Why people stick by scandal-plagued pastors

Parishioners often build a firewall around a pastor hit by scandal, a Christian author says. But when does loyalty turn unhealthy?

(CNN) – The streets that were once choked with traffic are now bare. The church’s sprawling parking lot is half full. Inside the stylish sanctuary, ushers sway to choir music in front of empty seats.

On a typical Sunday morning, New Birth Missionary Church in suburban Atlanta would be hopping. But on a recent Sunday, the sprawling church complex looked half-deserted and the mood seemed flat.

Six months after a sex scandal involving New Birth’s senior pastor, Bishop Eddie Long, became public, the megachurch no longer packs them in. Yet there are loyalists, like C.D. Dixon, who have not joined the exodus.

For Dixon, though, the allegations only make Long’s sermons more powerful.

“The cry from the bishop’s belly is more now. We’re not dealing with right or wrong. We’re dealing with God’s deliverance. I don’t know if that makes sense to you.”

For some, it doesn’t. While most church scandals revolve around the conduct of a pastor, there’s another question lurking behind the headlines that onlookers often ask: Why do some people stick by their pastor even when everyone else in the church seems to be leaving?

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Source: CNN
By John Blake, CNN

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