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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. xatira

    For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. Romans 1:16 (NKJV)

    For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent."
    Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
    1 Cor 1:18-21 (NKJV)

    February 3, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • JT

      Psalm 137:9 – Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

      February 3, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • jimtanker

      I can quote nonsensical bible verses too.

      Ezekiel 23:20
      There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses.

      February 3, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • xatira

      @jimtanker: But are you confident that when you take your last breath you will spend your eternity in heaven?

      February 3, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • jimtanker

      There is no evidence at all that any part of you continues to exist after you die. NONE. There is no heaven and no hell. Live a good life while you are alive and enjoy yourself. That is all that there is.

      February 3, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • Steiny

      Jt- I've seen that scripture used on a CNN blog before, and you are taking it out of context. Try actually reading what is said before that verse. Try starting to read at least from Psalm 137:7 to get some of the full effect of what is being said. Scripture is not telling us to hurt children. If you don't like the Bible or what it stands for, that's your right, but at least do some research before speaking to the public!

      February 3, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  2. Crys

    I'm not usually the type of person who would resort to cutting others down or insulting. This, however, disgusts me. Eddie Long is said to be the 4th highest paid pastor in our country. He pulls in millions of dollars a year between his work at his church and a nonprofit organization. He has a mansion and Bentley. These things were bought by the people duped into thinking that the "Prosperity Gospel" he preaches would benefit more than just him. He also has abused his power in the past. So, the idea of him getting such accolades and being placed on some sort of pedestal sickens me. Doing this goes against the very teachings he's supposed to pass on to his congregation, and they go against Jewish traditions as well. It's just another display of arrogance and hypocrisy, but his followers can't see how duped they are.

    February 3, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • jimtanker

      The weak minded who believe in religion are easy to prey on. What can you say?

      February 3, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  3. Frank Cardenas

    Messer is a fraud ... but hen, so is Eddie Long.

    February 3, 2012 at 11:20 am |
  4. ja

    redemption is possible but not overnight, then many folk will buy into anything, Long lies at the level of whale manure

    February 3, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  5. dd

    King of self-aggrandizing fools. This POS is only good for stealing money from his sheep, and the virginity of young boys.

    February 3, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  6. xatira

    @ Bob: you could never know what I'm saying because you obviously don't understand God's Word.

    @ Adam: Yes, I am one of the beloved (are you?). No, he does not pass "my" test. Mr. Long should know that he should be exalting Christ, not himself.

    February 3, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  7. fred

    Religion is like alcohol. In small enough doses, it’s harmless. In larger amounts, it impairs judgment, and impedes progress. When taken to this level, the results are often catastrophic.

    February 3, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  8. sweet2th

    I sure wish the media would report on some of the good things mega churches do (feed the hugry, shelter the homeless, empower the downtrodden...)and report on the great leaders that pastor those churches. People love to read sensationalistic material. More than likely if this article was on the good things a pastor did half the people reading this article would not have read it and more than half the people that made comments would not have made comments.

    February 3, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • Jen

      I work for a non-profit in Colorado. We get a lot of volunteers and support from small churches to help feed and tutor the homeless children and families that we serve. But I have yet to see any activity of this type from any of the MEGA churches in our community. I welcome their involvement but won't hold my breath.

      February 3, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • fred

      If you can find a megachurch who's leaders don't profit from the dog and pony show they put on, then I think that would be newsworthy. Until then I think we need to draw as much attention as possible to this kind of nonsense.

      February 3, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @fred
      It must be a blue moon today because I wholeheartedly agree with you.
      Anybody that charges a fee for salvation is a con-man.
      Why would I fill the collection plate of someone adorned with jewels and driving a luxury car?
      If these Mega-Church pastors were really interested in helping the needy, they would lead by example and take a vow of poverty.

      February 3, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • look@thisfool

      the people cheering this stupidity on are allowed to own firearms, vote, and have children. this is what people should really be concerned with.

      February 3, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  9. Knowyourwords

    I believe the prayer shawl that Long is depicted as wrapped in is called a "Tallit" or "tallith" and the Torah is the scroll he is carrying on his lap. The terminology is so wrong as to be more comical than this scene. That's like saying he had a "Bible" placed around his neck to help him keep track of his prayers, when you meant to say "rosary".

    February 3, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • JT

      You obviously didn't watch the video.

      February 3, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • fred

      watch the video. they unroll the scroll (aka torah) and wrap him in it. It's a scene right out of WWE's playbook.

      February 3, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  10. JT

    As if religion can't get any sillier.

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

    Long is an abomination and a joke.
    Another closeted, frustrated chorus girl at heart.

    February 3, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  12. cryingincolorado

    Being from Colorado, I can say with certainty that "Rabbi" Messer absolutely does not represent Christian believers who also embrace their Hebraic Heritage. He is a false prophet and a money making charlatan. He no more represents Jews for Jesus than he does orthodox Judaism. "Bishop" Eddie Long as well does not represent true christianity. These two have been selected by CNN to use as an example ... and thus bring reproach upon all believers.

    February 3, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • fred

      the simple phrase "jews for jesus" makes me laugh. i mean seriously how much dumber can it get. if you believe in jesus you are not jewish. it never ceases to amaze me how naive some people are.

      February 3, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Wendy

      I am not in agreement with this at all. I think to "crown" him king, regardless of his "transgressions" is not a good idea because his congregation and others may begin to esteem him higher than God. Secondly, I'm not sure if the "smoke has cleared" for him to receive such treatment. Even still, let GOD DO IT! Then we'll know its right!

      February 3, 2012 at 11:27 am |
  13. Rhubarb

    "He must increase, but I must decrease.
    He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all." – John 3:30-31

    'Nuff said, "Bishop".........

    February 3, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • Wendy

      Sorry, I meant to reply to you...here it is again:

      I just posted this! I am not in agreement with this at all. I think to "crown" him king, regardless of his "transgressions" is not a good idea because his congregation and others may begin to esteem him higher than God. Secondly, I'm not sure if the "smoke has cleared" for him to receive such treatment. Even still, let GOD DO IT! Then we'll know its right!

      February 3, 2012 at 11:28 am |
  14. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Long should have stopped this mess instead of making a complete fool of himself.

    February 3, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  15. Dan

    Why do I get the mental image of him standing in the jungle with a Dixie-Cup in his hand?

    February 3, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • jennifer baggarly

      LOL. I was thinking pretty much along that line too. I was re
      ally surprised they didn't serve kool aid for the after celebration party.

      February 3, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  16. Real America

    We make fools into Kings for Mardi Gras. We can use this King. Misrule and merriment for everyone!

    February 3, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  17. xatira

    Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.
    1 John 4:1-3 (NKJV)

    February 3, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • Bob

      Blah, blah, blah, blah – what the &$^% are you even saying???

      February 3, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • Adam

      Well, he seems to pass your "of God" test. He also seems to be a pedophile.

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

      Amen..just saw this, I will be praying for him, before it's too late. these televangelist, get popular, successfuland forget that it is the Lord who called them initialy. Pray thta he doesn't loose ifavor wth, God, like Saul did, in the Old testament

      February 3, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  18. John

    you have got to be kidding me. When does it ever stop.

    February 3, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  19. blf83

    As close to blasphemy as you can get! Long is rich, greedy pervert.

    February 3, 2012 at 10:59 am |
  20. wotisit

    'I don't know how to love him'

    quote by Mary Magdeline from the book of Tim Rice

    February 3, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • dd

      Unfortunately, those young boys found out how!

      February 3, 2012 at 11:17 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.