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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. Astrotek13

    SELF-PROCLAIMED Bishop. Just give the Monkey another banana before he makes himself a Pope

    February 3, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  2. krishna

    stupid people. stupid traditions.

    February 3, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  3. Larry Moniz

    There must have been one huge financial contribution to the rabbi's synagogue. This whole story is a farce – even the writing. He's wrapped in a prayer shawl and HOLDING a Torah, not wearing. I'm not of the Jewish faith, but even I know that. Looks more like the story and photo should have been released for April Fools' Day.

    February 3, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  4. Benjamin

    People need to recognize that within Protestantism, there are 40,000 + denominations. Anyone can read the Bible, get excited, and start a "church." Sometimes you get some really odd men running these congregations. It is more about the pastor than about Jesus, especially since Jesus didn't start these churches.

    February 3, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  5. Anafiel

    "Rabbi" Ralph Messer is NOT a Rabbi, he's a Messianic...in other words, a Christian. This is offensive. Truly offensive.

    February 3, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • SeanNJ

      I'm not the least bit offended, personally.

      February 3, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Tex71

      Some Christians like to play Jew; my guess is that deep inside they really want to convert but lack the guts; probably afraid they will end up in Christian Hell instead of Jewish Sheol.

      February 3, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  6. donkeygirl

    When will it end. Eddie Long is a disgrace and his "followers" are fools. The bible speaks about false prophets. Eddie Long fits the bill.

    February 3, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Jr2Kiddo

      So much hypocrisy....We (America Evangelicals as a whole) forgive a three time adulterer but want to hold this guy to the nails. Pathetic! If we would judge ourselves....

      February 3, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  7. ann west

    Pedophile King❔ The last thing Jews need is another pedophile, the latest is Mark Berndt in a long long list of high profile weirdos

    February 3, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  8. Pat

    He actually should be committed! He needs medical attention at it's best! I am very serious No joking!!!!

    Long should be taken down right now! This is a disgrace to the chuch families everywhere if they allow him to continue on this path. Where are all the old time pastors/preachers that were back in the day would have sanction him by now?

    This man is crying out for help!!!!

    February 3, 2012 at 10:38 am |
  9. h.

    Jerry Sandusky can be his prince

    February 3, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  10. Tex71

    Bishop...King...turning his pawns into queens...seems like Eddie has a little chess obsession going on.

    February 3, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  11. jrod

    Ridiculous

    February 3, 2012 at 10:35 am |
  12. Brian

    If you are going to a church where the preacher drives a Bentley and has a "King" ceremony you should think about switching congregations.

    February 3, 2012 at 10:35 am |
  13. Carlin123

    Wrapped in the toilet paper of God.

    February 3, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  14. Adam

    It is only within the gilded frame of theism where one can attain the perfection of narcissism.

    February 3, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • DCBuck

      You're so right. Atheists like Stalin, Pol Pot, Castro, and Mao weren't narcissists, were they?

      February 3, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Adam

      You dismissal does not follow, Buck. My claim is not that narcissism is solely in the possession of theists, but that it takes a person to declare that they know there is a god, that they know what this God's name is, that they know this God is actively interested and invested in their lives, that every time they see a brilliant sunset or a loved one's illness retreats this must be positive proof of the loving agency of this particular supernatural actor in their life...

      Yet when confronted with the obvious evidence that an agent in control of the happenings on Earth is cruel and unjust, after visiting destruction and terror daily upon children and others on a scale that would embarrass the most ambitious serial killer, these same people throw up their hands and claim that the will of God is "mysterious," and how dare we scrutinize with our mortal minds and intuition the motives of such a being, while it is this exact same intuition which has posited and confirmed the existence of this being in the first place...

      This, Mr. Buck, is only something a theist can do. And this is the perfection of narcissism.

      February 3, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • DCBuck

      Sorry, Adam, but your leaps in logic are astounding. Considering that more people have been clothed, fed, educated, healed, and loved by people of faith than by all of the atheists combined would lead to the extrapolation that it is you atheists who are far more narcissistic. People of faith believe in a higher power (or powers) and that that higher power has all of the answers – not we mere, arrogant mortals. This includes why bad things happen to good people. If something bad happens to us, we do not ask "why me?"; we ask, "why not me?" How exactly is that narcissistic? It is you atheists who believe you are the masters of your own domain. And as far as questioning things, other than perhaps a few fundamentalist sects, most religions not only allow questioning – they encourage it. Perhaps you should get some information on different faiths before posting the next time? Finally, if you despise religion and people of faith so much, why on earth are you posting on a religion board? You're akin to a vegan posting on a "cooking with meat" board.

      February 3, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Bob

      Remember Buck that religon misused has caused the death of more people than athiests too

      February 3, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • DCBuck

      Wrong, Bob. that's a popular falsehood. From a 1994 Univ. of Hawaii study:

      Top three incidences of deaths caused by religion:

      Crusades: 133,000
      Spanish Inquisition: 31,912
      Salem witch trials: 100,000

      Total: 264,912

      Top three incidences of deaths:

      Soviet Gulag State: 61,911,000
      Communist Chinese Ant Hill: 35,236,000
      Khmer Rouge Hell State: 2,035,000

      Total: 99,182,000

      So, you see, atheists have visited destruction and terror daily upon children and others on a scale that would embarrass the most ambitious serial killer.

      February 3, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • DCBuck

      Sorry – obviously (and sadly), the last set of numbers were deaths caused by atheists.

      February 3, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
  15. DCTA

    Absolutely disgusting. And actually a desecration of the Torah! There is no Jewish tradition of wrapping someone in a Torah – in fact, we're not even supposed to touch the actual page with our hands/fingers and use a pointer to keep place in the text!

    February 3, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • SeanNJ

      Ummmm...whoopsie?

      February 3, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • ann west

      😱 I wish the Israeli's would take him out. He is a pedophile , cheater and gay criminal. He is an embarrassment to blacks, church goers, christians and human beings in general and now he's adding Jews to it?

      February 3, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Linda

      This is to DC Buck. Did you say this is a religious board?

      February 4, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
  16. Carlin123

    So that's why they put those crowns on the dashboards of there car's.

    February 3, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  17. areuserious

    Ok now this is totally insane.

    February 3, 2012 at 10:31 am |
  18. Andrew Drinker

    Calling this man a rabbi is quite ridiculous. He's actually a member of a "Jews For Jesus"-type congregation, which for all intents and purposes, is a Christian congregation. They just wrap themselves (pun intended) in Judaic symbolism in order to try to convert Jews to Christianity. It is considered better for these people to recruit one Jew to Christianity than it would be to recruit 100 non-Jews.

    February 3, 2012 at 10:30 am |
  19. Andrew

    The whol Jesus was a Jew argument is kind of inert. Of course he was a Jew when he walked this earth and his teaching when he was alive was considered a breakaway sect of Judaism. I don't the term Christianity came to fruition until after his death.Is there any historical evidence of that group being called 'Christian' at the time when Jesus was alive?

    February 3, 2012 at 10:29 am |
  20. maljazur

    If it weren't so sad, this would be laughable!!

    February 3, 2012 at 10:27 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.