The stunt was the idea of visiting speaker ‘Rabbi’ Ralph Messer.
Messer — who has no rabbinical training– told the church audience, “Heâ€™s a king. Godâ€™s blessed him. Heâ€™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 chromosomeâ€¦he was brought through the slaves, raised up in a city and God now wants to release a new anointing.â€
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.
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,â€ 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.â€
The Torah is one of Judaismâ€™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,â€ Messer claimed. “It was not to make Bishop Eddie L. Long a king.â€
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 doesnâ€™t matter where you go, how you try to attack him. Heâ€™s sealed.”
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.
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.
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