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. Ryan

    "Why people stick by scandal-plagued pastors"

    Simple. For the same reason animals to be slaughtered stay at the farm. The same mentality applies.

    July 20, 2011 at 10:47 am |
  2. Jeff

    Many people committed suicide along with Jim Jones. This is a common occurrence for cult members. The christ cult is no different.

    July 19, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
    • Liz

      I believe with the Jones case, the folks were given a choice of poison or a bullet, so I don't think many of them had much of a choice.

      July 19, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
  3. mmario

    To Lee, You are so right.....They are guilty or watering down the word of god....

    July 19, 2011 at 9:27 am |
  4. mmario

    The answer to this question is, They are blinded.

    July 19, 2011 at 9:23 am |
  5. Anthony W. Smith

    I'm a veteran of the U.S. Air Force that acquired a disease while stationed in Southern California. At the time of hospitalization which was March of 1988, I was diagnosised with coccidioidomycosis ( Valley Fever ) this was done through numerous tests and conducted by Senior Military Officers who just happened to be medical doctors. I've presented these records to the Department of Veterans Affairs, yet the agency repeatly tells me that I was never diagnosised with this deadly disease. I'm currently looking at the most recent letter I received from the Acting Director of the Oakland Ca. VA and Mr. James O. Vance, states that I'm incorrect with my claim that I ever was Medically Diagnosised with Valley Fever. Can anyone tell me if he means the doctors were in error to place in my records that I was infected with Valley Fever or could he possible mean that the Department of Veterans Affairs doesnot honor official U.S. Military Records. Incidently, I failed to mention that I came into possession of these records through the Privacy Act of 1974 and the aforemention records came from the Oakland Ca. Veterans Affairs Regional Office. I'm seeking help with this matter and not only me but countless other veterans are in the same or similar predicament. Some of us finding ourselves with declining health do to injuries, diseases and numerous other aliments, yet the Dept. of Veterans Affairs seems to go out of its way to deny us the benefits that are rightlfully ours. I pray that there is someone out there that can and will help not only me, the others that are in dire need that they too may go on with life and no longer have to continue to fight with the V.A. Previously, I contacted the Secretary of the V.A. and the President's Office and the reply from the V.A. was that I was making these claims in error. How absurd, knowing what I was diagnosised with and looking at the Medical Records , I must ask the question , why does the Dept of Veterans Affairs fight against veterans of the U.S. Military ? If there is anyone out there willing to assist me , please contact me at E-mail : awsmith0680@yahoo.com Thank You

    July 18, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  6. Study Before You Speak

    Hey Paxalot
    Do us a favor and report back to us where you went to when you died?

    July 18, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
  7. Paxalot

    Both Christians and Muslims are raised to be sheep: dumb, compliant beasts that exist only to enrich the coffers of their owners. They are fed a diet of pipe dreams about a non-existent afterlife and seem happy to be deluded. Can you expect a sheep to think for itself, to organize the sheep and abandon the sheep farm? No. So Christians will continue to pay for their sham leaders' condos, cocaine and mistresses until Christianity follows the 5,000 other religions in the dustbin of history.

    July 18, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • Jeff

      I agree with you. But I would extend it to ALL religions. Each is ridiculous in its own way. Many people, for example, make fun of Scientology dogma. Space aliens? Don't be absurd! But these same people believe that a man walked on water and rose from the dead. Muslims and Jews (who typically revile each other) share the same dim view of women. It's about political domination (money and power) by means of spiritual enslavement. From the Crusades through today, no organization has committed greater sins than the christ cult.

      July 19, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
  8. Ilda Barker

    Rom. 3:23 We are ALL sinners and fall short of the glory of God. God is the supreme judge. We the people are the stones that form the church, The church is supposed to be a spiritual healing center. God has already forgiven the pastor, who after all is human, and like all the human race, is NOT perfect like God. So if God has already forgiven the pastor, why shouldn't we...? God is full of grace and mercy, let us show mercy and grace.

    July 18, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Lee

      This is true God does forgive as should we, but if a man will not repent or acknowledge the wrong and turn from it by also excepting the punishment, then God will not forgive this serious sin and neither should the community. Now, if these were lies and he didn't do anything, he has nothing to worry about, except the misinformation that is distributed out of that church and many like it. They continue to teach things that aren't in the Bible and also take money from their fellow worshipers. They really bring shame to Jesus and his father by making the life saving gospel out of a business. This is why these "preachers" have to water down the word, money, tickling the ears of the people that they say that they love. However, they are really crippling them to wage the very important spiritual warfare. These screaming preachers offer flamboyancy instead of accurate knowledge of God's word. They are the blind leading the blind.

      July 18, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
    • Jeff

      Quoting your cult manual doesn't bring credibility. It shows that you are among the enablers who use a collection of allegorical fairy tales to justify evil.

      July 19, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
    • Liz

      The Bible says those who are teachers and leaders will be judged more strictly than others. You do not get a break because you are more highly placed or have more responsibilities. "From those to whom more is given, more is expected".

      July 19, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
  9. oscar

    why is it that a pastor can listen to and forgive all the sins of his people..love them through adultry,divorce and on an on..never throwing them away,but as soon as that same pastor who stood by his sheep in their moment of weakness has a falling away those same people walk out on him..not excusing sin in the pulpit but pastors are human and lose to the flesh sometimes just like the members!!!

    July 18, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • JG

      This is actually a very fair point, Oscar. Maybe those who have stuck around are the ones he helped through difficult times. Or they may be the ones who find it more Christian to forgive than to abandon Perhaps sermons should be more focused on the values of forgiveness of others than why gay people are bad.

      If you pit God v certain human in your sermons and you turn out to be that "certain human" – well....who do you think the people of your congregation are going to pick? God or you? While you had authority over them, that is what you taught them. And I'm not saying that all Christians believe this or can't make up their own minds – but there is no doubt people in general hate to think of themselves as hypocrites. He put his members is a difficult situation.

      July 18, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
  10. jackie daniels

    fwhy do people still stand by the catholic curch when they have decades of abuse by there clergymen yet you dont say anything about that becaues you want to keep your job so you pick on the african church becaues you know there isnt anyone with any real power to hurt you or even be paid attention too man im glad we got those africans to use for scapegoats.

    July 17, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
  11. eve48

    god is the judge of men new york the 6 state to legalize gay marriage catholic priest years of committing the same crime to each his own just do not pretent to be to righteous when you not amen.

    July 17, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  12. calling337

    they stick by him because heven is made for sinners and they was most likely engaged in the same b/s he is in so they will forgive him and keep on fornitating, the end

    July 16, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
  13. marie

    Because they are dumb.

    July 16, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • YesIamabelieverinChrist

      One must take their eyes off of man and listen to the message that God could have possiblity sent. Remember the people he used in the bible.

      July 20, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  14. Esther David

    The problem with this particular church is, the Pastor needs to be SAVED FROM HIS SINS in order to be in the Body of Christ, you must REPENT AND BE BAPTIZED IN JESUS' NAME according to Acts 2:38, be filled with the HolyGhost and then you can preach to others about Salvation. What the people don't realize is that Jesus is the Head of the Sanctified Church, not the Baptist Church, because John Smith and Roger Williams organized the Baptist Church in the 15th Century, way after Jesus had set up His Church in St. Matthew 16:18. Read your History – God is the God of the Jewish Sanctified Church that his Son Jesus Christ set up in the A.D. 1 and all these other churches and denominations came about after the Catholic Church ex-communicated Martin Luther in the 15th Century. God had nothing to do with the setting up of the Baptist Organization and that is why so much corruption is going on in these various Sectarian Churches because God is not IN IT!!!

    July 16, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • rob

      dum dum dum dum dum

      July 19, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  15. shel

    If the Pastor repents,he will be forgiven by christians.But he is in no way suppose to lead a church ever again.He is to step down .This behavior is not biblical.The people that stay under Pastors that have done so and have stayed in their positions, they are comfortable with the mans sin,validating their own.God is clear on this subject.But these men don't seem to care what God feels for this subject.:(

    July 15, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
  16. Wedding Singer

    because using the pastor as a role odel, they will keep sinning and living a wordly life

    July 15, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
  17. Charles

    Many people are too afraid to be independent stand on their own two feet and need someone to guide them through every minute of their lives. They are in a sense "emotionally and spiritually handicapped" without someone to tell them what to do or how to think.

    July 15, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  18. Tracy

    Eddie Long didnt just make a mistake. Its clear he has a proclivity towards young men and mostly likely teenage boys. How in the world can this be overlooked ??

    July 15, 2011 at 10:17 am |
  19. harford

    because they are people ...and people WILL make mistakes.....it is inevitable...jesus was the only perfect person...he was the first and the last....

    July 15, 2011 at 12:51 am |
    • paco grier

      @ harper your an bonafied idiot! the mega pimp made more than one mistake. but karma usually is resourceful he's got his coming.

      July 15, 2011 at 6:14 am |
  20. James Black


    July 14, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
    • .....

      TROLL ALERT- don't bother viewing this garbage, click the report abuse link.

      July 21, 2011 at 9:02 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.