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Eddie Long, investor clash over church money
February 3rd, 2011
05:45 PM ET

Eddie Long, investor clash over church money

Bishop Eddie Long, the Atlanta pastor who has received massive media attention since four young men accused him of sexual coercion last September, is entangled in a dispute with an entrepreneur over $1 million in investments that Long wants returned to his church members.

The week-long dispute has included dueling press statements, an accusation of character assassination and a YouTube video in which Long pleaded with the entrepreneur to show compassion.

Long, senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Church in suburban Atlanta,  said in the YouTube video that Ephren Taylor from City Capital Corporation held a “wonderful” financial seminar at his church last year that inspired some members  to invest about $1 million in retirement accounts through the corporation.

Long said those investments went “sour” and is asking Taylor and City Capital to return the money because some investors from his 25,000-member church are experiencing hardships.

“Please do what’s right,” Long said, addressing Taylor in the video posted on Sunday. “You’re a great fellow. You’re a great man. You do great things. Let’s settle this so these families can move on.”

Long, who declined to be interviewed, did not say in his video how the investment allegedly went sour.

He says that neither he nor New Birth received any "financial blessing or gift" from hosting Taylor’s seminar.

Efforts to reach City Capital, which has an Atlanta address, by phone over a two-day period were unsuccessful because the line remained constantly busy. Taylor, who said he left his position as CEO of City Capital last year, released a public statement on Tuesday.

Taylor called Long’s YouTube video misleading.

“Due to many inaccuracies, and based upon what I view as a direct character assassination and an attempt to paint a picture of an inability, on my part, to take responsibility for the actions of City Capital Corporation during my tenure as CEO, I am extending facts…” Taylor wrote in his statement.

Taylor declined an interview request.

Taylor said that he has been personally involved in resolving concerns from New Birth members. He said City Capital attorneys hosted a conference call with “all New Birth members involved” as recently as last month.

Taylor said City Capital’s legal team had also contacted New Birth members via telephone and e-mail based on a list provided by the church.

“Since last year, the legal team has been working with individuals to legally and privately resolve, refund and restructure any potential issues,” Taylor said.

Taylor also disputed Long’s claim that New Birth did not make any money from his seminar. He said the church “received a percentage of product sales” from his seminar.

Long released a statement Wednesday saying that he stood behind his video.

“New Birth and Bishop Long are not personally attacking Ephren Taylor, or his former company. New Birth and Bishop Long are merely supporting New Birth members…” Long's statement said.

Long reiterated that he did not receive any personal financial benefits from Taylor’s appearance at New Birth but said it is standard practice for New Birth’s bookstore to handle speakers and vendors who appear at the church.

“There are associated operational costs in having these events occur at New Birth, which as a matter of policy, are to be reimbursed by the applicable speaker or vendor,” Long's statement said.

Long has denied the sexual coercion claims against him and asked that the suits be dismissed. The men alleged in the suits that Long used his position as their spiritual counselor to pressure them into sexual relationships, and gave them gifts that included money and cars.

A judge set a tentative trial date for this July, but both parties have agreed to meet for mediation, which is expected to be held in mid-February.

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Christianity • Georgia • Pastors • United States

soundoff (362 Responses)
  1. Concerned

    If the souring of the investments was due to normal market fluctuations, then it's too bad, so sad. If they had been market winners, would they happily return their profits to the other market losers? If they haven't the stomach for playing the game, don't play the game. If their financial future was that tenuous, their decision to sink large sums in the market was unwise.

    February 4, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  2. lance corporal

    wow the christian church has no connection to god

    February 4, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  3. David, CA

    I'm sure that this perverted, self appointed "Bishop" can dig into his own deep pockets and refund these investments if he thinks it's necessary.

    February 4, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Q

      Nope, he has to pay those boys off first...lol

      February 4, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
  4. Ryan

    If this is the case, that you can get your money back if an investment goes south, then I will immediately expect Wells Fargo to return any monies that have been lost on my 401k over the last 10 years. Investment without risk, sign me up!

    February 4, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  5. Marc

    Boohoohooo If they made a ton of money they would not give it back! "Greed" you invest in risky behavior oops I mean busness and lose money and expect them to give it back. They do not have it, its gone. You make me sike , why dont you give it to them sence they invested because you let them in and figured you would not guide them the wrong way.

    February 4, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  6. lefty

    The average church goer is not very bright. This is why we have churches... so someone can "tell" people what to do. A fool and his money are soon parted. Nothing new under the sun here.

    February 4, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • David, CA

      Just file it under "one born every minute".

      February 4, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • Todd

      I thought the saying was, a fool and his money are soon elected.

      February 4, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • Righty

      Nice use of bible passages there Lefty. Now, work on that whole superiority complex thing you have going (average church goer...) and you'll do fine.

      February 4, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  7. Eric

    See this is why people with lower intelligence (people draw to religion) are easily manipulated to do just about anything (hand over money or blow themselves up, either way).

    February 4, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • Yeah?

      So, they should all listen to you instead? Perhaps you could enlighten them with your self-proclaimed superior intellect. There are many radical atheists as well. Maybe they are in need of leadership. Judging a group by the actions of a few is called ______. You're so smart, fill in the blank.

      February 4, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • SteveO

      it is not that these people have 'lower intelligence'... that is absurd. and to say church-goers are not bright. keep in mind, the teachings of the Bible have been plenty of peoples ONLY source of any kind of 'formal' education. enlightenment... that is the breakout. don't judge those that have not (yet) 'seen the light'... plenty are much smarter than you and me.

      February 4, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
  8. Steve-O

    I'm not sayin, but i'm just sayin that someone just needs to do us all a favor and send him to his beloved god.

    February 4, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  9. Duckburner

    Sounds like Bishop Long's flock isn't filling the collection plate as full on Sundays so he's asking for some cash back to make sure that happens. Long is a crook – plain and simple. But, to all his "followers" – you are enabling this to happen. I have a hard time feeling sorry for you when you walk rigth into this sort of mess. "the Lord said, You got ta rise up....ehh heh. You got ta take a grip....ehh heh."

    February 4, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • Buckwheat

      Dat's Wight QuackLighter, You tell dem!

      February 4, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  10. Buckwheat

    O, tay look out people, here come dat two-two twain again and Eddie is the CABOOSE!

    February 4, 2011 at 11:22 am |
  11. Fred the Wonder Platypus

    I lost big in Vegas last weekend. I want my money back.

    February 4, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • DC Commuter

      okay that was funny

      February 4, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • Todd

      As long as you didn't get married during your trip, you didn't lose everything.

      February 4, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  12. steve

    You appropriate a few of the basic rites of pasage, like marriage, birth and death, and some festivals, and you've got it going on!

    February 4, 2011 at 11:20 am |
  13. RealisticExpectations

    How funny!

    So, using Long's logic, if WE make a bad investment, we should get our money back when it doesn't turn a profit?

    Sorry, dude. There is no guaranteed return on an investment, no matter what someone may try to tell you in order to get you to pony over money.

    February 4, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • Bishop Long

      Have a heart man. If these people don't get their money back, they won't be able to afford to hear me preach!

      February 4, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  14. steve

    The God business is the business to be in. As long as you keep your hands off the congregation, you can make a fortune.

    February 4, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • Duckburner

      Which by some accounts would seem Ol' Ed couldn't keep his hands to himself.....

      February 4, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • d

      And it's all TAX FREE!!

      February 4, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Judy

      Exactly. LR Hubbard said it best, if you want to make a millon dollars start your own religion.

      February 4, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
  15. David Johnson

    The article said:
    "Long reiterated that he did not receive any personal financial benefits from Taylor’s appearance at New Birth but said it is standard practice for New Birth’s bookstore to handle speakers and vendors who appear at the church."

    What do they mean "handle speakers and vendors who appear at the church"? Hmmm....

    Cheers!

    February 4, 2011 at 8:05 am |
  16. doctore0

    One day the sheep will figure out: Gawd is money, their money in the pastors pockets.

    February 4, 2011 at 3:47 am |
    • Qi

      That day will never come. The supply of simpletons is endless. Just supply and demand.

      February 4, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • Brad

      I'm an atheist who knows many religious people, and they are not simpletons. You people that call them simpletons based on the fact that they believe in a God, are probably simpletons yourself. Calling them names is the only way to make yourself feel important. I'm really sick of the way religious people treat nonreligious , or other religions, and vis versa. Grow up people, just because someone doesn't believe the same as you, doesn't make them less or more important than you. Give it a chance, you will find that people from all walks of life make good friends, even though you disagree on things.

      February 4, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • Neat-0

      Well said Brad.

      February 4, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • Chumlee

      Qi, you're proof of your statement.

      February 4, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  17. jo an

    Need new name for NEW BIRTH....how about NEAR DEATH???

    February 4, 2011 at 12:37 am |
    • maty

      Keep working on it!

      February 4, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • Dani

      how about "NEW BEEF"? lol

      February 4, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Q

      HAHAHA!! Dani ya killing me!!!!

      February 4, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  18. Tony

    It is truly fascinating how blindly people will follow others in search of wealth. There is a marvelous tool people can use today to research individuals and companies–it's called the internet. If one were to perform due diligence, one would easily see the shell game that Taylor has been running in these "flash" investment products. In regard to Long, though I believe him to be a con man in the pulpit, I can't fault him on this one. I blame the individual investors for their losses and no one else. You blindly followed your lust for greed in an attempt to emmulate the lifestyle of your "pastor" and it proved to be an epic fail as a con man ended up being conned by another con man. Investing 101–anyone that guarentees a specific rate of return on an investment at a specific time based upon market action is about to make a fool out of you–case in point.

    February 4, 2011 at 12:10 am |
    • SurRy

      It is truly fascinating how blindly people will follow others in search of religion.

      February 4, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • barbara

      this is not a reply to tony; just my opinion; a congregation should pay a preacher a salary., which he should pay taxes on. the church should pay taxes on all money they have left over from paying their bills and that does not include money they pay the printing company which they usually own; that company should pay taxes separate . if they indeed give money to the poor, help rebuild places after disasters, start food kitchens, take care of orphans and elderly and can prove it, then that should be a deductible. they then would feel better about living in a country that protects them from harm. protects the right to worship as they please, etc. the way it is, the parishers take a tax deduction on what they give, the church doesnt pay taxes so its a win-win situation for a con-man preacher. and ther are a bunch of them. doesnt the bible say "give unto caesar that which is caesar's? No politician would dare go there tho, and run the risk of loosing all those votes.

      February 5, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  19. Ron

    Wow another young black man connected to Bishop Eddie Long by way of scandal Wow! No wonder he is on the cover of http://www.PimpPreacher.com . Bishop Eddie Long sold investments products from the pulpit of New Birth and no one from New Birth saw anything wrong with it. At some point we will have to blame the members of the church for being stupid.
    Another one for the Preacher Bureau of Investigation LOL

    February 3, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
    • Qi

      No worries. He will never run out of gullible morons who will continue to buy his nonsense and pay top dollar at that. If I had only known what a great business religion was, I would have taken it up myself. Party On!

      February 4, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • ROTFLMAO

      VERY VERY well said, Ron. I started telling people in 2005 that this self serving ego-maniac was all about getting paid, living REALLY REALLY well, and looking good doing both. I told them then that Eddie doesn't give a rat's a** about the people in his church. If he did, he would telling them to save what little money they have, instead of pumping into his 7 figure salary, private jet and fleet of luxury cars..... Most of my friends thought I was being too hard on the guy.....Today, not so much.....

      February 4, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  20. Tim

    Would Jesus have had a "financial seminar" at a syngogue ? Rather, at both the beginning of his ministry and at the end, he ran out the money changers, telling them sternly: "Take these things away from here ! Stop making the house of my Father a house of merchandise."(John 2:16) Greed is at the helm here, for why otherwise would these church members have invested so large amount of money, hoping to possibly double their investment ? Jesus said clearly: "Also, I say to you, Make friends for yourselves by means of the unrighteous riches, so that, when such fail, they may receive you into the everlasting dwelling places."(Luke 16:9)

    Thus, the failing of money will occur soon, at " the war of the great day of God the Almighty" called Armageddon.(Rev 16:14) At that time, money will be worthless, for isaiah 2:20, 21 says: "In that day the earthling man will throw his worthless gods of silver and his valueless gods of gold that they had made for him to bow before to the shrewmice and to the bats, in order to enter into the holes in the rocks and into the clefts of the crags, because of the dreadfulness of Jehovah and from his splendid superiority, when he rises up for the earth to suffer shocks."

    February 3, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
    • Bishop Long

      You're fogging up the paint on my Bently.

      February 4, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • Preacher

      I do not think that there is anything wrong with having a financial seminar in church. In fact, most churches, specifically, African American churches would benefit from having financial experts coming in and doing seminars on everything from investing to retirement planning.

      I say this because I am African American and held numerous leadership positions within the church. The truth of the matter is, Jesus would not do a lot of things we do but that does not make it wrong. Would Jesus wear three piece suits to the synagogue? Would Jesus drive to church in a Mercedes Benz? None of these things are wrong but it is quite obvious, Jesus would have no part in any of it.

      February 4, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • EJ25

      It's 'Bentley'.

      February 4, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • Steve the real one

      @ Preacher you said: None of these things are wrong but it is quite obvious, Jesus would have no part in any of it.
      ---------
      Driving a $250K car, living in a multi million dollar home when you have congregants that can't pay their mortgage or light bill and THEN turn around and ask THEM for more money? Its absolutely wrong! I wish it were criminal!

      February 4, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • Know What

      There is probably a small humanistic part in Long's strategy to lift people from poverty; but in the main, its goal is to make them financially successful so that there is more substance in their 10-20+ percent t!thes.

      February 4, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • DC Commuter

      There is nothing wrong with having an educational financial seminar. But many "seminars" are often just sales pitches! And an "investment opportunity" may be an easy sell to people who are getting it within the church. Church seminars should be for educational purposes only, not to take peoples money. I don't think Bishop Long can demand the money back. Investing means risk.

      February 4, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Steve

      When you are gullible enough to believe in an invisible man in the sky, you are gullible enough to waste your precious retirement funds on too good to be true schemes.

      February 4, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • Dieter Zerressen

      Yes, its wrong to have "for profit" events at a church setting. Church folks are the easiest to fleece and scam. Just say that God told you to invest in swamp land in south Florida and they all line up. I used to live in Utah and that outfit out there was hosting one scam after another at the various local stakes (churches) because the membership just can't believe that some brethren would con them. Geez, people wake up. All of religion is a scam and then you add the prospect of making money into that mix and you going to get taken to the cleaners.

      February 4, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • And..

      So @Tim, you know at least some of the bible. You added a personal interpretation I noticed. Take some time to study the origin and progression of these works. Is your faith in the inspired, or the one who inspires? The book itself says test everything. Test the book. Here's a good start; which version of the book is the closest to the inspiration, and why?

      February 4, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • sincamisa

      Yes lord, but lets not judge either. Not our place is it?

      February 4, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • Really?

      @sincamisa: Why would you say that? Simply because a single passage says so? There are many more that tell believers TO judge. I think it meant, don't judge others any more harshly than you would yourself. Certainly believers can judge right from wrong?

      February 4, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Aaron

      I respect Bishops Longs attemp to help his church members out.....but we are warned that investments are risks. YOu only invest what you are willing to lose. His church members should not have invested thier last dimes especially in today's economoic climate. I will pray for his church members. But, that investor loss money too im sure why should he have to loose more.

      February 4, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • JJK

      Tim you are right on the money. You have quoted verbatim in the inspired word of Jehovah God and have not leaned on your own understanding or private interpretation. Since God's word is truth you have continue putting faith in the one who inspires and bear witness to his promises.

      February 4, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Yeah?

      @JJK: So, the gods of silver and gold couldn't possibly mean physical god idols? Like the one Aaron helped fashion? Please, if you are going to respond indirectly to my question, do it honestly.

      February 4, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Sweet T

      Tim you are so on it! Love it!
      @Steve the real one: I hear you! I was once in a church with pastors that had four or five cars, a big house, and some crazy kids that ran around the church like they could do no wrong, always asking the people for money EVERY service. Mean while the members couldn't pay what they needed because they made the people feel so bad about not giving to the house. Living from pay check to pay check. I too was once a victim of that kind of nonsense and now refuse to give to a church that does not use the money for out reach or to help other people in the church.

      February 4, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • Art

      Entirely apart from Long, but going off Tim's post, it is instructive to note that the merchants had filled the Court of the Gentiles. This was the place where those who had not been born Jews, nor gone through the process of conversion, yet still desired to worship (their) God could come. This was part of the ministry assigned to the nation of Israel...a missionary mission...to be a light to the Gentiles/for the Gentiles. By allowing/encouraging this, the religious leaders were keeping others out, and making right standing with God something available (in their eyes) only to them. So there is more to it than "just" its being about money...but Long is still a creep.

      February 4, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • JJK

      Yeah...you sound more like you are looking for an argument or a scriptural debate rather than truth, and I can't almost certainly speak for not only myself but also Tim when I say you won't get one out either of us (2Tim 2:1)...the bible says what it says and unfortunately there are many who only want to twist the scriptures to fit their own evil motives. (2Tim 4:3-4)

      February 4, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • brent

      Jesus was a Jew, so while he lived he was Jewish and lived his spiritual life accordingly, Tim..you are talking about a modern "Christian" Church, applying rules of one religion to another. You see how that does not work no matter how much scripture you quote. But that's what Christians do right...judge others.

      February 4, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • Steve the real one

      Sweet T,

      I am so happy you got out of that. How easy could it have been for you to blame that on God! Yet you did not! You stay blessed!

      February 4, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • Jeff

      Quoting a 2,000 year old collection of heavily and selectively edited allegorical fairy tales doesn't exactly elevate your argument. The problem isn't money. The problem is religion, its insatiable greed, and its epic tolerance for hucksters, frauds, degenrates, and pedophiles. All of the good religion does cannot offset the evil, violence, and exploitation that results from religion.

      February 4, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • Kevin

      @Preacher:
      A "Christian" knowingly doing something that Jesus wouldn't approve of and then claiming that it's not wrong?
      You, sir, are the very definition of "hypocrite".
      I know that the educational system has it's shortcomings, but this level of ignorance goes completely beyond the pale.
      I certainly hope that you are not actually a preacher... and if you are, you are a utter disgrace to your "calling".

      February 4, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • Bernie

      Yes! Yes it is wrong for the preacher (a so called man of god) to use his position and religion that he claims to honor so much for personal benifit. You made my point for me. Jesus preached from rocks without shoes. A person telling me to live my life more by a book and what he believes is the truth should not drive a bently or a benz for that matter. I long is so worried about the members of his church and he was really a man of the lord like he claims to be he would sell his bently buy a focus and divide the rest between the one that were in trouble. He wouldnt give the shirt off his back if there wasnt something in it for him yet Jesus gave his life for people that he didnt even know. I am tired of religion turning to hate that is not the message or the answer. You are also wrong in saying that it is ok for a church to hold this kind of event. A church as most christians describe it is a holy place of the lord, not a loan office or a get rich quick seminar! Get real! You dont need for any of this you can be a christian and follower of the lord without money, fame or church. All you need is faith and to try and live by the word of god. Long has broken one the commandments by stealing money from church meembers for a bently and a private plane. I dont care who you are that just is not right. It doesnt matter if you are white, black, brown,green,purple or blue this is not the way that god wanted you use his name!

      February 4, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Tish

      That's right! They will all be held accountable by the true GOD PSALMS 83:18

      February 4, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • toby

      Your Jesus didn't need the money; he and his followers lived on the charity of others (all beggars teach that others should give). Peace.

      February 4, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • Ladee

      AGREED! Long needs to step down, return the money to his members it was him alone who put this man in front of his church.

      This man is a pedophile, crook, liar and TACKY look at that toupee!!!

      He will reap what he sows and when he does it will be retribution!

      February 4, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • Yeah?

      Sweet T: No, but that's okay. I have no quarrel with you or Tim. You continue to do what you believe to be best, I have no "debate" or "argument" over scripture as you concluded. If you feel or believe that whichever bible you read is the inspired word of Go, then good for you. Who am I to ask you to do what James said?

      February 4, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • Tim 2

      Tim – You're a Jehovah's Witness – deceived and a deceiver, and because of that, the Truth is not in you. If Jesus was in you, this would you declare, but you won't: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)

      February 4, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • thenewyorker34

      Well said. These churches nowaday... i tell ya. and as a black guy if offended by ploy of MOST black churches... pure exploitation.... its been going on since reconstruction.... money for God.... of course the catholic church started it all. But these black mega churches(more often than not) are a brainwashing exploiting shame!

      February 4, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • StevenR

      Put this man in prison. Take away his tax exemption.

      I am SICK AND TIRED of these RELIGIOUS CREEPS stealing MY MONEY by having HUGE tax exempt buildings I have to pay to protect.

      DOUBLE TAX their property because churches should not have any. The idea of the tax exemption is so that they do social good, not build HUGE PALACES. Their building should be MORE MODEST than their poorest parishioner.

      TRIPLE TAX these preachers income, particularly if it is substantial. Again, preachers should NEVER make more than their POOREST parishioner.

      This man is EVIL, EVIL, EVIL. Period.

      February 4, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • El Kababa

      Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper,

      7There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.

      8But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste?

      9For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.

      February 4, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • Yeah?

      JJK,

      You judge me incorrectly. No problem. Stay well.

      February 4, 2011 at 9:53 pm |
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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.