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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. PhillyPhan

    I can see another episode of "American Greed" coming soon on CNBC

    February 4, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
  2. Josh

    Welcome to the real world.

    There are NEVER any guarantees with any investment. I sure hope that Bishop Eddie Long was upfront and CLEAR about that fact to his church members BEFORE they invested.

    I sure hope the IRS is watching for these people "converting" their inventment losses into charitable contributions to this church.

    February 4, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  3. chris

    i love his star trek next generation outfit..

    February 4, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  4. Albert Brooks

    Eddie Long: As the boldest experiment in advertising history, you give us our money back.
    City Capital Corporation: I beg your pardon?

    February 4, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
  5. IRONMIKE

    Hey forgiveness is divine-except when it cost him money

    February 4, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
  6. Mark

    I want that pie in the sky too. Send a little of that million my way.

    February 4, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  7. Anon

    I am going to go and get one of those S-Curl Toupee:)

    February 4, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  8. GHammond

    Look up City Capital and it is a business of 2. No website, no advertising, no Abstracts on investing and yet Long endorsed them to the church membership to the tune of $1,000,000.

    February 4, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  9. Steve the real one

    Guys,

    Remember not everybody has the same information as you do, whether investing, home buyer, whatever! Folks prey on those that don't know. Toss into the mix a figure that is supposed to be trustworthy and these is the results! Too easy for us behind our computers to condemn folk for not knowing what we know! What are the chances most of these folk had the funds to lose anyway. SOMEBODYwho they trusted throw them to the wolves! Your condemnation changes nothing!

    February 4, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  10. Simmy

    Hey Steve. One day you too willl meet your Maker and you will be Very Very Surprised.

    February 4, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  11. Frugal Investor

    Please Please Please don't ever invest money that you are not willing to lose. The investment brokers are not legally obligated to return any of your money on a legal investment. Buyer should always beware! Investments are gambles!

    February 4, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  12. Mike

    Religion is like a penis-
    It's Ok to have one...
    It's perfectly fine to be proud of yours...
    But please dont take it out in public and wave it around-
    and for pete's sake don't try to shove it down the childrens throats!

    February 4, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • @Mike

      Seriously? Are you that sick and twisted to think you have the right to stereotype and assertive to say people have to live dual (essentially, bi-polar) lives because of how you feel about what they believe? You're ideology is just as repulsive to me as mine is to yours.

      February 4, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
  13. mike

    he is a crook
    using God as his backer
    no pastor preacher priest should own anything
    Million dollar house
    $350,000 car
    he is stealing from our his followers
    he is bad

    February 4, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • snowbear40

      AMEN AMEN and AMEN...they r all crooks..they use the LORDS name to ROB people and robbing is what they r doing and the sad part its legal..they should all b thrown in jail..

      February 4, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  14. stephan

    sam9999 you need to be careful how you speak about GOD and his CHURCH he is not mocked and he will punish you ,for eddie long and his followers " the blind lead the blind and they all fall in a ditch " once GOD show the evil people gaining fame and fortune and you suppose to represent gods church you will pay for leading his people to destruction and to his church you need to find the right church which is the CHURCH Of CHRIST and keep his commandments Lean not to your own understanding but to the word of GOD!:-]:-]

    February 4, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • Scott

      Oh sure, like that part where Samson kills 1000 men with the jaw bone of an ass? Real believable

      February 5, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
  15. KP

    @Aarron Moore: Im sorry but I believe in God and Jesus and I'm still not stupid enough to give my money away to a financial organization without first doing my research. It is called investing....therefore you assume the risk of losing or gaining. This has nothing to do with "ripping believers" as you say.

    February 4, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • DWTT

      Down With The Trinity

      God and Jesus?

      I thought God = Jesus?

      February 4, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Aaron Moore Sacramento, CA

      @KP: You obviously have not read many of the previous replies. I agree this was poor judgment. I agree that Bishop Long – for what we see in the news – looks as crooked as can be. I agree that people should do their research. What I have a problem with is the assumption that someone who believes in God/god is automatically the kind of person who will always follow a dishonest person or will always make stupid decisions. This kind of prejudice is completely hipocrytical, especially when practiced by the very person who would call the person against whome they hold such a prejudice a hypocrite.

      February 4, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • Scott

      But I believe that a person who believes in the mythical sky daddy and believes what his pastor tells him has already demonstrated his susceptibility to dishonest persons and his propensity for stupid decisions. It’s like asking me to suspend judgment on a person who has just striped naked and jumped into a cactus patch

      February 5, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
  16. BenB

    Long should be hung up by his britches for ever bringing this snake oil salesman into his church to fleece his flock. How can you lose money in the last 2 years if you invested in a conservative mutual fund? You couldn't! This sounds like a ponzi scheme to me. I pity the church members who put their money up because they will probably never see it again. Google Ephren Taylor and tell me you believe this garbage. It is ridiculous.

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

      Well the conjuration already poneyed up millions of dollars to one crap speaking conman (Long). If they believed him why wouldn’t they believe another one?

      February 5, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
  17. rm

    there is an abundance of spiritual and financial abuse in the church today. ESPECIALLY in the churches that preach the prosperity message. usually the only person prospering is the one preaching. an associate pastor at a church in caddo mills, texas encouraged and solicited fellow members to invest what turned out to be a $10 million ponzi scheme. turns out the a.p. got more than $800,000 in kickbacks from the ponzi perpetrator. the ponzi perp died in a plane crash. the a.p. built a $400,000 house with the kickbacks. he still lives in the house and is still the a.p. at the church. the estate of the ponzi perp is suing the a.p. for the $800,000 to be returned to the estate. would make a very interesting book.......

    February 4, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
  18. ItAnnoysme

    that so many arrogant fools think all organizations are as financially irresponsible to their laymen as those in the media. Somehow they've allowed their education to become retarded concerning Church; just as the people they dog on are just as dumb concerning science.

    February 4, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  19. Steve the real one

    I recall the bibical application of wheat and tares. Wheat and tares (weeds) are similar in appearance as they grow. That is why in th estory they are allowed to grow together. However, they are separated at harvest time when the differences are clearly seen by the harvester. The primary difference the wheat grows fruit (the grain). The tares grow nothing! I am not calling Long anything! Just putting it out there!

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

      are allowed to grow together because you don't want to uproot the wheat with the tares. They are recognizable different otherwise they wouldn't have to make the choice to "allow them to grow together." It's simple gardneing 101.

      February 4, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Steve the real one

      They,

      I stand corrected. thank you. P.S. I'm from the city! Again Thanks!

      February 4, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • They

      (meaning the congregation) were either conned from the get go or the man went crooked, OR, he just made an extremely bad decision to help his folks in a untimely manner due to his other allegations. Authority / power / money / leadership has away of warping good people.

      My organization pushes the issue of pastors having pastors (/ accountability). If this man had such, they should have done something. If he does and they didn't step in, the question is why not? If they did and he refused, why is he still in leadership? All I can say is, I don't know much about his organization (or even if he's in one), but if this was to happen in mine, there would be a lot of investigation going on, and not just with the offending pastor.

      February 4, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  20. Aaron Moore Sacramento, CA

    Based on the numerous responses ripping "believers" for their idiocy and poor financial moves, I would like to congratulate all of the obviously enlightened, financially secure commenters. It looks as though that whole not believeing in God thing makes you better (with reason and finances) than those who believe. It just strikes me as not very enlightened to make generalized, judgmental satements about those with different beliefs than yours, since that is exactly the problem most outside the church have with those in it. Maybe it's time to end the name-calling as it only reveals one's lack of self-awareness.

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

      Well we are talking about a group of people who believe in talking snakes, a 6000 year old earth, a flood of water so deep that it covered the tallest mountains in the world and then just dried up or went away, the parting of the red sea and the power of prayer to make physical changes in the real world. So yes, I think it is reasonable to question there judgment in investing

      February 5, 2011 at 8:14 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.