LITHONIA (AJC/WAOK)-Bishop Eddie Long has apologized for last Sunday’s service at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church that drew the ire of Jewish groups and religious scholars. Long wrote in a letter to Bill Nigut, Southeast Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League that it was not his idea to participate in the ceremony.
“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.
Footage of the service which has now been viewed by nearly 600,000 people on YouTube, showed Long being wrapped in a sacred Torah scroll and carried upon a throne.
“He’s a king. God has blessed him,” said Colorado Rabbi Ralph Messer before covering Long in a scroll “[that] may still have the dust of Auschwitz and Birkenau.” Messer referred to the Nazi extermination camps in Poland where millions of Jews were murdered during the Holocaust.
In his letter to the Anti-Defamation League, Long “[denounced] any action that depicts me as a king, for I am merely just a servant of the Lord.”
Nigut, who said he was “horrified” by the service, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Sunday he appreciated the bishop’s apology.
“For the ADL it’s a real wake-up call that a lot of people do not understand our liturgies and practices,” Nigut said. “Guys like Messer are troubling to us because they appropriate real ritual or, in this case, make one up.”
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