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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. Amen

    These people need their heads examined.

    February 3, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  2. iBELIEVE

    OYE VEY!!!!

    February 3, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
  3. CHARLES JOHNSON

    AS MY MAMA WOULD SAY, "LORD HAVE MERCY."

    February 3, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
  4. xatira

    These things happen so that you will one day realize there is no safety or salvation found anywhere else...

    "I am the Lord, and there is no other; There is no God besides Me. I will gird you, though you have not known Me, That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting That there is none besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other; I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things." Isaiah 45:5-7 (NKJV)

    If you actually understood the Word of God, you'd understand these things and life in general.

    February 3, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
  5. Raymondo

    This is an 11 on the unintentional comedy scale. I wonder how much money exchanged hands for this circus show.

    February 3, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • iBELIEVE

      As a religious person, i found this hilarious

      February 3, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  6. Martin Abero

    King of what? God will judge a man who is charged with being a shepard to feed and care for his flock and will be responsible to God for his actions. Isreal's people did ask for a king and they got one and now the folks in the church want a king so they have one, NOW WHAT/ Must be the time to give them all of their money and possessions. Maybe themselves for his pleasures!

    February 3, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  7. Anne in Ohio

    I have concerns with the accuracy of the reporting. First, the Torah is the name given to the first 5 books of scripture. The Torah is the object the man is HOLDING - he is not "wrapped" in the Torah. He could be described as "wrapped" in a Tallit, a prayer shawl, as shown in the photo.

    Also, I doubt that this Torah was "recovered" during the Holocaust. According to other parts of the story, the Torah was recovered AFTER the Holocaust. It may be been stolen or taken "during" the Holocaust, but the story indicates that the Torah was "recovered" following the liberation of the concentration camps. Come on, CNN - you can do better than this! Even if the misinformation came from a source, you need to check your facts and check your stories.

    February 3, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Mike

      Watch the video. They actually wrap him inside it. In any case, it's an absurd ceremony displaying fully the ignorance the participants have of both the Jewish and Christian faiths. Kids with toys.

      February 3, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • pb

      in the video, they actually do wrap him in the torah. which is even more ridiculous than him carrying it.

      February 3, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  8. Ronin

    OMG , I can not stop laughing , Bishop Long is nothing more than the H.N.I.C (Head N!gga in Charge)

    February 3, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
  9. Brad

    And I'll bet he's driving a Bentley and living in a mansion...............

    February 3, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
  10. james ricker

    That is a tallit or prayer shawl he is wearing...YOU DO NOT WEAR A TORAH!!

    February 3, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
  11. Doc Vestibule

    For some reason, the picture on the article makes me imagine Luthor Vandross singing "Hava Nagila"...

    February 3, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  12. Prior

    "Life and death, light and darkness, hope and despair. The rift was created, and on that day, the Ori were born. But the hatred of those who strayed from the true path festered and bloomed in the dark corners of the Avernakis to which they have been cast! And consumed by this hatred, they poisoned all they touched, bringing death, darkness and despair. And the souls of their victims knew no peace, until the Ori came and whispered to them: 'Sleep, for the end draws near!' And on that day all will rejoice, when the Ori come and lay them low."

    "Hallowed are we; hallowed are the Ori."

    February 3, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
  13. SayWhat

    What a joke. But what's not a joke is that there are thousands (maybe millions) of people out there who eat this stuff up. I have a co-worker who thinks this guy is a saint and has attended his services multiple times. When she talks about him, I pretend to care out of respect and courtesy, when in reality, I want to shake my head and walk away. It's sad that people like Mr. Long prey on the gullible and naive. Unfortunately, some people will never learn.

    February 3, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
  14. ivan

    YES, HE IS KING OF THE C.A.A. (CHEATERS ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA)

    February 3, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
  15. JohnR

    Repulsive.

    February 3, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
  16. Julie

    Do reporters now get to write anything they want without verifying the information? Really? I suppose Ralph Messer may call himself Rabbi. But, could the author of this article provide the name of any mainstream Jewish or Messianic group that recognizes his credentials? I bet you can't. This whole "ceremony" is ridiculous.

    February 3, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • Raymondo

      read the article

      February 3, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
  17. ComeOnMan9

    Y'all better start hanging out on the Kool aid aisles near this church for these loonies that listen to this foolishness!

    February 3, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  18. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things !!

    February 3, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Please just stop, ok.
      For the love of anything sacred, just stop.

      February 3, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Nope

      "The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs"`

      February 3, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • J.W

      I do not necessarily disagree with you, but I wish you would provide more substantial arguments than this sometimes. Maybe you can talk about times in which you have seen prayer work, or times when prayer has affected you personally.

      February 3, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      I prayed for you to die. So far, nothing.

      February 3, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  19. JDinHouston

    I wrap myself in a bathrobe, stand on my chair, hoist my beer and proclaim myself for all the world to know... Bud!

    You may worship me with six packs and cases and partake with me the holy spirit!

    February 3, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Citizentobe

      JD you are so pathetic!

      February 3, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  20. billy jester

    I think this guy really needs some help. Wasn't he just accused of being involved in illicit affairs with young men? He sounds liek quite a "man of god" to me.

    February 3, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • quagmire

      I agree but who proclaimed him king needs more help

      February 3, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
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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.