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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. Sean

    Awww.. How humble..

    February 3, 2012 at 9:54 am |
  2. Rsprings

    This Kings like to play with his Knights

    February 3, 2012 at 9:54 am |
  3. SPFIX

    Meshugah goyim!

    February 3, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • Peri Browner

      He should be publicly flogged for his desecration of the torah. I think I'll burn some bibles this weekend, after I defecate on them.

      February 3, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • HSB

      @SPFIX and Peri: You guys' display of HATE is as bad as their congregation's display of FOOLISHNESS.

      February 3, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  4. Pray in the closet

    Con men and scams.

    February 3, 2012 at 9:53 am |
  5. Marty in MA

    This is just nutz!

    February 3, 2012 at 9:53 am |
  6. Chris

    wow. Anyone that still attends his church should be checked for mental retardation. Anyone who actually gives the church money should be sent in a rocket ship to the sun.

    February 3, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • Nikki

      I agree! I think behavior modification and brain washing must be going on at his church. Something must be said when a pastor will allow himself to be idolized.

      February 5, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  7. Reality

    Beyond significant stupidity !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 3, 2012 at 9:53 am |
  8. GeorgeBos95

    rofl .. the Eddie Long clown show is back. If people weren't so gullible and stopped sending him money, this fool would be back at his job as a greeter in WalMart. or maybe mowing lawns in Buckhead.

    Those are tears of joy he's shedding, because the suckah's keep payin' his way.

    February 3, 2012 at 9:51 am |
  9. momoya

    I wouldn't have guessed Long would be this far gone. Why do his people go along with this egotistical behavior?

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

    Just a note...Jesus was a Jew, and Christians should revere the Torah and all scripture inspired by God...this is plain wrong!

    February 3, 2012 at 9:51 am |
  11. ConsiderThis

    Now, do you see why there's a HELL?

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

      There's no hell.

      February 3, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • Dan

      Yes, obviously we are currently residing there.

      February 3, 2012 at 11:11 am |
  12. cryingincolorado

    I am greived beyond words. Yet another example of men who bring reproach upon the true and Living God. Jesus (Yeshua) told us to call no man "Rabbi". True believers everywhere are nauseated at this event. The written Torah, being the Words of God should indeed be held in much more esteem. May God have mercy on you, I fear you await the judgment reserved for unrighteous shepherds.

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

      God doesn't exist.

      February 3, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • washingtonpharmgirl

      I totally agree. This sickens me. The Torah is so very sacred. To wrap someone in it and call them king...there are no words. It makes no sense. The Torah they used should be given an appropriate burial as it is defiled. If this was done with the Koran, I wouldn't want to be withing 100 miles of this dude.

      February 3, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • Bob

      What if you're not a shepherd?

      February 3, 2012 at 10:07 am |
  13. Paul

    F A G G O T

    February 3, 2012 at 9:49 am |
  14. He is NOT a rabbi

    No orthodox (real) rabbi would ever wrap anyone in a Torah scroll. This guy must be reformed (as such he may not be a jew at all). FYI the only rare time a human was wrapped in a scroll – was by force by the Romans, who were fond of wrapping rabbis in scrolls and setting them on fire in Jesus's time. This is simply not done and its pathetic.

    February 3, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Root post is an blatant example of the No True Scotsman fallacy.

      http://www.iep.utm.edu/fallacy/

      February 3, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • Yashar

      You are blatantly ignorant. Most Rabbis are not Orthodox and whether you like it or not Reform (not reformed) Rabbis are Rabbis to all but the blatantly ignorant.

      February 3, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  15. Coke Fueled Rage

    This is freaking ri-dic-u-lous!!!!! While I refuse to bash the man, I am praying that the members of this church open their eyes and follow God, not a man. Sadly enough, I use to attend that church years ago and it didn't take me long to realize that something just wasn't right. I left and never looked back.

    February 3, 2012 at 9:46 am |
  16. Seriously

    It's a slippery slope...just ask Jim Jones.

    February 3, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • Seriously

      ...oh, you can't...cause he's prolly in hell.

      February 3, 2012 at 9:47 am |
  17. Coke Fueled Rage

    This is freaking ri-dic-u-lous!!!!! While I refuse to bash the man, I am praying that the memebers of this church open their eyes and follow God, not a man. Sadly enough, I use to attend that church years ago and it didn't tak eme long to realize that something just wasn't right. I left and never looked back.

    February 3, 2012 at 9:44 am |
  18. Jennifer

    Here's a secret, anyone can do this if they pay a Rabbi about 20 thousand dollars...

    February 3, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • Bob

      You know this nugget from personal experience, do you?

      February 3, 2012 at 10:09 am |
  19. 6km n of ground zero

    From abusive to fraudulent. Not a good path to trod.

    February 3, 2012 at 9:44 am |
  20. Seriously

    they are taking out of context where the scripture calls Christ's followers 'Kings & Priests'...but Christians are NOT supposed to proclaim themselves or crown themselves...that is for God to do, after they've proved themselves, ie, after death. This is a farce.

    February 3, 2012 at 9:44 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.