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. Marie Kidman


    June 23, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • Zee

      This one's easy. It's because they are stupid. Period.

      June 24, 2011 at 2:38 am |
  2. A Christian


    You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. (Rev 3:17)

    Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3)
    You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. (Rev 3:17)

    Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3)

    June 22, 2011 at 12:20 am |
  3. festeiam

    Believe what you want, just keep your religion off my civil and human rights.

    June 21, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • A Christian

      Christians started the civil rights movement

      June 21, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
    • CalgarySandy

      Christians limited the scope of human rights and excluded those who disagree with them.

      June 22, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
    • Bill Kilpatrick

      Christianity has been a source for civil rights. It has also been a source for civil wrongs. Martin Luther King was one of many preachers, white and black, who have used the bully pulpit to push for reform. But there have been other preachers who have used that bully pulpit to beat down the poor. Slavery was defended straight out of the Bible. Women and gays have been similarly attacked, using Biblical authority as a justification.

      June 24, 2011 at 12:31 am |
  4. James woods

    Be mindful. "...Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." If Abraham was willing to sacrifice Issac, and God was willing to sacrifice Jesus, surely we can sacrifice our lusts and things of this world. Be mindful.

    June 21, 2011 at 1:04 am |
    • CalgarySandy

      Why ever should I model my behavior on parents who threaten to kill their children?

      June 22, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
  5. Tashara

    The church is not about a building or Bishop Eddie Long for that matter. People continue to put their hope in man and will continue to be disappointed. http://mrsware92510.blogspot.com

    June 20, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
    • Bill Kilpatrick

      These are entertainers. People value them as such. They go back to them because these individuals have mastered the craft of mass manipulation. The difference between them and Hollywood celebrities is a superficial one at best. Beneath the pretended conflict between religion and show biz, there is a world of shared strategies and tactics.

      June 24, 2011 at 12:40 am |
  6. David

    only sheep need a Shepard...

    June 20, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
    • George

      And those that follow blindly are sheep.

      June 22, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • jonathan

      Jesus gave his life for the sheep; he the good shepherd..Holy Ghost lead us to Him. yea! 🙂

      June 22, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
  7. msyellarose

    People have got to stop worshipping men and focus on worshpping God. Think for yourselves, and quit being such blind sheep.

    June 20, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • Christian Schizophrenia

      To worship gods is to worship men. I find your blind sheep comment interesting.

      June 20, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • jonathan

      Jesus give us the Holy Ghost so we can find him..I find him in me! yes! 🙂

      June 22, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
    • Bill Kilpatrick

      God, Jesus and the angels are all projections of our hopes, dreams and even fears. Whatever Jesus could do for you, you could do for yourself.

      June 24, 2011 at 12:42 am |
  8. JEN


    June 20, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • jonathan

      it's true we run to eat after church every Sunday some of us..it's a tradition ....Now we sit at TV watch football.. 🙁

      June 22, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
  9. Isaac

    Revelation – It refers the Signs and wonders that God gives us before he comes is there will be no faith on the face of the earth. This is one great sign that Jesus is coming soon.

    June 20, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • jonathan

      That's not true...he asks will he find faith...that's a question we should all ask ourselves...I have faith, it is given to me from God's own mouth... 🙂

      June 23, 2011 at 12:01 am |
    • jonathan

      Jesus said blessed is that man that is so doing when he comes... 🙂

      June 23, 2011 at 12:01 am |
  10. Jean-Claude

    just curious – will someone please reconcile the Genesis account of creation with the many demonstrably proveable stone cities built on several continents approximately 12,000 to 15,000 years ago?

    June 18, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Cal

      Re: creation. The bible certainly allows for creation to have taken place over millions of years. One day to God can be millions of years for us and God is so powerful it could literally been six days that He created every living thing. If u take a step further, Darwinism States that species can evolve but is that so? Why have certain monkeys not become human then?

      June 19, 2011 at 7:41 am |
    • Brent Slensker

      @Cal You need to read an 8th Grade text on Biology!. First, there is no such thing as "Darwinism", just mis-construments from people that don't understand Biology OR Social Theory... Next
      Why have certain monkeys not become human then?
      Because there was NO environmental pressure for those genetic populations to evolve/adapt over time. It's still a good question, but it painfully shows your ignorance of the subject in general....

      June 19, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
    • David

      Cal, you should spend a bit more time studying evolution. You have committed the fatal mistake in evolution. We did not evolve from monkeys..rather "we" both evolved from a common ancestor. Much in the same way that a wolf did not change directly into a rottweiler or a whale into an elephant.

      June 20, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • A Christian

      (Genesis 1)
      The Beginning
      1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
      3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

      6 And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” 7 So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

      9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.
      11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.

      14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.

      20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.

      24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
      26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

      27 So God created mankind in his own image,
      in the image of God he created them;
      male and female he created them.

      June 22, 2011 at 12:03 am |
    • CalgarySandy

      That is just one of the creation stories in Genesis. It is very like the story in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Textual analysis shows there are at least 2 distinct writers. It was only written about 5000 years ago. Cutting and pasting that out of an on-line Bible can be done by anyone and it does not prove that it is true. It has nothing to do with what people are discussing. You can find out for yourself by studing a handful of dead languages, the archaeology and history of the time as well as all the belief systems. It only takes half a lifetime to get all this so you had better start now or are you content to follow behind some else who has no competence in the area?

      June 22, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
    • Bill Kilpatrick

      Genesis is not reliable history, geology or biology. It's a story. Taken as such, it makes for lively and valuable discussions about the human condition. Taken literally, it's a mess.

      Genesis says that God created day before creating the Sun.
      Genesis says that God created birds before worms.
      Genesis says that God created fish and fowl the same day. Why? Because fish swim in the mayim; birds fly in shemayim.
      Genesis makes Creation a great duality: God created the Heavens and the Earth.
      This duality is completely assymetrical. God created everything (the Heavens) and the Earth.
      It's a bit like saying the beach is made up of all the sand as far as the eye can see AND one tiny grain.
      Heaven is, in fact, the "firmament" between the upper waters and the lower waters.
      Heaven is the sky, which is why birds fly in it.
      Genesis knows that the Sun is greater than the Moon but it doesn't know that the Sun is inferior to the Stars.
      In Genesis, God creates the greater light to rule the day, the lesser light to rule the night – and "stars also."
      That "also" is the rest of the universe.

      June 24, 2011 at 12:56 am |
  11. Alex

    Nope, its because people are stupid and frightened of change.

    June 17, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • Bill Kilpatrick

      You said it!

      June 24, 2011 at 12:56 am |
  12. Kim Nelson

    Religion is a huge joke. I have spent enough time around so called Christians my family included, it's all so ugly! The pain and suffering that innocent people endured in the past, is so so wrong!!!!!! Sorry, that can't be ignored, or forgiven. You are so wrong about so many things, and so many people. Also, because your faith causes you to have such narrow minds, Your intelligence is limited. I know these things because I have seen the inside and the outside of it all. No Thanks!!!!! Oh and creation is total fantasy. It makes absolutely no sense.

    June 17, 2011 at 1:58 am |
    • Famous

      *IF* there is a perfect being out there, it must be both perfect good and perfect evil.

      June 20, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • A Christian


      How long will you who are simple love your simple ways?

      How long will mockers delight in mockery and fools hate knowledge? (Proverbs 1:22) NIV

      June 21, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
    • A Christian


      Therefore disaster will overtake him in an instant; he will suddenly be destroyed–without remedy. (Proverbs 6:15)

      When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down, but even in death the righteous have a refuge. (Proverbs 14:32)

      June 22, 2011 at 12:11 am |
    • CalgarySandy

      Like you I have seen it from the inside and the out. My beef with these people that they do not care about people or they would leave them alone when asked. They do not care about anything but getting their terrified azzes into heaven. Everyone of these slaves would be delighted to butcher their own child if they thought it was God who said so. How does any child feel safe with that hanging over their heads?

      June 22, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
  13. Allan

    Yeah Pastors just want to preach popular prosperity gospel and easy to hear messages to become popular and then abuse Malachi 3:8-10 to rake in the big bucks. Aka as peddling the gospel for money. notice that these are non-denominational and without any accountability or governance to anybody but themselves. Perhaps the tax qualification for charitable organizations must be tightened to curb these robbers and thieves masquerading as men of God.

    June 16, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
  14. sofunny

    It takes mor faith to beleive in evolution than to beleive in a creator. You have to suspend common sense and observation to believe life occurred by a freak accident and to believe that people are the result of some cosmic soup requires the beleif of a two year old.

    June 15, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
    • Danny

      sofunny, I agree with you. Evolution does not make sense, at no time in history has an explosion ever produced order, its always produced kaos and grief. I encourage anyone to try this experiment. Clean out your garage completely, and wait 20 years and see if a cadillac evolves. Try 50 years, a thousand years. Trust me it never will.

      June 16, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • CJack14

      This may very well be the most ignorant post and reply I've ever seen.

      June 16, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
    • AsayaYeahyas

      Who created god? A scared little man. If he always existed why hasn't he perfected anything yet? Because the idea was written by a flawed man. Why doesn't he write a book himself? Because nothing can only write in disney cartoons. Why is there any doubt? Because there is no proof. Seems to me it is fear and ignorance that keep some believing in nothing.

      June 19, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • David

      Danny and so funny both of you need to check back into the education system and fast. 50 years is not even a blink of the eye in geological time. But even if we did your little, you would start to witness natural selection. As your garage moved through varying degrees of rot and decay, certain creatures and bacterial in that ecosystem would be better suited and would flourish independently. But obviously you would attribute the rise and fall of these lifeforms as the will of God.

      June 20, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • CalgarySandy

      You do not have to dispense with common sense. You do need to be able to grasp some scientific principals. You have to read books and that is likely the reason there are still people too dim to understand. When you are too lazy to get an education you turn to a Guy in the Sky to get you by.

      June 22, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
  15. tensai13

    The greatest sin is correctly identified as pride or superbia and this is why these misguided and deluded people continue to see no evil, hear no evil, and do no goodl Amen.

    June 15, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
    • CalgarySandy

      It is just one of the deadly sins not the most deadly and trusting your own God-given mind after learning how to use it is not hubris.

      June 22, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
  16. Michael


    June 15, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
    • Rev. Ike

      A lot of Black folks. Hmmm

      June 17, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
  17. Robert Ray

    People who stick with religious leaders like eddie long are just to far gone. Religious con men are pros at twisting the supersticious,the delusional and closed minded zombie puppets, It is sad that the federal government allows this type of criminal enterprize to exists,,but then again the government controls the masses by the same illogical biblical fantasys.

    June 15, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • Bill Kilpatrick

      It's unrealistic to expect simple folk to choose the complexities of science over the simple and reassuring absolutes of religion. Some people go to church as their 12-step, to keep them from ending up in the gutter. Others go because it's their addiction, their refuge from life. Personally, I would rather confront the world as it is than spend my entire life pretending it's something else.

      June 24, 2011 at 1:23 am |
  18. Kevin

    (2 Corinthians 4:4 among whom the god of this system of things has BLINDED THE MINDS of the unbelievers, that the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine through.

    2 Corinthians 11:14 And no wonder, for Satan himself keeps transforming himself into an angel of light.

    Acts 20:29-30 I know that after my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among YOU and will not treat the flock with tenderness, 30 and from among YOU yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.

    people are blindly following them. they need to follow the things written in the bible not the corrupt men who claim to follow the bible but actions prove otherwise.

    June 14, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Kevin

      Bla bLA BlA BS

      June 19, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • Older Sista

      Oooooo Brother, just wait until the antichrist gets rolling. If we are confounded by people following these little mini false prophets now, just wait 'til the REAL delusion begins. Remember that our Lord warned us that many of even the elect will be decieved. Stay in the word and don't spend too much time on these sites....eventually you find your self sowing on rocky soil at best; scattering your pearls before swine at worst. Remain in the remnant, bless you.
      Here, there or in the air.....

      June 20, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • CalgarySandy

      Some of you folks would be deliberately goading the Romans, as Christians in fact did, into throwing you to the arena so you would get a better seat in Heaven. Martyrs are idiots.

      June 22, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
    • Mike0301

      Why do christians think that cutting and pasting phrases from a book, probably written by bronze age nomads, is some kind of devastating come back? Sorry, the 'the Bible is True because it says so" illogic convinces no one. Especially when one realizes that large portions are fabricated from old myths and in some cases, just fairy tales.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
  19. Kevin


    June 14, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Kevin

      FAil rebooT

      June 19, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  20. Carol Wilson

    Religion has provided comfort for many, prompted many to extend kindnesses to others. But, belief in God means accepting on faith, not requiring concrete proof. It means believing in a God that nobody has ever seen. A faith based person is, by definition, trusting....and very vulnerable to being conned by unscrupulous pastors, pedophile priests, dishonest mortgage lenders, and Republicans who pose as faithful Christians. Remember, one person in 25 is a sociopath, they lack a sense of right and wrong. They are power seekers. Be wary....look at what people do, not what they say.

    June 14, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • Darryl

      Well said.

      June 20, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • A Christian


      You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. (Rev 3:17)

      Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:3)

      June 22, 2011 at 12:22 am |
    • CalgarySandy

      You know, I could almost buy this if all Christians had been Christians in a closed society from birth. However, there are people who convert in their adult years. Are you telling me they forget all their good sense and become walking victims?

      June 22, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
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About this blog

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.