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February 3rd, 2012
09:13 AM ET

Bishop Eddie Long crowned 'king'

By John Blake, CNN

Atlanta (CNN)–Bishop Eddie Long has been called anointed, but he was recently awarded another title, as shown in a video that’s gone viral. He’s now a king.

Long was wrapped in a “Holocaust Torah” and crowned a king during a recent Sunday ceremony at New Birth Missionary Church, his suburban Atlanta congregation.

A visiting rabbi wrapped Long in the Torah, which he said was recovered during the Holocaust. The rabbi then directed four men to lift a seated Long in his chair and parade him before the New Birth congregation.

Long wiped tears away as he looked over his cheering congregation.

“He is a king. God’s blessed him. He’s a humble man, but in him is kingship, royalty,” Rabbi Ralph Messer shouted.

Word of the pastor's crowning ceremony spread across the Web. Last year, Long settled out of court with four young men who accused him of coercing them into sexual relationships.

CNN's Belief Blog – all the faith angles to the day's top stories

A rabbi and Christian scholar questioned Long and Messer, the man who led Long’s crowning ceremony.

Messer said during the ceremony that the Torah was a “priceless” 312-year-old scroll that had been recovered from the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. He said he wanted to honor Long “on behalf of Jewish people, and the land of Israel.”

Rabbi Hillel Norry of Congregation Shearith Israel in Georgia said the ceremony was “ridiculous.” There’s no Jewish coronation ceremony where someone is wrapped in a Torah and made a king, he said.

“We just don’t do that. We treat it with deference,” Norry said of the Torah. “It’s not a shawl, not a crown. Don’t treat it that way.”

Norry said Messer doesn’t appear to be an ordained rabbi in the Jewish faith. He also doubts that the Torah that Long was wrapped in is actually 312 years old, and had somehow escaped detection in a concentration camp.

“The Torah is the size of a person. It’s not like you can hide one,” he said.

Brent Strawn, an associate professor at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, said Christian pastors are not treated as kings in the New Testament.

“They are almost always spoken of as servants,” he said. “This is exemplified by Jesus in the New Testament, when he wears the garment of a servant and washes his disciples’ feet.”

Long declined to speak, but his spokesman released a statement from the rabbi who led the ceremony.

Messer leads the Simchat Torah Beit Midrash congregation in Colorado, which describes itself as a community of Jewish and non-Jewish believers in “Yeshua,” or Jesus Christ. He said the ceremony was held to honor and encourage Long because the pastor had given so much to his church, and the world.

“It was not to make Bishop Eddie L. Long a king,” Messer said in the statement. “Lifting him on the chair was to acknowledge and honor him. It is done all the time at Jewish weddings and bar mitzvahs.”

Long is one of the most well-known televangelists in America. At its peak, New Birth had around 25,000 members, and Long’s sermons were broadcast around the globe.

Two years ago, Long’s public image took a hit when four young men accused him of misusing his spiritual authority to coerce them into sexual relations. Long’s wife, Vanessa, filed for divorce last year.

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Christianity • Culture wars • Israel • Jesus • Judaism

soundoff (712 Responses)
  1. The truth

    IT IS A MESS

    February 3, 2012 at 9:44 am |
  2. Joe NYer

    Uh...yeah, ok. I can think of a few "kings" in their chosen professions; let's see, Babe Ruth, Ali, Clark Gable, Evel Knievel, Frank Purdue, Bill Gates, Ray Kroc, Dale Earnhardt, and Tiger Woods. This guy? What king gets dissed by his "queen"? A church is no place to showboat.

    February 3, 2012 at 9:41 am |
  3. Truth

    This man disgusts me, I don't understand how anyone can fall for this garbage.

    February 3, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  4. ReligionIs4Dolts

    I thought he was a queen.

    February 3, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • Lomez

      Hayooooo!

      February 3, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • Steve

      Hoo-wah!

      February 3, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  5. jon

    If I were a betting man, I'd say it was a reform Rabbi.

    February 3, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • Seriously

      It says in the article, he is a Jew for Jesus Jew...but that don't make what he did any better.

      February 3, 2012 at 9:41 am |
  6. jennygirl

    wow! what a blasphemous ceremony.

    February 3, 2012 at 9:38 am |
  7. richunix

    Incredible… This is a slap in the face to both the Jewish and Christian beliefs. The man is a fraud…

    February 3, 2012 at 9:38 am |
  8. Eddie

    The more my followers are blinded, the more I can reach in their pants. Sorry, I meant pant pockets. I love this USA

    King Kong-Long

    February 3, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • c

      The man is a disgrace to humanity; but you could have kept the racial"king kong" reference to black people being apes. Rest assured white folk have their fair share of liars and hypocrits too.

      February 3, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • Alice Pooper

      Uh no...Use white people dont have nearly as many issues as you dumb nig gers.

      February 5, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
  9. blake

    Long is a thoroughly disgusting man, giving Christ and His Church a black eye. Why do people follow narcissistic phonies like Long?

    February 3, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • Seriously

      and don't you love how the media only reports on these guys ignoring the 99% who are decent

      February 3, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • WASP

      that would be why they a called a flock, their sheep......humans require a symbol to guide them. with out that symbol, ie a king, bishop, basketball player, a country flag, take a pick. very few people can live their lives without a symbol to guide them.

      February 3, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • MM

      "and don't you love how the media only reports on these guys ignoring the 99% who are decent"

      That would be not news. This is a news site. It's precisely the bad apples that deserve to have a floodlight shone on them.

      February 3, 2012 at 9:51 am |
  10. Jerry

    The members of this church better run for their lives, because it is not the Holy Spirit that works here, the Spirit of Jesus Christ. this church turning into an occult.

    February 3, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • some dude

      I think you mean "cult". Occult means "hidden".

      February 4, 2012 at 5:02 am |
  11. wikiIeaks

    on his way to pope-ship

    February 3, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  12. Say it

    As far as I know, in the Christian faith there is ony one King....his name is Jesus.

    February 3, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • Jerry

      Amen!

      February 3, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • Crystal

      Well said. Your statement stands on its own. There is nothing more to be said. And with that.... who is ready for the Superbowl?

      February 3, 2012 at 9:52 am |
  13. Joosy

    Jesus wept.

    February 3, 2012 at 9:34 am |
  14. Marc S

    Jews know that the Torah is to be revered and read, not drapped over anyone, especially a false prophet child molester. There are even silver implements used to touch the scroll as anything that could smear or damage handpainted words would (by Jewish law) need to be reapired. This is disgusting, and if in fact the Torah used was real, it needs to be removed from this false rabbi. This so called ceremony has no basis in religion.

    February 3, 2012 at 9:34 am |
  15. Patrick

    Hey, it's America. They can worship who they want. they're only proving L. Ron Hubbard right – creating a religion is the easiest way to get rich.

    February 3, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • Seriously

      yah, he should know it worked for him

      February 3, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • louis

      I know Romney is happy they made up the mormon religion..

      February 3, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • c

      Yep- and that's exactly why the IRS tossed Hubbards butt in jail for income tax evasion.

      February 3, 2012 at 9:51 am |
  16. Patrick Joseph

    Wooow, that an insult.... it is the same thing the Catholic church is doing with the pedophile priest.

    February 3, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • louis

      The Catholic church is no better they made the guy that moved the pedofile priests around POPE so there'as no diffrerence....

      February 3, 2012 at 9:43 am |
  17. NUPE

    You have got to be kidding me. His entire congregation is brainwashed.

    February 3, 2012 at 9:28 am |
  18. Jaekaimommy

    Are you kidding me? This man needs to go sit down in the corner!!!

    February 3, 2012 at 9:28 am |
  19. Dong Long

    What a load of Beeeeeeeee Esssssssssssssssss

    February 3, 2012 at 9:28 am |
  20. derp

    King Long like to s uck d ick.

    February 3, 2012 at 9:20 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.