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Friday
Sep242010

Eddie Long Is A Symptom of A Much Worse Disease

A cellphone picture of himself that Bishop Eddie Long is accused of sending to young men.Megachurch prosperity gospel preacher, Bishop Eddie Long was recently slapped with charges that he pressured young men into sexual relationships with him. Since the news dropped there have been comparisons to the Catholic Church and its many scandals involving child molesting priests and other sex related controversies. There have also been a lot of jokes (sometimes tempered with cries that sexual coercions is not funny ... and, honestly, it isn't). But the underlying theme in the jokes and the comparisons is the feeling that something isn't quite right in some black churches.

More after the jump.

From Forbes (via The Associated Press):

Long spent more than 20 years building all that up, but his empire hangs in the balance. And his 25,000 followers aren't about to let it all come tumbling down after the three men's claims that the bishop abused his spiritual authority.

"I've always thought he was a very powerful man of God," said Anshay Tull, a 27-year-old attendee of Long's church, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. "I'm just praying, trying to stay hopeful that it's not true. If it is true, he has to take that up with God. But that can't take away from the Word that he gives. I think he's very gifted."

He's preached against gay marriage, and his church has counseled gay members to become straight - even though the men claim in their lawsuits that Long used money, cars, international trips, jewelry and other objects to lure them into sexual relationships when they were 17 or 18 years old.

And the Long story keeps getting worse.

From CBS:

CBS News' Erica Hill reports the pastor allegedly sent his accusers numerous photos of himself including at least several of him wearing spandex and workout clothes.

It's not known precisely how the photos surfaced.

B.J. Bernstein, an attorney for the three plaintiffs, said Long sent her clients dozens of e-mails, but they weren't "overly sexual," she said.

Long canceled an interview with the Tom Joyner Morning Show Thursday, opting instead to make his first public response to the sex allegations during a service at his Atlanta-area church on Sunday, according to his lawyer, who appeared on the nationally syndicated radio show in Long's absence.

Attorney Craig Gillen told Joyner that Long took young men on trips as part of a mentoring program, but stands by his denial of claims that he had sex with three of them.

I'm not one to romanticize the black church. Even in its heyday of the Civil Rights Movement there were always issues. Issues with abuse and sexism and the other things that come with the human condition. No body is perfect. And where there is money there are corruptible people. Not every minister during the Civil Rights Movement was talking about justice. Problems with pastors, power and money have existed as long as there have been churches to lead.

But the beauty of the black church was always that it was purely for black people, by black people. Hence why the social activism angle was so strong. How could a pastor, who received all his support and income from the community, not stand up for that community? How could someone who claimed to follow Jesus, the original community organizer and social rabble rouser, not stand up and demand that the needs of his people be heard? It was just something you were supposed to do. It was your duty to right wrongs. Others had to worry about losing their jobs or being persecuted. The black community paid their ministers' rent and bills and the black community protected them. The least they could do is be half-way decent spokespersons for the movement.

But once our problems were no longer easily identified by men in white hoods and slurs, once things got a little better, there were opportunities for those who wanted them to take their flock, church and message and make it bigger, spread it farther and make it more lucrative. There was money to be made in the souls of black folk. You surely didn't think that no pastor would heed that call.

This Long situation has all the markings of the old saying about absolute power corrupting absolutely. Here is a man making hand over fist in cash, dressing in the most audacious of wealth and finery, heretically preaching about God as if he is your holy concierge, granting wishes of wealth and prosperity if you just ask. I could go into how irresponsible that is and that if you follow the story of Jesus he would have busted up these churches, tossing tables and condemning all these darn money changers in his Father's temple, but do you have time for a lengthy discussion on why the prosperity gospel is heretical? That's a whole other blog post, so just read this.

What I will say is that Long isn't the only one abusing his power. He is not the first and he won't be the last. When there is this much money to be made off the souls of people, both black and white, looking for meaning in their lives, you are going to find individuals like Long. I recently spoke with a friend who has ties to the gospel music industry about this issue and he is adamant that the Long accusations are true and have been known in the community for years. He is also adamant that Long is not the only one with improper relationships with both men and women within the church. He is hoping that this scandal will cause all the opulent robes to come off and expose these so called men and women of faith for who they truly are -- fancy snake oil salesmen. Religious hucksters and hypewomen. Hypocrites.

It's time for the black church to get to cleaning house. Let's start with Long.

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Reader Comments (57)

Well stated.

All this "touch not they anointed" shit is ridiculous. If these allegations are true, how DARE those "touch not thy anointed" folks shame the victims/survivors. They are complicit in what's a MAJOR issue in society overall - child sexual abuse. Abuse and coercion are not a laughing matter.

This doesn't surprise me one bit: >> "I recently spoke with a friend who has ties to the gospel music industry about this issue and he is adamant that the Long accusations are true and have been known in the community for years. He is also adamant that Long is not the only one with improper relationships with both men and women within the church."

Me too. >> "He is hoping that this scandal will cause all the opulent robes to come off and expose these so called men and women of faith for who they truly are -- fancy snake oil salesmen. Religious hucksters and hypewomen. Hypocrites."

"It's time for the black church to get to cleaning house. Let's start with Long." >> The time is WELL overdue.

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSpinster

This is a major "UH OOOHHH" in the Black community...unfortunately we'll ALL "stay tuned". Great article

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMr. Williams

Talk about the dark coming to light. Wow!

This seems to be another tale of a hypocritical, opportunist, preacher using his so-called GOD power to manipulate his followers monetarily and sexually to satisfy his socio-pathological ways.

It's funny how the most blatant and verbal anti-gay crusaders seem to have the most skeletons in their closets. If these allegations are true, I pray for the people that have been victimized by this pulpit pimp.

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJason

Preach!

Couldn't resist. Good editorial. :)

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermoirsa

This is a great commentary on Long and others of his ilk. i could care less if he was gay, but I am more concerned aabout the God complex he has and blind worship his parishioners give him. Hell, that most Black folk give to our clergy in general. I have attended his church on a couple of occasions while I lived in Atlanta. I knew he was not right when he actually encouraged folks to slap money on the altar at his feet. I know that it is supposed to be a "blessing" to the messenger as it has been explained to me, but these cats know that those sort of actions are akin to worship of them and not the Most High. You would think that Jonestown would have taught Black folks a lesson on trusting just anyone with their souls. But I forgot that this is America and we don't remember history very well.

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEddie

Great post, Snob. I would like to thank you especially for the Got Question link, which explains succinctly why the prosperity gospel is a heretical brand of Christianity. Plain and simple, it glorifies greed and glorifies pastors instead of God.

I hope the young men affected get every dime from Long, not the church, but Long. And two, people in the black church need to stop treating pastors like they are celebrities w/ this "touch not my anointed" crap. As a born-again Christian I do not trust nor listen to any preacher on television b/c they are all in it for the money. If it was all about God, why don't these pastors live among and minster to the poor and sick in inner-cities, without anything in return?

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterwillet784

as always, good stuff snob. this is all over the A, and i know a lot of folks who swear by this dude. but some folks put the man on the same pedestal as God, and if enough people think it, said man thinks it' too.

it's sad. and there's a lot of folks who get the side eye. from crookflo dollar to eddie long.

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLOL

was not aware of this problem or this pastor

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterrahrah

preach, snob! well said and right on time.

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterbetty'smom

"The prosperity gospel is heretical."

Say it again. And again and again. Has been since Rev. Ike. Will continue to be. And there are many black pastors in black churches bravely saying as much (mine is one) over and over, loud and clear. So thank you for not condemning "the black church" with a broad brush.

The problem here is not the black church or religion or faith but a lack of critical thinking on the part of too many brothers and sisters (after all, as you say, all one has to do is really read and understand the Gospels to know what Jesus would think of these folks) . But that's America in general.

Predators of all kinds will always prey on the vulnerable. What;'s needed is to arm the rabbit with cunning or fast feet.

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJane

This commitment on the part of the black church to demonize gay people is hypocritical and ridiculous. This is the same pastor who preached that God said that gays should be put to death. And at the same time, I'd bet good money that if that church has a male choir director, that person is a gay as a day in May. Black people need to get past this need to feel superior to some other group. I swear a good part of this hate the sinner mentality comes from a need to be better than those "nasty gays." This at the same time that a bunch of those black women sitting there on Sunday are raising gay sons and hanging with gay friends when they shop.

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkhia213

It figures. My theory is that most men who speak vehemently about being "anti-gay" are "projecting and deflecting." And of course you are right, D -- the "prosperity Gospel" movement is a big scandal in Black America. I mean, c'mon, Creflo Dollar? Eddie Long, TD Jakes, and the rest of these guys are merely 21st Century Reverend Ikes.

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmy A

I recognize that being raised Catholic maybe makes me less of an authority on this topic, but I've had concerns about the Black Church for a long time. As an adult, I made a decision to find a Black Church home, which I did at a prominent church here in Brooklyn. I went weekly for years, but recognized that no church was immune to its share of problems.

I was primarily concerned on the emphasis on tithing, which, while fine when genuinely used to support ministries, I began to find disturbing when I saw the pastor dipped in fine suits and driving a really nice car, when those who tithed religiously were probably dipping into their rent checks.

I was also unnerved by the holier-than-thou nature of the congregation as a whole. While I admit there wasn't as much anti-gay rhetoric where I attended, it often struck me that many of the people in church catching the spirit and quick to preach/judge, were the same people mired in debt, but whooping it up at the clubs with bottles of Cristal the night before.

I'm far from a saint myself (I was at those same clubs too) so when it all got too much for me (Catholic guilt creeping back perhaps?), I simply stopped going, preferring to read my Bible and simply living in an honorable way, treating others the way I wanted to be treated.

I believe that stopping the demonization of homosexuality will go a long way to tackling issues in our community. Whether the charges of sexual misconduct against Bishop Long end up proving false or simply dismissed, a full audit of New Birth’s books is still in order. Whether sexual or financial, there needs to be accountability in this case.

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterViv

@ Amy A: 100% co-sign

Its pretty much a wrap for him. Last I heard, the count of alleged victims that have contacted the lawyer is upwards of about 25-30....

As far as the money goes, far too many black folks get wrapped up in "Pastor-Worship" They confuse the man with the message and began to treat the messager like a messiah. I have no problem with members of the clergy making a living but there is a problem when a supposed student and follower of Christ has tens of thousands of jewelery in his office to be stolen, private planes, mansions, fleets of luxury vehicles, and a plethora of skin-tight muscle shirts spanning all the colors of the rainbow all the while preaching to folks who don't have a pot to piss in.

How does someone who looks poverty in the face everyday and probably hears the most tragic testimonies of struggle and strife look at himself in the mirror knowing that he has enough money on his pinky buy a single mom a home or put 3 children through college? Well, I suppose its easy when your more interested in snapping a cell phone pic to send to a teen boy.........

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered Commenternovanova

Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Wise

As someone who grew up in denominational churches, I happened to attend and serve in a non-denominational church recently. I quit in 2008 and have not put foot in any church since. This church preached the "Ultimate Life", but the practices was ULTIMATE DEATH to the soul. This church was the type which preached two thing: MONEY and FAKE LIVING. Get money or act like you have it. Saying they are "non-denominational" is a marketing gimmick because they are all hooked into the "spiritual daddy" nonsense and are riddled with more illicit sex than a whore house. Whether it was IV Hilliard or TD Jakes or Ed Young or Paula White any other "spiritual daddy/mommy", it had more qualities of a cult. It was also very sexual, very focused on (not health), but looks. The experience opened my eyes. I learned that people can make a pass at someone in their "prayer/green room" then walk unto the pulpit and point fingers at others.

It is disgusting and sickening, but the worst of it is that it is actually costing lives. Many young people are being subjected to sexual molestation (and diseases) and forced abortions in secret. People are becoming suicidal, depressed and manifesting all types of symptoms of mental illness because of this onslaught of criminal and fraudulent behavior in the sanctuaries.

God is watching, however, and He will act on His word.

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLaVonne

The attack on the leadership of black, and other, churches is a clear sign of spiritual warefare.

If the bishop is guilty of these accusations, he will be severely dealt with in this life and the next. But if he is not guilty, the body of Christ has suffered the lost of another ministry and its reputation.

Let's wait until more concrete evidence is presented before jumping to conclusions about his guilt.

September 24, 2010 | Registered CommenterVictoria

Oooo, girl! Like my mom always says, "what you do in the dark, will always come to the light!" I'm praying for the alleged victims...and Mr. Long's soul, cuz he's gonna need all the prayer he can get if this situation turns out to be true.

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMissjackson1

@ Victoria

it's only an attack if it's unwarranted and baseless.

other than that, it's exposing "the devil."

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLOL

The Nigga Church has always been a hotspot for this kind of foolishness. Eddie has been rumored to be a rump ranger for years. In fact, when I lived in ATL he was supposedly dating Byron Cage, which is why Byron got that job as his minister of music.

I just find it comical that a man who takes pride in spewing vritiol at Black LGBT folks, many of whom still attend his church because they are too stupid for words, has been snagged in a sex scandal. The other interseting thing is that Eddie was "mentored" by another fallen MegaChurch pastor who was convicted of incest and sexual abuse, Earl Paulk.

He'll whether this scandal. Nigga Christians are low brow and in general, incredibly stupid. Thinking critically isn't their strong suit and I cannot wait to hear more of the sordid deatils being circulated in the media for all the world to see.

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBLKSeaGoat

@LOL

I'm keeping an open mind until I read and verify more details. If the bishop is wrong -trust me- he will be dealt with by the Lord. If he is not, I am confident that this dicussion will encourage more action than anger.

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria

This is a wonderful post. I have always had issues with these prosperity preaches who are getting rich off their congregations and acting like it's some kind of sin to just be middle class or poor. And whatever happened with that Senate investigation into Long, Fred Price and several other of these flashy preachers?

The homosexual aspect just makes it that much more sordid, but it would have been just as bad had this man been grooming young girls for his own sexual purposes. He was trusted to guide these young people and decided to instead try to turn them out. It's shameful, and people need to quit getting caught up in the cult of personality.

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMarvyM

Bishop Eddie Long: Accused 'By the Mouth of Two or Three Witnesses'

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxggP4nww4E

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNYTN

"What I will say is that Long isn't the only one abusing his power. He is not the first and he won't be the last. When there is this much money to be made off the souls of people, both black and white, looking for meaning in their lives, you are going to find individuals like Long. I recently spoke with a friend who has ties to the gospel music industry about this issue and he is adamant that the Long accusations are true and have been known in the community for years. He is also adamant that Long is not the only one with improper relationships with both men and women within the church. He is hoping that this scandal will cause all the opulent robes to come off and expose these so called men and women of faith for who they truly are -- fancy snake oil salesmen. Religious hucksters and hypewomen. Hypocrites.

It's time for the black church to get to cleaning house. Let's start with Long."

Very well said, Danielle. It it time for cleansing to start and Long is not the only one.
Check out this website: http://pure-truth1.blogspot.com/

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterbelieve

I'm probably curious in this case because a similar incident happened to me 2 years age...in a church that only had 50 chairs for adults and children, but the effects on my life and my loved ones lives was still just a dramatic. Just like in my situation, my word is Let God Be the Judge...just like He is supposed to be. Seriously, some people blogged that they would wait until concrete evidence was presented. Don't you realize that this is a he say, he say case. Unless the liar confesses, there will never be any concrete evidence. Hence why God has to be the judge. You just be sure of what you believe in your heart; examine your relationships and make sure that you are seeking God and not the approval of Man.

September 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKaeBaeBae

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