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.

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- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Celebrity • Christianity • Church • Pastors

soundoff (532 Responses)
  1. God is a Wonderful Thing

    God is Hope. Love. My friends and I are reading a series of books on Christianity. It isn't what we were always told it was. If you want to know the truth about this whole thing go to the top of the food chain. Someone who is the best in the field. Someone who went to the best colleges for his research and has something worthwhile to say. Bart D. Ehrman is the author of more than twenty books, including the New York Times bestselling Misquoting Jesus and God's Problem. You will enjoy any of the lectures or books by Bart D. Ehrman. He is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and is a leading authority on the Bible and the life of Jesus. He has been featured in Time and has appeared on Dateline NBC, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, CNN, the History Channel, major NPR shows, and other top media outlets. History should be based on scientific research not gossip. Religion is not historically proven to be accurate. Stories told at camp fires by drunks, snake charmers and wackos.

    July 2, 2011 at 9:49 am |
    • ThsSpiritofTruth

      According to The Dictionary of The Bible by C.H. MacKenzie, page 432 of an early edition, 'the life of Jesus cannot be written because, outside of the four gospels, their is no information'. If there are books, papers, scrolls in existence, please point them out to the non-schooled researchers/investigators.

      July 3, 2011 at 9:13 am |
  2. easy, tiger

    Follow a man (i.e., human) and you'll always be disappointed. Follow Christ!

    July 1, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
  3. Bernie

    some things are better off not said- his inner mind speaks to his heart on a daily basis.

    July 1, 2011 at 10:19 am |
  4. Mark

    So sad that we argue over religious history as if there exists a solution there, for the issues of today. The bible seems to be an issue in this argument when we all know there are scores of bibles, each written over many hundreds of years by a variety of people, some good, too many not so good. This may come as an unwelcome surprise but there are many millions of people who read bibles which do not even recognize Jesus Christ. Look into your own heart for good and evil. You will undoubtedly find both. How you choose defines your path in life. Forget the cloak of religion, it merely serves to disguise the truth and hide us from reality. Love everyone without looking at their "church", or their lack of a church.

    June 30, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • ThsSpiritofTruth

      Well-stated, Mark! Look within to find "the Divine" in you. Learn to go within and find that peace, happiness and joy your spirit desires.

      July 3, 2011 at 9:16 am |
  5. Marie Kidman


    June 29, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • ...

      =======Don't bother viewing this garbage, click the report abuse button to get rid of this troll.

      July 8, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
  6. ufadoof

    "Why people stick by scandal-plagued pastors?"

    Because they are simpletons. It's really that simple.

    June 28, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  7. jeff

    Eddie Long is a thief and a liar. He has stolen from his parishioners for years. Further, the fact that he stated he would prove the allegations against him false and then settled out of court with the boys who accused him speaks for itself.

    June 28, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Doc

      Jeff, yes Bishop is wrong but we must pray for him for he has lost his way, I think that he has don much for many people thus allowd the enemy to creep in his life. yes the things he was accused of has taken a told on the ministry and that is really the problem because people are hurt but they should continue to serve God, and the ministry must go on. all the saint that left should be fucose on rebuilding the ministry. We all should pray for this Bishop and the ministry. what Bishop was preaching about gays is righrt however he was not living the life, that is what has been said. He has a mandate on his life to preach the right thing, just pray.

      July 2, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
  8. Gregory

    Eddie Long is one of them Pastors, Preachers or Teachers who have taken the Good, that God has given him and uses it for evil purposes. Sheppards like him & others are feeding themselves and not feeding the Flock, so God is taken their masks off and the true children of God are leaving the churches. During these days God is removing masks & opening the eyes of His Children. Once God reveal to you who this person is; run and don't look back; because people like Eddie & The crew will change with Their mouths and not with their hearts. If he's really a man of God, he would step down, Repent and ask God forgiveness. How can you get busted one week and be preaching the next week, that's not of God and he knows that. These people are Greedy and Selfish and no matter how much you give them; they'll always want more. You can't satisfy a greedy & selfish person. If God called these people to preach and teach why are the flock leaving? Because the flocks are following God and not this man. Those who follow people like him shall suffer with him also. It's going to worst on those who have seen the rightoueness of God and than turn away to darkness. A lot of people are doing a lot of talking and not walking the talk, meaning there's a healthy price they're going to pay, when they have to face the Almighty God!!! Individuals who know the Word of The God, follow the word and man. It's very important that people read & ask The Holy Spirit for understanding of word, so they want get caught up other peoples mess. Thank God For Truth and The Truth Have Set Them Free!!!

    June 28, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  9. yeah

    The Old Testament mostly concerns the Jews up until the Romans expand into the Middle East. Ancient Romans influenced the new religion of Christianity. Romans believed in Pluto the equivalent of Hades of the Greeks and in Norse Mythology Hel, all lands of the dead and places of punishment. The Old Testament doesn't mention Hell but says that souls with remain in the bodies in the ground until Judgement Day when the Messiah will appear. European Christians imposed the idea of Hell on the new religion. A lot of Pagan and Celtic beliefs are interwoven into the bible also. Just as Christianity changed here in America when it came over. New Testament where Hell is mentioned countless times. If you're going to follow God please sift through the crap.

    June 28, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  10. bsitz

    They are blind. They are following a religion.....

    June 28, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  11. Chris

    We will all live for an eternity in either heaven or hell. Despite what you might believe, The Bible makes it pretty clear that hell will be a place of unquenchable torment and suffering. What an awful fate for anyone! I only want to see as many people aviod this destination as possible. I know people will mock this, and say I'm simplistic, and narrow minded, and all kinds of other nasty things, but that's ok. I can only speak what I know to be true, and you have the right to accept it or reject it. Read John 3:36 which says: He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. It's that simple. Or, if you want to know how simple it is, consider the theif on the cross next to Jesus. You can read Luke 23:42-43. 42. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
    43. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. This is the thief on the cross speaking to Jesus, and Jesus replies to him, and he is saved and will be in Heaven. Here he was, on a cross next to Jesus, and he could do nothing, and he didn't even say that much, but Jesus knew his heart. .....for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands
    every plan and thought. If you seek Him, He will be
    found by you; but if you forsake Him, he will cast you
    off for ever." (1 Chronicles 28:9)
    If you don't know Jesus as Lord, but would like to know more, the easiest was is to read The Bible. If you don't have a Bible, you can read it online. I would recommend the gospel of John to start with in the New Testament if you don't know where to start. Or, seek out a Bible believing church or talk to someone you know is a Christian, as I can guarantee they would love to share what Christ has done for them and let you know how He can change your life

    June 28, 2011 at 1:32 am |
    • Sarfaraz

      I agree with you about Hereafter, Hell and so on. The Bible is no longer the word of God, it has been amended by mortal humans who follow Christianity, Humans cannot be precise about any thing. I believe in all 4 heavenly books of God, that includes Bible, but that Bible has long lost. The language it was revealed no longer exists or talked about, languages which exit and is spoken is considered true such as The Holy Quran the ultimate and final word of Almighty God (Allah). It even claims to all those to bring one verse compared to it. Protection of which has God Himself says in Holy Quran ""Certainly We revealed the Reminder and certainly We shall preserve it." (The Holy Qur'an 15: 9)".

      Allah does not need mankind at all He has no care about you if you don't follow on His told-path of faith and peace. There are more angels in heavens than humans; who worship Allah day and night, who do not sleep, nor do they feel hunger or thirst. This world is a taste for us, we do not know when would we die, so why search for love of this world, which would never save us from dying neither would we take it with us, what we could take with us are the good deeds, and submission to Almighty Allah.

      Hell is far away my brother, first let me tell you the dark-nights of graves. He/She whoever passes grave's test; should have no fear of hell at all. A sinned man/woman is told by grave on first night "Curse you for coming to me you sinner" and then the grave narrows itself so much that ribs of both sides come across each other. An ugly one hundred faced with fire in their eyes and mouth, whose shoulders would reach east, and west, and whose head would touch the sky, would hit the sinner with hammer (said to be so heavy that even if whole humans of the world were to pick it, would fail eventually), he would strike him/her with it, with which the body of sinner would become powder and as soon as he would raise the hammer again the powder would become body and again, and the process would continue up until the day of hereafter.

      The day of hereafter is equal to 50 thousands years, he/she who would be given their whole life's deeds in left hand should enter hell, and he/she who would receive in right, should enter paradise. Allah would call upon the most-rich person who would never even heard about word poor, and Allah would ask angels to give him a dive of hell, when he would return Allah would ask him, how lavish did he live in life, he would reply, "I don't remember", then Allah would ask angels to take the most miserable and poorest man who lived life in pains and diseases, to give him dive of paradise, later Allah would ask him how did he live life, "He would say, I don't remember".

      June 28, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  12. Mike Hunt

    Christians are the biggest hypocrites in the world.

    June 27, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
    • Carol Blais

      Hi Mark...we need ppl like you to come teach us how NOT 2 be so 'hypocritical'...ie: HUMAN! BLESSINGS!

      June 27, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
    • Carol Blais

      I'm sorry MIKE...I got your name wrong-LONG day. Have a gr8 night! BLESSINGS! πŸ™‚

      June 27, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
    • gg

      you are right, being a christian isn't about perfection but about forgiveness. No one is perfect we are all messed up we need god to put us back together. God is love not hate and i think some people for get that god bless you and keep you

      June 28, 2011 at 9:33 am |
  13. c

    Why do people stand by scandal plagued politicians?

    June 27, 2011 at 6:26 am |
  14. LouisaF

    Eggs Benedict already gave the list, but churchy folks are brain mushed into believing so many things that either aren't true or ridiculously not true that they can convince themselves of anything that serves their "beliefs." The bottom line is that they let themselves off the hook with a wink and a prayer. Forgiven, just like that, so they can go back to doing whatever it is they do, no matter how unconscionable. Saved! It's so much easier than struggling to behave well.

    Their beliefs let them off the hook for backing people like Long too, and others like him. If Long has to behave well, then so do they, and that would suck.

    June 27, 2011 at 5:23 am |
    • Jim

      Same can be said (accurately so) of people with politicians, relatives, etc. This has not much to do with religion as it does with the human condition.

      June 27, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
    • Stewart

      That is the problem I have with secular humanism. The philosophy that just assumes people are stupid and "brainmushed" when they go against the grain and stand by someone who has fallen. These same peolpe will defend Dems like Billy Clinton, and Weiner, and Edwards, then have the audacity to call believers morons. Amongst us "moron christians" this is considered having mercy and compassion for someone who has failed. Some of us walk from congragations for things like this, and some of us don't. Some marriages hit huge obstacles like this and keep going, that is the nature of a flawed and frail human existence. While the secular humanist insists we must have temperance and compassion for someone like Osama Bin Laden, believers are considered "brainmushed". Congratulations you hypocritical S.O.B.s! It is time you stop trying to assume you know everything about us Christians. We are just as diverse in our opinions and beliefs as any cross segment of the population.

      June 27, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
    • John

      technically when a Christian follows Christ they're supposed to become "santified" e.g. they become better & better with time due to God's assistance. However it rarely works out that way and usually you have very bad people hiding behind the religion.

      June 28, 2011 at 9:24 am |
  15. David

    The reason people stick with corrupt leaders, both in government or religious life, is they falsely associate their "salvation" or other life changing event with the messenger instead of the original root message and the one who uttered it. It's dysfunctional.

    June 26, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  16. bishop

    They do not discern that their Pastors and their Churches are dead.

    June 26, 2011 at 10:48 am |
  17. soccerta01

    Pray for the body of Christ, which is the Church. Pray for the lost sheep that they may find their way home. Jesus did not die to make us a judge over man."You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." β€œLet him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” May God bless you all.

    June 26, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • gg

      the body of Christ is the hand's and feet of Jesus his people not a building

      June 28, 2011 at 9:41 am |
  18. Eggs Benedict

    Why do people stick with Eddie Long? 1. Because they are stupid 2. Because they are dumb 3. Because they are religious 4. Because they do not think for themselves. How do I count the way..............M O W R U N S.

    June 26, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • adb

      no it's because they believe in God not the man. Their not stupid and God will hold Bishop Eddie Long repsonsible for what he has or has not done. Not the people of his church and certainly not us.

      June 26, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
  19. Phyllis

    How can you preach what the bible teaches and not live it faithfully?

    June 26, 2011 at 8:49 am |
    • Mark

      It is no different than believing it is unsafe to drive fast and driving fast, that it is never right to lie but covering yourself by lying at work or home, etc. This is what it means to be a "sinner". This is exactly what the Bible says, All have sinned and fall short...thus a Savior is needed. You may not appreciate this but since your asking, that is the answer.

      June 27, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
    • gg

      no sin is greater then another. We all sin and fall short but our sins are not who we are it is what we do we strive every day to be a better person but it is nice to know if we confess our sins god is just and faithful to for give us our sins does that mean it is a free pass no. it is like a child if a child says I am sorry and means it there is always actions that fallow.

      June 28, 2011 at 9:39 am |
  20. dave

    it is much easier to be lead the to be a leader. people need to wake up and think for them selves

    June 26, 2011 at 7:10 am |
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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.