Despite What The Bible Promises, Snakes Will Kill You Dead

Put that deadly snake down!
Put that deadly snake down!

Put that deadly snake down!

We all wonder what happens when we read ancient holy books and take them literally.

The answer is that sometimes people die.

Like snake handlers, who believe God is going to protect them from a snakes deadly venom because the bible told them so. For example, we have exhibit A: John David Brock.

According to WKYT, the Bell County Sheriff’s Office reported that John David Brock was bitten during Sunday morning services at the Mossy Simpson Pentecostal Church. Brock refused medical treatment and died four hours later at his brother’s home in the town of Jenson.

And why did John think he was going to walk away after being bit by a snake?

True followers of Christ, says Mark 16:18, “will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

Holiness followers believe that God will stop the snakes from biting them, and if they do bite, then God will save them from the poisonous effects of the venom.

Guess what?

God was either sleeping, isn’t around to back up his biblical statements or he was talking in analogies or something, because clearly the best way to survive a snake bite is to seek medical attention. Unfortunately, if you believe God is going to swoop down and save you and refuse real medical attention, you might just die before realizing your bible was telling you a fib.

And it gets worse:

An estimated 300 churches in the U.S. practice snake-handling as a rite of worship.

So this isn’t one or two people doing this but 300 freaking churches that we know about. And sad to say, John isn’t alone in dying due to snake bite:

Jamie Coots, the pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name in Middlesboro, Ky., was handling a rattlesnake during a service when he was bitten on his right hand Saturday night. But when the ambulance arrived at 8:30 p.m., the EMS team found that Coots had gone home, according to a statement from the Middlesboro Police Department.

Middlesboro Police Chief Jeff Sharpe told ABC News that, according to people at the church, Coots verbally refused treatment at the church. He said Coots was unconscious when he got to his house. When the ambulance crew arrived at Coots’ home, his wife Linda Coots signed a form declining medical treatment, police said.

Emergency personnel left about 9:10 p.m. that night. When they returned about an hour later to check on Coots, police said he was dead from a venomous snake bite.

Not only did the guy who got bit refuse medical treatment but his wife did as well.

Damn, imagine how she must feel now. If my wife came home with a snake bite and told me she refused medical treatment and then promptly fell unconscious on our couch, my first call would be to 911.

Despite his father dying, the son just keeps on snake handling:

Despite his father’s death, Cody Coots said he doesn’t believe snake handling is dangerous. “It’s the word of God,” he said. “We’ve always said it’s a good way to live by and a good way to die by.”

The Christian Post even tried to tell people to stop taking the bible literally:

To outsiders, mainstream Christians included, snake handling seems foolhardy at best and deadly at worst. And despite commending their desire to be obedient to Scripture, Christians have argued that snake handlers are wrong to take Jesus’ words in Mark 16:17-18 literally. His statement, they argue, is not a commandment and, what’s more, intentionally putting oneself in danger is tantamount to tempting God.

Greg Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., suggested in a Facebook response to a reader doubtful that God “would agree with this practice,” that the passage in Mark is to be interpreted spiritually and not literally, as it “means that we as Christians are indestructible until God is done with us.”

Well, if you can’t take Jesus’ word for it, who can you believe? And although I’m glad most Christians have the sense to ignore such bad advice, I have to ask myself why they think Jesus lied to them here?

There’s no allegory to be found. He must have known some people would take his words literally and die as a consequence.

Even though Facebook Christian in the quote above thinks you’re indestructible until God is done with you, I think the snakes provided you with some evidence to the contrary.

And from good old Wiki:

Although exact records are difficult to substantiate, at least 71 people have been killed by venomous snakebites during religious services in the United States

Memo to biblical literalists: Venomous snakes kill. Seek medical treatment if you’re bit.



  1. poor suckers. a good commentary and newer bible edition in English (sorry, they don’t have the Appalachian translation out yet sadly) would tell them clearly enough that those verses were never in the ‘Original’ Mark. “It depends on which manuscripts you read” -B.Ehrman

        • Mike, I had tried to reason with some fundamentalist folk explaining why the KJV was not a good translation of the Bible. But in essence I think they found it so threatening to their world view they just would not listen.

          I got a lecture on how the ‘Word of God is set for all time in Heaven’. I asked them which version, pointing out that of all the early manuscripts of the bible there was not even two copies that were identical and that these verses from Mark and the additions of John (Woman in adultery and last Chapter) clearly were later additions. But they just won’t listen, I think they must imagine that God ‘poofed’ the completed Bible out of thin air at the time of the KJV and don’t ask why God did not do the same thing 1,500 years earlier.

          Actually what I suspect is that they have never actually thought honestly about how the Bible actually came to be. Never asked why the NT authors quote from a Greek version of the OT that in places differs materially from the Hebrew version.

          Never seriously asked why ‘the Apostle Peter’ copied Jude when writing his second letter. Never asked why Jude quoted the Book of Enoch, which we know is not inspired (I mean to say it says the year only has 364 days).

          • I did some research on this ages ago and, if memory serves, there’s a kind of “KJVism” that bases itself on the assertion that the KJV translators were themselves directly inspired by God and, thus, divinely authorized to deliver the definitive English version of the text. As a result, any scholarship that results in a different English rendering is, in all cases, wrong.
            I can’t remember how (or even if) they deal with the issue that we no longer understand that form of English particularly well… Anyway, that little bit of history might be part of why you couldn’t get any traction on “…not a good translation…”
            Meanwhile, it’s probably better for the gene pool when literalists pay lots of attention to the ‘long ending’ of Mark.
            [And yes, GC, I realize that’s not particularly Christian of me to write. What can I say? Love is an aspiration, not a reality; old habits die hard; and sometimes you just gotta call ’em like ya see ’em. amirite?]

  2. Haha… I can’t imagine anyone is crazy enough to take things in the Bible literally, but there are always some people who take everything to the next level.

    I think it’s a metaphor for the amazing things you can achieve when you believe that the God of the universe on your side, especially if you are not trying to turn God into a magic act in the process

    It’s really very dangerous for anyone to take the Bible at face value – especially when the Bible states “You must not test the LORD your God”, meaning God can save you if you are in need of help, but not when your act is to show off.

    I could be wrong though. I need to read more on it. Have a wonderful week!

  3. Hey Gc,

    Snake handling churches are foolish and misinterpret Scripture when they hanlde snakes.

    God can and will protect us, according to His will, as we are serving Him. But we are not to put the Lord to the test. Just as Jesus refused to jump off the pinnacle of the temple and just as Daniel did not go lion-hunting, so are we not to intentionally seek out situations that require God’s miraculous intervention. While not speaking directly of snake handling in churches, 1 Corinthians 10:9 could apply: “We should not test the Lord, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes.”

    Good post, btw, people need to bring attention to this unbiblical and dangerous practice.



  4. Hmmm…were they guilty of believing the bible? Were they guilty of tempting God? Was He taking a nap? What are the people, such as infants and innocents caught in the crossfire guilty of when they die on his watch or while he is sleeping. Smh.

  5. Pingback: An Open and Obvious Danger | Amusing Nonsense

  6. Isn’t that natural selection in action?

    This, by the way, does not mean that God won’t protect the righteous from the snake bites. It only means that those snake handlers weren’t “righteous” enough to be protected :-). That’s what you get for testing the Lord.

  7. “If my wife came home with a snake bite and told me she refused medical treatment and then promptly fell unconscious on our couch, my first call would be to 911.”

    I got a good chuckle out of your words, and I would surely call 911 if my husband collapsed from a snake bite after refusing help. Yet there’s a very serious problem here: indoctrination. It is powerful and it can definitely be fatal. The wife was simply following her own indoctrination, and thus allowed her husband to die.

    I’m from the catholic church where people sometimes giggle over our belief in demons and exorcism. Then a catholic counselor told me MY kid was demon possessed and recommended an exorcism, and due to my own severe indoctrination, I actually considered this a real possibility. Snake handling and demon possession are clear examples of why religion is harmful (even fatal).

    I love how some christians simply say, “Do not test god.” So god is infallible, but also invisible and untestable. There seem to be some logic problems in that equation, but I know they’ll never see it.

  8. One less idiot voting for Donald Trump or Scott Walker.

    Okay, maybe that was heartless of me, but my patience for people like that is at an all time low. They would probably refuse medical treatment for their minor children as well.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s