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How to Fix a Bad Pastor

You’ve probably heard of Bishop Eddie Long. If you didn’t already know him as one of the many “men of God” who have gotten into trouble for using their positions to coerce sex (Long to the tune of reported a $15 million settlement), you probably heard about his “crowning” just over a week ago.

Bishop Eddie Long has apologized to the Anti-Defamation League over an incident in which he was wrapped in a Torah scroll and crowned “king.”

As shown in a video that went viral, the televangelist was wrapped in a “Holocaust Torah” and crowned king during a recent ceremony at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, his suburban Atlanta congregation.

“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,” Long wrote in a letter dated Saturday.

Urban Faith has used the bizarre ritual as an opportunity to talk more generally about pastors behaving badly. They talk some about the causes. There’s some shaky pop psychology in there, but there is a distinct lack of Satan.

“We grew up in an era with the understanding that the pastor is infallible,” Moon says. “The perception of the pastor is elevated in such a way, he adds, that “a fall may be inevitable.”

Yet despite the responsibility that the congregation may bear in turning their leader into a celebrity, the onus is on the pastor not to believe the hype. Jones said it this way: “If we’re not careful, we become our own little gods — without a capital G — and we expect people to treat us this way.”

But if you’re being hoisted up on a throne Eddie Long-style and literally praised as royalty, how can you not buy in to the idea of being worshiped? How do you go from a sincere desire to serve God and His people to living to serve yourself?

Then they talk about the solutions.

What a congregation can do, Gise Johnson says, is forgive. “Without apology and without hesitation, forgiveness has to be offered.”

But Gise Johnson is quick to add that this kind of forgiveness does have conditions.

“It’s the kind of forgiveness that demands that congregations then reorganize themselves to give the offender space away from the responsibilities of leading, so that everyone can begin healing.”

Again, there’s a notable lack in this discussion. People are the problem, both in the way congregations treat their priests and in the way priests view themselves and their urges. People are the solution, both in offering space to pastors facing challenges and in demanding accountability.

That’s right. People. Not God. No one interviewed for this article recommends relying on God or getting closer to God as the solution to ill-behaved priests.

Funny. It’s almost like they know it wouldn’t do anything.

Comments

  1. D. C. Sessions says

    Go back far enough and you find some early Christian sects that took the whole “eunuch for the Lord” thing literally. Since they’d discarded the Jewish prohibition against castration, that wasn’t an issue. Bear in mind that the Roman Empire was loaded with pagan sects that required priestly castration, so the Christians (as always) borrowed what was popular.

    On the other hand, like Shakers, there’s a limited appeal in the long run. Personally I find the idea of ditching circumcision for marketing reasons and then replacing it with castration to be … amusing.

  2. Tsu Dho Nimh says

    Apparently “Rabbi Messer” is self-taught and self-proclaimed.

    He also did that bizarre Torah-wrapping Feb 7th on Paula White, another prosperity gospel tele-crook-vangelist. Wonder how much she paid him.

    He’s reportedly a big honcho in Jews for Jesus out of Colorado.