This is totally off topic, but it’s burning up my Twitter feed and I just need to get it off my chest.
A bizarre video was recently posted to YouTube of Bishop Eddie Long being “crowned” at his church in a truly weird ritual. In the video, a “rabbi” named Ralph Messer wraps Long in what he describes as a 300-year-old “Holocaust scroll,” then drapes him in a shawl and hoists him in the air before declaring him a king.
It’s all very strange, not least because Long, the pastor of an Atlanta megachurch, was disgraced last year in a scandal involving his sexual relationships with at least four underage parishoners. (Long has been vocally anti-gay throughout his career, and the parishoners were male.)
There’s nothing that’s not creepy about the whole thing, and it’s been greeted with the mockery it deserves, but there’s one piece of the story that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention but should:
Rabbi Ralph Messer isn’t Jewish.
Messer is a proponent of so-called Messianic Judaism, a religious movement founded in the 1960s that wraps evangelical Christian theology in Jewish cultural trappings.
Put simply, it’s a Christian movement. Messer is a Christian minister.
And despite Messer’s claim to be acting “on behalf of the Jewish people and the land of Israel,” there’s nothing Jewish about the performance he put on at Long’s church. Neither the ritual nor the language of Messer’s act have any basis in Jewish traditions, while his repeated references to the divinity of Jesus and quotations from the Christian bible make his actual theology clear.
Also, the “priceless” Torah scroll Messer wraps Long in is almost certainly a fake. As you can see at 5:15 in the video, the thing is held together with scotch tape.
Oh, and one more tip for “Rabbi” Messer, if he’s reading this. The name of the Nazi concentration camp where you claim you found that scroll? It’s Auschwitz-Birkenau, not “Auschwitz and Birkendal.”
Update | A bible scholar lists 27 ways in which Messer’s performance misrepresented Jewish and Christian religious tradition.
Second Update | The “Messianic Judaism” movement repudiates Messer too: “Ralph Messer is not affiliated with the mainstream Messianic Jewish movement, nor is he a legitimately ordained Messianic Rabbi.” (More here and here.)