Atlanta Baptist megachurch pastor Eddie Long accused of sexual misconduct [Update]
Described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “one of the most virulently homophobic black leaders in the religiously based anti-gay movement,” Baptist megachurch pastor Eddie Long of Atlanta, Ga., has been accused of “repeatedly” coercing two young former parishioners “into having sex with him.”
Robbie Brown of the New York Times wrote:
In two lawsuits filed in DeKalb County, the men said that Bishop Long, a prominent minister and television personality, had used his position as a spiritual counselor to take them on trips out of state and perform sexual acts on them.
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“Defendant Long has a pattern and practice of singling out a select group of young male church members and using his authority as bishop over them to ultimately bring them to a point of engaging in a sexual relationship,” said a suit filed by one of the men, Maurice Robinson, 20. The other man who filed suit is Anthony Flagg, 21.
ishop Long’s lawyer, Craig Gillen, rejected the accusations.
“Bishop Long adamantly denies these complaints,” Mr. Gillen said. “We find it unfortunate that these two young men have taken these actions. We are reviewing the complaint and will respond accordingly.”
Lawyers for the two men painted a picture of widespread corruption and sexual misconduct. They said Bishop Long had provided the men with free hotel stays in more than a dozen cities around the country (checking them into rooms under the alias “Dick Tracy”) and had given them gifts, including a Mustang. They said he had introduced them to celebrities like the producer Tyler Perry and the actor Chris Tucker.
A lawyer for the men, Brenda Joy Bernstein, said officials at the church had known that the sexual acts were occurring but covered up for Bishop Long. “They would do everything to protect the most powerful church in the Southeast,” she said.
In the spring of 2007, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote of Bishop Long:
“Men can look attractive when they are dirty,” writes Bishop Eddie Long in his 1997 book I Don’t Want Delilah, I Need You! “We see sweating, dirty, hardworking men on television all the time and we say to one another, ‘There’s a macho guy.'”
Despite this affinity for sweaty, macho men, Long is one of the most virulently homophobic black leaders in the religiously based anti-gay movement. His book, subtitled What a Woman Needs to Know, What a Man Needs to Understand, appeared in the midst of a roaring growth period for Long’s New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga., near Atlanta. During the mid-’90s, it swelled to over 18,000 congregation members, men and women who worship in a multimillion-dollar complex that’s the size of most major universities, spread out on 240 acres of land.
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Last year, Long extended an invitation to gays and lesbians looking for a “cure” to attend a “Sexual Orientation and Reorientation” conference at New Birth. The event consisted mostly of “ex-gay” ministers like the Rev. D. L. Foster and former gangsta rapper Samantha Coleman preaching that people can be “delivered” from the “unwanted desires” of homosexuality. Foster told the small crowd of black and white Christians with same-sex attractions how he “never once prayed to God for him to make me homosexual … but I didn’t know how to get rid of it.”
CNN reported yesterday:
The suits allege that various staff members working for Long, his church and the Longfellows Academy — which the suit describes as an offshoot ministry of New Birth — “knew of Defendant Long’s sexually inappropriate conduct and did nothing to warn or protect [the plaintiffs].”
It’s the talk of Atlanta, wrote Larry Hartstein and Mike Morris of the Journal-Constitution. Frank Ski, host of the “Frank and Wanda Morning Show” on V-103 and a 12-year member of Long’s New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, told them:
“It’s difficult for me because Bishop Long and I are very close,” he said. “I’m one of these people who’s really old school. When you’re a friend and I support you, I support you. Right now it’s allegations.”
“It’s going to cause a lot of destruction in our community,” a caller told Ski. “I just hope it’s not true.”
ABC News reported today:
But B.J. Bernstein, the lawyer for Maurice Robinson and Anthony Flagg, has promised that she has photos, texts and e-mails that show a relationship between her clients and the bishop.
In 2004 the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that “that a charity Long created — Bishop Eddie Long Ministries Inc. — made him its biggest beneficiary, supplying him with at least $1 million in salary over four years, a $1.4 million home and use of a $350,000 Bentley.”
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