Like his pastor father who died four years ago, Cody Coots brandished a snake during a Kentucky church service he led and was bitten, this time while video crews recorded for a new and criticized YouTube documentary.
Coots is the star of “My Life Inside: The Snake Church,” and the first episode features a bloody rattlesnake bite to his ear. He leads Middlesboro’s Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name.
A fourth-generation snake handler, Coots is the son of Jamie Coots, who died in 2014 when a rattlesnake sunk its fangs into his hand during a service.
It’s the second time the Coots’ church has been profiled in a TV special. In 2013, a National Geographic Channel program called “Snake Salvation” highlighted the Coots family and other snake handlers. The church is one of about 125 churches in the country using venomous snakes during its services, according to a 2014 ABC News report.
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Coots is no stranger to snake bites. Three months after taking over for his dad, Coots was bitten on his right hand while cleaning a snake cage, according to WKYT.
He refused medical treatment following his bite in 2014, but needed it for the bite he suffered in the YouTube documentary. The video showed Coots initially downplayed the bite, saying “I’m not worried at all. Don’t worry, God’s a healer.”
“Let God still heal me. He’s like a freight train coming at me,” Coots said while still handling the snake.
But as the blood profusely dripped from his ear to his shoulder, it soon became clear he needed medical attention. Parishioners looked visibly concerned for Coots, who was eventually carried out of the church by two of its members.
Doctors told Coots he could have been “killed” from the bite, which came close to severing his temporal artery, the Daily Mail reported. The website said Coots has started to re-evaluate his life following the bite.
The episode of the YouTube documentary ends as Coots is being carried away with “To Be Continued” flashed across the screen. It’s unclear when the next episode of the two-part documentary will be released.
The debut episode of the show has been viewed more than 600,000 times in its first three days on YouTube, and the reviews aren’t too kind to Coots and the church family.
Multiple commenters said the church resembled a cult, and others wrote about their concern for the snakes.
“I don’t care what your religion, just don’t put innocent animals in the middle of it,” one person wrote.
The church’s religious devotions stem from the biblical verse Mark 16:18: “They will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all.”
One member of the church, Shelby Nolan, told The Ringer last year the feeling of handling a snake and engaging with death is “unlike anything you have ever felt before.”
“Just the fact that God instructed you to handle something that can kill you. You can hold something deadly in your hands and trust that God will protect you,” she said.
At Coots’ church, about 14 people regularly worship each Sunday and services can last between 90 minutes to five hours, Barcoft TV reported.
Cody’s wife, Tammy, said she was not raised in the religion and has questioned it.
“I do worry that Cody is going to leave the world like his dad did. I don’t ever want that to happen to him because I love him,” she told Barcroft TV.
The documentary can be found at https://youtu.be/7OcoUyXiuU0.