Snake-handling pastor arrested

Gregory James Coots, a pastor in Kentucky, was recently arrested for being involved in the venomous snake trade. He had over 50 illegal poisonous snakes in his home. People have died at his church services from handling poisonous snakes, because he believes that Christians can handle them without being harmed.

This is just a kook, right? Well, listen to what Jesus says:

These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover. (Mark 16:17-18)

If you take the Bible literally, why not handle snakes and drink deadly poison? Jesus says believers won’t be hurt by them. So obviously, if you’re hurt by them, you’re not a true believer.

Take the Jesus Poison Challenge!

Sounds like a good test to me. Where are the Christians willing to drink a deadly mixture of cyanide to see if Jesus will protect them as he says?

This is something that can tested — either it is true or it isn’t. If it’s not true, the Bible is wrong. If it is true, then the Bible is right. Pretty simple.

There has to be millions of Christians willing to take their faith to the next level and try this experiment, right? This is being radical for Jesus! Any takers?

No? Hmm. I wonder why.

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  • Paul T

    I think Ray Comfort should be the first to take up your challenge. He is arrogantly ignorant enough to believe it is true.

  • I concur with Paul T, Ray Comfort along with his buddy Kirk Cameron. They seem to know it all. Perhaps a little cyanide will take them into the next realm of knowledge and faith.

  • Mark M

    In sociology class once, we were shown a documentary about the snake handler cult, “Holy Ghost People,” filmed around 1967. Apparently it’s a rite a passage for a young snake handler to drink their first draught of Drano or strychnine. Kind of like first communion for a Catholic, but with a kick.

    So while your favorite snake handler or annoying Fundie might not take you up specifically on cyanide, they’re quite prepared to chug poison for Jeezuss.

    The docu is currently available online at

  • trj

    Those poor snakes.

  • This passage in Mark isn’t a problem for Bible believing Christians, because Mark 16:9-20 is a latter addition. Almost any modern Bible translation based on a critical text will actually say this, e.g. my copy of the NIV says “The most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do no have Mark 16:19-20.” And this is not in a footnote, but is right in the middle of the page. This passage is only an issue with those fringe Christians who think the Textus Receptus is inerrant and the King James translators were inspired.

    Note: I’m a former Christian, turned atheist/pantheist. I’m not claiming the Bible is inspired or inerrant. It’s just that using these passages against Christians is about as bad as a Creationist asking, “If evolution happened, then why are there still monkeys?”

  • That may be true for some Christians, but many don’t know much about textual criticism. If they did, I doubt most of them would still be Christians, because it’s a mess. It’s still in everyone’s bibles, and they would have a hard time understanding why something would be in “God’s Word” when it wasn’t supposed to be there.

    But you are right, some of the more sophisticated folks would argue that it wasn’t in there in the first place. Of course, there’s still plenty of nonsense that they can’t say that for, nor would they want to.

  • Just wondering whether there’s any way to spread snake-handling to all theists. Evolution would accelerate slightly.

  • james

    You know that that bit of the bible isn’t even in the original versions!!! Mark 16:9-20 is a later addition; the oldest surviving copies of the bible don’t have it (eg. Codex Sinaiticus).