Bishop Eddie Long is apologizing for taking part in a ceremony in which he was hoisted on a throne-like chair and deemed a king.
"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," wrote the New Birth minister in a letter Saturday.
Not only did the ritual offend many Christians whose religion teaches that there is only one King, Jesus Christ, but many in the Jewish faith also took issue with it.
Bill Nigut of the Anti-Defamation League that combats anti-Semitism, personally took offense over the “fake ritual.” However, he graciously accepted Eddie’s apology.
“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.”
In the ritual, which was performed by Rabbi Ralph Messer, Eddie was wrapped in Torah scrolls while the rabbi shouted, “He is king. God’s blessed him.”
While many in the Jewish community assert that such a ceremony is not a religious tradition, Ralph later clarified that it was more of a symbolic gesture about “restoring a man and to encourage his walk in the Lord. It was not to make Bishop Eddie L. Long a king.”
Eddie did mention Ralph in his statement, but came short of placing the blame squarely on his shoulders.
“While I believe that Rabbi Ralph Messer has good intentions during his message at New Birth, I understand that the ceremony he performed on Sunday, January 29th, caused harm to the Jewish community, for which I am deeply sorry,” he wrote.
The embattled minister has faced a large amount of negative publicity in the past year, including allegations of sexual misconduct and marital problems.
—Tracy L. Scott