Eddie Long Archive

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Eddie Long apologizes for Torah ceremony in which he was crowned ‘King’

Megachurch pastor Eddie Long has apologized to the Anti-Defamation League over an incident in which he was wrapped in a Torah scroll and crowned “king,” CNN reports.

The stunt was the idea of visiting speaker ‘Rabbi’ Ralph Messer.

Messer — who has no rabbinical training– told the church audience, “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. In him was a k chromosome…he was brought through the slaves, raised up in a city and God now wants to release a new anointing.”

According to various media sources Long was then wrapped in Torah scrolls, which Messer claimed were found at Auschwitz and Birkenau, raised aloft by four men, and paraded about the stage.

A video recording of the incident went viral on YouTube.

Ralph Messer is President and Founder of Simchat Torah Beit Midrash in Centennial, Colorado. He is part of the so-called Hebrew Roots Movement, which advocates a return to Torah observance. Theologically it is considered to be a sect of Messianic Judaism.

Messianic Jews do not consider Messer and his teachings to be representative of Messianic Judaism.

The Associated Press says

Messianic Jews believe that Jesus Christ, or Yeshua, is the Messiah, putting them at odds with traditional Jewish theology. Most Jews consider the faith to be a form of evangelical Christianity.

Rabbi David Shiff of Congregation Beth Hallel, a Messianic Jewish synagogue in Roswell, condemned the actions in the video.

“Ralph Messer in no way represents Messianic Judaism,” Shiff said. “He is not affiliated with any legitimate branch of Messianic Judaism. His actions in no way reflect the position of Messianic Judaism. I found the presentation to be repulsive and inappropriate.”

The Torah is one of Judaism’s most sacred objects and Jewish groups said the notion that it was used in a ceremony at the church was offensive.

New Birth Missionary Baptist Church last week issued a statement in which Ralph Messer said critics misunderstood his intent.

“My message was about restoring a man and to encourage his walk in the Lord,” Messer claimed. “It was not to make Bishop Eddie L. Long a king.”

According to CNN, Eddie Long — in a letter addressed last Saturday to Bill Nigut, southeast regional director of the Anti-Defamation League — wrote, “The ceremony was not my suggestion, nor was it my intent, to participate in any ritual that is offensive in any manner to the Jewish community, or any group. Furthermore, I sincerely denounce any action that depicts me as a King, for I am merely just a servant of the Lord.”

In September 2010 Long was sued by four former New Birth members. In their lawsuits the young men alleged Long used his influence, trips, gifts and jobs to coerce them into sexual relationships.

Eddie Long suits were settled last May after months of mediation.

During his ‘Torah ceremony’ Messer told the crowd, “It doesn’t matter where you go, how you try to attack him. He’s sealed.”

Last December Eddie Long announced he was taking some time off after his wife of 21 years filed for divorce. He returned to the pulpit on January 15.

Ralph Messer is not a Messianic Jewish Rabbi


Updated: Feb. 8, 2012 Meanwhile a video has appeared in which ‘rabbi’ Ralph Messer also wrapped controversial preacher Paula White in a Torah, a few years ago.

The Florida Courier says that White denied reports that this event had happened. The video, included here, shows otherwise.

Also noteworthy:

Messianic Rabbi Gregory Hershberg, rabbi of Beth Yeshua International in Macon, GA, responds to the “ceremony” performed by Ralph Messer to proclaim Eddie Long a king.

‘Rabbi’ declares Eddie Long ‘King’

The story of embattled megachurch pastor Eddie Long is growing ever stranger.

In a service last Sunday at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, in Atlanta, Georgia, a visiting speaker declared Long ‘king.’

‘Rabbi’ Ralph Messer told the enthusiastic congregation, “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. In him was a k chromosome…he was brought through the slaves, raised up in a city and God now wants to release a new anointing.”

Long was then wrapped in Torah scrolls — which Messer claimed were found at Auschwitz and Birkenau — raised aloft by four men, and paraded about the stage.

Ralph Messer is President and Founder of Simchat Torah Beit Midrash in Centennial, Colorado. He is part of the so-called Hebrew Roots Movement, which advocates a return to Torah observance.

Anthea Butler, associate professor of religion at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote in her column at Religion Dispatches

I spoke with the Rev Dr. Wil Gafney, Hebrew Bible Professor at Lutheran Seminary about the video, and she responded that Long’s “rabbi” Messner is not a member of any traditional Jewish movement, he did not represent any recognizable Jewish thought or practice in his misrepresentations of the Torah. Moreover, she remarked, “it is unfortunate that the speaker chose to plunder the sacred traditions of Judaism as he invented novel interpretations of biblical texts and imagery to affirm and elevate a leader who had admittedly broken the sacred trust between pastor and congregant.”

Last December Eddie Long announced he was taking some time off after his wife of 21 years filed for divorce.

He returned to the pulpit on January 15 and declared ““2012 is here! Shake off the remorse, shake off the depression, shake off the financial burden, start using your hands again and reconstructing! God is more about your future than he was about your past.””

In September 2010 Long was sued by former New Birth members Anthony Flagg, Spencer LeGrande, Jamal Parris and Maurice Robinson, who alleged the preacher used his influence, trips, gifts and jobs to coerce them into sexual relationships.

The lawsuits were settled last May after months of mediation.


Updated Feb. 3, 2011:

The Jewish Telegraph says

The Atlanta newspaper reported that the church issued a statement quoting Messer as saying his intent had been misunderstood. “My message was about restoring a man and to encourage his walk in the Lord,” Messer is quoted as saying. “It was not to make Bishop Eddie L. Long a king.”

In what is likely to strike many readers as the understatement of the story, one local rabbi was quoted as saying: “As a Jew, I find that use of symbols very off-putting.”