Yea I know, in this country everyone by law is innocent until proven guilty. But this isn’t a court of law. So I will express some commentary of common sense.
Let’s get this one thing straight off the top. If you are one of those Christians who believe that Bishop Eddie Long is totally innocent and that all of these young men are lying as some sort of a set up to get paid, you are at best totally naïve, and at worst an idiot. (Trust there will be plenty of both at New Birth tomorrow morning.) When I heard the news that he was using his pastoral power and influence to coerce young men within his congregation into sex, the first thing I said was, “Let’s just wait and see.” I didn’t want to jump to conclusions because I know folk do lie, and extortion is also a possibility. But I quickly added, “If a third young man comes out of the woodworks, it’s a wrap!” There may be some legal wrangling, but that doesn’t mean that the Bishop was guiltless of dirty deeds being done. No sooner than I said that, I looked at my CNN app and ‘BAM’ there it was, accuser #3. As I write this the number is up to 4. It’s like some Tiger Woods shit now.
Not only are the details of this scandal telling, the way the Bishop is handling it is as well. First he cancelled a scheduled appearance on The Tom Joyner Morning Show Thursday morning. Then he cancelled a scheduled news conference on Thursday afternoon. His shield is heavily shined with the polish of high priced attorneys. Now why is that? Look, if I’m a rich guy who can afford the credentials he is paying for and innocent, they could not keep me from publically stating on Tom Joyner, a news conference or from the rooftops for that matter that I am innocent of coercing sex from young men under my pastoral charge. Sure I would retain attorneys to represent me in the case. I’m also countersuing on top of it. I know the attorneys are claiming that it’s their call for Long to keep quiet till Sunday, but in the name of Miles Davis, ‘So What!’ If he was accused of robbing a bank, something he didn’t do, would he be merely releasing a statement and letting this stew? At the very least an innocent man accused of such travesties would say something like, “I hired attorneys who will instruct me, however since I am innocent I have no problems saying to anyone that I did not have sexual or improper relations with these young men including buying gifts etc.” What else would he say in court if that were the case? This is just common sense. This case is not a criminal one. All of this silence is unnecessary unless there is something to hide.
I can see where the first steps are leading however. Bishop Long is going to speak where his bread is buttered and where he has tens of thousands of devoted supporters in the element in which he is most comfortable. The church will set the atmosphere. There will be the usual singing, praising and worshipping of God as is custom. Except this won’t be so usual; Emotion will be at a fever pitch as those in the congregation not looking for a car wreck will feel a special mission to cry out to God (literally with tears) in this service to save their bishop. They believe he is under Satan’s attack! And with their faith Jesus will deliver their prophet of God from the ‘hands of the enemy’. Finally the Bishop will emerge and offer his doding followers some spiritual psycho-babble about Satan, deceived young men who betrayed are being used by Satan to attack the church as a whole, and the victory that will be delivered by God Almighty. He already released a statement saying that …”we will arise.” I didn’t think ‘we’ his congregation were accused of what he is accused of. But he is rallying the troops, making them feel as if they are also the object of Satan’s attack.
Trust me when I tell you; I know how these things work. I was in these circles of theology for many years in the same type of churches. I know how they think and the rhetoric that they function on. In mainstream power-based Christianity pastors are placed on pedestals that would make kings blush. And when they are not careful, their pride allows for dastardly words and acts.
I remember belonging to a church where the pastor told us that any extra money we received that was a blessing outside of normal income didn’t belong to us but to him God. There was a new building project the church was working on, and he wanted to walk into it debt free with the money from the congregation. He even went on to say that we should get the equity out of our homes by taking out second or third mortgages because it was God’s money we were holding on to. Most of us were smart and said, “This nigga must be crazy!” But the point is that he felt that freedom because of the power of influence he had as pastor. (He also called himself Bishop by the way.) I also remember a time when he preached over and over again about having the faith to give an entire pay check to the church to show that God is our provider. Unfortunately, I did fall for that one once. I didn’t go under. I am a fiscal conservative so I wasn’t foolish enough to give the church bill or food money. The point is, within that environment hearing that message over and over again I thought it something to aspire to.
This is the problem with big time baller preachers:
On one hand they say to put your trust, faith and belief in Jesus. He is the only way. But within that next breath they imply that the way to really get in there with God is to listen to God’s man. (Himself of course) After all, this person is so much closer to God than average member is, and that he is especially ‘anointed for such a time as this.’ Therefore, people believe that their spiritual elevation is directly connected to the one preaching to them every Sunday. Look at him: He has the nice clothes, the bling, the Benz etc., and everybody wants to be around him. A seeking parishioner who wants to please God thinks to himself, “He must be the man especially appointed by God.” Once folk buy into that, it’s like stealing candy from a flock of babies. As John Milton famously said, “Vanity, it’s definitely my favorite sin.” When the deity factor is in place, or that feeling that one’s basic purpose and eternal state is at play, they are being capable of doing anything for the cause. See suicide bombers for instance. But I digress; Back to spiritual daddy Long-stroke.
What is bothersome to me within this story is the way the accusers describe the set up. Bishop offers to be a spiritual daddy to these young men who are without significant male mentors. He takes an interest in them. He does things for them like taking them on trips, buying gifts they can’t afford. The latest accuser even said ‘daddy’ told him not to become involved with any females. Then he puts the moves on them.
Sad to say the timing of this was ironic for me. I just finished a book written by actor Todd Bridges, “Killing Willis, from Diff’rent Strokes to the Mean Streets to the Life I Always Wanted.” In it he described how the exact same thing happened to him from an advisor who helped to manage his career. This guy was doing nice things for Todd in his career, earned his trust and eventually made his move on a pre-teen. As he did these nice things for Bridges earning his trust, he made a point to tell Todd how he was doing so much for him and how Todd’s own parents wouldn’t even do what he (Ronald) would. Ronald told Todd not to be interested in girls as a man could make him feel just as good if not better.
From Chapter 5 of “Killing Willis”
One day, Ronald was driving me home from an autograph signing at a record store in the San Fernando Valley. He had a big Cadillac with one of those long bench seats. We were sitting side by side kind of close to each other. He pulled the car over on a quiet side street without any traffic and looked at me with that intense look I was starting to recognize from past conversations.
“I’m telling you, it can be the same with boys as it is with girls,” he said…. If you try it you’ll like it.”
“I don’t know,” I said looking out the window… I’d recently turned twelve, and I wasn’t even sure it was possible for me to feel good in the way he described.
“Believe me, you’ll like the feeling,” he said. It feels better than anything else in the world.”
I have to admit I was curious. And obviously I really liked Ronald and wanted to make him happy. Even more than that, I didn’t want to disappoint him. He had done so much for me. I didn’t want him to go away, like he said he might. Then the autograph signings and special appearances would go away. He wouldn’t be there to ride bikes and play football, or tell me he was proud of me.
Ronald put his hand on my crotch. I squeezed my legs together and looked at him, still unsure. He smiled at me like he had so many times before. But he looked different to me now.
“You trust me, right?” he asked
“Yea,” I said. I did trust him. But I felt weird and a little scared too.
“I want to show you that a man’s mouth can feel just the same as a woman, “he said. “There’s no difference.” … “Pull your pants down.”
I didn’t want to lose everything he had given me. And so I did. He put his mouth on me. I got hard. I didn’t know where to look or how to feel. I squirmed against the back of the seat. He kept on going, getting into it. I hoped it would be over fast. Then it happened. I came.
…. “You okay?” he asked, rubbing my thigh.
“I guess,” I whispered, still not wanting to look at him.
…As we pulled up in front of my house,… Ronald put his hand on my shoulder before I could climb out of the car. “Remember, Todd, this is our secret, right?”
…“You’ve got another autograph signing in Agoura Hills next weekend. … I already told your mom that I can take you. We’ll have fun, right?”
Does any of this sound familiar in the Long allegations? It does to me!
I remember when I was about the same age visiting with a friend of my father’s. My dad had a date and left me over this guy’s house who was a preacher himself. He name is Clifford but he called himself “Prophet.” He was weird too in that he had fish bowls with water and money in them instead of fish. He had incents and candles all over his apartment. I even remember him smacking the butts of his teenage daughters in front of me and saying, “Look at her Chris, she has a nice fat ass doesn’t she?” I thought this was off to say the least though I was just a kid. Still I knew him since I was a little boy and respected him as an adult friend of my father whom I respected.
We were sitting on his couch watching the game show, “Family Feud.” Richard Dawson the original host was still hosting at the time. This was around 1979. Those of you who remember the show will recall that the pervert Dawson made it his business to kiss all of the women contestants. I joked with Prophet about the one episode where the host leaned over and almost kissed a man. Prophet’s response to me was, “What’s wrong with that?” I said something to the effect of, “That’s a man kissing another man. That’s what’s wrong with it.” I was 12. I didn’t know anything about homosexuality nor was heterosexuality an experience of mine though I knew I liked girls.
Prophet didn’t stop there however. He continued, “A man can make you feel just as good as a woman. Have you ever heard of anal sex?”
It’s not like it is now. I didn’t know what an anal was; let alone anal sex. But he described it fully to me. Afterwards, he put his arm around me, chuckled a bit and said, “You’re going to be alright son.”
After that I was not only embarrassed but extremely creeped out by this predatory nasty ass child molester. I made my way to the front door and took my behind outside to walk the apartment complex till my father pulled into the driveway. I told my dad what happened and told him to never take me there again.
In reading Bridges book I can see how his life was totally messed up by his experiences with Ronald the child molester. And I am thankful that I was not counted among those taken advantage of sexually by such a menacing figure. But you see my point by now I hope.
In the eyes of the law, time will tell. But conventional wisdom tells us that all of these dudes aren’t just making these things up about Bishop Long-stroke. The evangelical church experience tells us that the atmosphere where leaders use position and power for their own lust is pervasive. And from what I hear from the accuser’s own attorneys about phone records, gifts, and single hotel rooms around the world it’s going to be ugly. And while I realize that these young men are older than 12, the pastoral office makes it just as significant.
Let me be clear. I never liked or disliked Bishop Eddie Long. I never understood his apparent need to draw attention to his flesh by wearing tight shirts and suits while in the pulpit. I thought the attention should be on the Word of God when it’s being presented, not the biceps and triceps of a preacher appearing to be on HGH. All that aside, I wrote about this situation because it honestly hurt me. It hurt me that a man with such power and position within the black community and in the nation for that matter, would take advantage of young men who are impressionable with regards not only to life, but to a charismatic and powerful figure that appears to take an interest in them.
I could care less if Eddie Long is a homosexual. Though that would say something about the message he preaches against it. Still, that’s between him, his wife and his congregation. What is bothersome to me is him taking advantage of young and tender men under his spiritual charge who were obviously vulnerable. A predator who uses God and spirituality as a means to bag prey is the worst kind of predator in my view.
I wonder how many more will come out of the closet. I wonder how many won’t.
As a friend of mine and I discussed, in our experience as God fearing brothers, God always gives us plenty of chances to quit our most heinous sins before He ‘outs’ us publically. So what this tells me is that this has been an ongoing dilemma.
And just like David when he killed Uriah and took his wife in the Old Testament, the cover up is often worse than the crime itself. Because, in this case by lawyering up and denying it all, he abuses them twice.
I do know this. Church folk better wake up and stop putting all of their power in these ministers as if they are the way to God. A real minister of the gospel will never allow so much attention and glory to go in his/her direction!
See various articles from the Atlanta Journal Constitution regarding Eddie Long-stroke.
My thoughts turn to Eddie long’s wife, children and siblings. What will their lives be like Monday morning when they are required to go to work and school? Will they be taunted, teased and ridiculed for the action of another? Or will someone embrace them, hold and console them during this very difficult time in their lives? What will happen to the Long family? How do you explain the fact that you, his wife, did not see the warning signs? What will be your credibility from this day forward if your last name is Long? Not only has Eddie Long scorned his name, but the name of his innocent family members not to mention the name of his church. No real christian or non-christian would wish that sort of torment on an innocent family member. Where will they go from here? Don’t punish the family simply because of association. Remember predators work alone.
A wise old Christian said, “I’m not interested in Christianity. I’m interested in Christ. Those are two completely different things.” However, it is so hard to separate the two. As a pastor, I re-present Christ to my congregation. I am responsible to lead, feed, protect and release them to transform their world. Not every pastor feels this way, however, and more than one have found themselves in hot water because of it.
After reading your piece, all I can say is, “I hope you are wrong.” God doesn’t delight in the downfall of men and women and neither will I. Jesus didn’t die for our sins out of anger, but out of love and a desire to restore a relationship lost through disobedience.
I sense your pain in being misled by Christian leaders and Christianity. Every time something like this comes up I feel it makes my job a bit harder, in that all I really want to do is introduce people to the ONE who loved them to death so they could live the life He created them to live — joyfully, abundantly, full of laughter and hope.
It may turn out your are absolutely right in your analysis. However, I still choose an attitude of prayer and hope for Eddie Long. Wilson is right in thinking about his family. But I want to see Eddie able to stand before Jesus and repent, but also be able to look Him in the eyes, know he’s been forgiven, and thank his Savior for saving him from the penalty of his sins. In the end, that is what we’re all about.
Thanks for sharing Todd Bridges story and your own. Yes they both sound very similar to the allegations of the four (4) young men in the civil suits against Eddie Long. Even Don Lemmon said he could relate to those four in the civil suit as he admitted he too was molested.
When I first heard about these civil suits against Eddie Long last Tuesday I searched the web for every detail regarding the “facts of the case” from the plaintiffs allegations. Then it went to me constantly looking at the latest updates by google on the “Tweets” being made, and I don’t even have a “Tweeter account”. Then it went to me looking for every “youtube” video parody and all the sordid Eddie Long jokes. I admit that some of them had me laughing until my sides cramped up and still wanted MORE! Ok, I got carried away with the “sordidness” of this sad matter. Its time to look to a “higher” point of view. I think this scripture sums of how we are really to find God, and the truth within, and yes its still through Jesus;
John 4:21 (KJV)
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, (church building or temple ) nor yet at Jerusalem, (any certain city or “conference) worship the Father.
In other words, Jesus was saying clearly, we don’t need a “church building” to worship or approach God. Perhaps this Eddie Long scandal is a wake up call to this scripture, to seek God, the truth on your own and right where you are; home, on a walk, where ever you are.
Most people don;t even know what really happen in the Garden of Eden. Most Seminary Schools teach preachers the truth of the Garden of Eden, but they are “forbidden to teach it, that Satan seduced Eve and brought his evil “serpent seed” into this world. Cain was the son of Satan, Able was Adam’s son. Two different seedlines, which is why Jesus said;
“You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and stayed not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” John 8:44 (KJV). Jesus was speaking to “satan’s seed” on earth!
If you read the genealogy of Adam in Genesis you will NOT see Cain’s name, but you will seed Able’s name!!!!!!!
You can go to this site for more information on the “serpent seedline”;
or http://www.sherryshriner.com or do your own google search.
I would also suggest when you read bible scriptures go to a concordance site to look up the orginal translation of words in scriture, whether it be Greek in the New Testament or Hebrew in the Old Testament and this will give you clarity of what is really being said. Of course pray to God for understanding, revelation and discernment.
In short, its time for truth seekers, God seekers, and even the skeptics or “unbelievers” to search for the truth on their own, not solely rely on man, whether it be someone on the pulpit or lay person like myself.
I know we had this conversation, and you expressed your pain from hearing the news. I can really sense it here. This post goes way deeper than Eddie Long. What started out as a protest of his actions, seemingly turned into something a lot different.
I’ve hesitated to speak and comment on this subject because for one we all live in glass houses as far as God is concerned. He see’s all through us. The same for Eddie Long. My comments can do nothing toward the growth of him, so I’ll let God handle him in whatever manner seems fitting.
As far as his actions hurting others. Well, I think if we examine ourselves thoroughly we can find that some of our past actions have hurt some of those around us. And while we aren’t of the status of Eddie Long, it doesn’t remove the fact that some of the very people we have hurt in the past are still struggling to deal with the affects of our actions. It is for that reason that all of us should find the heart to pray for both him and his alleged victims.
I will keep it short, here are two links below that go in depth on how I feel about the entire Eddie Long situation. One is a written blog and the other is a sketch that I drew.
Am not suprised by such evil behaviors.Must be the serpent seeds.