NatGeo had already decided there would be no second season of Snake Salvation, even before the reality show’s star, Kentucky minister Jamie Coots died Saturday after a rattlesnake he was handling bit him. After the bite, the 42-year-old refused medical attention and returned home.
He practiced a long running tradition in some churches during which pastors handle snakes, believing they will not suffer from the venom if their faith is strong. Coots cited this passage from the book of Mark (16:17):
“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.”
Coots had been bitten at least eight times. His son told a local TV station they thought this bite would be like all the others. The pastor would pray, get sick and then recover.
His story caught the eye of NatGeo’s cameras, and the series Snake Salvation was born. The minister faced both physical and legal peril, as many states have outlawed snake handling.
In January 2013, wildlife officials confiscated three rattlesnakes and three copperheads he was transporting through Tennessee. His Saturday performance violated Kentucky’s law against handling deadly snakes.
Kentucky Game Warden Ray Lawson told TMZ police typically don’t intervene in these religious ceremonies.