An Orlando-area rabbi, upset that Florida-based televangelist Paula White strongly denied participating in "scroll-wrapping" considered "repulsive and inappropriate" by some Jewish religious scholars, submitted a video that seemingly corroborates that such an act did occur. The video surfaced just hours after White's attorney categorically and unconditionally denied, to the Florida Courier's publisher, White's involvement in any such act.
White's 'wrapping' – allegedly symbolic of being "wrapped in the Word of God," according to Messer on the video – is almost identical to Messer's wrapping of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church's Rev. Eddie Long during a controversial, widely ridiculed ceremony that went viral on YouTube.
Criticism of Long was swift and severe from Jewish religious scholars and the Anti-Defamation League, forcing Long to publicly apologize.
White is now pastor of New Destiny Christian Center, founded by the late Zachery Tims. New Destiny is one of Central Florida's largest churches. She is also pastor of Without Walls International Church, one of Tampa's largest churches.
How it all started
On Friday afternoon, Feb. 3, the West Orlando News Online reported "rumors that Messer will be in Orlando over the week-end to crown pastor Paula White, new leader of the New Destiny Christian Center (NDCC), queen."
At 6 p.m. that Friday evening – just after the Florida Courier broke a story on the Internet addressing rumors of White's possible 'coronation' – Messer became the focus of discussion on Orlando's WEUS-AM 810, a local talk radio station.
Host Don Miller of "The Don Miller Show" harshly criticized both Long and Messer. One of the featured guests on the show Rabbi Ira Michaelson of the Beth Tefillah congregation in Clermont, just outside of Orlando.
About 10 minutes into the broadcast, Miller confirmed that he heard rumors that Messer was coming to Orlando "to do this" (another Eddie Long-style 'coronation') at another church."
In response, Michaelson said, "He actually already did this to Paula White some years ago...this was after she was divorced from Randy White and before the scandal with Benny Hinn came out. He took her and wrapped her in a scroll and said the same thing - 'I'm wrapping you in the Word of God.'"
For the remainder of the hour-long show, Miller and Michaelson continued to castigate Messer and Long. Keith Johnson, a minister, author, and former NFL Minnesota Vikings chaplain, spoke of his concern about Long's New Birth congregation and the impact of Messer's actions on the relationship between Black Christians and Jews.
(On Sunday, February 5, Johnson preached at an Orlando-area church about how Messer convinced Long's New Birth congregation "to pronounce a curse on themselves. Click here for video.)
The Rev. Dr. Wil Gafney, an associate professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, spoke to Miller's show by phone about how the New Birth ceremony was disrespectful of Jewish religious traditions.
Saturday morning call
In multiple phone calls and emails to Florida Courier Publisher Charles W. Cherry II, Daniel Beirute, Paula White's attorney, unconditionally denied that White would be 'coronated' as was Long.
In response to Michealson's quoted allegation that "He (Messer) actually already did this to Paula White some years ago...", Beirute wrote in an email to Cherry as follows:
"I don't know where Rabbi Michaelson gets his information, but my client categorically and unequivocally denies that that ever happened."
No longer a story
Based on White's unconditional denial of the Super Bowl ceremony, Florida Courier editors decided that there was no longer a story and posted a "Final Paul White update with links." But that was not to be the last word.
Rabbi Michaelson, concerned that White's denial damaged his reputation, emailed a video to Cherry that seems to corroborate his statement about White.
The video opens up with various instances in which an energetic White picks up or drops Bibles on the floor while preaching. About 36 seconds into the video, a caption appears: "Notice Bible on Floor." There's more video of White preaching, speaking 'in tongues', and dropping more Bibles.
About two minutes into the video, another caption appears. "If Paula had thrown the Koran to the floor, she would have faced certain death. The Jews rejected her from speaking at their 2007 "day of prayer" (sic) because of the following sacrilege to their sacred scrolls," it states.
Then, in an undated broadcast that seems to be recorded from White's TV show "Paula," White agrees to allow Messer and another unidentified man to wrap White in what appears to be a Torah scroll. After saying the wrapping represents protection and being "hidden in the Word of God," Messer tells White, "Out of something that was thrown off the tracks - like your life - God says, 'I'm going to raise it up and people will read from it and quote it for generations.'"
Messer then says to White, "...The Lord says, 'You are so sacred to the Body of Christ, I'm wrapping you in the Word of God.'" The scroll seemed to be torn in the process. White appears to be overcome with emotion, then happily shakes Messer's hand.
Paula White 'wrapped in the Word of God' – click here for an abbreviated version posted on YouTube of the video submitted to the Florida Courier.