Bishop Wrong & New Birth Bollocks
Bishop Eddie Long agreed to an out of court settlement over last year’s highly discussed sexual coercion allegations. A settlement of $25 million to be divided among the (4) accusers was reached, but neither parties can discuss details. A report was leaked however, claiming New Birth Missionary Baptist Church was already paying the accusers $40 thousand annually prior to the settlement (More details/source).
In response to the breaking news, the public has grown even more divided judging the innocence/guilt of Long. One of the more public critiques came from Mega-Church leader Pastor Creflo Dollar, who stated:
“I don’t know what it is with the church. When you have a wreck you expect for God to forgive you and everybody else. Don’t let the preacher have a wreck now. Then you become self-righteous and you become judgmental, I just can’t believe that people would leave their preacher because he had a wreck instead of praying for him.”
*Fingers To Temple* Aside from forgiving the man for his transgressions and leaving judgement to God, what religious obligation do Christians have to remain tithing members of a church with a fraudulent/ hypocritical leader?!? The truth is that several young men were taken advantage of for years, had the courage to come forward, yet New Birth members and other religious leaders would rather protect the surface integrity of an accused Bishop than the young men whose innocence was stolen?! NO parts of that is Christian or just. Where were the prayers, member support, or protection for the young men, the alleged victims? If Eddie Long were the CEO of a company or politician with a hint of the allegations faced as a Bishop, his board of directors/ constituency would demand he step down from his position of leadership and power. NO one from New Birth has formulated such a discussion, which makes the situation entirely revolting.
In addition to his lack of moral integrity and faith (whatever happened to, “I’ve got (5) rocks and haven’t thrown (1) yet,”) Long was the same religious leader who condemned homosexuals and the lifestyle from the pulpit, without forgiveness or remorse, yet repeatedly is linked with homosexual activity. Why would a congregation trust his influence based on past/present actions? Will NO one suggest Long have a seat or become a silent member while taking time for treatment? Without a conviction or public accountability (even to his congregation) how will Long ever confront or heal from his demons? What has been done to prevent more allegations of abuse or sexual coercion?? Christians believe God granted man free will, so in instances where leaders of the church plummet to depths of sin that blatantly harm the very members they were “called” to lead (The Catholic Church frequently deals with allegations/ cover-ups like this), when do you resolve to seek different leadership?? Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
Bernice King officially left New Birth once Long publicly decided to settle out of court, and while several frowned on her dissention, I applauded. Settling as opposed to going to trial, will always leave open-ended questions about guilt, particularly. Surely there were council members in the church, close friends, janitorial staff, the Bishop’s wife even, that had suspicion of improper activity throughout the years. Honestly. Rumors circulated across Atlanta for years, few people can hold water in a cup, and a grown mans’ sexual attraction to boys doesn’t just “go away.”
As a Christian, I feel the focus was wrong from the very beginning. I went to New Birth service to observe the congregations initial reaction to the allegations (gorilla journalism) and was disgusted that members blindly defended Long without mention of the accusers/victims. A year later, I remain saddened by those who continue to defend Long, and that little attention is given to the wrongs done in the House of the Lord. I’ll continue to pray for the young men whose lives will never be the same, for $2.2 million can’t replace ones dignity, silence inner thoughts, or erase memories of pain. I retract that. I’ll continue to pray for all parties involved, but Eddie Long’s payoff did little to right the wrong.