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Why people stick by scandal-plagued pastors
Parishioners often build a firewall around a pastor hit by scandal, a Christian author says. But when does loyalty turn unhealthy?
May 27th, 2011
11:02 AM ET

Why people stick by scandal-plagued pastors

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - The streets that were once choked with traffic are now bare. The church's sprawling parking lot is half full. Inside the stylish sanctuary, ushers sway to choir music in front of empty seats.

On a typical Sunday morning, New Birth Missionary Church in suburban Atlanta would be hopping. But on a recent Sunday, the sprawling church complex looked half-deserted and the mood seemed flat.

Six months after a sex scandal involving New Birth's senior pastor, Bishop Eddie Long, became public, the megachurch no longer packs them in. Yet there are loyalists, like C.D. Dixon, who have not joined the exodus.

Read the full story
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Celebrity • Christianity • Church • Pastors

soundoff (532 Responses)
  1. pitung

    Pastors can make mistakes too since they are humans. Although God will forgive their mistakes if they ask for forgiveness, their followers are given freedom and wisdom to think. Iif their pastor are making a mistake, they can leave the church and find another place to worship. Following a lpastor / eader that is always right and can do no wrong is not proper.

    June 5, 2011 at 11:14 am |
  2. Joke

    People stick with scandal-plagued pastors because they are too stupid to know any better. The evidence: GW Bush elected and re-elected by his core support among evangelicals.

    June 5, 2011 at 9:18 am |
  3. miele

    The Earth was created only 6000 years ago? I suppose all the museums around the world who have fossils, skeletons etc dating back tens of thousands and millions of years ago are all fake...and carbon dating is one big lie...so that means that some secret factory is making all of these artifacts and that all the museum workers, scientists and geologists have all been telling the same lie for all these years......WOW.....thats just plain good old fashion ignorance

    June 5, 2011 at 6:15 am |
  4. Gerald

    Because of the same reason why dogs obey their masters...brain over matter. Weak minds are feeble and fickle and easily swayed. And open to brainwashing. I mean, look at those fools on that photo raising their hands...are the catching energy waves???? Amon Ra...the sun-disk God is all there IS! The sun is the only reason why we are all alive...ok, I'm smoking pot too, forgive me God...or are you just in my mind??? It's all BS...

    June 5, 2011 at 3:01 am |
  5. Klaark

    They're stupid, obviously. Just plain, old fashioned idiots. Let's see, they believe in a magical, invisible man who lives in the sky! Any evidence to his non-existence is waived away with a "The Lord works in mysterious ways," and "You have to have Faith."

    They deserve to have their money, time, and lives taken by swindlers. Too bad they're allowed to vote.

    June 5, 2011 at 2:29 am |
  6. Eric

    People has the right to reject Christ and His words, and God has the right to reject these people and cast them to hell. God cannot be mocked, what people saw is what they will reap. Jesus' sheep hears His voice, those who are not has deaf ears to the truth. So go on, do not believe in Christ, twist the truth, mock the Bible, your eternal doom is waiting for you. Thank God He is the God of many chances. As long as you're alive He's not yet given up on you. But do what you have to do in accepting Him while it is called day, because when your night comes ... that's it for you.

    June 4, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
    • frank

      No.

      June 4, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
    • David

      There are MANY wonderful people that are not Christian that are going to Heaven. It is when people do bad things that brings hell on Earth to themselves and the people around them. The best way to be "saved" is to live for THIS life, not the afterlife.

      June 4, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
    • DalesMelody

      Before the time of hundreds of prophets, Jesus being but one of them and known by very few people of that time and place, there was the G-d of the Jews. But people chose to NOT listen ... and made up their own god named Jesus.

      It's no wonder that the world is in such horrific shape - G-d said NO Other gods BEFORE ME!!! I AM the I AM.

      Yet, the new sect wanted to believe a man ... and, so far, nothing has changed for the better.

      If there is G-d, S/He must be in cohoots with Mother Nature instead of just doing another Sodom and Gemorrah to rid this planet of the nasties!!

      June 5, 2011 at 4:49 am |
  7. Gerald

    The Greatest Story Ever Told – Religion

    Part 1 of 3

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNf-P_5u_Hw&feature=related

    June 4, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  8. Gerald

    The Greatest Story Ever Told – Religion

    Part 2 of 3

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISkle1d45B0&feature=related

    June 4, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
  9. Gerald

    The Greatest Story Ever Told – Relgion

    Part 3 of 3

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGMsxl7FEDg&feature=related

    June 4, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
    • Caesar's Messiah

      [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrMtRm3b8MU&w=560&h=349%5D

      June 5, 2011 at 9:58 am |
    • Caesar's Messiah

      http://youtu.be/qrMtRm3b8MU

      June 5, 2011 at 9:59 am |
    • Caesar's Messiah

      [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGdRDLRZaoo&w=640&h=510%5D

      June 5, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • Caesar's Messiah

      https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/WGdRDLRZaoo?version=3&hl=en_US

      June 5, 2011 at 10:12 am |
    • Caesar's Messiah

      "[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGdRDLRZaoo&w=640&h=390]"

      June 5, 2011 at 10:19 am |
  10. adinim

    African _ American's religion should be either paganism or moslem. They do not have to keep the slave masters religion as theirs.

    June 4, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • UNIONNET

      You know Islam did their share when it came to being slave masters and slave sellers in Africa....Expand man....

      June 5, 2011 at 8:00 am |
  11. just commenting

    I think they stand by these bad pastors because they really hate being preached to by someone holier than thou. They don't want to be preached to by someone who is better than they are and who they feel is looking down on them.

    June 4, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  12. Joe St Louis

    This is how the middle east got where it is.......we are on our way praise GOD. Remember our nation is young compared to the middle east. Let GOD rule and kill those who don't believe the way we do.

    June 3, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  13. BibleBeliever

    "1. You actually know a lot less than many Atheists and Agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history – but still call yourself a Christian."
    ------–
    Don't broad brush all "Christians" as knowing nothing about Scripture. I am a believer and I teach the Word. So don't include me in the same category please.

    "2 – While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to
    convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity. You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" and evidence that prayers work, and you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God."
    ------–
    Science has not proven the non-existence of God. In fact science PROVES He exists. The fingerprint of God is on every aspect of history, geology, biology and physics for without Him none of these would exist. As for "tongue" speaking, roll on the floor Christians. I don't believe in this behavior. Many have been deceived into thinking this is of God's Holy Spirit when it is not. Period.

    "3. You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old. You believe that the entire population (and rival religions) of this planet, with the exception of those who share/follow your beliefs, will spend Eternity in a Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving.""
    ------–

    I believe in a Creator who created the earth 6,000 years ago and the first witness to this is the earth itself. IF the earth were "billions" of years old the it would have dust on it a few FEET thick not INCHES. The sun would have touched the earth (therefore burned it up) a billion years ago instead it is at the perfect distance for 6,000 years ago. The magnetic pull of the earth is at a level for 6,000 years not billions etc...etc...etc....Do some UNBIASED research, you just might learn something, like the TRUTH!

    Hell was made for the devil. God does not force anyone into His Presence therefore if you end up in hell it's by YOUR choice not His. Plain and simple. And yes I believe what the BIble says about this. As for tolerance and love I ask you: would you tolerate your child running into the street because he or she thinks its fun to play there. Out of LOVE you would not because you know the street is a place that could kill your child. Well sin kills people and sends them to helll not God who would rather have all people with Him. Once again it's the choices you make and from them are consequences. As our CREATOR He has the right to make the rules. Period.

    "4- Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Allah,
    but you don`t even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered
    all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic
    groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!"
    ------

    The "atrocities" attributed to Allah are not based on righteous, holy judgments. Allah is a pagan moon god with no rights over creation. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has all the rights. Just like you OWN your house and you have house rules. Well God OWNS this earth, universe and everything in it and He makes the rules. Simple. The "slaughtered" babies in Egypt could have been saved if they had been behind the door with lamb's blood on the lintel. Blame the Egyptian PAGAN parents for not abiding in the salvation they could have received if they chose to do so. The people God instructed to be killed in Scripture were those who practiced idolatry and REFUSED to turn from it. God always offers LIFE first, funny how people like you leave this little tid bit out in your diatribes. Study the Word and maybe you'll understand where God is coming from and then base your interpretation on SOUND reasoning not uniformed opinions!

    "5 – You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people
    evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical
    claim that we were created from dirt. You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God. You also laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky."
    -------

    I'm insulted because evolution is based on fantasy and fallacy which whole purpose is to deny the existence of God. Darwin didn't even believe his own "theory" and stated that the fossil record, or lack thereof would eventually prove him wrong as it has done so today. Where's the so-called missing link. Still haven't found it and never will! I do not believe in a trinity as Christians believe I believe in the Hebrew ECHAD which means oneness there's a difference and it's very Biblical. As for the Greek, Hindu, Roman STORIES they are countefeits to the truth of the Gospel. Remember Satan knew about the "seed of the woman" from the Garden of Eden, since then he has sought to deceive and trick with lies of fantasy to throw people off and lead them astray. Looks like he's done a good job with many people, including you.

    "6 – You would be screaming from the rooftops in OPPOSITION if Muslim Koran Sharia Law (or another religion different from your own) was imposed upon everyone and YOU were denied Equal Rights if you did NOT abide by Muslim Law, but you think it is OK to impose Christian Bible Laws on everyone and deny OTHERS Equal Rights if they do NOT abide by Christian Bible Law. You say the Bible is the ‘Holy Word Of God’ and should be followed for verses and interpretations that support your PERSONAL position on a subject, but IGNORE the Bible when passages do not support your positions."
    -------

    First up I don't IGNORE any part of Scripture. I obey His Word from Genesis to Revelation. Christians have been lied to by being told the "law" has been done away with – this is not true and God is changing the false belief daily. As for Sharia law, well, let's see "Jesus says "love your enemy" , Sharia says "cut off your enemies head", Jesus says "turn the other cheek", Sharia law says "murder the infidel" THAT'S YOU and anyone who does not abide by Sharia law. Hmmmmm, Jesus or Sharia? I think I'll take Sharia. Only an idiot would choose otherwise, give me a break here!

    "7. You blindly follow your religious leaders (i.e. Preachers, Priests, Imans, etc.), as if they were God, never questioning their statements or actions, and You are INCAPABLE of thinking, actions, and using sound logic, reason, and intelligence to arrive at a conclusion, WITHOUT INJECTING YOUR religion into an issue."
    -------–

    I blindly follow no one on this earth. I follow Scripture and your darn right I will inject my "religion" into every issue because the foundation of my faith is HIS WORD and it's the PERFECT guideline to follow. IF you bothered to study and read it you might come to the same INTELLIGENT conclusion.

    "8 – You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by
    other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours."
    ----------–

    Yes, because I know those thousands of so-called "gods" are nothing and cause people to practice spiritual adultery which will lead them to hell. Like a house burning down in the middle of the night I will bang on the door of their false beliefs if is will save one person and lead out of destruction. So you want to despise me because of this, well go ahead, for it's not you that I seek to please but my CREATOR!

    Seek the truth as found in His Word!

    June 3, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • really?

      People like this scare me more than the MUSLIM terrorists. if the earth was 6,000 yrs old there would be no starts in the sky because it takes longer for the light to reach us. Would you believe there are people representing us in government who believe the earth is 6,000 yrs old? Its maniacs this this that vote these morons into office. Here is my favorite quote from your mindless babble. " I'm insulted because evolution is based on fantasy" If anything is based on fantasy its your stories of talking snakes and people living in fish....................once again let me profess of how terrifying people like you are........i keep people like you as far away from my children as possible and would urge others to do the same.

      June 3, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • joe

      I think this jelous idiot jrcnjr is Hindu felow, eventually he knows lot about his Gods Love affairs

      June 3, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • joe

      I am really scared with this idiot "really?" . i don't know what he will be evolving into ? A robocop ? may be thats even horrible

      June 3, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • Aezel

      Well, there is a good 1/2 page of utter bat-s*** crazy. That was certainly good for a laugh, but yeah, you're nuts.

      June 5, 2011 at 3:20 am |
    • jrcnnjr

      To Joe: You sound like a uneduated Buffoon or Fool: I say BOTH. I noticed that you did NOT put forth any evidence to refute or disagree with my comments, and that is possibly because you KNOW that my comments are TRUTHFUL . . .

      June 5, 2011 at 10:01 am |
    • Mikey

      REALLY – I know – people like this frighten me. The nonsense spewed and believed in this rant...breathtaking in it's ignorance and disregard of any science but I'll bet if God strikes with cancer – science is right on that!!!!

      June 10, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      @BibleBeliever
      Hearty A-M-E-N ! ! !

      ___________________
      @ others who responded to his/her post

      And you say person who wrote this scares you?!
      You haven't seen nothing YET! When you stand before your Creator , whose rightful Lordship you denied, and whose servants, who testified to you of Him, you ridiculed... when the piercing eyes of the One who came to redeem your pitiful soul, yet whom you rejected, cuts through your soul, you will see fear like you never did before, because "it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" These are His words, not mine!

      You people are living in denial of reality! Even the most prominent scientists of our time ar e practically throwing their hands up, in seeing that whatever they research, they come to one, and same conclusion:" IT had to be a MIND, someone';s Intelligent Design to create all the complexity of our existence, existence of all life and the vast Universe itself.... Those who are admitting their errors of the past beliefs are no secret to the Science world.....
      But those who keep on denying this obvious reality, are WILLFULLY denying it! But it is because of WHAT IS IN THEIR HEARTS, and they will rather believe a LIE, then face the undeniable reality, because if they acknowledged it, then they would have to acknowledge themselves being subordinate to their Creator. But just like Lucifer, who was lifted up with pride in his heart, so is man in his... That is where all deception and spiritual death, which causes blindness of one's heart, comes from: the SIN OF PRIDE!

      Therefore, this is the conclusion: if there is a Creator of all that was, is end ever will be, who by His Design created all that exists, including us, human beings who have been given abilities which no other beings created were given, because we were made in His own image.... if He has done all that, then would He not ALSO give us an ability to know Him, revealing Himself to us, so that we may rejoice in all the glory and majesty that's evident in all things He created, which reflects who He is?

      So many times those who call themselves Atheists keep harping on their "intelligence superiority", priding themselves in their "Reasoning" . But the just right the opposite is really evident:" IF they were able to reason intelligently, they would come to the same conclusion... But, it is because of the LOVE OF SIN that's in their hearts, that they have no ability to reason. Because that's what sin does... causes something within the person to die...So we can easily guess the rest of the story......

      Therefore If you, people, can say things you said about the post BibleBeliever posted, then what ever comes to you, it will be the consequences of your own willful choices

      June 11, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  14. Keeping it truthful

    Man,..u are one messed up person. You have no knowledge, obviously of understanding scripture. I agree with the part about bishops, pastors, priests, etc making huge incomes off the pockets of naive followers,...but have you ever been to the congregation that every single person there is a volunteer? Not paid in any form and is not guilty of adultery, fornication etc,...and if such a situation does occur due to human imperfection that person is stripped of any position and lovingly welcomed back after proving repentance? Have you ever attended a congregation that has absolutely no part of the world,..meaning ridiculous pagan holidays and going to war and killing fellow Christians just because their countries are at war with one another? God did not slaughter any children you disgusting apostate!!!

    June 3, 2011 at 8:16 am |
    • really?

      "CHRISTIAN GOD" does say its ok to kill children who are disrespectful towards their father and mother. Its in the Bible; Leviticus. Have a blessed day!

      June 3, 2011 at 8:58 am |
  15. really?

    I just don't understand how the African American population still vehemently follows a religion given to them by slave traders and slave owners.

    June 3, 2011 at 8:05 am |
    • Keeping it truthful

      And that reply was to naive contradictory jrcnnjr. No knowledge what so ever. Try studying the bible a lot more.

      June 3, 2011 at 8:20 am |
    • really?

      i don't need to study the bible to know that my statement is fact. Its called history. NO wait let me guess the enslaved african people brought over Christianity from africa......right........

      June 3, 2011 at 8:32 am |
  16. Kenzh

    Why do people stick by scandal plagued pastors? Why do battered women stick by abusive husbands?

    June 2, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
    • Selfish Gene

      Fear. the root of all religion.

      June 3, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
  17. jrcnnjr

    They often do it because of Religious Fanaticism. All Christians are NOT Religious Fanatics, but here are the Top 8 Signs that YOU are a FANATIC, DOGMATIC, HYPOCRITAL Christian Religious Zealot.
    8 – You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by
    other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.

    7. You blindly follow your religious leaders (i.e. Preachers, Priests, Imans, etc.), as if they were God, never questioning their statements or actions, and You are INCAPABLE of thinking, actions, and using sound logic, reason, and intelligence to arrive at a conclusion, WITHOUT INJECTING YOUR religion into an issue.

    6 – You would be screaming from the rooftops in OPPOSITION if Muslim Koran Sharia Law (or another religion different from your own) was imposed upon everyone and YOU were denied Equal Rights if you did NOT abide by Muslim Law, but you think it is OK to impose Christian Bible Laws on everyone and deny OTHERS Equal Rights if they do NOT abide by Christian Bible Law. You say the Bible is the ‘Holy Word Of God’ and should be followed for verses and interpretations that support your PERSONAL position on a subject, but IGNORE the Bible when passages do not support your positions.

    5 – You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people
    evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical
    claim that we were created from dirt. You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God. You also laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.

    4- Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Allah,
    but you don`t even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered
    all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic
    groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!

    3. You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old. You believe that the entire population (and rival religions) of this planet, with the exception of those who share/follow your beliefs, will spend Eternity in a Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."

    2 – While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to
    convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity. You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" and evidence that prayers work, and you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.

    1. You actually know a lot less than many Atheists and Agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history – but still call yourself a Christian.

    June 2, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
    • Trinity

      OUTSTANDING!

      June 3, 2011 at 12:27 am |
    • Flash 28

      you're a genius duude especially with that last one, I wish there were more people like you in the US.

      June 3, 2011 at 1:14 am |
    • Matt

      WOW – dead on! I know a few of these people.

      June 3, 2011 at 8:01 am |
    • joe

      Only differences:

      Our God said Love thy neighbor as yourself. But yours would want to take revenge.

      our God died for all , but yours love killing others except yours.

      Our God give freedom of choice , but yours dictator.

      Our God is creator, yours is a creation (rock, snake , crocs etc).

      there are many to distingushing facts, but I know you cannot talk spirituality without being scared.

      our God saves, Chirst is the head & his beloved are his children,yours enjoys with his wives

      June 3, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  18. Joe

    Look at these sheep how pathetic.

    June 2, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
  19. James Black

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGSvqMBj-ig

    June 2, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
  20. Bajalover

    You stupid Idiot, Writer, because Christians believe in forgiveness. No wonder CNN is losing viewers to Foxnews.

    June 2, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
    • adam

      "Because Christians believe in forgiveness"......hahah, and apparently name calling as well.

      June 2, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
    • Selfish Gene

      judging others today Jesus? Is that your own pew you are sitting in?

      June 3, 2011 at 1:35 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.