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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. Colin

    You cannot protect the super-stupid from themselves.

    February 3, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • It all boils down to this

      When Eric Idle, former Python, was asked questions on his "Not The Messiah" tour recently, one was "i got sick watching this. he is not the messiah the only messiah is jesus christ this is blasphemy." Idle's answer applies to all religious people:

      "When you're stupid, there's nothing that can be done."

      February 3, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • fred

      there should be laws in place to protect the feeble minded from predators like this.

      February 3, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  2. myweightinwords

    Wow.

    Just.

    Does anyone even take this guy seriously anymore?

    February 3, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  3. CINCEO1

    One more thing.......about this article....WHENEVER someone can do what this man has done....and still have people exhalting him and honoring him in this fashion, you should know that this is the blind leading the blind....Hell on earth indeed.

    February 3, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Neeneko

      Well, that is the cost of absolute good and evil.. if he is good he can do no wrong, and anyone attacking him is evil, so people will rally behind him. Many people take comfort in such a simple strait forward ethical system/world view.

      February 3, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • xatira

      It is really sad. Doesn't seem the Holy Spirit was there. I really hope that some people were immediately convicted and walked out!

      February 3, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • CINCEO1

      Well.....I like to explain it by calling it exactly what it is.....A trick of the beast.....The Weak-Minded masses. People attend this church because their friends attend this church......They have 3 or 4 services.....they have a gorgeous facility...they get out early...... and they dont preach so you dont ever have to worry about being convicted by the word and they dont have to worry about losing the audience with a sermon that might offend all the sinners in the congregation. And then you leave thinking that you have done your duty to God.......but then wonder why your life is so hard? Sickening.....

      February 3, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  4. KeithTexas

    Typical of the delusional,

    February 3, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  5. Joshua Ludd

    And how much did Long pay him to perform this utter farce? Because, you know... a Rabbi would definitely want to crown a Christian minister as some sort of king in a made up ceremony... ya know.. since their religions while having identical roots differ radically and fundamentally in so many ways.

    February 3, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  6. Rajiv Shaw

    Ridiculous!

    February 3, 2012 at 10:54 am |
  7. Kamoore

    These people that continue to foloow this man are fools. This just shows the ignorance of people when it comes to worshiping MAN rather then follow God's law. He needs to be locked up but he still getting worshipped. He garabage.

    February 3, 2012 at 10:53 am |
  8. PraiseTheLard

    As P. T. Barnum supposedly said: There's a sucker born every minute...

    February 3, 2012 at 10:53 am |
  9. PR

    Long is the 'king of the pervs'. Typical of this black big mouth. Thinks he is god's chosen one. He's only choice is which degenerate act he'll do next.

    February 3, 2012 at 10:53 am |
  10. Desecration of a Torah

    Would it be better to soil a Torah and destroy it or allow a pedophile to handle it as his own possession?

    February 3, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  11. prettypiper

    What has this man given to the church?? Rather what this church has given to this MAN. Beware of WOLVES in sheep
    clothing.

    February 3, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  12. rev.spike

    What a disgrace to a Torah.

    February 3, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  13. alex

    This fool's congregation is made up of straight idiots...

    February 3, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  14. xatira

    But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.
    2 Peter 2:1 (NKJV)

    February 3, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • CINCEO1

      The Righteous Arise.........Go on.

      February 3, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  15. CINCEO1

    Honor him for what? Are we talking about the same guy? Maybe I need to read the article again.

    I have several friends that go to this church and I have been invited several times myself (baptisms, etc.), and believe me when I tell you it is an absolute holy hoax. Most of the first 2 rows and the people dancing on the stairs are paid actors. Its a feel good church that gives you nothing more than song and dance. No real bible teachings, no life lessons, no sermon, just a nice concert (stage lights and all) and a bunch of "Corporate Announcements"....Its sickening that so many people think that this is what church is supposed to be. But what they dont realize is that they are following this "New Birth" movement straight to hell. I could go on all day about whats wrong with this church, but if you EVER decide to attend and actually find nothing wrong....then you are seriously weak in spirit and need to leave there ASAP!

    February 3, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • xatira

      Amen to that! "The elder and honorable, he is the head; The prophet who teaches lies, he is the tail. For the leaders of this people cause them to err, And those who are led by them are destroyed." Isaiah 9:15-16 (NKJV)

      February 3, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  16. Josh

    Leave it to the Jews for Jesus to do something stupid like this and mess up the image of real Jews.

    February 3, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  17. Bill

    And Eddie Long said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

    February 3, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  18. mrgmorgan56

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I've always believed the weak minded follow religion. I rest my case.

    February 3, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  19. strvger

    yep... only in the US can one aspire to be a king.

    February 3, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  20. Zeppelin

    UFB. One doesn't need to be religious to find this fool's actions reprehensible.

    February 3, 2012 at 10:43 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.