ATLANTA – Bishop Eddie Long is making headlines again for all the wrong reasons. In a controversial video, widely being circulated on YouTube, the beleaguered megachurch pastor is shown participating in an elaborate ceremony where is he crowned “king.”
In the video, which has gone viral, Eddie Long is proclaimed to be royalty by guest speaker Rabbi Ralph Messer. During the ritualistic ceremony at Long’s New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Georgia, Messer says, “He’s a king. God’s blessed him. He’s a humble man. But in him is kingship. In him is royalty. In him was a land of Israel.”
During the ostentatious display from the service last Sunday Long is wrapped in an “ancient” Jewish Torah scroll and raised in the air, on his throne, by four men to the rapturous applause his parishioners.
WATCH THE VIDEO OF THE CEREMONY HERE
“He now is raised up from a commoner to a kingship,” Messer proclaims, as the men parade Long’s seat around on the stage to an adoring congregation.
Reverend Morris Tipton, director of media relations, at the National Baptist Convention, warns that, “God has called us to be serving leaders and not celebrities.”
“Christ Jesus is the model and example in which we are to be humble in everything, from our lifestyle to the execution of our ministry,” says Tipton of the Convention, which is the oldest and largest African-American Christian denomination in the United States. “It’s not about being flamboyant.”
“When pastors are put on a pedestal when they fall it’s a mighty fall and impacts a tremendous amount of people in a hurtful and negative way because the congregation has placed so much confidence in this one person,” says Tipton, although he is also keen to stress he is not referring to a specific ministry.
Indeed, the video has received negative online coverage and for some it is a dangerous reminder of the habit of the church, particularly the black church, of erroneously elevating the status of an “imperfect” spiritual leader into some kind of demigod.
Others say it is hard to believe last Sunday’s ceremony was not orchestrated or that Long was unaware of the intricacies prior to taking part. Perhaps it was a strategy to regain lost ground and bolster his embattled status.
However, Long’s church, which is in Lithonia east of Atlanta, issued a statement from Messer saying that the ceremony was not intended to elevate Long to a position of king.
“My message was about restoring a man and to encourage his walk in the Lord,” Messer said in the statement. “The presentation of the Scroll of Torah was simply a way of bringing honor to a man who had given his life to the Lord and had given so much to his church, the Atlanta metro area and throughout the world. It was not to make Bishop Eddie L. Long a king.”
Bishop Eddie Long recently returned to the pulpit after taking a brief leave following the announcement from his wife Vanessa that she would be filing for divorce.
The besieged pastor has been subject to highly publicized allegations that he sexually coerced four young men he mentored into sexual relationships. Although Long denied the charges, the case was settled in a multi-million dollar out-of-court settlement.
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