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Pastor's deadly faith

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A PENTECOSTAL pastor and reality TV star, whose sermons involved handling deadly snakes, has died from a bite.

Pastor Jamie Coots died on Saturday at his Kentucky home, local Police Chief Jeff Sharpe said.

Coots starred on reality television show Snake Salvation, which airs in the US on the National Geographic channel.

Coots had already lost a finger to snakebite, allowing it to rot and turn black on his hand, exposing the bone before it eventually broke off.

His wife Linda kept the blackened fingertip in a jar, telling Coots "I'll always have a piece of you wherever you go."

The Tennessean reports that Coots was found dead in his home at about 10pm on Saturday after a snake allegedly bit him in his Middlesboro church, Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name.

Chief Sharpe said Coots went home before emergency workers arrived at the church. When officials went to his house to urge Coots to seek medical care, he refused. Coots died about an hour later.

It was an aspect of his faith to believe in God's protection from the harmful effects of snakebite; praying rather than seeking medical attention. He had said on air that if he ever sought medical attention from a snakebite, he would quit the church.

Followers like the Coots family believe once they feel God's anointment overtaking them, they are protected from venomous snakes.

"When you handle serpents it's one of the best feelings I've felt in my life," Coots's wife says in the program. "It's like a peace and a calm and a happiness, such a happiness and a joy."

Coots's grandfather started the Church about 100 years ago and Coots has been a pastor there since 1994.

Almost a year ago, Coots pleaded guilty to violating Tennessee's exotic animals law, surrendering his vipers as part of a plea deal.

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