The Pentecostal pastor and star of National Geographic’s Snake Salvation, Jamie Coots, passed away this weekend after he was bitten by one of his no-shouldered friends.
Coots and his church—a small sect called the Church of God with Signs Following—believe in a Bible passage that they translate to mean poisonous snakebites “will not harm believers as long as they are anointed by God.” After Coots was bitten on the right hand during his Saturday evening church service, he refused any treatment and died at his home shortly thereafter. His death came after several firefighters and medical professionals told him he should take a snakebite antidote. Your ratings should be stellar, NatGeo.
According to Wikipedia, there are as many as 100 Church of God with Signs Following congregations in the country. The church’s grammatically incorrect name is just the tip of the stupidly iceberg: Churchgoers are known to speak in tongues, break local laws that prohibit snake-handling, and drink poison, also in the belief that God will protect them. Their numbers are diminishing, and it shouldn’t take a Darwinist to figure out why.
Coots was previously arrested for keeping 74 snakes in his home. He had survived an earlier viper bite that cost him most of the middle finger on his right hand; after refusing medical treatment, he let the finger rot to black before breaking it off and placing it in a glass jar for his wife. And you thought your Valentine’s Day present was thoughtful.