The son of a Kentucky pastor who died of a snake bite has announced that he will take over the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name church and continue to handle snakes.
Cody Coots, 21, said his father, Jamie Coots, would want him to continue serving the church.
Jamie died a few weeks ago after a venomous snake bit him and he refused treatment. His Pentecostal church believed in a Biblical passage that suggests venomous snakes will not hurt believers. Handling the poisonous snakes is illegal in most parts of the country.
"I don't know if he would come back out of his grave and slap me clean across the face," Cody said of what his father would think if he stopped handling the snakes. "That's how much he believed in it. I mean he was that strong in it. He believed in it enough he died for it, so I won't step down for anyone."
He said he would also refuse medical care if he was bit.
"I will lay right there and say to everyone, it's God's will,” he said. “It's good enough to live by, and good enough to die by."
The Kentucky church was featured as a National Geographic show, “Snake Salvation.” The show featured Jamie handling rattlers, cottonmouths and copperheads.
"In following Pastor Coots for our series Snake Salvation, we were constantly struck by his devout religious convictions despite the health and legal peril he often faced,” National Geographic Channels Spokeswoman Stephanie Montgomery said in a statement.
"Those risks were always worth it to him and his congregants as a means to demonstrate their unwavering faith. We were honored to be allowed such unique access to Pastor Jamie and his congregation during the course of our show, and give context to his method of worship. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time."
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.