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. The Dude


    June 7, 2011 at 10:34 pm |


    June 7, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  3. Don

    Easily lead people are easily swayed to ignore the "Leaders" failings....and send them another buck...

    June 6, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
    • Artist

      Because they are stupid. lol

      June 7, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • Biff Stevens

      99% of the world's problems would be solved if we got rid of GOD. Come on people – give it up. The Bible is a joke and reads like a bunch of nut jobs wrote it. Muhammad married some rich woman so he could fight wars in the name of peace. Please. The Jews – don't get me started, but everyone hates something because of religion. Jews hate Muslims. Muslims hate Christians. Muslims hate Hindus as well and Jews. Muhammad loved woman though, which only makes sense why those insecure Muslim men love to cover them up and marry many. For the love of GOD people, let's move on from this made up problem. GOD does not care if you pray, kneel, turn to mecca, etc. It makes no sense if you think about it.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
  4. LaMont

    Worse than scandalous preachers, when reading the Old Testament, we should ask why does God still want Israel after all their rejection? The answer is the same: God delights in mercy and repentance. Likewise, it is the desire of the Christian to follow the pattern of God in delighting in mercy, forgiveness and repentance. Those that lend mercy shall themselves receive mercy.

    June 6, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • Faithful2Christ

      Awesome answer

      June 6, 2011 at 12:27 pm |


      June 7, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • Artist

      Okay, excuse for being stupid.

      June 7, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • Kelvin

      Yes, the pastor should receive mercy, but he is no longer qualified to lead. The problem is that too many of these guys jump right back in the seat with no repentance of their own. This is how people get hurt.

      June 7, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  5. Leslie Gibbs

    1-Don't ever except a bribe. Not only do the accusers represent what Judas did to Jesus.
    They are also found scattering the Lords people.
    2-Since the men took the money eager Rome shut down the church.
    As if they just cruicfied our Lord again.
    OO They caused a whole church to flee....Scattered by wolves in sheeps clothing.

    June 6, 2011 at 11:06 am |
  6. GOD

    Everyone calm down. I'm make believe.

    June 6, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • cardcreek

      why? why do so many atheists have nothing better to do that to denigrate people of faith? are there a bunch of fundamental Christians bashing your unbelief at atheists sites? if so, i'm sorry, but why don't you come on here and add to the dialog rather than throw out a condescending one liner.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • OhMyDad

      'Cause it's fun.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • LaMont

      That's because some Aetheist have a belief system, too. Their belief (or religion) is that God should not be given any credit nor attention. They are a rebellious people that abhor righteous living; they deny that Christ came and has done any good, despite all the God-inspired inventions they benefit from every day that were made by Christians.

      June 6, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Selfdefense001

      LaMont, "Aetheist"? really? perhaps it's called Atheist and spelled that way.
      As a deist, I've talked to quite many atheists, and they don't hold separate beliefs systems, but no belief systems in the supernatural, the man-god nonsense and the virgin birth joke. Mary said a holy spirit must have impragnated her so she wounldn't be STONED to death. She was smart girl.
      So my point is, where was your merciful god when the kids were molested? hmm? watch with indifference?

      June 6, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • Don

      It's interesting that Christians ALWAYS feel persecuted, at least in their own minds, by atheists and anyone not just like them. But, instead of turning the other cheek as they are taught, they attack! WOW! no blatant hypocrisy there!

      June 6, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
  7. Question

    It is a common mentality in cults and sects.

    June 6, 2011 at 9:20 am |
    • I am SAVED!

      Matthew 7
      Do Not Judge
      1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
      6 “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • Selfdefense001

      to 'I AM SAVED!', good job for letting the 2000 year old book do the thinking for you. Perhaps you should read Leviticus, proverbs, and Deuteronomy as well?

      June 6, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • Kelvin

      To Selfdefense001, that 2000 year old book is the reason you even have a brain to think with.

      June 7, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Do tell. That's your opinion. I don't believe a 2000 book is either the source of brains or evidence that you have one.

      June 8, 2011 at 7:24 am |
    • Kelvin

      And that's your opinion.

      June 8, 2011 at 7:30 am |
    • Kelvin

      Gen 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

      June 8, 2011 at 7:34 am |
    • Kelvin

      If you are so smart, why is it that you cannot
      make your own food. The reason, because you
      have to grow it, just like that 2000 year old book
      said you would.

      And if the crop never comes up, you will starve
      because you are not smart enought to make your
      own food.

      You may want to pay a little bit more attention
      to that 2000 year old book.

      You see, the writer of that 2000 year old book does
      not need to use guns and bombs to get our attention.

      The only thing He has to do is just stop the rain.

      June 8, 2011 at 7:47 am |
  8. Dannyboy

    I love the use of the term 'firewall' that you used to describe the way people insulate even the most guilty and disgusting individuals in these situations. I think people have a serious fear about things that are supposed to be divine being tainted, by the so called evils of this world. Crime is crime and if incidents like this cause you to question your church or your faith, good. Poeple can't be blind to evil things even if they are neatly masked by religion

    June 6, 2011 at 7:46 am |
  9. Glenda

    Sorry for second comment, but my first comment, when I pressed post said it was a duplicate. So I posted it again.

    June 6, 2011 at 1:48 am |
  10. Glenda

    CNN- This is not a duplicate comment. I haven't commented anywhere on here except now. All races follow false prophets(Mr. Camping an example). I truely feel for these people because they are good and believe in God and Our Saviour Jesus Christ. But somehow they got blinded and are following a man. If they let go of a man and read the bible they would know the truth. God Have Mercy & Bless all.

    June 6, 2011 at 1:42 am |
  11. Glenda

    All races follow false prophets(Mr. Camping an example). I truely feel for these people because they are good and believe in God and Our Saviour Jesus Christ. But somehow they got blinded and are following a man. If they let go of a man and read the bible they would know the truth. God Have Mercy & Bless all.

    June 6, 2011 at 1:41 am |
    • Don

      but MAN wrote the Bible! Now who do you beleive knowing that it's been edited and censored so whoever was in religious power had the "authority" to control the population, based on their version of the book.

      June 6, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
  12. Native Oregonian

    Many people are lost souls looking for something, anything, no matter how ridiculous, to hang onto....if they would do some personal work, perhaps they wouldn't latch onto these phonies and be suckered into their nonsense. The television elevangelists have bamboozled so many and have made billions of dollars in their efforts. Send me $5,000 and you will be saved! Give me a break.

    June 5, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • Selfdefense001

      we call them Televangelists

      June 6, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  13. ramoni williams

    that was a reply to mr. MAYNARD

    June 5, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  14. ramoni

    first off, God didnt put it in the pastors mind to do what he did, if he did it. God gave us free will of mind and we make our choices. The same way God gave you free choice and you choose to call us, black people, stupid. It is shameful that you only have formed your opinion from the negative images or those afro american whom have chosen to act negatively. You dont see the ones like myself, a devout father of four, working as a correctional offcer for the past nine years to support my family( never committed any wrongful act as some black and white officers have done and lost their job), honest , trustworthy, a spoken poet( poetry artist) with poems of uplifting and educating our youth and those in need of inspiration. You dont see the positivity of my grandmother and mother whom encourage me to be culturally different. They had me watch etiquette videos, take typing classes, taught me to respect my elders and others( in their opinion, be it right or wrong). You dont see the positivity in a friend of mine whom just died and was an inspiration to our community and nation wide through his poem and givng back financially and emotionally to those in need. Those that still choose to follow the pastor may only have him as their inspiration in a world full of hatred still where we, blacks, still face ridicule. Some is brought upon by those whom act negatively but its still up to you to discern from there. there are alot of us that make a difference in this world. I'd rather follow that pastor still than be left by myself to fight your hatred and the army that follows behind you in the same thinking.

    June 5, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  15. Alex Bruzzone

    Because they're stupid?

    June 5, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  16. john

    because they are brainwashed idiots!!!!!!!

    June 5, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • cardcreek

      what a brilliant deduction – thanks for adding to the conversation

      June 6, 2011 at 11:04 am |


    June 5, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • GodIsNot

      Satan has also affected your ability to type a coherent comment.

      June 5, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • Shar

      and having a zeal for god but not according to accurate knowledge( Romans 10:2). They preach teachings inspired by demons (1Tim 4:1) not God

      June 6, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • Selfdefense001

      Comparing 21st century thinking and 1st century thinking is just no-brainer.

      June 6, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      @ YESGODIS
      There is no incoherence inn his post! Actually, his spiritual understanding is alive and well!
      But your problem is that you are spiritualy DEAD! So it's no wonder you are blind to what is obvious to those who are alive!

      June 11, 2011 at 11:07 am |
  18. Dan613

    Well, just look at those faces... and we still ask why some folks blindly follow these losers? Once you follow a delusional guy in a delusional religion, you become one of them. They are so gullible, so a-critical, so shallow... in fact, I feel sorry for them.

    June 5, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • cardcreek

      wow – you are amazing – all that psychoanalysis from a photograph.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:07 am |
  19. maynard

    What I think is funny, or I guess a better word is sad, is that when another preacher is involved in a scandal then the followers consider it a test of their will or "faith" as if God is just testing them by putting an innocent person or in this case personS through hell. I am sure that if there is an all forgiving and compassionate God above us then his way of making a point is to have a helpless child molested by a sick preacher. Yeah that makes a lot of sense. The funniest part about these situations is that when the crap blows over then they pretend like nothing ever happened and they usher in a new, honest and good preacher...........and then he does the same thing..........but then they get a new, honest good preacher......and the cycle continues until people wake the F up and begin thinking for themselves rather than believing what others told them what to believe in. It is no coincidence that the least educated part of the country is also the most religious.

    June 5, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Rivkah

      Those who believe as I do include, doctors, laywers, teachers, actors, singers, people who hold PhDs in this, that or the other subject; people who are well spoken with a wide vocabulary and variety of interests; people in just about every legitimate, legal profession. Every week around the Earth, all 7 million plus of us study the same Bible based lesson. We have no paid clergy, our ministers have jobs or are retired, nor do we pass the plate. Those who wish to donate, do so privately by dropping their contribution in a donation box. Our worship services are held in simple, unadorned buildings, no flash or glitz, following of personalities or favoring one minister above another; all Christians are to be ministers, and certain of our ministers care for organizing our meetings, caring for the needs of the congregation, and other pertinent duties. We do not believe in instantaneous salvation, one must hear and learn, as stated in the scriptures. Our organization, supported solely by donations, is the fastest growing Christian religion, yet when people hear our name, Jehovah's Witnesses, so often a wall goes up in their minds. Usually, this wall is built on misinformation, lies, misconceptions or even a complete lack of knowledge of our faith. http://www.watchtower.org

      June 5, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
    • Leslie Gibbs

      Are you for JESUS OR ARE YOU PICKIN NITTS TOO? What do you get out of striking everyone in the crowd.
      Don't you realize that you are in the spirit of religion as well? Yes an accuser of Rome, You even sound like Herod.
      Your wormy too.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  20. cwhart

    Why do people stick by scandal-plagued pastors? For the same reason they were attracted to these pastors and to religion in the the first place–they're stupid.

    June 5, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • cardcreek

      and your IQ is?

      June 6, 2011 at 11:09 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.