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Southern Religion

Words still unspoken by Independent Baptist Eddie Long

For Eddie Long, whatever remains in his metaphoric sack of rocks, important words remain unspoken. Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes:

Cross-denominational study of clerical abuse

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Video admonishes Long to ‘tell the truth’

Yet, after days of awkward silence, Long could not look the members of that family in the face and tell them plainly that he was innocent, that he had not engaged in sex with four young male church members who looked to him for guidance.

Other pastors at the church have things to say:

In the latest news update, the Chief Minister Elder Darius Wise at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, told WSBTV that they got pictures of Bishop Eddie Long over the past week and he doesn’t know that guy being portrayed. Wise stated that the man that he knows wouldn’t do what he is being accused of in the lawsuits.

His ex-wife has joined the fray via divorce documents. Christian Boone and Ty Tagami of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution write:

Dabara S. Houston said she was the victim of “cruel treatment” and was afraid of Long’s “violent and vicious temper,” according to Fulton County Superior Court records. She and her son “had to flee [the couple's Fairburn home] in order to ensure their safety,” the documents say.

The couple was married in 1981 and separated after a couple years, according to the documents. Long’s first wife made the abuse allegation in a counterclaim after he petitioned for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences.

There is an element of combat to it, a sociologist explained:

“There’s a lot of theater here, it’s a live chess match,” says Tulane sociologist Shayne Lee, author of “Holy Mavericks: Evangelical Innovators and the Spiritual Marketplace.” “The plaintiffs want to keep the blood flowing, and Bishop Long is trying to figure out how to stop the bleeding. But the longer this goes on in the media, the more [church] members are going to demand cogent responses to the claims instead of vague denials.”

Time is not on Long’s side. The longer it runs, the more his supporters will understand that as Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post observed, Long has his self-pitying David/Goliath analogy backward:

Let’s see, on one side we have one of the most prominent and influential clerics in the country, the pastor of a suburban Atlanta megachurch that claims 25,000 members. On the other, we have four young men who claim in lawsuits that Long abused his clerical authority to lure and coerce them into having sex with him. Unlike the bishop, as far as I know, none of the accusers is driven around in a Bentley. Or is constantly attended by a retinue of aides and bodyguards. Or cultivates and maintains first-name relationships with famous politicians, athletes and entertainers.

His failure to directly and personally confront the accusations with persuasive denial suggests a failure of accountability for his exercise of a trust — a topic Christa addresses well:

The allegations, if proven, involve conduct that is far more troubling that mere hypocrisy. And they involve conduct that is something far different from consensual gay sex. They involve conduct in which faith itself — the faith of trusting teens — is twisted into a weapon so as to serve the sexual ends of a powerful religious leader.

October 1, 2010 - Posted by | children, Churches, Crime, Religion | , , ,

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