Bishop Eddie Long Apologizes for Torah Service

Baptist Bishop Eddie Long has apologized for a church service in which he was wrapped in a Torah scroll and called a king.

Read Jay Michaelson’s blog post on the controversial service.

Last week during a service at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga., Ralph Messer, a Messianic Jew and self-described rabbi, ordered congregants to wrap Long in a Torah scroll and then lift him up on a chair bar mitzvah-style while he held the Torah scroll, which was identified as being rescued from Auschwitz. The church has 25,000 members, according to its website.

A video of the service has been viewed some 600,000 on YouTube.

Embed this video

“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,” Long wrote in a letter sent Saturday to Bill Nigut, Southeast Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Nigut released the letter on Sunday.

In an article in the newspaper last week, Nigut was critical of the ceremony, saying it “in no way represents any Jewish ritual that I’m familiar with. We do not proclaim individuals to be kings.”

In the letter sent to the ADL, Long also said “I sincerely denounce any action that depicts me as a King, for I am merely just a servant of the Lord.”

Long was sued in Sept. 2010 by four former church members who alleged he used his position to coerce them into sexual relationships, according to the Journal-Constitution. The suit was settled in May.

Nigut told CNN that he thought the apology was “very heartfelt, sincere.”

“I was very gratified by Bishop Long apparently recognizing what our concern was,” Nigut also said.

Author

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Bishop Eddie Long Apologizes for Torah Service

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close