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Atlanta Megachurch Pastor Accused of Sexual Coercion


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Atlanta Megachurch Pastor Accused of Sexual Coercion

By: Madison Gray

Source Link: Time.com

It's a megachurch bombshell scandal reminiscent of the one that brought down Colorado evangelist Ted Haggard.

The much-celebrated preacher, Bishop Eddie Long, leader of the 25,000 member New Missionary Baptist Church in suburban Atlanta, has found himself caught up in accusations that he coerced two young men into sexual relations on two different occasions when they were 17 and 18 years old.

A spokesperson for Long said the two men, who are now 20 and 21, were trying to "shakedown" Long and had "some serious credibility issues."

The suit, filed in DeKalb County Court, says alleges that Long engaged in "intimate sexual contact" with the first plaintiff during trips they took together, and had oral sex with a second plaintiff on a trip to New Zealand.

Craig Gillen, Long's attorney told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution the pastor "categorically denies" the accusations. "We find it unfortunate that these two young men would take this course of action," adding the Long had not been served with copies of the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs say Long lavished gifts ranging from access to celebrities to college tuition in an effort to win their allegiance. Their lawyer, B.J. Bernstein said that although the alleged affairs started past the legal age of consent, which is 16 in Georgia, Long abused his influence with them.

"Defendant Long has utilized his spiritual authority to coerce certain young male members ... into engaging in sexual acts and relationships for his own personal sexual gratification," according to the lawsuits.

Ironically, like Haggard, Long had a lengthy record of blasting homosexuality before the allegations came up. The Southern Poverty Law Center in particular criticized him for his anti-gay rhetoric and actions: "Long is one of the most virulently homophobic black leaders in the religiously based anti-gay movement," a 2007 article on the organization's website reads.


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Bishop Eddie Long case: Will it alter black church's view of gays?

Bishop Eddie Long, one of the most powerful men in the black megachurch movement, faces allegations of taking sexual advantage of two teenage boys. In 2004, Long created a ministry to 'deliver' men from homosexuality.

Source Link: Christian Science Monitor

By Patrik Jonsson, Staff writer / September 22, 2010


In 2004, Eddie Long, one of the richest and most powerful pastors in the black megachurch movement, led a march in Atlanta against homosexuality. This week, Mr. Long faces civil charges, which he has denied, that he took sexual advantage of two teenage boys from his flock.

Bishop Long is one of the most visible members of a group of high-powered black evangelicals, often sporting muscle-cut shirts that show off his thick arms. He has called himself the "spiritual daddy" to young black men in search of salvation. One of his books is "Gladiator, the Strength of a Man."

The nature of the complaints in two civil lawsuits and the involvement of one of the black church's most popular leaders have shocked the black community, especially in Atlanta, where Long made his name and fortune.

But because Long through his ministry helped perpetuate homophobia, his critics say, the case could affect his career, challenge the antihomosexual stance of many black church members, and even offer hope to black gay men who struggle for acceptance and a role in black society.

"This might be a time of scandal [for the black church] ... but it will also spark a renewed dialogue," says Shayne Lee, a Tulane University sociologist and author of "Holy Mavericks: Evangelical Innovators and the Spiritual Marketplace." "The fact is, Eddie Long is one of the most respected black Christians in the country, he's very popular and very influential, and that's why this is going to get a lot of people talking about the issue of sexuality [in the black church]."

Homophobia in the broader black community ? which some say is fed by the black church, as well as by prevailing views on masculinity and family ? has in the past spilled into violence. In 2007 and 2008, Chicago saw a number of shootings and even killings aimed at gay black men, including a choir director who was shot shortly after coming out in a TV interview.

Longtime black gay activist Billy Jones, in an interview last year with the online magazine Blacklight, said many blacks see the gay movement "as a means of destroying the black family" and see gay black men as "unmanly, weak."

But many blacks take a different view when faced with a family member who comes out as gay. Black families, Mr. Jones said, tend to accept gay members and "really make an effort to try to understand them and the love stays there."

How black evangelicals will respond to the allegations against Long is difficult to tell. Some in the African-American community worry that the allegations will deepen mistrust of homosexuals, especially because of the age of the alleged victims (although no criminal charges have been filed).

"The point is not whether [Long] is gay or not or he denies or admits it, but this is really about how people [in the black community] feel that black people should be represented in public, and that is about being heterosexual," says Melinda Chateauvert, an African-American studies professor at the University of Maryland, in College Park. "There are [millions] of black people who are gay, members of families, pastors of churches, who serve in the military ? they're everywhere. But the deliberate closeting ? not necessarily by them, but by other people ? is really problematic."

On "The Frank and Wanda Morning Show" on Atlanta's V-103 station, host Frank Ski, one of Long's parishioners, said much of the reaction has been disbelief. If true, "it's going to cause a lot of destruction in our community," a caller told Mr. Ski during the show.

The two young men alleged that Long instructed them as "spiritual sons" to "follow their master," while enticing them "with cars, clothes, jewelry, and electronics," according to the two lawsuits filed by a 20-year-old and a 21-year-old that describe events going back to 2008. More damaging, potentially, to Long is that one of the men said Long used Scripture to justify their sexual relationship, which the men allege included kissing and oral sex.

Church spokesman Art Franklin told the V-103 morning show that Long categorically denies the allegations, adding, "The plaintiffs, these are not innocent victims. ...I just caution people to consider the sources and their motives."

In June, one of the men was arrested for allegedly burglarizing Long's office, taking an iPhone and an iPad, according to police. The man's lawyer has said it was an attempt to retaliate against the pastor for what had happened.

Long, who is married, built his megachurch on his prodigous charisma, often defending his ostentatious lifestyle, which includes a $350,000 Bentley and a $1.4 million home. Close friends of Long told CNN Tuesday that the pastor has become more humble in recent years, even complaining of a sense of loneliness. One way Long connects with his church members is by talking about his failings, including a first marriage and rejection from his father, writes CNN's John Blake, who covered Long during a stint as religion reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Long's church in Atlanta was the site of the 2006 funeral of Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King Jr.'s widow, an event attended by four presidents, including then-President George W. Bush.

The Long story may not ultimately challenge the "don't ask, don't tell" view of homosexuality in the broader black community, says Mr. Lee at Tulane. But it could have a powerful impact on many blacks struggling with their sexuality, he says.

"The fact that this story is out there is going to help many black Christians in these churches who are struggling, who are being prayed over and fasting to try to get rid of these same-sex urges," he says. "They may look at a powerful man like Long, that if he can wrestle with same-sex urges and indulge in them, that means there's nothing wrong with a lowly Christian who's not a preacher to have these urges."

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Seems like the more vehemently they condemn homosexuality, the more lustfully they go after young boys and men themselves.

There needs to be a special place in hell, or our prisons, for these hypocrites. They influence so many people, and they don't mean a word of what they preach. They do it just for the power and money.


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Also a good piece on CNN:


Note that he wasn't going after "young boys" per se. I believe the young men who came forward were 16-17 years old. Dunno if that's legal or not in Atlanta, but I don't doubt there was some blackmail going on.

Not that it matters, but it looks to me like this minister is kinda hunky...

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Black Voices reports that Bishop Eddie Long, the virulently anti-gay megachurch pastor who has been accused of improper sexual conduct with three male youth group members, may step down as pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church following his sermon on Sunday.

This comes amid rumors that as many as thirty other young men have contacted attorney B.J. Bernstein about filing lawsuits against Long or joining existing lawsuits.


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Reportedly, the minister will be making a "statement" on Sunday (9/26) about the scandal.

It'd be easy for me to say that I bet this will be hilarious, but in other sense, I feel sorry for the guy. If he can come out and admit he was wrong and change his beliefs, I think he should be forgiven. (Alright, maybe after about 5 minutes of laughter and derisive hoots.)

If he makes excuses, then we should stone him.

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Reportedly, the minister will be making a "statement" on Sunday (9/26) about the scandal.

It'd be easy for me to say that I bet this will be hilarious, but in other sense, I feel sorry for the guy. If he can come out and admit he was wrong and change his beliefs, I think he should be forgiven. (Alright, maybe after about 5 minutes of laughter and derisive hoots.)

If he makes excuses, then we should stone him.

I think you're being very generous, very noble. But I have to think of all the people he hurt, young gay men who were made to feel they were a disgrace, told they were abominable and an offense to God just for being themselves. How many families he help disrupt, how many people did he teach to hate? And he did all that with hypocrisy, not believing a word he was saying.

No, I don't feel sorry for him. I think he's getting what he deserves, reaping what he sowed. The only good that may come out of it is, perhaps a whole lot of people will start thinking for themselves and stop letting so called religious leaders do it for them.


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You would do time in most states for having sex with a 16 year old.

16 is legal in Georgia, as verified by the Age of Consent on Wikipedia. (Not that I check this very often...)

I think at least one person has come forward who says he was 15 when the affair started, so that's enough to do the guy in. Serves the bastard right. I have no compassion for a guy this outlandish and hypocritical.

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