It seems that before Eddie Long was crowned “king,” Paula White beat him to the punch, and was made a “queen.” In recently released footage on the web, “Rabbi” Messer performed a similar ritual, “crowning” Paula White on her TV show, wrapping her in a Torah that looked suspiciously like the one he used on Long. Before the video became public, White’s attorney was emphatic that White had not participated in a Torah wrapping or coronation. Since the video’s release, White has made no comment.
Meanwhile, Long had been feeling the heat from the Anti-Defamation League, and has apologized to the Jewish community.
Messer’s traveling coronation show, with Long, White, and a host of other troubled or disgraced leaders is a novel way to put compromised pastors back in good graces with their dwindling flocks. I must admit, it is a good grift if these so called “preachers” are trying to get back control over their congregations. For Long and White, who both have lost considerable followers through their personal issues (sex, divorce, and financial problems), the desire to get their place of authority and power back made them throw caution to the wind. Chaining their lust for power to another huckster Messer, though, may bring more ruin. The outcry within the community of Christians and Jews has been fierce, and it will likely wound their crippled ministries even more.
Meanwhile, Messer has been trying to salvage his traveling Torah and coronation show by videotaping an hour-long attempt at a rebuttal to Dr. Wil Gafney’s take on The Huffington Post, refuting the ritual from the perspective of a Hebrew Bible scholar. In his response, Messer referred to Dr. Gafney as a “unnamed male Rabbi” who perhaps had a racial axe to grind against Long.
You can’t make this stuff up, people. If “Rabbi” Messer had consulted Google, it would not have been difficult to figure out that not only is Gafney a woman, but she is an African-American woman.
The remainder of Messer’s hour-long video apologia was not an admission of being wrong, but consisted of a rambling explanation of why it was appropriate to do what he did: the scroll wasn’t kosher, it was a Christian context, the audience didn’t know anything about Judaism or Yiddish, and the video clip was taken out of context. Messer is not even Jewish, a fact he acknowledges at one point of the video, only to say later that he is.
Long and White’s obsession with becoming “royalty” through the ministrations of a charlatan “rabbi” is a pathetic grab for power. I am concerned for the people who continue to follow them.
Messer, Long, and White will stoop to any chicanery and foolishness to maintain their shaky stature. White has even managed to maneuver herself into dead pastor Zachary Tim’s pulpit in Orlando, Florida. Tim’s wife has been vocal about her displeasure, and there may be action taken against White.
What this debacle for Long and White shows clearly is that people are willing to follow pulpit pimps, even when they clearly pursuing only their own lust for power. Those who continue to follow them can only be certain of two things: lighter wallets and fewer brain cells. I hope the public outcry and ridicule will stop these Torah wrappings and the fake “Game of Thrones” rituals to prop up dying megachurch leaders.
On a lighter note, though, the debacle has produced a very funny spoof of Long’s coronation. Watch it: