Pastor’s Snake Death, The Stress Of Long-Term Unemployment, Wisconsin’s Role In The Black Hawk War

Air Date:
Heard On Central Time

One of the lingering effects of the Great Recession is long-term unemployment. In the first installment of WPR’s long-term unemployment series, a reporter looks at how an unsuccessful search for work can take a toll on the mind. Then Veronica Rueckert and Gene Purcell talk to a psychologist about the stress related to long-term unemployment. They learn about the role Wisconsin played in the Black Hawk War and discuss the death of a snake-handling pastor by snakebite..

Featured in this Show

  • Snake-Handling Pastor Shared Final Thoughts In Recent Interview

    The Rev. Jamie Coots, a Pentecostal pastor who handled snakes as part of church practice, died on Saturday after refusing medical attention for a fatal bite.

    Coots was a star of the National Geographic Channel’s “Snake Salvation” and his death has attracted national media attention.

    Wisconsin Public Radio producer Charles Monroe-Kane interviewed Coots only two weeks before his death for “To The Best Of Our Knowledge,” during which Coots embraced the possible fatality of his spiritual practice. In the interview, Coots said he didn’t want to die from a snake bite “because it brings persecution upon the church.”

    However, he said that if he had to die from a tragedy, “I rather, even though it’s going to bring persecution, (by) serpent … and everybody around me praying as (opposed) to in a car crash, and everybody standing around me cussing.”

    In the wake of Coots’ death, Monroe-Kane expressed concern that the media had labeled him as someone who refused medical attention for religious reasons, which he said isn’t the case.

    “(Coots) goes to the hospital once a week for treatments for his asthma,” he said. “The reason they don’t get medical treatment is about being embarrassed … Those local hospitals would see them and see their failure and it wouldn’t bring grace to God.”

    Coots had been bit multiple times previously and even lost part of a finger. He said that injuries can happen “because you move too quickly … or you had something in your life that you shouldn’t have been handling at that time … maybe you just had an argument with your wife.”

    In spite of the ridicule that some might place on such religious practices, Coots insisted that his church wasn’t exceptional.

    “It’s no different than any other church except the small part of taking up serpents, which is not done as often as people think. Our main goal, like every other religion, is salvation,” he said.

    Listen to full “To The Best Of Our Knowledge” segment.

  • Snake Bite Kills Snake-Handling Preacher

    This weekend Jamie Coots, a preacher who handled snakes in church and was the subject of a reality show, died from a snakebite. Last week he spoke with a producer from To The Best Of Our Knowledge about the danger of handling snakes and how it fit into his faith. We hear some of that conversation and discuss it with the producer.

  • The Stress Of Long-Term Unemployment

    A clinical psychologist discusses some of the stress associated with long-term unemployment and what you can do to fight it.

  • Wisconsin Life: Black Hawk War

    An expert explains the role Wisconsin played in the Black Hawk War, which was the war that gave a young Abraham Lincoln his only military experience.

Episode Credits

  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Charles Monroe-Kane Guest
  • Laurence Miller Guest
  • Robert Birmingham Guest
  • Amanda Magnus Producer