Atlanta-area megachurch pastor Eddie Long has had his share of headlines, many of them not good. Now he's making news -- and raising eyebrows -- again with a "kingship" ceremony that can only be described as bizarre.
Jewish groups say the ceremony -- in which Long was shrouded by a Torah scroll (allegedly saved from Auschwitz) and then paraded around on a chair -- was the height of disrespect. And it's not just Jews who were offended.
From The Grio:
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."
Other Christians aren't amused. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
“The connection of the Torah scroll to the Holocaust and then to Eddie Long is incomprehensible to me,” said David P. Gushee, a professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University. Gushee is a scholar of the Holocaust and has visited Auschwitz several times. “What was the point? Was it to signal that Eddie Long was suffering persecution like the Jews at Auschwitz?” Gushee asked.
“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.”
Kevin Eckstrom is Editor of Religion News Service. (Via RNS.)