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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. Billy

    So if he claims to be king, does that mean he can be arrested for treason? Look out Lebron James, you're next!

    February 3, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  2. Billy

    Anyone ever find out how "reverend" Tims died yet?

    February 3, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  3. Ed

    LOOSER! WHAT A PIECE OF DISCUSTING TRASH! I guess diddling little boys pays off. Gee if I knew that sucking dick would make one a king I would have been doing it more. 60 years of lost time isn't going to catch up to him. I couldn't find enough older guys any way. Amazing what a sick mind and playing with young boys will get one. Too bad I only wanted older guys. Oh well so much for my crown.

    February 3, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • rick

      some more?

      February 3, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  4. Billy

    He'll be found dead in a New York hotel room from a drug overdose. Like all of these guys...

    February 3, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  5. kalster

    Yes, this guy is a "rabbi" like Long is a "bishop". And for those of you who don't know me, I am Emperor of Mars. All tributes can be placed in the basket to the right please.....

    February 3, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  6. Jimmy

    Not that I believe in religion, but if you are going to get involved in it, you might as well be the messiah. If I was religious, I would definitely be Jesus or Mohammed. It's good to be the king.

    February 3, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  7. Ryan

    um, until he admits that he's a child molester, he can wrap himself in as many cloths as he wants, he's a closeted gay, who will be next?

    February 3, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  8. Rev. Bon

    Instead hoisting this man up as a king they need to get this man some SERIOUS counseling. For him to even allow them to do something like that means he has some SERIOUS issues.

    February 3, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  9. JAF

    Next thing you know he will be called the new Messiah. This is nothing but a disservice to both the Jewish and Christian faiths.

    February 3, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • Andy Anderson

      Really just illustrates how ridiculous it is to believe in such nonsense.

      It's 2012, and it's time for people like that to grow up and join the rest of us living here in reality.

      February 3, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  10. Ezra

    This is the most vile, disgusting piece of self-agrandisment I've ever seen with regard to religious god-kings. The only throne this imposter will inherit will be his toilet in hell.

    February 3, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • jcrazyy

      This is well said. This guy needs to be arrested and shot. Molestation and now they crown him. This is the only place where you can hurt children and then have your followers crown you. Such a great place we have to live in! Go USgAy

      February 3, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  11. jacy tx

    UN-BE-LIE-VA-BLE....

    February 3, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  12. shoos

    Impressive a rabbi that can speak for God. It's all such bafoonery. I'd RUN out of that congregation as fast as I could.

    February 3, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  13. travelinpants

    He is getting his reward!!!

    February 3, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
  14. dr.kno

    what a nut!

    February 3, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
  15. msyellarose

    This is so pathetic, I can only shake my head and wonder about these people. I read in a story this morning that the only thing left is for these blind sheep to "drink the kool-aiid". I have to agree.

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

      ... and until then, they vote on important issues (and make babies)

      February 3, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • fred

      ... and buy guns.

      February 3, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  16. James

    I wonder if this "rabbi" Messner is connected to that "rabbi" from MD who just got pinched for bilking people out of nearly $900,000.00 claiming he was rescuing ancient Torahs from scenes of the Holocaust.

    February 3, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • LB

      My thought exactly James!

      February 3, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  17. Reality

    Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie/horn-blowing thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

    Current problems:

    Adulterous preachers like Eddie Long, pedophiliac clerics like Eddie Long, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals like Eddie Long and atonement theology,

    February 3, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  18. Christine

    a possible pedophile being given an honor that is not even real per the rabbi in the story... and with a holocaust blanket? how dumb is this??

    February 3, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  19. Bonnie

    "But wicked men and imposters will advance from bad to worse, misleading and being misled." 2nd Timothy 3:13.

    February 3, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • Teeph

      Amen.

      February 3, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  20. marvin

    there are rabbis with private ordination – meaning five other rabbis were somehow persuaded to agree and ordain him.

    February 3, 2012 at 12:47 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.