Pastor Jamie Coots Remembered As More Than A Serpent Handler

Feb 28, 2014

The Chattanooga Times Free Press published 'Even Unto Death,' a special report on serpent handling in Tennessee and Kentucky.

Serpent-handling Kentucky pastor Jamie Coots recently died from a rattlesnake bite.  Coots, who starred in the National Geographic show "Snake Salvation," was credited with helping put the long-hidden practice of serpent handling in the limelight.

In this segment, WUTC’s Michael Edward Miller looks beyond sensational headlines about Coots.  Miller interviews two journalists who knew Coots, visited snake-handling congregations, and wrote in-depth articles about the subject.  Kevin Hardy and David Cook write for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, which published a special feature, “Even Unto Death.”

David Cook says serpent handling was only part of Coots’s life.

“When you speak to the people there,” Cook says of the congregation, “especially the people that knew Jamie Coots… they didn’t talk about snakes, they didn’t talk about serpents.  They talked about what kind of man this was and how he treated them with love and kindness, and how he gave of himself to this community.”

When talking to the congregation, Cook says, serpents didn’t come up unless he asked about it.