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Sunday Sermon

This is unfortunate: via CNN – Snake-handling pastor arrested

FRANKFORT, Kentucky (AP) — The pastor of a Kentucky church that handles snakes in religious rites was among 10 people arrested by wildlife officers in a crackdown on the venomous snake trade.

More than 100 snakes, many of them deadly, were confiscated in the undercover sting after Thursday’s arrests, said Col. Bob Milligan, director of law enforcement for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife.

Most were taken from the Middlesboro home of Gregory James Coots, including 42 copperheads, 11 timber rattlesnakes, three cottonmouth water moccasins, a western diamondback rattlesnake, two cobras and a puff adder.

Handling snakes is practiced in a handful of fundamentalist churches across Appalachia, based on the interpretation of Bible verses saying true believers can take up serpents without being harmed. The practice is illegal in most states, including Kentucky.

Coots, 36, is pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name in Middlesboro, where a Tennessee woman died after being bitten by a rattlesnake during a service in 1995. Her husband died three years later when he was bitten by a snake in northeastern Alabama.

Undercover officers purchased more than 200 illegal reptiles during the investigation, some of which were advertised for sale on Web sites. One such Web site lists copperheads for $50 each and cobras for $450.

“You can purchase anything off the Internet except common sense,” [Kentucky Reptile Zoo Director Jim] Harrison said. “A venomous snake isn’t a pet. You don’t play with it. If you do, you’re an idiot.”

I tend to leave snakes alone, or move them if necessary because of children or stupid pets. I have a friend who carefully gauges his response to snakes, i.e. 16 gauge birdshot for most, but 12 gauge O shot for diamondbacks. I suspect he would want something heavier for a cobra.

While most snakes are not aggressive the cottonmouth is. There is no reason to annoy the snakes to prove that you can. They can provide a useful life and balance in nature, especially in rodent control, so I leave them alone, and they generally leave me alone.

Oh, yes, not to be judgmental, but these people are f**king crazy.

Today’s text Deuteronomy 6:16 [KJV] Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah


1 Steve Bates { 07.13.08 at 1:22 pm }

Perhaps we could label the resulting process of thinning out common-sense challenged humans “unnatural selection.”

I like snakes well enough in their environmental niches, but these folks are just looking for trouble, and Kentucky law officers may be the least of the trouble they find.

2 Bryan { 07.13.08 at 1:43 pm }

You could prove your faith by feeding and housing the poor, but I guess that isn’t exciting enough.

3 mapaghimagsik { 07.13.08 at 10:02 pm }

Its God’s will they are so stupid.

“your role in God’s plan is to be the bad example. Enjoy.”

4 Bryan { 07.13.08 at 10:20 pm }

They keep dying from the bites, which is sort of amazing, actually, because with a minimum of knowledge the average adult won’t die as the result of a bite from a pit viper. They’ll be sicker than all get out, but even without an anti-venom treatment adults in normal health recover. I have to assume that part of the problem is working themselves up before they start handling the snakes, which increases their pulse and blood pressure, the opposite of what you want to do.

All bets are off if they are bitten, actually chewed, by a coral snake, which is a member of the cobra family. You need the anti-venom. I would note that coral snakes aren’t very fast and don’t have fangs. The normal incident involves people handling them. They have to do a little chewing to break the skin, but the venom is in their saliva and it doesn’t take much.

G-d or Darwin is culling the herd, take your pick.

5 Kryten42 { 07.14.08 at 1:07 am }

Nahhhh… If you read the Bible, you know snakes (or *serpents*) are the favorite form of Satan. So, these were obviously Satanists in Christian clothing. To paraphrase. 😉

Of course, Satan is not so obvious and according to the Bible, is extremely clever, so I personally think as you said Bryan, they are simply ‘f**king crazy’!

Only in America! 😉 😀

6 Fallenmonk { 07.14.08 at 8:43 am }

I grew up around some of these people and I can certify from personal knowledge that Bryan is entirely correct… they are ‘f**king crazy’. They also drink strychnine to ‘prove’ their faith. I sometimes feel we should just let Darwin’s observations hold sway and leave them to their insanity the only thing is that they are harming perfectly innocent snakes.

7 Bryan { 07.14.08 at 9:45 am }

We could send them to Oz so they could kiss toads, raise spiders, or herd the platypus, but that’s not exciting enough for them.

It’s hard to credit how a religion based on the concept of love at its beginning can generate so many people dedicated to hatred and harm – even of themselves.

I’d forgotten about the poison drinking, FM. They didn’t do much of that down here, just the snakes.