NASHVILLE, TN (February 17, 2014) — Bob Smietana, former features editor of the Covenant Companion, was interviewed today on CNN about Kentucky pastor Jamie Coots and the practice of snake handling in churches. Coots died Saturday evening after refusing to be treated for a snake bite.
Smietana attended several churches that include snake handling as part of their worship services and interviewed Coots for an award-winning story he wrote in 2012.
On CNN, Smietana said watching the snake handler is “quite stunning.” He recounted standing outside one of the churches after a service. “In one case, I was standing in the parking lot, and they started handling a snake, and they were maybe about less than a foot from me, and it was unnerving.”
Serpent handlers interpret literally Mark 16:18 in the King James Version of the Bible, which reads, “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.”