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article image'King' Bishop Eddie Long apologizes, denounces crown

By Yukio Strachan     Feb 8, 2012 in World
Atlanta - One week after being crowned 'king', Bishop Eddie Long gave back his crown. The Georgia mega-church pastor apologized to the Jewish community for taking part in a ceremony in which he was wrapped in a Torah scroll and crowned “king.”
"I sincerely denounce any action that depicts me as a King," Long wrote in a letter dated Saturday, " for I am merely just a servant of the Lord."
The servant of the Lord, addressed the letter to Bill Nigut, a director of the Anti-Defamation League, who criticized Long calling the ceremony at New Birth Missionary Church a "fake ritual" that was “completely inappropriate and really awful,” CNN reported.
"While I believe that Rabbi Ralph Messer has good intentions during his message at New Birth," Long wrote. "I understand that the ceremony he performed on Sunday, January 29th, caused harm to the Jewish community, for which I am deeply sorry."
On Sunday, Nigut accepted Long's apology and said he appreciated his sincerity.
"I thought it was a very heartfelt, sincere, humble apology," he told CNN. "I was very gratified by Bishop Long apparently recognizing what our concern was."
Video of the pastor's crowning, viewed more than 600,000 times on YouTube the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, shows Ralph Messer, a preacher who calls himself Rabbi, wrapping Long in a scroll that he said was a 312 year old Torah recovered from the Holocaust.
"This is only done with the kings in Israel," Messer told the crowd, as he directed those swaddling Long, "wrap him in the scroll, real slow, real slow."
Bishop Eddie Long wrapped in Torah
Bishop Eddie Long wrapped in Torah
screenshot/CNN video
"He is now raised up from a commoner to a kingship," Messer said.
Then, four men lifted Long in a chair from the ground, bar mitzvah-style. The congregation cheered and clapped as the men carried him across the platform, Long cradling the Torah scroll in his arms.
“He’s raised from earth into a heavenly realm," Messer shouted.
After viewing the video, Nigut told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We do not proclaim individuals to be kings.”
And according to Christian leaders, neither does the Christian faith.
Brent Strawn, an associate professor at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, told CNN that 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.”
From humble beginnings in 1987 of 150 people, Long built his church to 25,000 members at its peak becoming one of the most influential evangelists in America. In 2006, Long officiated the funeral of Coretta Scott King, an event attended by four Presidents (George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter).
But his image began to topple in September 2010 after four young men accused him of being a sexual predator who sexually abused them as teens. Ten members of Long's congregation filed a civil suit against Long on Oct 19 for investment fraud. Vanessa, Long's wife, filed for divorce in December.
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