A Serpent in Eden: Son of pastor killed by snake during sermon is also bitten during service

New documentary on YouTube catches the shocking moment where a controversial pastor is bitten by a snake during his Sunday service.

                            A Serpent in Eden: Son of pastor killed by snake during sermon is also bitten during service
(Source:Getty Images)

A pastor from Kentucky, whose father had died in 2014 within seven minutes of being bitten by a venomous snake, had to be taken to the emergency room for immediate treatment after he suffered the same injury. Cody Coots had asked members of his congregation to take him to the top of the mountain where God would judge whether he would live or if he would die.

One of the followers, however, defied his wishes and took him to the hospital where medical staff told him that the reptile had been close to severing his temporal artery, which would have most definitely killed him if it had occurred. The follower, Big Cody, took Coots to the hospital and said later, "Most people bit in the face are dead in five, ten minutes. I mean, his own daddy got bit in the hand and within seven minutes was dead."

Coots' father, Jamie Coots, died when he was bitten on the hand by a rattlesnake at the same church, the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus’ Name in Middlesboro, Kentucky, back in 2014. The church takes its inspiration from the biblical verse of Mark 16:18 "They will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them." Pastor Coots can be seen in the video with blood all over his shirt before he was taken to the hospital. Metro reported that the pastor has now started to re-examine his faith and life after his near-death experience.

Churches that handle snakes during sermons such as this one started appearing in the Appalachian Mountains more than a century ago. The older Coots' death put the newest pastor in the spotlight and entrusted him with the role of leading a congregation at age 23. He is the fourth generation in the family to take up the snake-handling pastoral duties.

Big Cody said, "When the Bible says serpents, it means a poisonous snake. When the old man got bit he died within probably 10 minutes, it’s a nasty bite. Every time he’d ever got bitten, I’d never seen him drop a snake. And I’ve seen the snake hit the floor I thought, 'We’ll just take him home'. He walked back to the bathroom and the last words he did say to me was, 'My face feels like it’s on fire'. I stepped out of the bathroom and then I heard a scream and when I went back there he just went limp."

42-year-old Jamie Coots died in 2014, 60-year-old David Brock died in 2015 after being bitten at a Pentecostal Church in Kentucky, and 44-year-old Mack Randall Wolford died in 2012 after he was bitten by a timber rattlesnake in an outdoor sermon in West Virginia. Wolford's father was also a snake-handling pastor and he too died from being bitten 30 years ago.

Pastor Coots and his congregation at the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus’ Name church, however, will still keep risking their lives every Sunday during service because of their beliefs. Their health is also at risk because the worshippers tend to put their hands on the sick and pray, sing, and listen to sermons while the pastor picks up one or two snakes from a box and carries them around while preaching. As the followers reach a fever pitch, they are often seen shouting, singing, and some even speaking in tongues while all praise the Lord.

The sermon reaches its peak when some of the followers are invited to the front to handle fire, drink venom, or even hold the snakes while singing and dancing. 14 people are reported to regularly attend the Sunday services which are said to last between 90 minutes and 5 hours based on how intense the situation gets.

Coots' wife, 25-year-old Tammy, said, "That church is their blood, you know. It started with their family and it’s going down with their family. It is not for me. I wasn’t raised in this religion. I met Cody through my dad and we just clicked. I was just, like, crazy over him. Me and Cody didn’t talk about religion until after we got married and all I said is, "God, what did I get myself into?". I do worry that Cody is going to leave this world like his dad did. I don’t ever want that to happen to him because I love him."

The church is viewed as being repressive towards women as they are not allowed to wear make-up and must be dressed in skirts and not pants. The women are also not allowed to preach in the church even though they can handle snakes, drink venom or hold fire during the weekly services. 

The first series of 'My Life Inside' by Barcroft TV includes short videos about Satanists from Oklahoma and one where teen girls in Louisiana undergo emotional ceremonies with their fathers to pledge their virginity until marriage. 

'My Life Inside: The Snake Church' premiered on August 17 and truly gives an inside look into what it is like to be in a church with snake-handling pastors.