Snakes Don’t Listen to Jesus

jamie-coots-pastorWe’ve talked about this a bit on the podcast, but it should come as no surprise that one of the people involved in the Snake Salvation reality show has been killed handling venomous snakes.

Pastor Jamie Coots of Kentucky’s Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name, was killed when the snake that he was handling bit him.  Coots refused medical treatment, convinced that God would save him.  He was wrong.

Jamie Coots last wish was that his parishioners, what few of them there actually are, would take his snakes and handle them over his coffin and some even considered it.  “I knew people were wanting to do church and we couldn’t do that in the funeral home because that would be breaking the law,” said his son, Cody. “I didn’t want to disrespect the funeral home by saying ‘hey, we’re wanting to have snakes here’.”

Of course, this doesn’t stop any of these crazies from continuing their idiotic practices.  Son Cody Coots has taken over the church and says he will continue to handle snakes as his father did.  Maybe he’ll end up dead, just like dear old dad.

Now I know this is the deep south, where people aren’t that bright and religion is the norm, but I can never understand why the authorities refuse to enforce the law on these people.  Owning venomous snakes is a crime. The snakes at both Coots’ and his Snake Salvation co-star Pastor Andrew Hamblin from Tabernacle Church of God in LaFollette, TN, have been confiscated many times and they just go catch more.  A judge in 1995 refused to allow Coots to be prosecuted for his practices because he decided that no one should be prosecuted for their religious faith.  People have died in their churches before, in fact the judge’s ruling came in response to the 1995 death of Melinda Brown, 28, of Parrotsville, TN, who was killed following a bite from a large rattlesnake in Coots’ church.  I guess religion means more than life to these people and it’s sad.

Ah well, here’s hoping for a lot more snakebites, I guess that’s one way to weed out the religious idiots.  One thing nobody is saying is that apparently, Mark 16:15-18 isn’t true or Jamie Coots wasn’t worthy.  Maybe the church ought to try chugging a big bottle of poison too, see how that works out for them?  I’d pay to see the carnage.

17 thoughts on “Snakes Don’t Listen to Jesus

  1. He was wrong, he quit church because he did not go to the doctor.

    When I watched the clip, I was amazed at how dumb these people were. Handling a rattle snake not holding its head in a way that it cannot bite is pure stupidity. The government should really do something more abut this and stop pandering to the religious right.
    My recent post Biblically literal or metaphorical?

      1. Unfortunately, there's incalculable damage they can do before they manage to take themselves out. I'd much rather hasten their departure, or at the very least, convince them how absurd their religious beliefs are before they're able to cause that damage.

          1. Anything worthwhile is. We can either work to change their minds or work to change the minds of society about the validity and worth of their beliefs. If we're left with a relative few religious crazies that nobody takes seriously, we're still winning the war.

          2. We can work to change their mainds but when you are raised into a belief system and taught not to question it it is an uphill battle. However more and more free thinkers are tired of hiding their beliefs from christians in this country and are speaking out

  2. "Now I know this is the deep south, where people aren’t that bright…"

    Holy Shit! What is with the stupid-ass stereotype. I'm sure there are not-so-bright people in the deep south, just as there are some not-so-bright people right here in the midwest where I live and in other regions of the country, including yours wherever that might be. Likewise, I'm sure there are many bright people in the deep south, some I have no doubt who are brighter than either you or I. You are one incredibly insensitive individual. But then given the many demeaning and insulting terms and phrases I've read in your other posts, I should not be surprised that you don't appear to care too much about those who live outside your circle.

    "Owning venomous snakes is a crime."

    This is not true in every state. West Virginia, Wisconsin, and South Carolina for example have no statute prohibiting the handling or ownership of a venomous snakes. One reason some state and local authorities don't enforce laws banning the possession of these snakes concerns the issue of religious liberty. It is argued by some that to prohibit preachers from this practice is an infringement of their rights under the religion clause of the First Amendment. By the way pastor Andrew Hamblin was charged under Tennessee law but the grand jury chose not to indict him (http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116223/snake-handling-pastors-acquitted-due-religious-freedom).

    I agree that the practice is foolish. However, I think stronger grounds than this are needed to prohibit their use in religious services. The Tennessee Supreme Court upheld that states ban in the 1970s. But I don't think there has been a SCOTUS decision that would apply nationwide. As an aside, when a minister dies from a snake bite while engaging in this foolish practice I think it qualifies them for a Darwin Award or at least an honorable mention.

      1. We've known that for a long time, there have been studies going back to the 1930s and beyond that show conclusively that the average intelligence of believers is much lower than the average intelligence of non-believers. The fact that these people tend to congregate together, or more properly, that they tend to be raised together, does reduce the intelligence of the Christian community at the local and state levels.

          1. Crazies of all kinds do the same thing. Conspiracy theorists ignore all evidence that their beliefs are laughably false as well. That doesn't stop them from being laughably false.

      2. Problem here may be with the word used to describe those in the south. Being uneducated is not the same thing as being stupid. Plenty of people who don't have a high or even moderate level of education but are still bright. The term bright is not typically used to refer to a person's level of education, but rather to their native, innate ability to learn, i.e. IQ. This is the stereotype I was addressing. If the intent of the post was to describe those in the south as largely uneducated, and the research data shows this, then why was the word educated not used. The word bright targets a person's ability to learn and think. And I doubt that the people of the south are on average any less capable of learning and thinking than those of the North, East or West.

        1. Functionally, they are one and the same. Having the ability to learn, without the opportunity to learn, results in an uneducated individual. A genius-level intellect without any data upon which to operate, does not produce valid or worthwhile results. A high IQ shows potential to learn, not practical knowledge. Unless that IQ is combined with an ability to actually learn about the world around us, it is useless. Now certainly, this isn't just in the south (after all, Dover vs. Kitzmiller was in Maryland), and it's not everywhere in the south, that does seem to be the one area of the country where these things are consistently prevalent. So long as these people are being taught patently untrue things, bad ideas, stupid beliefs, then they will continue to produce bad, irrational, unintellectual adults and the cycle goes on and on and on. It's not that the people in the south are specifically stupid, but that the culture that is practiced in the south is more likely to make them that way.

          1. Are you claiming that being stupid and uneducated are functionally the same thing? Because unless you can provide a convincing argument I am going to insist that you are wrong. A stupid person is one who lacks intelligence. An uneducated person is not necessarily a stupid person.

            stupid: not intelligent : having or showing a lack of ability to learn and understand things (Merriam-Webster online dictionary, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stupid)

            And functionally they mean the same thing only in your mind because that is what you want to be true so you can continue to incorrectly use the two words as though they interchangeable.

            "Having the ability to learn, without the opportunity to learn, results in an uneducated person."

            And you said this for what reason? The point you are trying to make is? Do you think that I am unaware of this? There is nothing profound in this statement. It is obvious. But it is not a point that bolsters your claim that the term stupid (or bright for that matter) is functionally the same as uneducated. An uneducated person is not necessarily one without the ability to learn. Many people are uneducated by choice. They choose not to continue their education beyond high school. This does not mean they have an inability to learn (i.e., that they are stupid).

            "A genius-level intellect without any data upon which to operate, does not produce valid or worthwhile results. A high IQ shows potential to learn, not practical knowledge."

            True. But without an explanation from you, I fail to see how either of these points is relevant to what I said. I fail to see how either of these statements sheds any light on the difference between the meaning of stupid vs. educated or bright vs. educated.

            "Unless that IQ is combined with an ability to actually learn about the world around us, it is useless."

            I assume there is some point you are trying to make. But this statement can't possibly be the one you meant to use to make it. A person with a high IQ in fact has considerable ability to learn. Maybe you meant to say that a high IQ is useless if the person hasn't the opportunity to learn. But opportunity and ability are the not the same thing.

            Dover v. Kitzmiller was in Pennsylvania, not Maryland.

            " It's not that the people in the south are specifically stupid, but that the culture that is practiced in the south is more likely to make them that way."

            Given that the term stupid means "lack of intelligence" and thus an inability to learn or a diminished capacity to learn, you'll have to explain to me how culture makes you stupid. Culture no doubt can make one ignorant (which is not the same thing as stupid), but short of an evidenced-based argument from you I reject your assertion that the culture practiced in the south "is more likely to make them stupid."

          2. I'm saying they produce the same results. An intelligent person without any information and without training in how to make rational decisions, is going to be no more productive than someone who has no brains to begin with. A genius without an education isn't going to make better decisions than a moron without a an education. You can keep going round and round claiming otherwise, but it's not going to make a difference.

          3. "A genius without an education isn't going to make better decisions than a moron without a an education."

            I strongly doubt this is true. A person with a genius IQ but little formal education is almost certainly more intellectually equipped to more thoroughly analyze information and data they take in than is a moron with or without formal education. Thus I think a person with a genius IQ most probably will make better decisions than a moron, regardless of the level of formal education.

      3. Let's deal with the articles to which you linked.

        First the one from Fox Business. This article dealt with the percentage of the population in various parts of the country who have obtained a college degree. This says little, if anything, about whether the people of the south are bright or not. Given the levels of poverty and low-incomes in the south it does not surprise me that fewer have a college education. But again, the level of education you have achieved is not necessarily correlated to one's innate intellectual capabilities. And this is what the term bright most frequently refers to.

        The link to the article about the correlation between intelligence and belief does address the topic being discussed. I read the abstract. (Would prefer to read the entire paper but it is behind a paywall.) This article does lend credence to the description of those in the south as being less bright on average, if we use the term bright to refer to intelligence as I have suggested it should. So I will provisionally concede this point with the caveat that if further research calls this conclusion into doubt there will be cause to rethink acceptance of the claim originally made about the south. However, it is curious that links to this research were not included in the original post. In your reply TheNewsMadd, you said it was a well-known fact that most religious states are uneducated. Had you not provided a link to some source that supports this assertion I would have attacked its credibility just as I attacked the remark made by Cephus. And this is a recurring problem with Cephus. He frequently makes claims and assertions without any supporting citations or evidence. Any person would be wrong to make an assertion and assume that because "it is a well-known" fact you don't need to provide the supporting evidence. Fact is what you think to be "well-known" might not actually be a well-known fact. The rules of argumentation demand that you provide evidence for claims or assertions made.

        The article about religiosity across the country in USA Today by itself says nothing about intellectual ability level. However, I can see how it is relevant to the topic in light of the research paper to which you linked.

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