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February 17th, 2014
10:29 AM ET

A faithful death: Why a snake handler refused treatment

By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor
[twitter-follow screen_name='BurkeCNN']

(CNN) - In the close-knit town of Middlesboro, Kentucky, almost everyone knew what was happening inside the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name Church - including Police Chief Jeff Sharpe.

Despite a Kentucky law that prohibits snake-handling at religious events, Sharpe said he "made a decision not to involve this police department in somebody's church service."

"I'm not going to tell you that I didn't know what was going on. This is a small town," Sharpe said. "But we're not going to bust into anybody's church on Sunday morning."

The trouble at Full Gospel Tabernacle began on Saturday night, when Pastor Jamie Coots, whose serpent-handling religious rituals made him a reality TV star, died after a rattlesnake sunk its fangs into his right hand.

Coots was a third-generation serpent handler and aspired to one day pass the practice, and his church, on to his adult son, Little Cody.

MORE ON CNN: Reality show snake-handling preacher dies - of snakebite

Despite Coots' death, Sharpe said he will not enforce Kentucky's ban against using serpents in religious services.

"The Middlesboro police have their priorities and the State Police have theirs. If they want to come in and investigate that or any other church, they are quite welcome."

A National Geographic show featured Coots and cast handling copperheads, rattlers and cottonmouths. The channel's website shows a picture of Coots, goateed, with a fedora covering his bald head.

"Even after losing half of his finger to a snake bite and seeing others die from bites during services," Coots "still believes he must take up serpents and follow the Holiness faith," the website says.

Coots belonged to a small circle of Pentecostal Holiness pastors who take this passage from the Bible's Gospel of Mark literally:  “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.”

Since those words are said to be spoken by Jesus, pastors like Coots take them as divine commandments. But there are other spiritual reasons to handle serpents, practitioners say, often describing the dangerous rituals as a mental and emotional rush, as if they were touching the hand of God.

"They almost always use drug metaphors, like 'higher than any high you can experience," said  Paul Williamson, a professor of psychology at Henderson State University in Arkansas who studies serpent handlers.

At the same time, they are extremely careful with the serpents, Williamson said, only allowing those who live sin-free lives and have been "annointed" by the Holy Spirit to handle the snakes. "There's death in that box," pastors often warn the congregation before services start.

"Because serpent handling is not a practice that occurs in the mainstream, people tend to look at it as anomalous and strange, " said Williamson. "But to them, it's really no different from a Catholic who takes Communion. It's a powerful and immediate experience of God that gives meaning and purpose to their lives."

Williamson estimates there are at most 2,000 people who belong to the few hundred churches, centered in Appalachia, that practice serpent handling. Most of the churches, like Coots', are fairly small, with less than 50 worshippers.

Faith in the divine played a role on Coots' death Saturday night, Sharpe said.

"He was very open about his beliefs, that if he was bitten, he did not want medical treatment." Coots had been bitten by a snake a half-dozen times before and recovered.

Williamson said Coots and other snake-handlers generally seek medical treatment for other ailments. "But when it comes to serpent-handling, it requires a belief in God and obedience to the commands of Jesus. If something does happen, they trust God with the consequences."

Sharpe said his department and an ambulance crew responded to a call at the church Saturday night but Coots and his family had already gone home. When they arrived at the Coots home, the pastor was unconscious and "in pretty bad shape."

Medical professionals stayed at Coots' house for half an hour, telling the family about the consequences of not seeking treatment, the police chief said, as family, friends and church members came and went. But the Coots family was adamant that God alone would heal the pastor, if it was divine will.

"Certainly, they were not aware of the danger," Sharpe said. "We have to offer this treatment, but we can't force them to take it."

Coots was far from the first serpent-handler to die from a snakebite. Mack Wolford, one of the tradition's most famous practitioners, was killed by a bite in 2012. His father died in 1983 from the same cause.

The police chief said he knew Coots fairly well and spoke with the pastor several times about being bitten by serpents.

It is not illegal to keep poisonous snakes in Kentucky, but it requires permits from the state Fish and Wildlife Department. Coots' permits were up-to-date, Sharpe said. "He was pretty meticulous."

"They were well aware of what they were doing, that they were handling dangerous snakes and could get bit. Please understand that these are not ignorant people but people with beliefs just a little outside the mainstream."

In February 2013, Coots was given one year of probation for crossing into Tennessee with venomous snakes. The state banned snake-handling in 1947 after five people died within a two-year span, the National Geographic Channel says on the show site.

He was previously arrested in 2008 for keeping 74 snakes in his home, according to the channel.

(CNN's Ashley Fantz contributed to this report.)

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Christianity • Death • Prayer

soundoff (1,211 Responses)
  1. Apple Bush

    I grew up in the bible belt and, all the Christians notwithstanding, it is a pretty common sense place. I was taught to either kill a snake or leave it alone.

    February 17, 2014 at 12:53 pm |
    • Dalahäst

      Do you know why snakes don't have legs?

      February 17, 2014 at 1:26 pm |
      • Apple Bush

        Do tell.

        February 17, 2014 at 1:35 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          And forked tongues?

          February 17, 2014 at 1:41 pm |
        • SeaVik

          Is there a punchline coming Dala?

          February 17, 2014 at 1:56 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          No.

          February 17, 2014 at 2:57 pm |
        • hotairace

          According to some, the answer may be in The Babble, perhaps in wolfie's favorite chapter.

          February 17, 2014 at 3:03 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Yep. They used that metaphor.

          February 17, 2014 at 3:06 pm |
        • SeaVik

          If there is no punchline, what is your point of asking questions unrelated to the post that didn't go anywhere?

          February 17, 2014 at 4:26 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          It was pointless. But very relevant.

          February 17, 2014 at 6:13 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I was counting on Apple Bush having a funny reply. It didn't happen. And I really didn't have anything as a back up plan.

          February 17, 2014 at 6:14 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          My bad.

          February 17, 2014 at 6:18 pm |
        • maanirantel

          Actually, Dalahast, the answer to the "no legs" issue IS in the Bible. It was one of the serpent's punishments after tricking Adam and Eve into eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. According to the Bible, "And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life." Just saying...

          February 17, 2014 at 7:57 pm |
        • SeaVik

          And we finally have a punchline! Thanks for the laugh maanirantel.

          February 18, 2014 at 5:37 pm |
      • the0g0to0the0t

        Snake legs – several different animal types (including an amphibian) have come to rely on the "slithering" mode of locomotion. It usually is seen in areas of dense undergrowth and/or foliage.

        Forked tounge – allows for stereoscopic sensing.

        That help?

        February 17, 2014 at 4:26 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          No.

          February 17, 2014 at 4:42 pm |
        • neverbeenhappieratheist

          Could it be the curse God put on it? The one that says he will make it slither on its belly? You know the one after the time where it was in the tree tempting Eve, so I guess when it tempted Eve it looked more like a Lizard, but then afterward God plucked it's limbs off for punishment along with giving women birth pains. Now if you actually believe that along with light refraction not existing until after the flood when God says he invented rainbows then I've got a piece of Ocean front property i'd like to sell you in the Maldives... it's a very good price and with global climate change being a hoax, i'm sure it will still be there for a long time...

          February 18, 2014 at 7:05 pm |
  2. igaftr

    He probably should have checked with the snake to make sure it was christian too.

    February 17, 2014 at 12:45 pm |
    • doobzz

      But you know those snakes....they lie.

      February 17, 2014 at 1:08 pm |
  3. Apple Bush

    The dictionary defines the word "superstition" in this way:
    An irrational belief that an object, action, or circumstance not logically related to a course of events influences its outcome.

    Prayer is rank superstition, nothing more. People who believe in the power of prayer are no different than people who believe in the power of crystal balls, snakes, horoscopes or lucky rabbits feet. Prayer is scientifically proven to be meaningless

    The belief in God is pure superstition.

    February 17, 2014 at 12:41 pm |
  4. johnbiggscr

    So their belief said if you believe in god then he will protect you when handling snakes.
    Then they said that god will heal him if it is his will.

    So that he was bitten and died suggests, using their logic, that god wanted him dead; maybe angry with him or sending a message, or whatever.
    Wonder if they still think, after such an event, that he is in heaven though?

    February 17, 2014 at 12:18 pm |
  5. doobzz

    I thought Jesus said that his followers should obey the civil laws of their land. The deliberate flaunting of Kentucky state law by Paster Coots and the lazy ass, cowardly non-enforcement of the law by Police Chief Sharpe caused this unnecessary and preventable death.

    February 17, 2014 at 11:52 am |
    • johnbiggscr

      Check the back pews on sunday, maybe the sheriff is there.

      February 17, 2014 at 12:18 pm |
      • doobzz

        Getting his "envelope" for looking the other way?

        February 17, 2014 at 12:45 pm |
        • johnbiggscr

          nah, worshiping with them.

          February 17, 2014 at 12:53 pm |
        • doobzz

          So he's looking the other way when it's his friends breaking the law?

          February 17, 2014 at 1:06 pm |
    • otoh2

      pssst, doobzz, maybe just a fast-typing slip there, but it should be "flouting", not "flaunting".

      February 17, 2014 at 12:22 pm |
      • doobzz

        Thanks, yes. "Flouting".

        I'll blame auto correct, just to assuage my ego. Or, I could say it's a translational error or cultural anomaly in my part of the country.

        February 17, 2014 at 12:48 pm |
        • otoh2

          Outstanding! lol

          February 17, 2014 at 12:50 pm |
  6. bostontola

    Poison is real. Poisonous snakes are real delivery systems for poison. That is 100% for sure.

    Who bets against 100% when others have died doing this proving intervention is far from 100%? Delusion is a very powerful thing, apparently more powerful than reality in some.

    February 17, 2014 at 11:38 am |
    • Apple Bush

      I feel so sorry for the children of these wackos.

      February 17, 2014 at 11:50 am |
      • bostontola

        Me too.

        February 17, 2014 at 11:56 am |
      • otoh2

        Apple,

        40 years ago this Jamie Coots was the child of a wacko, who was also the child of a wacko... and Jamie's 21 year-old son is doing the same thing...

        February 17, 2014 at 12:01 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          That illustrates the point. Brainwashing and lack of education. Personally, I don't put these people in any lower esteem than the average religious child abusing brain-washer.

          February 17, 2014 at 12:14 pm |
        • otoh2

          Apple,

          Yeah, I've seen videos of the Pentecostal "services" that show little kids fainting, collapsing and writhing in 'ecstasy' (or whatever). It's sickening.

          February 17, 2014 at 12:28 pm |
  7. bostontola

    Living in the US a person can develop a skewed perspective on how much humans have advanced. People of different backgrounds live together in relative peace. We may reel when one group exerts political pressure on another group, but it is usually dealt with politically and/or in courts.

    In Africa and Asia, that is not the case. Disagreements are dealt with brutally. Many are simple battles over territory or natural resources, as humans have fought over throughout history.

    But it is surprising how much of this brutality is still being conducted over religious beliefs. In the Central African Republic, the Christian majority are brutalizing Muslims with murder and ethnic cleansing after a Muslim uprising earlier. In Nigeria, Muslim extremists bent on imposing Sharia law are on a rampage. In the middle east of course there is a battle raging between Sunni and Shiites with Iran tipping the scales (it's overshadowing their hatred for the Israelis right now). Similar issues flare up in India and western China has religious battles going on.

    February 17, 2014 at 11:29 am |
    • Dalahäst

      I'm glad I live in the United States where I can be free. Some countries, like North Korea would have me executed for believing in Jesus and carrying a book. Fanatical anti-religious people frighten me just as much as fanatical religious people.

      Some people get fanatical over their race, nationality, property, etc. and completely ignore what their religion asks them to do.

      February 17, 2014 at 11:38 am |
      • evolveddna

        Dalhast...who are the anti religious people you are scared of? The biggest threat to religion is other religions. Most atheists here have nothing against the religious folks as far as I can tell ..we just like to point out some of the insanity perpetrated by the belief in a god..as illustrated by this story

        February 17, 2014 at 12:32 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I'm not scared of most of the atheists here. We generally believe in the same ideals.

          There are extremists that I fear.

          February 17, 2014 at 12:38 pm |
  8. hotairace

    What consenting cult members do in their clubhouses is not my business but if a child dies because of their insanities, and flagrant disregard for the law, I hope every legal means is used to shut them down, including bankrupting every member.

    February 17, 2014 at 11:27 am |
    • Apple Bush

      That is one thing that occurred to me when I read this...

      ...Sharpe said. "But we're not going to bust into anybody's church on Sunday morning."

      If "Sharpe" did his job, he would have saved a life. I blame the police too.

      February 17, 2014 at 11:31 am |
      • dashvader

        The life in question here was not worth saving.

        February 17, 2014 at 8:12 pm |
  9. Apple Bush

    I want to say something about this, but what can one say? The man wanted to die.

    February 17, 2014 at 11:16 am |
    • Dalahäst

      He died doing what he loved.

      February 17, 2014 at 11:19 am |
      • Apple Bush

        We should all be so lucky.

        February 17, 2014 at 11:27 am |
      • doobzz

        You could say the same thing about a heroin addict who dies of an overdose.

        February 17, 2014 at 11:27 am |
        • Apple Bush

          Bless their hearts.

          February 17, 2014 at 11:33 am |
  10. thesamyaza

    god lied to him right to the grave maybe in his next life he wont be as stupid, i pray that he is born in a non christian family.

    February 17, 2014 at 11:16 am |
  11. Rynomite

    Good to see a bit of stupidity removed from the gene pool.

    February 17, 2014 at 11:08 am |
    • otoh2

      Except that he has already reproduced...

      February 17, 2014 at 11:40 am |
  12. Lenin

    Ok, editors, we understand that you like posting these articles.

    But, where is the article about

    1) The satanist who killed 22 people?

    2) The book by Wendy Doniger exposing Hinduism?

    Do you not believe in covering all faith angles?

    February 17, 2014 at 11:08 am |
    • Alias

      Those are right behind the cover ups going on at the RCC.

      February 17, 2014 at 11:11 am |
    • tallulah131

      I believe they are still trying to confirm the story of the girl who claimed to be a killer. I'm sure that the story will appear once the know if there is more than one victim.

      February 17, 2014 at 11:33 am |
    • doobzz

      Perhaps they are waiting until there are some actual facts about the self-proclaimed satanist before they publish an opinion piece on her. So far all the authorities have are her claims. It might not even be accurate.

      February 17, 2014 at 11:37 am |
    • Nader Huntington

      Not heard of either of the two stories you have listed. You have a link to those stories making news recently?

      February 17, 2014 at 11:41 am |
      • Lenin

        Yes,

        Go to http://www.google.com, it will come up with the google search page.

        Type the two stories listed above and you will see plenty of hits.

        The second story seems to have the Hindus up in arms against the book, looks like they(hindus) somehow feel that they have a free pass at criticizing others here but when it comes to their own are very closed minded and fanatic.

        Enjoy your google search!

        February 17, 2014 at 11:53 am |
        • doobzz

          "looks like they(hindus) somehow feel that they have a free pass at criticizing others here but when it comes to their own are very closed minded and fanatic."

          Sort of like you're doing here.

          February 17, 2014 at 12:10 pm |
        • Lenin

          ugh? The book has been banned by Hindus.

          Last time we checked, the book by Reza Aslan although considered blasphemous was not censored. No one was up in arms to ban the book or censor the book from being published.

          Your actions are just a poor reflection of how insecure you are in your hindu faith.

          Those who are secure in their faith and on the side of truth don't seek to silence the voice of others.

          February 17, 2014 at 12:19 pm |
        • Akira

          You think doobzz is Hindu, Lenin?

          February 17, 2014 at 12:56 pm |
      • dashvader

        The alleged serial killer was quite recent, so you may not have seen it. Someone went on Craigslist and got at least one person to come to her house, where she killed them. She claims to have killed at least 22 people and to have started at the age of 13 in a Satanic cult. Currently, the "Satanic cult" bit is unconfirmed, as are all but one of the supposed murders.
        As for the book about Hinduism, I heard about that on NPR last week. Someone wrote a book about Hindus, some priest in India got mad, and literally got the book legally banned in India because it, in HIS OWN WORDS, hurt his feelings. He actually gave that as his reason.

        February 17, 2014 at 8:18 pm |
    • jardary

      1. It's on the CNN front page.
      2. Donigers book is tripe written solely to assauge Christians' confirmation bias that anyone not Christian is bad.

      It must be SO hard to be part of the "oppressed" Christian majority. It's almost like you can't even walk up to just about ANY OTHER American and expect them to believe EXACTLY as you do. Oh wait, you DO expect them to believe exactly as you do don't you.

      Let's be honest though. Playing with rattlesnakes is a pretty dumb move.

      February 17, 2014 at 11:45 am |
    • johnbiggscr

      The story of the woman who claimed to have killed 22 people is on the front page, has been since it broke. Right now its a claims, nothing more.

      As for the book....it didn't expose anything. It was her interpretation of the history of the background of Hinduism, and the only people up in arms about it are conservative Hindus. Numerous Hindu authors have called for the ban to be removed.

      February 17, 2014 at 12:12 pm |
    • grumpy0ldman

      Feeling a little embarrassed about being a Christian are you?

      February 17, 2014 at 12:41 pm |
  13. bostontola

    "They were well aware of what they were doing, that they were handling dangerous snakes and could get bit. Please understand that these are not ignorant people but people with beliefs just a little outside the mainstream."

    Coots was far from the first serpent-handler to die from a snakebite. Mack Wolford, one of the tradition's most famous practi.tioners, was killed by a bite in 2012. His father died in 1983 from the same cause.

    Wow...just wow. At least in these cases they are not risking the lives of others like in faith healing. I do feel for the family.

    February 17, 2014 at 11:01 am |
    • lngtrmthnkr

      Boston, I think these people just like snakes. And the thrill of danger . They are risktakers who enjoy the experience. If you tempt fate long enough, you will eventually loose.

      February 17, 2014 at 11:19 am |
      • otoh2

        Blatantly stealing a comment I read yesterday:

        "There are old Coots and there are bold Coots, but there are no old, bold Coots!"

        February 17, 2014 at 11:46 am |
    • otoh2

      bostontola,

      I don't know about the entire family, but his son, Cody, will be taking over the church, starting on Wed., making him the fourth generation of the family to be into that stuff.

      "But it's kinda like a family tradition. If you've not been raised up in this you're not gonna understand it," Cody explained.

      http://www.local8now.com/news/headlines/Snake-handling-pastor-dead–245743541.html

      February 17, 2014 at 11:21 am |
    • thesamyaza

      only wish the died before they breed

      February 17, 2014 at 11:24 am |
      • telnettech

        Hopefully you dont have children too. That way we dont have closed minded indiviuals that think their way is the only way. This was a personal choice on how to worship God. It is no different than any other religions that have extreme believers of how to worship God. Look at the Muslims that blow their selves up in the name of religion or the Buddhist monks that set themselves on fire in the name of religion.

        February 17, 2014 at 1:02 pm |
        • thesamyaza

          i don't think any way is the "right" way, i do think Christianity, Judaism and Islam is the wrong way it teaches to be closed minded, it teaches hate. in a sense i hate , hate.

          February 17, 2014 at 2:03 pm |
        • thesamyaza

          oh and comparing stupidity to martyrdom is well for lack of a better word; stupid

          February 17, 2014 at 2:19 pm |
  14. tallulah131

    It was absolutely preventable, but he chose religion over common sense. In a sense, he was simply playing russian roulette.

    February 17, 2014 at 10:57 am |
    • Woody

      "When religion comes in at the door, common sense goes out at the window."
      — Lemuel Washburn

      February 17, 2014 at 11:50 am |
  15. Robert Brown

    Matthew 4

    5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6 and saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

    If you folks living in that area want to hear some good preaching check out pastor Bingham at Gateway. I've watched him on television several times and heard at tent revival in person. He does a really good job.

    February 17, 2014 at 10:52 am |
    • hotairace

      A really god job of what? Continuing to spread unproven supernatural crap, pretending it is fact?

      February 17, 2014 at 11:04 am |
      • wesscott2014

        He does a great job of conning stupid people out of their money, and most of them really do not have extra money to spare. But, preachers are leeches that suck life out of their victims so that the preachers don't have to get regular jobs.

        February 17, 2014 at 11:45 am |
    • sam stone

      a good job of what? providing further warm and fuzzy feelings for believers?

      February 17, 2014 at 11:53 am |
    • evolveddna

      Robert.." I've watched him on television several times and heard at tent revival in person. He does a really good job." Did he get the tent to come back to life?

      February 17, 2014 at 12:42 pm |
    • grumpy0ldman

      Do you play with snakes too?

      February 17, 2014 at 12:44 pm |
      • sam stone

        now, THERE'S AN IDEA!

        robertbrown: i think you should demonstrate your piety by going out and playing with venomous snakes. french kiss one, that should really show us you go right to the back of god's short bus. but, hurry, it's getting crowded back there

        February 17, 2014 at 3:10 pm |
  16. theophileo

    If he had actually READ his Bible, he would have understood that in Mark 16:17-18, Jesus was speaking TO the apostles, and ABOUT the apostles... It says NOTHING to the church as a whole.

    This is why proper hermeneutics are absolutely necessary, and in this case, bad hermeneutics had lethal consequences.

    February 17, 2014 at 10:51 am |
    • Dalahäst

      I'm sure he read the Bible. He probably just thought he was an apostle.

      February 17, 2014 at 10:53 am |
    • archtopopotamus

      In many cases believing the writings of primitive peoples proves fatal.

      February 17, 2014 at 11:00 am |
      • Dalahäst

        Were they primitive?

        February 17, 2014 at 11:04 am |
        • jardary

          They believed that the Earth didn't move, that the moon emitted light, and lived before the invention of toilet paper or air conditioning.

          Yes, they were primative.

          February 17, 2014 at 11:48 am |
        • thesamyaza

          even to bronze age polytheist they were primitive.

          February 17, 2014 at 11:51 am |
        • Dalahäst

          In 2,000 years our best ideas will become primitive, too.

          February 17, 2014 at 11:55 am |
        • hotairace

          Advancement of ideas is normal, in fact highly sought after, in the scientific world. Compare that to the world of gods – no advancement, no evidence, just heaps and heaps of words trying to rationalize the irrational.

          February 17, 2014 at 12:01 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          In regards to the entire history of mankind, they fall past the primitive stages. They probably didn't have as much leisure time as us, nor ipods. But they were highly intelligent.

          February 17, 2014 at 12:05 pm |
        • doobzz

          "In 2,000 years our best ideas will become primitive, too."

          So? Is that your reasoning for hanging on to even more primitive ideas?

          If that's the case, next time you get sick, just have your barber drill a couple of holes in your head to let out the bad spirits. After all, in 2000 years, taking antibiotics or having chemotherapy might be considered primitive treatments for illness.

          February 17, 2014 at 12:06 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          So? Is that your reasoning for hanging on to even more primitive ideas?

          No. I don't hang onto primitive ideas that don't work anymore. A vast majority of Christians don't either, that is why so many hospitals have Christian (or religious) names, like St. Mary's Hospital, Providence Hospital, Menorah Medical, etc.

          And there are no Christian drill a hole in your head programs.

          February 17, 2014 at 12:18 pm |
        • thesamyaza

          even to bronze age polytheist they were primitive.

          Dalahäst

          In 2,000 years our best ideas will become primitive, too.

          you do know it went bronze age -> iron age right.Christianity was in reverse we pagans bathed and drank clean water, how was that black plague?

          February 17, 2014 at 12:43 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          They were writing, which was pretty advanced for that time.

          Not all the pagans were that advanced, either. I mean pagans is very va.gue. You are probably the only person I've ever seen on this blog that identifies as a pagan. Welcome. I'll look forward to seeing your points of view.

          February 17, 2014 at 12:49 pm |
        • doobzz

          "No. I don't hang onto primitive ideas that don't work anymore."

          Like believing in human sacrifice to appease an angry deity? Sure, you don't. Lol.

          February 17, 2014 at 2:13 pm |
        • thesamyaza

          You are probably the only person I've ever seen on this blog that identifies as a pagan. Welcome. I'll look forward to seeing your points of view.

          well i'm kind of an unique pagan, being an anti-christian actually gets me shunned quite a bit by the pagan community. most pagans actually tolerate Christians, i believe this to be a mistake. i used to be like them i learns better. i do like heretic Christian just keep disagree with your god and his teachings so fare you come off as a heretic so nothing against you but your god and his teaches are still evil.
          "the only good christian is a heretic Christian"

          also i have been here for about 3 years know but thanks for the welcome

          February 17, 2014 at 2:39 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          "Like believing in human sacrifice to appease an angry deity? Sure, you don't. Lol."

          Exactly. I don't. Lololol.

          February 17, 2014 at 2:40 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          What other names do you post under? I hope you are not that "peterpeter" guy that was acting hostile toward me.

          Also, why don't you demonstrate how to behave? You seem to be acting just like the Christians you hate. I

          February 17, 2014 at 2:43 pm |
        • thesamyaza

          the mirror effect I'm in character
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samyaza

          i play the character in three general characterization; one moment I am a pompous ass hat, the next a gallant rebel fighting the ultimate evil, the back to the anguished bigot. sometimes you can catch me out of character, such as now, which is the level headed side.

          Sam Yaza tens to be my primary name, before the site demanded me to sign into wordpress.

          February 17, 2014 at 3:04 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Ok, now I see. I was reading that as thesam yaza

          February 17, 2014 at 3:06 pm |
        • doobzz

          Doobzz: "Like believing in human sacrifice to appease an angry deity? Sure, you don't. Lol."

          Dalahast: "Exactly. I don't. Lololol."

          Oh, my mistake. I thought that you were a Christian.

          February 17, 2014 at 3:28 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I am.

          February 17, 2014 at 3:56 pm |
        • doobzz

          Oh, but you don't believe in the sacrifice of Jesus to save your soul from eternal damnation though.

          February 17, 2014 at 4:02 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I'm not trying to appease an angry deity.

          February 17, 2014 at 4:06 pm |
        • doobzz

          Why did Jesus die then?

          February 17, 2014 at 5:05 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Not because he was angry at us.

          February 17, 2014 at 6:11 pm |
        • doobzz

          I didn't ask why he didn't die, I asked why he did die.

          February 17, 2014 at 6:30 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          You suggested God was angry.

          February 17, 2014 at 6:31 pm |
        • doobzz

          No, the bible states that its deity gets angry about various things.

          Now can you answer my question? Why did Jesus die?

          February 17, 2014 at 6:35 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Because on the cross we don’t see a legal transaction where Jesus pays our debt. We see God. The Word made flesh hangs from the cross as though God is saying “I would rather die than be in your sin accounting business anymore”.

          February 17, 2014 at 6:46 pm |
        • doobzz

          Again, you are dodging my question by telling me what Jesus' death wasn't, isn't, or didn't.

          Your Hallmark card drivel about "seeing God" is also not an answer.

          Why did Jesus die?

          February 17, 2014 at 7:19 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          TIME DATE TEST
          🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

          Wooohoo

          February 18, 2014 at 6:16 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁
          The mystery of faith.

          February 18, 2014 at 6:27 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          He bleed to death after being crucified.

          February 17, 2014 at 6:47 pm |
        • doobzz

          Cute, but you still haven't answered the question.

          Clearly you don't want to, as you keep dodging, trying to distract, giving a non-answer and the usual tactics you are known to use when you don't have an answer to the hard questions.

          New name, but same old coward.

          February 17, 2014 at 7:21 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I'm not a coward. And you make a silly bully, internet tough guy!

          That wasn't a greeting card saying.

          You can read this if you want to know more to something that is similar to my understanding:

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nadiabolzweber/2012/04/a-palm-sunday-sermon-on-why-we-dont-go-straight-from-hosanna-to-he-is-risen/

          It is different from yours. That is ok if we disagree.

          I feel like you are asking loaded questions, and I really don't feel like playing into a formal fallacy.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loaded_question

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loaded_question

          February 17, 2014 at 7:48 pm |
        • doobzz

          Again, you are creating diversions to try to avoid answering a simple question. That does make you a coward.

          Why did Jesus die? is a simple question and you don't seem to be able to answer it. LOL! I wonder why??

          February 17, 2014 at 9:38 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I've answered it.

          He died because he refused to hate the people that hated him (his murderers, accusers). He let their sin kill him. And he died innocent.

          February 17, 2014 at 10:34 pm |
        • doobzz

          Wow, you are really dragging out the flimsy stuff now. "He let their sin kill him." LOL.

          You must be pretty embarrassed and ashamed of your faith and your "messiah" if you refuse to give a direct answer to the question "Why did Jesus die?".

          On the positive side, you won't be converting any new victims with your "explanation". You can't/won't/aren't able to articulate the very basis of your faith clearly.

          Same old AE. Makes bold declarations, but then dances like Richard Gere in Chicago when the hard questions are asked.

          February 18, 2014 at 11:50 am |
        • Dalahäst

          TIME DATE TEST
          🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

          February 18, 2014 at 6:17 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Good night and God save Illinois.

          🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

          February 18, 2014 at 6:26 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I don't agree with your opinion: "believing in human sacrifice to appease an angry deity?"

          You insist you are right. But that doesn't describe my belief. It describes your belief.

          It is difficult to continue on when you seem to only want to insist I have to accept your idea. I can't have my own.

          I do help people grow in the faith. I have evidence of that.

          February 18, 2014 at 11:58 am |
        • doobzz

          I never stated an opinion. I asked you a question. You refuse to answer it. You keep dodging, throwing out distractions and spinning the question, but you can't/won't answer it.

          Same old AE, making declarations about the glory of his cult, but never able to withstand any real scrutiny.

          Why did Jesus die?

          February 18, 2014 at 12:07 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Yes, you did state an opinion!

          Most Christians do not have an angry, vengeful God. But you just think they do.

          – Why did Jesus die?

          This life has consequences. "You reap what you sow." The wages of sin are death. The selfish, self-centered, arrogant, mean-spirited, dishonest, hypocritical and judgmental things we do are sinful. These evil things harm us and those we inflict them on. God is holy and such things can not exist in his presence. Jesus takes the place of that evil in our life and he destroys it.

          He died because he refused to fight back. And his death made him stronger and we can know all have access to him.

          February 18, 2014 at 12:15 pm |
        • doobzz

          Another attempt to distract from your inability/refusal to answer a question. I didn't state an opinion – I asked you what you believe in. You continue to hedge and sidestep the answer.

          Your god must be very ashamed of you right now for your denial of him and his "work".

          Poor AE. So convinced he is right, yet so unable to withstand the scrutiny of his beliefs. Weak sauce.

          February 18, 2014 at 1:15 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I have answered. I'm trying to explain what I believe in. You just don't like it or something. Guess what, there are right-wing fundamentalist Christians who don't like what I believe in either. Why don't you find one of those and you guys can see eye-to-eye on your similar understandings?

          Do you see where I pasted what you asked – What did Jesus die for?

          Under that, my answer. He died for us, because of our evil ways, dishonesty, judgmental, hypocrisy, etc.

          February 18, 2014 at 1:20 pm |
        • doobzz

          "He died for us, because of our evil ways, dishonesty, judgmental, hypocrisy, etc."

          Why?

          February 18, 2014 at 1:24 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Because everything has consequences. We are responsible for what we do. Dishonesty, for example, interferes with God's plan. Like in the myth of Adam and Eve: after doing something wrong, they lied, blamed others and wouldn't take responsibility for their actions.

          God has to teach them to be better.

          My dog likes to run out of the front door and chase cats. I know it is dangerous for him because there is a lot of fast traffic on my street. So I have to scold and discipline my dog so he doesn't kill himself.

          From my dog's perspective, I'm probably being an angry and vindictive d-ic-k head. But I know better than he does. I'm doing it to protect him because I love him.

          And, look, there is no simple 3 or 4 word answer to that question. So I'm making an analogy. And it really doesn't do the situation justice. But I'm trying to let you know what I have been taught.

          February 18, 2014 at 1:36 pm |
        • doobzz

          LOL, that is a really dumb analogy. Do you make your dog repent when it runs into the street, like your god does with you? Does your dog kill a cat for you to make up for its "sin"?

          You are such a coward, AE. There is a simple answer to my question. You know it and I know it. You are just too cowardly to address the issue head on and insist on distractions and non answers to cover for you.

          February 18, 2014 at 1:47 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          No. And nobody makes me repent, either. Nor do I kill anything for my sin. It is an analogy, not a perfect description.

          What is your answer? I"m sure I've heard it before and can find it present on various message boards and fanatical atheist webpages. So? I don't agree.

          That doesn't make me a coward. What you think about me doesn't really matter. Your just a dude on the internet with an opinion different than mine.

          It really is ok. I'm fine with your beliefs. They are yours. Not mine.

          February 18, 2014 at 1:52 pm |
        • doobzz

          "What is your answer?"

          I'm the one who asked the question. You're the one with the answers, remember? You're just too cowardly to state what your beliefs are because you know that they won't stand up to scrutiny.

          February 18, 2014 at 2:02 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I asked you a question, too, and now what? You do the same thing you accuse me of by not answering it? That is hypocrisy in action.

          There is evidence I'm not too cowardly to state what my beliefs are. I've been typing them to you.

          If you need to resort to name calling to get your point across it must not be that compelling. I guess that is why not many support your views.

          February 18, 2014 at 2:26 pm |
        • doobzz

          No, you haven't answered my question. You've danced around it.

          "If you need to resort to name calling to get your point across it must not be that compelling. I guess that is why not many support your views."

          Are you a mind reader? Wow, that must be awesome. But I will go back and try to find the question you asked.

          February 18, 2014 at 2:29 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I asked you the same question you were asking me!!!!

          February 18, 2014 at 3:14 pm |
        • doobzz

          Why did Jesus die?

          I have no idea. There's almost no evidence that he ever lived, so why he died is impossible to know, other than all humans die.

          February 18, 2014 at 4:54 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Ok. Most atheists admit he exist. They just don't see the evidence of his supernatural claims.

          February 18, 2014 at 4:55 pm |
        • doobzz

          And it didn't take you a day to drag the answer out of me either.

          You, on the other hand, are still trying to get away with "It's complicated." and other non answers. You don't even have the balls to quote Hebrews 10:12. You're a coward and you can't even stand up for the religion you spout off here as truth.

          February 18, 2014 at 5:18 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I've been trying to explain it to you.

          The fear or me being a coward: your imagination.

          My religion:

          “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” (1 Timothy 2:3-6)

          Jesus Christ will save all humanity. Not just the Christians who literally believe what you imagine.

          It is part of God's plan to restore His whole creation.

          That is the Good News.

          I'm familiar with the theology you are preaching. I don't believe that or preach that theology. I have trust and confidence in a different understanding.

          It is really that simple.

          February 18, 2014 at 5:28 pm |
        • doobzz

          What theology am I preaching?

          February 18, 2014 at 5:29 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I think you might be preaching the "Satisfaction theory of atonement"

          Except instead of a God who is protecting justice, you have one that is just a vindictive p.rick.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atonement_%28satisfaction_view%29

          February 18, 2014 at 5:42 pm |
        • doobzz

          LOL!! I'm not preaching about your god or anyone else's god. I simply mentioned a scripture.

          February 18, 2014 at 5:52 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I'm talking about your answer and what you insinuate it means.

          Not the scripture you posted. That line of scripture by itself means nothing.

          February 18, 2014 at 5:53 pm |
        • doobzz

          Please be specific. This is a long thread and I really am not sure what answer you mean or what you think I am insinuating. I'm tired of trying to get you to answer by playing Twenty Questions.

          February 18, 2014 at 6:40 pm |
        • doobzz

          "Jesus Christ will save all humanity. Not just the Christians who literally believe what you imagine."

          What am I imagining?

          February 18, 2014 at 5:35 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          You are imagining I believe something different. I'm not really sure what you imagine I believe.

          February 18, 2014 at 5:45 pm |
        • doobzz

          I have no idea what you believe. You won't tell me.

          February 18, 2014 at 5:52 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I have similar views to this guy:

          "Christian exclusiveness, for that is what the lack of charity suggests, cannot face the requirements of modesty, the notion that all is not known and that we do not know all. When devout Christians believe that only Christians of a particular doctrinal stripe have access to God, that, for example, God hears their prayers only, they stand in cosmic immodesty. The Christian Bible more than once makes the point that God’s ways are not our ways, and that the mind of God is vastly different from our own minds. Thus, when Christians state categorically that Jews, or Muslims, or believers in other faith systems are outside the provisions of God, they utter arrogant nonsense. A respectful agnosticism is called for when often there is offered in its place a self-interested certainty. If God is the God of all, and not just a tribal deity, then God has made provision, not necessarily known to us, for the healing and care of all his creation, and not simply our little part of it.

          J. B. Phillips observed many years ago that one’s God is too small if within God’s providence there is no care and awareness of the other. This is what the hymn writer F. W. Faber meant in “There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy,” when he said:

          For the love of God is broader

          Than the measure of our mind:;

          And the heart of the Eternal

          Is most wonderfully kind.

          If there is any good news that is truly good news for everybody, and not just for a few somebodies, it is this: God is greater and more generous than the best of those who profess to know and serve him. This is the radical nonconformity with the conventional wisdom that Jesus both proclaimed and exemplified, and, alas, it cost him his life. Will we hope to fare any better, as disciples of his nonconformity?"

          – Peter Gomes

          God has made provision (Jesus), not necessarily known to us (mystery), for the healing and care of all his creation (salvation), and not simply our little part of it (universal).

          February 18, 2014 at 5:58 pm |
        • doobzz

          That means nothing. So you have views similar to this guy? Where do you agree with him and where do you differ? Why do you agree or not agree? And none of it addresses the original question.

          Another way of not saying what you really believe. Keep it up. You probably create doubt in someone's mind every time you post some drivel that is "similar to my views" and more greeting card crap as an answer.

          February 18, 2014 at 6:48 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Oh well. Some guy on the internet doesn't like me.

          Darn. I tried to explain, sorry for the misunderstandings. Peace out.

          February 18, 2014 at 6:54 pm |
        • doobzz

          Run away, little coward. LOL.

          February 18, 2014 at 7:06 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          TIME DATE TEST
          🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

          Posting the magical way......

          February 18, 2014 at 6:07 pm |
        • doobzz

          "What is your answer? I"m sure I've heard it before and can find it present on various message boards and fanatical atheist webpages. So? I don't agree."

          That's the only question I see you asking, but I don't see what it is referring to. Interesting that you already know my answer to a question I didn't realize you asked and don't agree with the answer I never gave.

          February 18, 2014 at 2:35 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I asked you why do you think Jesus died?

          I told you what I thought. You didn't like it. But I tried to explain myself.

          February 18, 2014 at 3:15 pm |
        • doobzz

          You keep saying that I didn't like your answer. Not true. You are putting words into my mouth.

          I simply pointed out that you didn't answer the question. You gave a lot of blather about seeing god and Jesus dying because he refused to hate his enemies. You tried a few distractions which didn't work either.

          February 18, 2014 at 4:33 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Why did Jesus die?

          It is complicated. It is not an easy answer. So let me explain...
          (now start to read everything I have posted).
          That is my understanding of it.

          That is what I know and what I have been taught and experienced.

          I have no idea why you say I am not answering it. That is your imagination or something. I asked if you could give me your answer to the question and you haven't answered. You are basically doing the exact thing you accuse me of.

          Oh well.

          February 18, 2014 at 4:36 pm |
        • doobzz

          I answered. Sorry if it wasn't quick enough for you.

          February 18, 2014 at 4:56 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          TIME DATE TEST
          🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

          Posting the secret Christian way......

          February 18, 2014 at 6:08 pm |
        • hotairace

          Gentlemen! Take look at the time stamps on posts in this thread. The posts are out of order making it very difficult to follow questions and answers. I was told months ago this has to do with the interface used to enter a post – the web interface vs the native WordPress interface – but I don't remember the details. Anyway, this may be contributing to a "failure to communicate."

          February 18, 2014 at 5:36 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          I am replying through the "notifications" tab. Not through the message board (not directly any way).

          February 18, 2014 at 5:47 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          –Time Traveling AE ->

          "Howdy"

          🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

          February 18, 2014 at 6:20 pm |
        • doobzz

          @HHA

          I am posting from WordPress, except this response, because it didn't show up there. Don't know why things got out of order – I responded in the order Dala's posts came up. Sorry if I contributed to the confusion.

          February 18, 2014 at 5:41 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Confused?

          February 18, 2014 at 6:28 pm |
        • doobzz

          No, you?

          February 18, 2014 at 6:50 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Just testing out the date/posting placement thing.

          February 18, 2014 at 6:53 pm |
        • hotairace

          No need for any apologies as I don't think this is a user issue, it's an interface issue. But I do suspect that at least one vociferous user uses this "feature" to his advantage, present company excepted, of course.

          February 18, 2014 at 6:05 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          Back to the Future.

          February 18, 2014 at 6:20 pm |
        • Dalahäst

          TIME DATE TEST
          🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

          Posting the normal way......

          February 18, 2014 at 6:06 pm |
    • Alias

      He was clearly speaking to the apostles, but where does he limit this to apply only to them?
      Or did everything he sadi to the apostles only apply to them?

      February 17, 2014 at 11:09 am |
      • theophileo

        As with interpreting any doc.ument: context and internal clues.

        February 17, 2014 at 11:44 am |
        • doobzz

          Christians claim that anyone can read and understand the bible, except when the bible is obviously wrong. Then there are "translational mistakes", "context", "internal clues", "cultural anomalies", and various other complicated and impossibly circuitous reasonings that must be made.

          February 17, 2014 at 12:01 pm |
        • otoh2

          theo,
          "internal clues."

          What kind of just, loving god sends people to eternal torment (or oblivion) for incorrectly following the ambiguous 'clues' and guessing Miss Scarlett in the Kitchen with a rope instead of Professor Plum in the Ballroom with a revolver?

          Your "God" character is an evil Gamemaster.

          February 17, 2014 at 12:14 pm |
      • the0g0to0the0t

        I believe the rational is that ALL christians are expected to be apostles, so it should apply to all "true" christians.

        February 17, 2014 at 12:33 pm |
        • theophileo

          It could be, but the problem with trying to say that all believers are apostles is that the Biblical definition of an apostle includes being appointed directly by Christ, and having seen the risen Lord. This man was neither of those.

          February 17, 2014 at 12:40 pm |
    • grumpy0ldman

      Or you could just read it with the understanding that it is a work of fiction, pieced together by men from the writings of other men.

      February 17, 2014 at 12:48 pm |
    • maanirantel

      Actually, it is YOUR hermeneutics that is wrong.

      Here is the passage, in context: "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 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."

      Note that: "All these signs shall follow them that believe"; i.e., not "all these signs shall follow only you" (i.e., the Apostles), but "them that believe" – i.e., anyone and everyone that believes. This is pretty clear, and needs no interpretation.

      February 17, 2014 at 8:06 pm |
  17. myweightinwords

    Having faith is one thing, tempting death is quite another in my opinion.

    February 17, 2014 at 10:50 am |
  18. bostontola

    1 in 4 Americans Apparently Unaware the Earth Orbits the Sun

    They must have been sick the day this was taught in school.
    By Samantha Grossman, Time Magazine Feb. 16, 2014

    Does the Earth go around the sun, or does the sun go around the Earth?

    When asked that question, 1 in 4 Americans surveyed answered incorrectly. Yes, 1 in 4. In other words, a quarter of Americans do not understand one of the most fundamental principles of basic science. So that’s where we are as a society right now.

    The war on rationality will not help us compete in this century.

    February 17, 2014 at 10:47 am |
    • Robert Brown

      Do you think a lot of nonbelievers are scientists or at least science minded?

      February 17, 2014 at 10:57 am |
      • bostontola

        Robert,
        I can't say. That is a red herring with respect to my point though. Having a fourth of people not know something that basic is perilous given how competi.tive this next century will be. We have enjoyed world dominance for multiple generations, so we have forgotten what compet.ition feels like.

        February 17, 2014 at 11:09 am |
    • maanirantel

      Of course, if 70% of Americans claim one form of Christianity or another, but only 1 out of 4 Americans knows that the Earth revolves around the sun, then this is clearly not a "religious" issue, or 3 out of 4 Americans would not know it. So it is not JUST (some, maybe many) believers who don't know this, but many atheists (or at least non-believers) as well.

      February 17, 2014 at 8:09 pm |
      • incredulousmark

        You read that stat completely backwards. 1 in 4 didn't know the earth revolved around the sun. Probably almost all Christians.

        February 17, 2014 at 10:11 pm |
  19. sam stone

    many if he pulled the bible out of his backside, he could have thought more clearly

    February 17, 2014 at 10:45 am |
  20. Maks Troy

    Why would you deal with the devil for a living?

    February 17, 2014 at 10:42 am |
    • doobzz

      Dealing with imaginary creatures and scaring people into giving you money can be lucrative. Joel Osteen seems to be doing pretty well with the concept.

      February 17, 2014 at 11:24 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.