This Thursday, Feb. 20, National Geographic Channel (NGC) will air a one-hour special retrospective compilation from its series Snake Salvation, which it says will remember the life of Pastor Jamie Coots. NGC also told me that this will likely be the last episode of Snake Salvation, as they currently do not have plans for any additional episodes.
Coots (pictured) was the star of Snake Salvation, a reality series that followed Coots and his Pentecostal congregation who believe that a passage in the Bible suggests that poisonous snakebites will not harm believers who are anointed by God. They incorporate snake-handling into their ceremonies, believing that they are destined for hell if they don’t practice that ritual. Coots died last Saturday after being bitten by a rattlesnake he was handling during a religious service, and later refusing medical treatment.
(The biblical passage in question is from Mark 16:17–18 that says, “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”)
NGC’s description of the Snake Salvation special, called “They Shall Take Up Serpents”:
“National Geographic Channel is remembering the life of Pastor Jamie Coots with this one-hour special. When Pastor Coots’ snake supply runs low, he hatches a risky plan to drive to Texas to hunt down some deadly western diamondback rattlers. Then Pastor Coots, his son Little Cody and their good friend Kenny Stewart are caught by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency transporting three western diamondback rattlers and two copperheads that they paid $800 for. The three are prosecuted by the state district attorney’s office with the threat jail time for possessing and transporting illegal snakes.”
In a release, David Lyle, CEO of National Geographic Channels, said, “Pastor Coots was a lovely, kind man who was good to our crew during the shooting. And while it may be hard for some to understand the choices he made due to his deeply held convictions, one cannot help but admire his dedication and bravery. We wanted to air this episode [on Feb. 20] as a way to give perspective to the world-wide discussion his death has caused.”
Snake Salvation: “They Shall Take Up Serpents” premieres Feb. 20 at 10pm ET on NGC.
Pastor Jamie Coots in “Snake Salvation”: Courtesy of NGT