied the practice for over 30 years. He's the author of Serpent Handling Believers, an authoritative study of the belief."

Inga said...

http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/arts-culture/snake-handlers

"Christian Snake Handler
churches that practice snake handling in their services have existed in Georgia since the early twentieth century. Most such churches identify themselves as "Church of God with Signs Following." They are primarily Pentecostal congregations, which emphasize an individualistic faith, often characterized by such spiritual practices as evangelism, speaking in tongues, and faith healing. These congregations operate independently, use a variety of specific names, and have no national organization. Throughout their history, snake-handling groups have dotted the landscape of north and south Georgia. The two best known in the state are the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ in Kingston and Wades Chapel in Cartersville.
Snake handlers are essentially fundamentalist Christians who follow a literal interpretation of the Bible. Their key text is the King James Version of Mark 16:17-20, which indicates that Jesus' followers "shall take up serpents" and not suffer harm."

Inga said...
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Inga said...

http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Snake+handling

"Snake handlers. A movement of loosely organised fundamentalist Pentecostal churches, ministers and itinerant preachers, who handle poisonous snakes as part of their weekly ritual and sermons. Snake handling is a ritual based on an interpretation of Mark 16:17-20 and Luke 10:19 in the Bible. George Went Hensley (born circa 1880) began the practice in 1908, and is commonly considered the "father of contemporary serpent handling"; he died in 1955 from a snake bite."

Inga said...

Snake handling Pentacostal Fundamentalists

Inga said...

Sign Followers, Fundamentalist Pentecostal churches

Jason said...

You can get a thousand sources that get it wrong and it doesn't make it so. Just because lots of people can't or don't bothe to discern between the Pentecostal and Fundamentalist movements doesn't mean the difference is not there. I spelled out for you what the difference is and why Pentecostals cannot be considered fundamentalists because Pentecostalism predates the founding documents of fundamentalism.

I don't know what your issue is with Michael. I never called him a libtard. You're a sloppy, slovenly, lazy thinker in many ways.

Jason said...

Did you really cite a medical dictionary?

Dolt.

Inga said...

Snake handlers and Fundamentalism

I'm citing everyone who has proven you wrong, over and over and over again. You are obviously one of those know it alls, who in reality knows nothing. You copy and paste stuff you do not understand even on a basic level, pathetic.

Inga said...
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Inga said...

http://www.sweenytod.com/nuke/modules.php?name=News&file=print&sid=805

For snake handlers, going to church can prove deadly
Date: Tuesday, April 20 @ 20:28:11 MSD
Topic: Christian news

When the Rev. Dwayne Long picked up a rattlesnake in church last Sunday to show his faith in God, he was breaking a Virginia law that makes it a misdemeanor to handle dangerous snakes.

A conviction could have cost him $250.

His convictions, however, cost him his life.

Long, 45, died the next day of a snakebite he suffered during an Easter service at a Lee County church, drawing a media spotlight on the practice of handling poisonous snakes as the ultimate submission to God's will.

Followers of the fundamentalist movement, who usually gather in small, rural churches scattered throughout Appalachia, read literally the words of Mark 16:17-18, which includes the "taking up of serpents" as one of five signs that identify true believers.

So fervent is the belief that Lee County Sheriff Gary Parsons figures a misdemeanor citation and a fine would not deter snake handlers from their faith.

Although statistics are hard to come by, it's estimated that between 70 and 80 people have died from snakebites suffered during a church service since the practice began in the early 1900s, according to Leonard, dean of the divinity school at Wake Forest University, who has researched and written about snake handling in Appalachia.

The practice has Pentecostal origins and can also involve drinking poison and speaking in tongues. It's believed to have about 2,000 followers - although that number, too, is only an estimate.

As the sheriff fielded calls from local newspapers and The New York Times last week, and as the news of Long's death was carried across the country and as far away as Canada and Britain, some researchers who have spent time with the snake handlers say the sensational nature of such incidents often leads to unfair stereotypes.

"These people are not just religious fanatics; they're not strange people," said Thomas Burton, a professor emeritus of English at East Tennessee State University and the author of the book, "Serpent Handling Believers."

"They're members of the Holiness Pentecostal faith, and they are religious fundamentalists who believe the Bible is the inspired word of God that should be taken literally."

One such tenet, from the book of Mark, quotes Jesus speaking to his disciples before he ascends to heaven: "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."

By handling poisonous snakes during their often-frenzied religious services, "they believe they're verifying the word of God for the rest of us," Leonard said. "They're saying that if it's not possible to take up serpents, then maybe it's not possible that Jesus rose from the dead."


Inga said...
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Inga said...

Penetcostalism, a branch of Fundamentalism

So Jason thinks he knows better than all these scholars.

Inga said...

Yet more on Fundamentalism and Penetcostals.

Jason said...

Inga,

You lying idiot. You misrepresented a source. You used link text reading "Pentecostalism, a Branch of Fundamentalism" but that is entirely your own invention and in fact your link says nothing of the sort. I went through the entire chapter on Pentacostal/Charismatic religions in America and the term "fundamentalism" only appears once - and only says that the Pentacostals are "widely perceived as" being fundamentalist.

Of course that's true. That's because libtards think any church they find "icky" is a fundamentalist church because they, like you, can't be bothered to be accurate.

Your other source is not definitive in any way, nor written by any kind of scholar.

And sweenytod.com? Really? Do you know anything about this guy or where he got the story? No. You don't.

Your knowledge is only Google-deep. You say you spent 18 years in a Pentacostal church, but that doesn't mean you know what fundamentalism is anymore than a fish knows what's above the surface of the water. It's clear you weren't paying much attention to the history of your own church.

If you want to claim that Pentecostals and the snake-handlers, especially, are part of the fundamentalist movement, you are going to have to demonstrate some grasp of the definition of fundamentalism (you haven't so far) and its origins, and specifically grapple with the fact that the Pentecostal movement dates back prior to the very existence of the founding documents of the fundamentalist movement.

Neither you, nor any of your shitty "sources" has made any effort to do so.

I didn't bring it it up because the chronology of events alone falsifies your position that the Pentecostal movement is a fundamentalist sect, but there's also the issue of cessationism - very much adhered to by Pentecostals (and still is to this day) but rejected by fundamentalists. (cf. the Great Debate between cessationism and continuationism, about which volumes has been written.

No, I'm not a 'know-it-all." It only seems that way because you're stupid.

You really spent 18 years in a Pentecostal church and weren't aware that fundamentalism was at odds with the continuationist beliefs of Pentecostalism? You weren't paying much attention, then.

And your sources. Really, you got through college with this kind of source discernment? You should demand your money back.

Jason said...

Inga,

Did you really cite, as a source in a detailed theological discussion, a general assignment editor at Southern Exposure Magazine?

www.southernexposuremagazine.com

Why don't you check with a grown-up before you do these things?