Meet Gregory James Coots (not him pictured, but probably as attractive), pastor of the [big breath] Full Gospel Tabernacle Church in Jesus Name.
He is one of those infamous “snake handling pastors” who believe this verse in Luke 10:18-20 gives them theatrical license to be, well, completely brain dead.
In addition to adding a box of deadly venomous vipers to the usual Sunday festivities, Coots here gets put in the pokey because they are illegal in his home state. You think a law-abiding holy man would have looked into that one.
In a blessed twist of fate, Coots becomes part of a Kentucky sting operation by wildlife officers on the popular snake trade in them thar parts of the country. Get this:
Most were taken from the Middlesboro home of Gregory James Coots, including 42 copperheads, 11 timber rattlesnakes, three cottonmouth water moccasins, a western diamondback rattlesnake, two cobras and a puff adder.
It’s a good thing he thinks he knows Jesus, because with those kind of house pets, he’s going to get to meet the Son of God REAL SOON. Now I love this part of the story:
The snakes, plus one alligator, were turned over to the nonprofit Kentucky Reptile Zoo in Slade. Most appeared to have been captured from the wild, with some imported from Asia and Africa.
The brood of vipers we will get to in just a minute, but where in 66 books of the Holy Bible do you see anything about a friggin’ alligator, Rev?! Now, on to the star attraction of this post…
And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.
There is such a thing as taking a verse too literally. This is one of those times. For example, Psalm 91:13 tells the believer “you shall tread upon the lion.” How come you don’t see nitwits like this in a “lion-handling” church? It’s because they don’t want to be Siegfried & Roy’s farewell stage act, that’s why.
So, why snakes? Because people make their own limits with the Bible. The only challenge man would be for a lion would be making room for dessert. So, man in all his wisdom derides the whole ‘stepping on a lion’ thing and CHOOSES snakes instead. No bueno, you persnickety theologians out there. It’s Texas Hold-em. All or nothing.
That’s proof of literalism with the Scriptures. If you are going to be that black and white with one verse, do it with all of them. If you realize God may have inspired allegory, metaphor and aphorism with his writers, then you may want to learn to read between the lines. Much like the ‘Writing on the Wall’, the truth lies in the ink.
Oh, one last thing, you think PETA knows about this yet? IJS.