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. Jim

    The picture reminds me of something from the 1930s in Nuremberg. Outstretched arm, their leader is flawless, willing to die for their beliefs. Yep. A lot of dangerous similarities there.

    June 14, 2011 at 9:56 am |
  2. PoconoPhil

    It is a colossal waste of time trying to engage the religious, bigoted, judgmental, self-righteous zealots in a reasonable discussion, because they are so brainwashed, there is no room for reason. Not only are they convinced God wrote the Bible 2,000-4,000 years ago, that he supernaturally guided the MEN who decided what should be included and what should not, but that it should be interpreted literally today (well, except for the parts about stoning people for wearing two different threads, or working on the sabbath, or planting different crops side by side, because, you know, that's just silly). They pick and choose whatever suits their purpose. It's like trying to change the mind of someone who thinks aliens have infiltrated Earth's infrastructure. Waste of time.

    June 13, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
  3. Logic

    To be human and to live graciously is to accept 'responsibility".

    No matter where you go there is responsibility. Accept it.
    Religious people always love to pass the buck. Blame everyone else for their misfortune, never yourself.
    That is what is wrong with religion and those that follow it.

    There isn't a god to offload your responsibility however you wish.
    So it'll be that you people will never learn to live a full life or live it unfettered.

    June 13, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
  4. Rob

    A leader? A Pastor? Or whatever you want to call a man that leads a mega-church. This leader needs to step down or be forced out if he is guilty. Eddie Long is another one of those prosperity preachers who teach that Jesus wants us all to be RICH, and if you are not RICH, then you are lacking spiritually. I think preachers that preach such non-sense are scam artist who use the house of the Lord to do the Devils work, by robbing the Church (God's children) through offerings and other funds, so they themselves can live the high life on this earth while they proclaim they are blessed by God in the area of wealth (money). They not blessed at all by God, they are blessed only because they have learned how to rob. Men that do such things are capable of doing ANYTHING! Why would they refrain or abstain from sin when their ways are not of God but of Satan? I wonder which mega-church pastor will be the next to be found out? Benny Hinn? T.D. Jakes? Joel Osteen? I am a Christian that prays, reads the Bible, and worships my God at home, because you never know which Church is corrupted these days or what type of criminal is leading them. How can the blind lead the blind? Perhaps! They both fall into the ditch. God bless all us your people, and throw down everyone that brings shame to your name. In Jesus name I pray! Amen.

    June 13, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • Joel

      I totally agree with you up into you do not assist a church part. If you say you read your bible at home then you must of read Hebrews 10:25. You or me will never find or assist a perfect church because it's led by humans the only true perfect church will be when Christ returns and those taken in the rapture will be part of the true and perfect church. Until then find a place to grow and fellowship and serve. Quit fixing your eyes on men. I will be praying that God leads to a place to belong and grow. Blessings

      June 14, 2011 at 10:03 am |
  5. raptureman

    you don't need to go to church unless you are weak and need structure....follow God, not man...

    June 13, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
  6. Mike Peralta

    According to the bible, Judgement first falls on the house of God.(Those in the church.)
    God is calling everyone to repentance. And He is coming soon! Very soon. Sooner than you think.

    Read Volume 1 of The Prophetic Book Series, I AM COMING. This Series Contains Urgent Messages From God – yes from God Himself through prophecy – about the soon Rapture and Tribulation.
    You can download the free ebook from http://www.smashwords.com
    Use the search phrase: I Am Coming
    Some prophetic words from Jesus in I Am Coming, Volume 1 :
    “This is your LORD. Time is short. Time is running out. The clock is ticking. I must come soon. Life will never be the same. You have the power to choose. Life is in your hands. I will not wait forever on MY people. This is serious. If you stay you will die. If you leave, you must leave with Me.”
    “You must choose life or death. I come quickly. MY hour is near, the hour I retrieve MY Bride. She is ready. All is ready. The hour is close at hand. Be ready. Look for ME.. Only the pure of heart will see MY face, MY beautiful face. MY heart is broken for those who will be lost.”
    “Save yourselves, turn and surrender. The hour is close at hand. All will be dark soon, but the Bride will be safely put away. Be the Bride: turn, repent, come to ME. I am gentle. I am kind. MY words are soft and tender. I am a gentle God. MY people see, MY people know I am love. I spare no expense for MY children. Love is MY moniker. This world is going to die out soon. Soon it will all be over. Repent while you still can. Please come to ME, I am waiting. These are your last opportunities. You choose: life or death.”
    “Choose against ME and discover that you have made a move that has eternal consequences. You will never see ME again. You will never hear MY voice. You will never experience MY ways: I am LOVE. I am HOPE. I am KINDNESS. I am PEACE. I am WISDOM. I am KNOWLEDGE. I am STRENGTH. I am SAFETY. I am BLISS. I am JOY. I am TRUTH. I am GREATNESS. I am LIFE. I am ADORATION. I am all the good things you enjoy in this world. Hell does not have these things. It will be never-ending sad futility.”
    “MY children who are in hell have no hope. They will not find hope or love again. They are experiencing the worst things. Some of MY children have witnessed hell and speak of it. Many have been there for short times and experienced its anguish. But there is nothing worse than an eternity apart from ME, your MAKER. I am sorry for their loss, but MY Word is clear and the people are without excuse if they choose against ME and find themselves in hell.”
    “Now I am putting forth MY final pleas and I am warning you about the horror to come. .. MY people left will have to go through the worst imaginable things. I want them to know that the choice they are making now has severe consequences if they choose against ME... It will be very hard for those who want to turn back to ME. The choice now is easy. Later it will be very difficult. Choosing for ME will be very hard after I take MY people home. Come with ME now. Follow ME now. Save yourself. Time is running out. Don’t waste precious moments. Turn, turn, turn NOW. Repent! Lay your life down before ME. Give ME everything. I will save you. Now is the deciding hour. Time is running out.”
    “I, GOD, I, JESUS am waiting for your answer.”

    June 13, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • GetReal

      That's the problem, anybody can post especially Mike the crackpot here and a few others. Jesus is dead and like everyone else that is dead they are worm food. We are but a spec of dust twirling around a few hundred billion stars twirling around few hundred billion galaxies. SO there is just one guy and his son controlling all of it? Talk about the gene pool!

      June 13, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
    • PoconoPhil

      Try aluminum foil. Makes a lovely hat and keeps out the aliens' mind-control rays.

      June 13, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
    • Pastor Perri


      June 14, 2011 at 12:29 am |
    • CalgarySandy

      You know, I have never seen anyone but Fundamentalists cut and paste so much. Can you use your own words?

      June 22, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
  7. CSR

    Paul said you follow me as I follow Christ....but if I stop following Christ ...you keep following Him!! Hell is forever!! And Heaven will be worth it all !!!!!!! 😀

    June 12, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  8. bu

    ALL Religion is a disease of the Mind! Be part of the cure, not the problem!

    Help cure the religion disease!

    June 12, 2011 at 2:07 am |
    • Brandon Walker

      If Religion is false what purpose is there in life? Is that purpose true? No it can't be because truth is relative.

      June 12, 2011 at 4:21 am |
    • Sean

      Not everyone needs religion to have a purpose.

      June 13, 2011 at 9:08 am |
    • CalgarySandy

      I do feel sorry for those who cannot live without religion when they have no other purpose in life. I live for the love of my friends and my son. I live for the love of the beautiful and dying Earth. I live for music and literature. I live! That is all the purpose you need. I do not need a 2000 year dead master ordering me around through some dubious minion to have purpose. I live to be kind to those who are vulnerable and stand up for those you lot would knock down. The Baptist Church only taught me who to hate and what not to do. That was not purpose enough for me.

      June 22, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
  9. HWC``

    When they get you under there spell, you will follow and do what ever they say. It's like being hooked on crack & sellling yourself on the street. What ever the pimp says, shall be done. That is until you come to your senses and stop acting like a fool.

    June 10, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
  10. Iaintbuyingit

    The truth is ,Jesus comes for the sick sinner no matter how disgusting they are. This pastor, even in the midst of his sin, can still be saved. He might lose everything in the process if he repents and accepts the chastisement of the Lord. But the upside is he will not lose his soul and gain the world. This is the choice B. Eddie Long faces and so do we.

    June 10, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
  11. Geronimo

    People don't stick to pastors, they stick to God.

    June 9, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • Jennifer

      Then they should stick to churches with pastors who conform to what the Bible says a pastor should be.

      June 9, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • Iaintbuyingit

      Jenny is right. But the truth is ,Jesus comes for the sick sinner no matter how disgusting they are. This pastor, even in the midst of his sin, can still be saved. He might lose everything in the process if he repents and accepts the chastisement of the Lord. But the upside is he will not lose his soul and gain the world. This is the choice B. Eddie Long faces and so do we.

      June 10, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  12. Josh

    He had power over people, and wanted to keep it, people are stupid and look for anything to believe...including criminal pastors

    June 9, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  13. PRISM 1234

    Why do some people stick by their pastors who fall into degenerate behavior, even when everyone else in the church seems to be leaving?

    It's because they have false perception of who God is , of His righteousness, what sin is, and what it does. In most every case, they hold distorted view of the Word of God.

    It should be noted that almost everyone who stays, sticking with the pastor, feels the sense of righteous pride, although disguised in form of humility, because they feel they are standing with a man who is being persecuted.
    But the Word of God NEVER calls the suffering which our sins brings us a "persecution" .

    There is a spirit of "Secular Humanism" that has crept into the churches, especially here in America, where the pressure to conform to the world's ways, to be "politically correct" has made the faithful nervous, and has in many cases silenced their testimonies, shaking them in their stand on the Word of God, that used to be foundation of Christian churches in this country. The meaning of the word love, as well as forgiveness have been so warped, diluted, and therefore PO-luted in our society, that when one does obvious wrong, people have fear to confront them, and make them bear the consequences of their deeds! All of these things are connected, so, the toll of the pressure to compromise is the consequence we're seeing...

    God has His guidelines in His word how to handle situations when a brother, sister, and particularly a leader falls into sin. The higher the position of authority in the church one holds, the more severe the consequence for breaking his covenant of responsibility is, by allowing himself to desecrated himself through willful sin, betraying the trust of those which he was entrusted....
    But it is never to gather around them and treat them as a victim! We have no right to condemn, but we are commanded to judge according to the word of God , and go by the guidelines of it, which if implemented, will bring positive and healing outcome in fallen persons life, if he/she was the Child of God in the beginning...But this requires is a long process, with many steps involved. Because the sin that caused his disgrace did not come overnight... Those type of things simmer long time in someone's heart, beginning first with a suggestion of thoughts, then when the thoughts have taken a root, they established themselves in this person, which ultimately lead him to act them out! That's how it always works!......
    But to give them a shoulder of the kind of "compassion", as to surround them with protection, as if they were the victims of persecution, it will not cause them to grasp the severity of f their sin, but distort their view of it. And if anything , this is the work of satan himself, to destroy the body of Christ, in most subtle ways!

    June 9, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Body of Christ again?

      Seems the molestors are always babbling about it.

      Is that a code word for Jesus's Peter!

      You guys are DEVIANT, Your religion is a scam, and your preachers molest little boys.

      June 9, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      I am really not responding to your corny, smart-alecky remark, because after the things I've written in my post, you can only come up with crap like that, you're not worth replying too!

      But I will writte this for the sake of understanding of other people....

      The term "The Body Of Christ" is used in the Holy Scriptures pertaining to all believers, the ones who by Faith in Jesus Christ have become His body of believers, which as a Spiritual building, is made up of living stones, which are the living temples of God, being His people, since His Spirit dwells in them, by the New Birth HE gave them at the point of their recieveing His free gift of salvation by humbling tehmselves befor Him, and giving their lives and comitment of their hearts to Him, therewith entering into a covenant with Him.... This is thing of spiritual nature, and those who are opposed to God will have no understanding thereoff, but those who are His, OR those who are SEEKING to know Him, to those He will give understanding of things I'm saying here.
      But you, William D, like a brute beast, you throw the mud you're wallowing in, like a pig who tramples over treasure, not discerning what it is, and speaking evil of things of things you know nothing about!

      June 9, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • CalgarySandy

      Yes, the Body of Christ is His church. No where does it say which particular kind of Christianity is the Body. The Body of Christ gossiped about my father and he fled never to return. He hated Churches ever after. I had a similar experience and decided that if the Body was corrupt the whole thing was. Fundamentalists are abusers and bigots. That's your body.

      June 22, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
  14. William Demuth

    People follow degenerate preachers, because of a sub concious desire to be buggered by them.

    June 9, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • William Demuth

      It truly is "The Body Of Christ" which they thrust into their followers, literally!

      June 9, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
  15. rb

    When you don't actually follow JESUS CHRIST and HIS TRUE teachings, this is what happens. They look for miracles, signs and wonders through man. Man will fail you every time. Wake up people! It's a FAKE! IT'S NOT THE TRUE TEACHINGS OF CHRIST, EDDIE LONG IS IN IT FOR HIMSELF AND THE MONEY. It's always mostly BLACK people falling for this stupid, dumb, fake crap. Sad to say, this will continue to happen if people will not seek CHRIST for themselves. Scripture says, "You know the tree by the fruit it bears......" Good fruit canNOT come from a bad tree and bad fruit canNOT come from a good tree. Eddie Long is leading people astray and they are brainwashed. God will Judge Eddie Long for what he is doing to the people.....

    June 8, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
    • Lee

      Mostly black people? Did you see the followers who said that May 21st was going to be the end of the world? You're joking right? Look at all the stupid TV evangelists who have done this crap, only to come back later. Most of their followers aren't black people. Please educate yourself. I'm not black but I have to respond to comments like yours. I am a believer.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      Rb, I agree with much what you said...But it is not mostly the black people,as you said,although they do ahve more inclanation to bunch themselves up and rally together, I suppose because of the unity of their race, and sentiment that unites them, specialy about the white people....and that's wrong and leads to deception of false security of their unity, which is not based on God....

      But just look the other ministries that went through similar ordeals.. And look at the one with "pink hair" lady.... (TBN)where they sit around in golden chairs, making spectacles out of themselves..... Need I say any more?

      The Church is n this country in particular, is in great danger. And unless people in them stop listening to satan's lullabies, when the things comming on this earth arrive, there will be some devastating consequences. Because it won't be an early exit for Christians in Rapture before those times, like many are being taught Sunday after Sunday, till they think, that if they all agree on it, and the more of them join in agreement, GOd will make it happen. But it will be as God says, not as men wish! And God spells itt out quite differintly!
      But you are right, totally right, it is to God that we should look in all things and not man!

      June 9, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • grady10

      The people that followed David Koresh were not black.

      June 12, 2011 at 2:13 am |
  16. Brent

    Are the people in the picture above raising their hands to their pastor or an Obama speech? Can't tell.

    June 8, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • Jermaine Ladd

      It is too God you fool and not you or any icon that looks like you.

      June 13, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • CalgarySandy

      "to God" you fool. Be careful when you insult people that you have not shown yourself to be a fool as well.

      June 22, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
  17. RubenM

    They don't realize that the messenger should be as pure as the message, otherwise he too is fooling you.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • Iaintbuyingit

      Nope. That is so untrue. There is no man or woman that meets that criteria.

      June 10, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      No, no one meets the ultimate purity criteria, that's true..But we should live holy, blameless lives, and that's something what we by the grace of God can do, and must do, by allowing Him to work His grace in us, if we belong to Him.

      There are many warning signs that one should be able to see, if they have the discernment given to them by the Holy Spirit of God. But so many people in today's churches DO NOT have that discernment, because they have been conditioned to compromise with the world, and their spiritual senses have been dampered. Because once the compromise sets in, it dulls the hearts of the people. That's how those things strart and keep on festering,.... The outcome, as with this and other preachers , is of no surprise !

      June 10, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
  18. Phill

    Very Liberal Church's are this way.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:10 am |
    • Iaintbuyingit

      That is a crock. That is like saying only one race of men cheats. And that is so untrue.

      June 10, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  19. sweetypie

    Like with Movie Stars and Models – Scandals bring them more fame and of course Money. People like that

    June 8, 2011 at 5:45 am |
  20. Sir Craig

    "Why people stick by scandal-plagued pastors."

    Because people are dumb. That only took four words.

    June 8, 2011 at 4:28 am |
    • Newsjoke

      I'd have done it in three: Because they're idiots. lol

      June 8, 2011 at 7:55 am |
    • grady10

      Sir Craig..... if you were a father and your children found out that you committed an act that defamed your family and they wanted to stick it out with you, not because they were condoing the wrong but only because they loved you and still had some level of respect for you...How would that make you feel? And what if you being their father, were ostrizied by the very ones whom were a reproductive part of you, because of what you done...How would you feel? People can say and do alot of things...but there go you except by the grace of God

      June 12, 2011 at 2:22 am |
    • Sean

      If he betrayed his followers, who cares how he feels?

      June 13, 2011 at 9:11 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.