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. Anglican

    As bad as it get.

    February 5, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • rick

      Depends on your perspective. Lots of people posting think it is pretty funny

      February 6, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  2. Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
    Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
    Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
    Prayer fucks up your knees and your back.
    Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
    Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world; that and wasting time are the real impact of prayer.
    Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.
    Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
    Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
    Prayer makes you hoard cats.
    Prayer makes you smell like kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
    Prayer wastes time.

    February 5, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  3. Pninah

    Messer is NOT a Jew and he is NOT A RABBI. He is a xtian.

    February 5, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  4. william

    Stupid is as stupid does.....

    February 5, 2012 at 12:02 pm |

    Unbelievable that the so called faithful, moral people of his misled congregation cheer him as he wipes away tears. More proof that the moral majority is neither.

    February 5, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • william

      The stupid majority is both.

      February 5, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  6. Mike P

    Wow. What utter nonsense is this.

    February 5, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  7. Fred

    Eddie Long and Jim Jones.... both child rapists!!!!!!!! WOW now this is news.......

    February 5, 2012 at 10:16 am |
  8. Fred

    Child rapist Eddie Long hires a mentally ill "pretend Jew" to preside over a ceremony that does not exist. See what money can do? a rapist and a crazy man invent a fantasy ......WOW was anyone fooled by this ?

    February 5, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • Fixed That For You

      "...See what religion can do..."

      -fixed. You're welcome.

      February 5, 2012 at 11:22 am |
  9. Anne M

    It is truly shameful that this is considered news. Two crazy men, assisted and cheered on by blind sheep, conducting a disrespectful ceremony that is neither based on Jewish or Christian teachings and traditions. It was a self promoting debacle, orchestrated by a morally defunct egomaniac self-professed "Christian" preacher and his fellow "Christian" minister parading as a Jewish Rabbi. This is not news – it is a peek into insanity and misguided group-think. Offensive at best.

    February 5, 2012 at 9:29 am |
  10. Shelly

    Truth in journalism and reporting? The fact that Messer is a Messianic pastor but referred to as a "rabbi" is completely misleading in its representation. Those of the Jewish faith would never support such a disrespectful act. Messer is just as guilty as Long is; both show complete and utter disrespect to the Jewish people and the Torah.

    February 5, 2012 at 8:56 am |
  11. Roland Jenkins

    Do I see this as offensive? Yes! Do I see Eddie Long taking his flock to the bank, again? Yes!
    However, I take faith, I do not need and have been instructed through Gods word, not to judge or I will be judged.
    Eddie Long, You will face, as I, God! No amount of money will change it! No amount of self proclaimed status will change it!
    The bible does mention a warning to pastors about leading a flock away from God. Be warned!!!! God will have the final say!!!

    February 5, 2012 at 8:51 am |
  12. Chris of St. Cloud, MN

    Yesterday's Homily and reading at my Catholic church took a reading from I Kings: King David's son became the leader of the Israelites and prayed to God for a wise heart. The Lord was pleased with this, because he had not prayed for riches, nor to be the best leader nor for recognition. For this the Lord was pleased, saying; "Truly you have pleased me, for you have not prayed for riches nor to be the greatest of kings, but for a wise and humble heart. For This I shall reward you with the greatest kingdom with many riches and your name shall be known throughout the ages as one of the greatest kings of all time." The point of this is that one needs to be humble to be a great leader. My interpretation of the scripture was summarized, not specific.

    February 5, 2012 at 8:48 am |
  13. just wondering

    what do you know of this person?

    February 5, 2012 at 6:45 am |
  14. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    Prayer changes lives!

    February 5, 2012 at 5:11 am |
    • Mirosal

      Lots of lives have been ended because of your 'god'. I'd call that a BIG change.

      February 5, 2012 at 5:18 am |
    • just wondering

      Could you name one?

      February 5, 2012 at 6:35 am |
    • Mirosal

      Look up the name Torquemada ... see what he did in the name of his "god"

      February 5, 2012 at 6:38 am |
    • william

      Oh yeah! Say it sister!! Eddie prayed to the gool lord, and he made Eddie a King! All hail the good lord, the holy of holies... my homies money!

      February 5, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
  15. Lisa D. Pearl

    PASTOR LONG HAS LOST HIS EVER LOVING MIND!!!! The disrespectful way in which he used the Torah was shocking and should have invoked a resounding outcry from the National Council Of Churches, National Baptist Convention, The Conference of National Black Churches, etc. I mean, somebody should have been on all over the major networks decrying his behavior. The fact that none of the church leaders/elders have spoken up speaks volumes. Does he think he is Jesus now? King of the Jews? What a nut job. There is no wonder why teenagers don’t like to go to church any more. A bunch of hustlers, pimps, and old G’s making bank on people’s faith. We need to be praying for his silly behind because damnation awaits his soul for acting a fool in the name of our Lord. (Also posted to: https://www.facebook.com/NewBirthMBC1?sk=wall)

    February 5, 2012 at 1:15 am |
    • Mirosal

      @ Lisa .. you said "A bunch of hustlers, pimps, and old G’s making bank on people’s faith." ... You've just described every single person at a pulpit.

      February 5, 2012 at 1:18 am |
    • Frank Levy

      Not only was the behavior of Pastor Long and "Rabbi Messer" outrageous, it was not Jewish in any way. Rabbi Messer claims to be a rabbbi of a Messianic Christian group. For the record, Messianic Christians are not Jews as they believe in Jesus as their Messiah and Savior. I doubt very much that Mr. Messer has been ordained a rabbi by any Jewish seminary. His claim of being a rabbi is not legitimate. Even if the "ceremony" were a legitimate Jewish ceremony, which it is not, he is not an ordained Jewish rabbi and not authorized to perform it.

      What is more outrageous is that CNN showed this story as if it was crazy but ok. CNN made no effort to debunk Mr. Messer's claim of being a rabbi, or in anyway noting that Messianic Christians are not Jews, but are Christians who use Jewish cermonies and traditions as part of their worship service. The story CNN should have told is the outrage of the Jewish and mainstream Christian communities over what Mr. Messer and Pastor Long did in inventing a Jewish ceremony for their personal benefit, defiling sacred Jewish texts and ritual objects, and showing disrespect for the memories of the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust by claiming the Torah used in their theatrics was rescued from the Holocaust.

      Crazies like Bishop Long and Mr. Messer are one thing, and all too common in self appointed, self annointed religious zealots. Irresponsible, incomplete, poorly researched reporting by CNN, while common, is wholly unacceptable.

      February 5, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • rick

      "There is no wonder why teenagers don’t like to go to church any more. A bunch of hustlers, pimps, and old G’s making bank on people’s faith."

      Lisa: That is what chumps are for. To be used

      February 6, 2012 at 3:10 am |
  16. cythara

    As PT Barnum once observed, "There's a sucker born every minute" and America is chock full of nuts.

    February 5, 2012 at 12:47 am |
  17. Queen Eddie Long

    I love me some crown. Now just look at this big new dil'd'o they gave me, all rapped up here in this red velvet thingy.

    February 5, 2012 at 12:13 am |
    • Gwyneth Paltrows Doggy Style Nip pers


      February 5, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  18. Reality

    Only for the "newbies":

    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 4, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
  19. Matthew 24:15-16

    “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.

    February 4, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    • Reality

      Matt 24: 15-16 (also Mark 13:14) as with all the NT passages have been thoroughly analyzed by many contemporary NT scholars. And many of these scholars have concluded that these particular passages were not spoken by the historic Jesus.

      e.g. Professor Gerd Ludemann in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 90: "These sayings of Jesus are inauthentic, because they can be derived completely from a community situation."

      February 5, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • Irony Alert

      Read it again, Reality, and look at the picture.

      February 5, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    • cythara

      It's all baloney, some is just more over the top than others. It is all a show to dazzle the gullible to do the bidding of snakes and has been for 2000 years.

      February 5, 2012 at 12:48 am |
  20. Brampt

    The most HORRENDOUS thing if seen in life!!!

    February 4, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      More horrendous than Pope-a-Dope and the RCC covering up child abuse?

      February 5, 2012 at 12:16 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.