Cody Coots, 21, who took over from his father, Pastor Jamie Coots — who died from a rattlesnake bite on Feb. 15 — was himself bitten by a rattlesnake at the family's Middlesboro, Kentucky church, the Lexington Herald-Leader
The bite left his hand swollen and caused him to vomit repeatedly. He did not lose consciousness. Coots decided not to seek medical attention and recovered the next day. Followers see his healing as a sign from God.
Snake handling goes back four generation in the Coots family. The Coots believe poisonous snakebites would not harm them because they are protected by God. Members of their Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name believe that if they do not "practice the ritual of snake handling" they "are destined for hell," according to National Geographic
, whose program "Snake Salvation" featured Jamie Coots.
Describing how he felt after being bitten by the six-foot-long snake, Cody Coots told the Herald-Leader, "All I could think about – am I going to make it?"
"For a rattler bite, it wasn't bad at all," Coots said.
A number of Pentecostal churches in southern Appalachia feature snake handling in their religious services. Kentucky forbids the handling of poisonous snakes in religious services but the law is not enforced, according to the Herald-Leader.
Since 1995, several parishioners have died as a result of snake bites at different Pentecostal churches, the Herald-Leader reported.
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