More than three years ago, Cody Coots (below) nearly died from a snake bite. He didn’t generate a lot of sympathy for that, however, because he was a pastor at a small Kentucky church that promoting snake-handling just to show that God would protect you from anything (like the Bible promised). The irony wasn’t lost on anyone that Cody’s father died during a church service from — wait for it — a snake bite.
If you’re familiar with Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name, it may be because there was a show all about the church on the National Geographic channel called Snake Salvation. It was canceled after a single season.
In any case, The Ringer’s Jordan Ritter Conn recently visited the church and published a lengthy account of what Cody Coots is up to these days.
After that bite in 2014, he had a crisis of faith during which he rebelled against much of what he’d been taught his whole life. Some of it’s comical — he cursed and listened to rock music — but there were a lot of destructive decisions in there, too. It’s a wonder he didn’t hurt himself.
One night, he sat awake in his recliner, listening to AC/DC songs on YouTube. He played his two favorites: “Hells Bells” and “Highway to Hell.” He started wondering to himself: Was hell even real? If it was, he knew he was going there – the drinking and cussing and rock listening made him sure of that – but what if it wasn’t? Maybe, he thought, he’d been raised in a lie. Maybe, he thought, God didn’t even exist.
The possibility of losing belief terrified him the moment it entered his mind. Up until now, he’d been sinning consciously. He believed in God; he just chose not to follow his religion’s teachings. Now, though, Cody was entertaining something altogether different. As long as he had his belief, he could turn back toward a holy path at any moment. Once he lost that belief, Cody had no idea where he might end up.
It’s not a spoiler to say he’s back to being a pastor now, which in his case means the snakes, rather than his own decisions, pose the biggest risk to his life. But when there’s not much else to celebrate in life, performing a dangerous stunt in the name of God could be enough to keep you going.
(Thanks to Geoffrey for the link)