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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. Get The Hook

    Add me to the list of folks who want this joker, Long, to fade into oblivion.

    Like in old vaudeville - get the hook, and drag him off the stage.

    February 3, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Anita

      Gay men who live in the closet have the most pathetic existence. I could never follow a religion that tells people what consenting adults they can and cannot love. That there are still attendees to his church is a mystery of mysteries.

      February 3, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Get The Hook

      Another option, however, is to encourage him to continue to show what a farce religion is.

      February 3, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  2. DeeNYC

    Is this sham really any different that the pope running around in these golden garbs and a enormous phallic helmet? It's all stupid.

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

      There is a disperity between the elected leader of the Roman Catholic Church and a pedophile scam artist who pays off nut cases like this "rabbi" to provide him credibility.

      February 3, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  3. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

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

      Being this stupid isn't healthy.

      February 3, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • just wondering

      Does skippy exist?

      February 3, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Payer changes things
      Prayer is insightful
      Prayer is inspirational
      Prayer is invincible
      Prayer changes things

      February 3, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • Nope

      ~~`The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.~~~

      February 3, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Payer changes things
      Prayer is insightful
      Prayer is inspirational
      Prayer is invincible
      Prayer changes things.

      February 3, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • Nope

      "~~The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.~~~

      February 3, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  4. Bootyfunk

    is this a joke?

    February 3, 2012 at 11:49 am |
  5. nothing new here

    The King Has No Clothes!
    And obviously no shame either...sad.

    February 3, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  6. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    February 3, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      study after study shows prayer changes nothing. go out and make a difference in your life instead of getting on your knees to worship your imagination. break free of the mental shackles of religion.

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

      Bootyfunk, what studies and by whom? The experience of prayer and its affects have shown to be enormous for the ages. No "study" case either prove or disprove the effects of prayer, so don't make claims that there are. Prayer's effects are with the individual to believe. It cannot be proven.

      February 3, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  7. nothing new here

    The sad state of religion in today's society...pathetic.
    And this guy is suppose to be an honored 'spiritual leader'?
    Please – get out of here.

    February 3, 2012 at 11:44 am |
  8. YBP

    "Bishop" Down Low Long was crowned King? Not Queen? Not even Queen-for-a-day?

    February 3, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • DeeNYC

      the kids he molested were his queen for a day.

      February 3, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  9. My

    I don't even know what to say! Seriously... Wow!!!

    February 3, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  10. RFBJR

    It is unbelievable how Christianity has been corrupted. Shameful, just absolutely shameful.

    February 3, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  11. Elizabeth

    How utterly disrespectful. Two men that claim to be servants of the Most High G-d, doing this is absolutely shameful. This article made me think of the account in the New Testament in which Messiah cleared the Temple with a whip. Everyone that participated in the debacle should ask themselves WWJD? I think if He'd been there, he'd have been cracking a whip!

    February 3, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • Guiding Light

      I don't thing the "rabbi" (tongue in cheek) would ask himself WWJD.

      February 3, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • Guiding Light

      oops, think, not thing

      February 3, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • xatira

      Yes, it is nauseating. Apparently, if Jesus were there the congregation wouldn't even have sense enough to crown HIM! Parading a man around in a chair...smh!

      February 3, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • Snap

      @Guiding Light, Of course he would because he is a messianic Jewish rabbi. Can you read?

      February 3, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • DCTA

      The "Rabbi" (who is not actually an ordained Rabbi) heads up a "Jews for Jesus" "synagogue". he is, actually a Christian and probably would ask WWJD".

      February 3, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • fred

      @Guiding Light
      Google "Jews for Jesus". it's real, albeit mind-blowingly stupid, but it is real.

      February 3, 2012 at 11:56 am |
  12. crazyIsle

    Religions keep on amazing me...

    February 3, 2012 at 11:37 am |
  13. ART

    HaHaHa really so now I guess he can continue to fondle youg men

    February 3, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  14. Nope

    First a bishop then a king. I can't wait until he annoints himself "master of the universe".

    February 3, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • fred

      bishop takes pawn, king takes bishop

      February 3, 2012 at 11:50 am |
  15. Dave

    I don't know how anyone can follow this guy with a straight face.

    February 3, 2012 at 11:33 am |
  16. Andrea

    As a Christian who has always been in church, I have never heard of anything like this. What that really a torah that he was wrapped in. Are they now going to be calling him King Long

    February 3, 2012 at 11:33 am |
  17. Will

    Well Mr Long..(You don't deserve to be call Bishop) I hope you like Heat!!!! That's all I have to say...

    February 3, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • Snap

      Nice, you're judging Mr. Long to hell. How exactly is your ego any different then Mr. Long's? You both think your the king and can judge others. Ever wonder if maybe you're worshiping the darkness instead of the light? Might want to ponder that.

      February 3, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • fred

      @Snap

      Have you met my friend Kettle?

      February 3, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  18. cronewinter

    Arrogant and so what? His new kingly powers are worth exactly zip. how unpleasant.

    February 3, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  19. Ezra

    This story is such absolute and utter nonsense and only helps to reinforce terrible, negative stereotypes of religious people. Truly spiritual-religious people don't go around getting crowned as kings and paraded before their congregations like silly demi-gods! Also, Eddie Long is not wrapped in a torah, but in a talit which is a prayer shawl.

    February 3, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • fred

      watch the video, they unroll the scroll and wrap him in it. it's quite the sight i must say

      February 3, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • bff

      For all we know Long may consider himself to be "truely-spiritual". Who is the arbitor when it comes to religion?

      February 3, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • Vaughn

      A failed public relations stunt without the proper research to elevate this fallen hypocrite. Gay men who live in the closet are doing a disservice to future generations of gays who need proper role models who live their gay lives openly and demand respect from society. This gay man is hiding in the church, tying to be someone he isn't and stomping on the human worth of gays with his sometime anti-gay vitriol concerning gays and the gay "lifestyle". It is no wonder that his life is falling apart. He should take off his fake persona. No amount of Torah wrapping will heal a gay man. Of course his problems now seem to go deeper than just being a gay man by night and gay basher by day.

      February 3, 2012 at 11:49 am |
  20. ha

    this fool.....

    February 3, 2012 at 11:24 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.