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'Snake Salvation' pastor dies, National Geographic issues statement

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The short lived series “Snake Salvation” was highly criticized while on the air. Following the lives of a group of people who took the scripture verse Mark 16:17-18 quite literally, the show chronicled their worship services which included the handling of poisonous snakes. In the past, Pastor Jamie Coots had been bitten by rattlesnakes, only losing a middle finger due to the bites. However, the pastor was bitten by a rattlesnake on Feb. 15 and passed away that night according to a Feb. 16 report.

A timber rattlesnake bit Pastor Jamie Coots’ near his right thumb on Saturday night around 8:30pm. According to the Pastor’s son, Cody Coots, Jamie Coots was handling not one, but three snakes when the fatal bite occurred. Immediately after the bite, Coots became ill, throwing up and complaining that his face felt life it was “on fire.” Despite his condition, he drove himself back to his home.

An ambulance arrived at his home and medical workers tried to convince the pastor to seek medical attention.
His son explained, “He always said, 'Don't take me to the doctor' if he was bitten. It was totally against his religion."

Due to his religious beliefs, a form declining medical treatment was signed by his wife, Linda. An hour after the emergency medical crew left, Jamie Coots was pronounced dead by a coroner.

As mentioned earlier, this was not the first time that Jamie Coots had been bitten by a snake and he had suffered fatal bites in the past. However, he survived them all without medical treatment. He suffered a serious bite in 1998 that caused his arm to swell and blister. He survived that bite (along with others), but in this instance, only lost his middle finger.

“Snake Salvation” ran for one season on The National Geographic Channel. After that one season, the network revealed they would not film a second season. Although the people who watched the show probably weren’t looking to start taking up serpents themselves, they found the show intriguing, different, and educational.

In light of Jamie Coots passing, The National Geographic Channel has said that they will air a special tribute episode in honor of the “Snake Salvation” star in the future.

A statement released by the network read:
“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 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.”

Mark 16: 17-18 reads, “ 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.”

It is this scripture that Pastor Jamie Coots and those at his church follow.

Even those who did not agree with his way of worshiping, this is tragic news. It is apparent that Pastor Jamie Coots was dedicated to his faith and it is sad to hear that he has passed away.


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