It’s been a tough few years for prosperity gospel televangelist and anti-gay activist Eddie Long. In 2010, four male members of his New Birth mega church accused the Word-Faith preacher of coercing them into sex, and after settling out of court with a confidentiality agreement, some accusers spoke out nonetheless. Long’s ex-wife accused him of abuse and his second wife filed for divorce, then rescinded her divorce petition until ultimately going through with the divorce, and a star member of Long’s congregation, Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., resigned and left the church. After taking a leave of absence, Long eventually returned to New Birth and last month a Messianic Jewish rabbi, Ralph Messer, who “actively teaches the Hebrew Roots of the Christian Faith” and claims to have “an Apostolic and Evangelistic anointing,” crowned Long king on Sunday by wrapping him in a Torah scroll he says was found in the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp “on behalf of the Jewish people, the land of Israel and the God of Israel.”
“He is a king, God’s blessed him, he’s a humble man, but in him is kingship, in him is royalty, in him was the land of Israel,” Messer declared: “He’s no longer a commoner, he’s not on the earth, he’s raised from earth into a heavenly realm, he’s raised in a prophetic position, he’s released by God, he’s breaking pagan traditions, breaking into areas of God, he’s releasing Atlanta, Georgia, it’s not him, it’s the king in him.”
Dr. Will Gafney of Lutheran Theological Seminary offered a 27 point refutation of Messer’s preaching, and naturally, the crowning is not sitting well with Jewish leaders and even Messianic Jews:
Jewish leaders are criticizing a ceremony that involved a controversial megachurch leader being wrapped in a religious scroll and exalted as a “king” to the applause of his parishioners.
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.
“The notion that he wraps Bishop Long in a Torah is horrifying simply because it’s completely inappropriate. It’s an awful way to use the Torah,” said Bill Nigut of the Anti-Defamation League. “And it doesn’t in any way approximate any Jewish ritual.”