bishop eddie long was recently sued by four male plaintiffs for various coercive charges, most notably sexual abuse. long presides over the new birth missionary baptist church, the largest church in georgia, with 25,000 members & host to former u.s. presidents carter, bush & clinton.
the first two plaintiffs, maurice flagg & anthony robinson, claim long used his position as spiritual counselor & leader to take the young men, aged 17 & 18 respectively at the time of the alleged abuse, on trips out of state & perform sexual acts with them. robinson & flagg are now 20 & 21 years old. prominent atlanta attorney b.j. bernstein, who represents three of the plaintiffs, described long's relationship with the boys as odd.
bernstein says, "it was essentially a marriage ceremony where there were candles, an exchange of jewelry & biblical quotes given." another plaintiff, jamal parris, detailed how long allegedly gave him his personal cell number just two weeks after the two had met & claims long encouraged him (parris) to call him (long) 'daddy.'
parris said he joined new birth in 2001 & later became long's personal assistant. he claims long would ask him to remain in his private office after church where long engaged him in sexual misconduct. parris eventually left the church & found out from other young male church members they too had sexual contact with long.
eddie legrande, father of spencer legrande, a plaintiff from north carolina, told the journal constitution he witnessed long take on the role of father to his (then) teen aged son. legrande also saw the gifts lavished upon his son. said legrande, "he would call him dad in front of me...i'm very hurt about it...if the accusations are true, i think he should be banned from his church...i think he should do jail time & pay the victims for the hurt...he should be used as an example."
after several days of silence in the midst of these shocking allegations, long addressed his loyal congregation by neither confirming nor denying the charges. reading from an ipad, long said, "there have been allegations & attacks on me. i have never in my life portrayed myself as a perfect man. but i am not the man that's being portrayed on the television. that is not me." long was interrupted by thunderous applause from supporters, many of whom arrived two hours early for the sunday service.
long went on to compare himself to the biblical tale of david fighting the giant. the bishop said, "please hear this. i've been accused. i'm under attack. i want you to know as i said earlier i am not a perfect man. but this thing i'm going to fight. i feel like david against goliath, but i've got the rocks & i haven't thrown one yet."
in a brief statement to the press, long stated, "on the advice of counsel, i am not going to address the allegations & attacks against me, again, as i stated earlier, i want this to be dealt with in a court of justice & not in the court of public opinion."
some young male supporters wore 'i support eddie long' t-shirts...
the suits allege long, one of the most powerful pastors in america, used church funds to give the young males cars, cash & gifts. new birth missionary baptist church is also named as a defendant. civil rights leader & former naacp chairman julian bond called long a "raving homophobe," saying if the allegations are true, "it will be a sad victory for gay rights."
long is the spiritual mentor of rev. bernice king, youngest daughter of coretta scott king & rev. dr. martin luther king, jr & new chair of the southern christian leadership conference. bond refused to attend the june 2006 funeral of coretta scott king - held at the mega-church, where bernice is a pastor. said bond, "i knew her attitude towards gay & lesbian rights...i just couldn't imagine that she'd want to be in that church with a raving homophobe & i couldn't see myself in that church either."
bond, an avid & longtime supporter of lgbt rights continued, "it's just sort of typical of people who are raving homophobes who are secretly homosexual & who are homophobes because they are filled with so much self-loathing & self-hate that they've got to let it come out in some way & it comes out in homophobia." long's virulent anti-gay attitudes are well-known, as are those of rev. bernice king.
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.