Americans all over the United States have turned their televisions to BET’s (Black Entertainment Television) cable station and seen Bishop Eddie Long of Atlanta’s New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, preaching or doing a commercial, at one point in time. Leading a mega church with over 25,000 members the prominent Bishop Long is hard to miss. In 2004, one month after voters approved an amendment in the state of Georgia’s constitution that banned gay marriage; Bishop Long led his congregation in a march of over 25,000 people against gay rights. Long is one of the most vocal activists against gay rights, and gay marriage in the Black Church.
For attempting to set such a strong example of heterosexual role modeling for Black Christians in Church today Bishop Long failed. In September of 2010 multiple allegations of four young men in their twenties, accused Long of sexual misconduct. The young men had evidence of how Long abused his spiritual guidance for youth. The evidence Bishop Long faced was in the cell phone messages, texts, and portraits, he exchanged with the four young men. Maurice Robinson, Jamal Parris, Anthony Flagg, Spencer LeGrande, and one anonymous young man, accused Long of seducing them as teenagers, and using church funds to do it. Long gave the four teenagers cash, cars, trips across the world, and gifts in exchange for sexual favors. It all began when Bishop Long befriended the teenagers between the ages 14-16 years old.
When Bishop Long spoke to his congregation of New Birth, for the first time after these allegations, Bishop Long vowed to fight the charges, and his day in court would come. While outside the church Long’s spokesperson refused any comment, and his legal team began instantly negotiating with plaintiffs.
In May of 2011 Bishop Long settled out on this same case he claimed he would fight. It was reported that Long settled the payout with an amount between 15-25 million dollars. Importantly the settlement was with a gag order.
This case is one of many that happen regularly in Black Churches across the U.S.A. Even though this case could have opened a much needed dialogue in the Black Church and Community on such topics as AIDS, homosexuality, and molestation, it could not because of the gag order. Yes the victims were compensated, but the Black Church was not. By silencing problems of importance, the stigmas in the Black Church have gotten worst. In late September, in Atlanta when Long was accused, 20 ministers gathered to pray especially for Bishop Long, and not one of them prayed for the four young men. These men were turned away by the Black Church, when they should have been loved. Bishop Long was even crowned like a king by Jewish leaders, while one of the young men attempted to committed suicide.
Religious leaders are treated as “gods” in more cases than one. But even “gods” make mistakes. But how they are even crowned gods when they prey, molest, and rape, young children. Where is the justice for our children? By leaving Bishop Long in the pulpit it says religious leaders can do whatever they want even if it’s wrong, and get away unscathed. However, humans are all equal. Religion is a choice for adults; however, it is forced on our children to believe. Yet, no one protects our children when they are violated, by the “gods”, preachers, priests, prophets, evangelists, bishops, apostles, and popes, we tell them to trust. Due to forgiveness, if violators, rapists, and murderers, or Bishop Long repents they can go to heaven. Where is the validation for the victims. So religion teaches as long as you apologize, you can do anything and still be rewarded. Victims are forced in a hell with the pain of seeing their rapist, molester,or murderer, rejoicing in heaven. It’s time for equality in our world today. The truth of religions lies needs to be recognized, in the Black Church, and Community, in order for them to move forward. It will come as evidence continues to wake humans from their willful ignorance, into learning truth.