A US pastor who was bitten by a deadly snake continues an archaic ritual in his blood-splattered shirt during a dramatic service captured on camera.
Cody Coots is the pastor at the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus’ Name church in Middlesboro, Kentucky, one of America’s only remaining snake-handling churches.
After he is bitten by a snake during a service, he shouts “God’s a healer” and refuses to let go of the serpent.
The startling footage shows him eventually collapsing and being helped from his altar as the snake’s potentially lethal poison begins to take hold.
Pastor Cody asks to be taken to the mountain top where God will judge whether he lives or dies.
But one of his congregation defies him and takes him to hospital, where doctors reveal that the snake came close to severing the temporal artery – which would almost certainly have killed him.
The dangerous ritual had already cost the Pentecostal church its previous pastor, Cody’s father Jamie Coots, 42, after he was bitten by a rattlesnake and killed in 2014.
The church’s unique way of showcasing their religious devotion they also drink poison and handle naked flames – is inspired by the biblical verse in Mark 16:18: “They will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them”.
Cody’s friend, and fellow preacher, Big Cody who drove him to the hospital, told Barcroft TV: “Most people bitten in the face are dead in five, ten minutes.
“I mean, his own daddy got bitten in the hand and within seven minutes was dead.”
The church’s story is told in My Life Inside: The Snake Church, the first film in a new series from Barcroft TV which gains unprecedented access to people who’ve chosen to live outside the norms of modern mainstream society.
The two-part My Life Inside: The Snake Church follows Cody as he recovers from the bite and re-evaluates his life and faith in the wake of his brush with death.
Snake-handling churches started appearing in the Appalachian Mountains over a hundred years ago.