Eddie Long Scandal: Silence Doesn’t Make Church Molestation Go Away

bishop eddie longThe ongoing (and ever-increasing) sex scandal of one of black America’s most prominent (and extravagant) “Mega-Preachers,” Bishop Eddie Long got the nation talking. They’re not just talking about the event itself. Black America is in a debate, on Facebook, on Twitter, on blogs and chat rooms, in editorial commentary as to whether we, as a community, should even be talking about this. Is that a question that we even have to ask? This is beyond gossip.

The depth of the truth will never be known, but when photos of Bishop Long posing in body suits in his bathroom show up on the internet, sexual impropriety is at least “a given.” This is one of the biggest skeletons in the closets of the black church. A huge skeleton that fell out of the Catholic Church a decade ago. It might not be just a skeleton bone in the black church. We might be stumbling up on a whole graveyard. We know this is not a singular occurrence in a single church.

The presence of gay men in black churches, and not just in the choir, is significant. This is an issue waiting to break in probably every city in America where in some church, somewhere a worshipper has been violated. A whole bunch of preachers are, as my grandfather used to say, as “nervous as a ho in church,” because they are the whores in church. So when it breaks, it’s gonna break big.

And it’s not as if the people don’t see it. I was in a conversation with a single mother a couple months ago where she was looking for a church home for her son. She wants him to know God but is “concerned” about the huge gay male she sees in the churches she’s attended. Her solution? Put in the Nation of Islam where he can get “manhood” training.

It is now the silent concern in the black church that has nothing to do with “homophobia,” but everything to do with “predator-phobia” (the label Long’s alleged victims assigned to him) and young boys getting sexually “turned out” in church. Don’t get me wrong. We all need saving, but when the church house becomes the pick-up club (as it has become in many situations — the music, the dress, the informality, the absence of the word), it was just a matter of time before secular popular norms spilled over into the pulpit.

Looking for God and a changed life is what we seek in the church. When we find something else, do we turn our heads like we do in the street? The issue here is, should it be public conversation about molestation in the church, or are we expected to be silent on this issue.

Sometimes, God makes examples, even of his witnesses, to bear witness to a greater lesson of truth. And Eddie Long is one of God’s larger witnesses (time will tell if he’s one of the better ones). Make no mistake about it, Eddie Long is LARGE. He takes “mega-churchin’ to a whole nother level. Folk in California, and other parts of the country, ain’t seen no preacher rollin’ like this. Maybe Creflo Dollar and T.D. Jakes are his contemporaries in the “prosperity preachin’” business. Maybe? I attended his church a couple years ago while at a family reunion in Atlanta and all I could say was, “Wow!” 640 acres of commerce endeavor, helicopter landing pad and 30,000 worshippers, — his cup truly runneth over.

But the decadence of Eddie Long’s New Birth Missionary Baptist Church goes beyond the “blessings without measure” that God promises those courageous in their faith. The trappings of materialism were the bait used to allegedly seduce young men. This is not about exploiting one preacher’s foibles. This is not about the politics (and hypocrisies) of black homophobia—even though Eddie Long, himself, is on record as being anti-gay and has even been called a homophobe in published reports.

This is about the continuing crisis of church exploitation (notice I didn’t say religious exploitation) of spiritually vulnerable worshippers and what I call “the devils in the pulpit.” The Church house is supposed to be the safe house for those spiritually and emotionally afflicted. Yet, we see another instance where the guise of “being pleasing in the sight of God” exploits those looking for spiritual guidance.

This goes far beyond the “traditional” preacher “layin’ hands” on lonely women seeking a “godly” men in the church. This is a different type of seduction, similar to when Moses went to the mountaintop to talk with God and came back to find “his people” worshipping the golden calf. These days, the Shepherd is at the front of the line, dagglin’ the golden calf and this wicked, worldly seduction begins from there. Long daggled the golden calf, God-given trappings of materialism, to entrap those God blessed him to spiritually empower. That is not okay!

Certainly, Bishop Long has his supporters and they have been vehement in their support. And his church has done a lot of good in the Atlanta community. But is the good worth the damage being to done to young men (the number yet to be determined) seduced by the trapping of “God-given” prosperity?

No amount of good can cover an evil deed done in God’s name. And what good is a great edifice built in the name of good if it houses evil and its witnesses bear false witness. Is our silence worth the souls we’re trying to save? Not if they hide the sins of the father. Psalms 32:1 says “Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven and whose sin is covered (God hides).” No man is perfect, but hypocrisy in the pulpit, by one of his “shepherds” preying on the sheep,” is one sin God will never hide. Not even God will be silent on it. Then why should we?

Anthony Asadullah Samad

About Anthony Asadullah Samad

Dr. Anthony Asadullah Samad is an author, scholar and the co-founder, Managing Director and host of the Urban Issues Forum. Dr. Samad's most recent book is entitled "Saving The Race: Empowerment Through Wisdom". His national column can be read in newspapers and cyber-sites nationwide. His weekly writings can be read at www.blackcommentator.com. For more information about Dr. Samad, go to www.AnthonySamad.com.

Comments

  1. Religion has always been and will always be a place where the leaders are preditors of those who follow them. The homosexual aspect of all religions is huge, yet they fuss and say they are anti homsexual.

    To know God is to have No Peace
    To know Peace is to Know no God

    I am not anti gay, they can do as they wish as long as it is legal between consenting adults, as can anyone.

    Religion is the great lie, humans have always looked to the sky for the visitors, angels, gods or aliens for answers. When they get an answer that does not fit their needs they twist it and abuse the knowledge they have been given.

    Time to grow up people and stop all the fighting over who is right or wrong and work with each other to make the world a better place. I will never see it happen as people always want something more than the next person.

  2. I need to start doing thing rather wacthing for ther windows, see pople walk and so on

  3. Mr. Perfect, Mr. Samad,

    OMG, the mother said, “Put in the Nation of Islam where he can get “manhood” training.” Where it’s okay to have many wives, children by all if you please, the women to remain covered up and walked over, where the men are taught you can’t hug your cousins (even babies cousins) because you can marry them and have sex with them when they are nine (?), the same cousins/family you’ve shared you life with until you convert to the Muslim. How SICK is that! Where the man made rules are made up as you go and changed to control you to give you this false sense of superiority. NO THANKS!

    To blast all the “mega” churches and pastors if not our job. Let the first man who has not sinned cast the first stone. Churches are for sinners. Some people need to follow. Yes, we must be careful to follow God not man. The devil is busy all the time, lurking around waiting for you to fail. But we all most stay strong and read the word of God as He talks about these days.

    I have the utmost respect for Donnie McClurkin and several others who been through so much in there lives and want to make difference. I can’t blast T.D. Jakes because his son might be gay! So what! None of us are perfect but keep striving to do better. The church members are to be strong in there own faith because we are dealing with men who are not God and not perfect. God loves us all, even the sinners.

    LA Progressive should be more selective about the content of their articles.

  4. Mr. Samad stated in his article, he “was in a conversation with a single mother a couple months ago where she was looking for a church home for her son. She wants him to know God but is “concerned” about the huge gay male she sees in the churches she’s attended. Her solution? Put in the Nation of Islam where he can get “manhood” training.”

    Is this a back door attempt to proselytize for the Nation of Islam?

    Hopefully you told her that she and her son should keep their eyes on Jesus, who is Lord an Savior. The Holy Bible is the instruction book as to wrong and right.

    And let your readers know for sure there are plenty of Real Men in the black church.

  5. Mike Varady says:

    I guess the only way religious leaders who “indulge” can get away with it is to start making homosexual contact a desirable, specially spiritual action afforded a privileged few. It’d be an attempt to get them off the hook.

    Yeah, sure!

  6. While Mr. Anthony Asadullah Samad is chastising gay men for the problems they cause, perhaps he should consider the fact that MOST molestation is done by straight men. Women and girls have always endured attacks by men, including from their family members and church leaders. Let’s face it, a certain percentage of men are rapists, and the church and family environment is ripe with abuse.

    The question is, why aren’t people like Samad doing anything about the real molestation/rape problems in our world? Perhaps because it’s easier to point the finger at someone you despise rather than those of your own kind, right Mr. Straight Man?

  7. No matter your religious background/beliefs, when in a position of influence, one must always challenge him/herself to do what’s right. We all know what’s right and wrong; we feel it. Whether or not Long is guilty, the perception is there. He gave gifts to these men; he traveled unescorted with them; shared rooms with them. If not guilty, he put himself in a position of compromise.

    We must always be alert to perception, and when in a leadership role, we must always lead by example.

    You’re right, this situation with Long highlights a deeper issue in our country. Exploiting people under the guise of doing good serves only evil. Obviously, men and women both are susceptible. However, young American black men, in particular, need positive role models who live a good life; otherwise, they may be forever stereotyped throughout the world as a “pimp, balla, pants-on-da-ground, gangsta ni–a.” They need fathers, grandfathers, brothers, preachers, teachers, and good neighbors. They need men who will teach them discipline and self love without asking for anything in return.

    What’s sad is those of us who are mothers of black men are constantly grappling with the arduous, beautiful chore of building smart Men who love themselves regardless of their sexual orientation or religion. We do this while society abuses them and stereotypes them without getting to know them or giving them a benefit of a doubt.

    Shame on anyone out there who abuses any role of influence!

  8. Luke Easter says:

    Should the Pulpit be Held to Higher Standards Than Elected Office?

    Not all with a license knows how to drive,
    Nor is every pilot in the cabin able to fly,
    Surely not every doctor is able to mend,
    And will all lawyers successfully defend?

    Do not let pleasantries before your eyes,
    Allow your feelings to erroneously decide,
    Listen before it is too late to run and hide,
    Be sure the pulpit is spiritually circumcised.

    The devil is definitely working overtime,
    Believe me this guy never takes a break,
    Remember the song about Santa Clause?
    I surely do, ‘So be good for goodness sake.’

    A few years back, Ted Haggard’s fall from grace,
    Beautiful mega-church, lot more than just a shock,
    How could such a popular & gifted church leader?
    Forget and leave his spiritual heart unlocked.

    Curiosity opened the door; sin crawled in his head,
    Although by the Blood of Jesus to sin we are dead,
    Lucifer launches attacks on the greatest to the least,
    Be on guard always for temptations from the beast.

    With a faithful 14,000 member congregation,
    Why did he succumb to Satan’s confrontation?
    This preacher should’ve know at the very least,
    You simply cannot mix holy water with grease.

    I am not trying to judge or diminish Ted’s name,
    This only goes to show that we are all fair game,
    Hunting season is open; Satan uses all his tools,
    The devil has no regulations & there are no rules.

    President of a religious sect 30 million strong,
    Now resigned after he admitting doing wrong,
    It certainly didn’t take the wolves very long,
    One dance with the devil, now is it all gone?

    One third of the angels that lived in heaven,
    Now call the pit of a burning hell their home,
    The reason Jesus was sent in the first place?
    The evil one will never leave you alone.

    Yet neither will God ever leave or forsake,
    However, the choice is still ours to make,
    With His blood Jesus already paid the cost,
    Was buying meth worth all that is now lost?

    Neither will I criticize about an alleged affair,
    Since I nor the sharks in the media were there,
    Letting one who is without sin cast the first stone,
    Means Ted Haggard will be judged by God alone.

    Sunday 11/05/06 I read that Ted Haggard did confess,
    Now I am wondering what is going to happen next,
    Just when you think you’ve seen and heard it all before,
    Bam! Another unbelievable situation knocks at the door.

    Let this be a reminder to all who live and breathe,
    That anyone of us can be mislead and deceived,
    The butcher, the baker, the candle stick maker,
    On Judgment Day all will answer to the Creator.

    Just to get a new congregation of souls to be purified and saved,
    Haggard had to be tested in the furnace, there was no other way,
    It was that experience making him the one for this current flock,
    However, God can’t proceed if you’re staring back at the clock.

    Although it looks like the damage is irreparable it’s temporary harm,
    2010, Ted’s ministering to hundreds of sinners in his backyard barn,
    So, because he went through the storm and didn’t quit in the middle,
    God is restoring his ministry just like the bible says, “little by little.”

    September 2010, has the evil-one struck another pastor on the face?
    Bishop Eddie Long in Atlanta apparently has sweetness in his taste,
    Not one, or two, nay three but four have come forward to filed a suit,
    Did he pay tuition, free housing, an endless supply of spending loot?

    Cell phone pix have surfaced although clothed Bishop seems to pose,
    Unlike Haggard shall this be one of those cases where God only knows?
    Not hardly because many in the congregation of his church were aware,
    Senior Eddie likes not to partake in panties but loves men’s underwear.

    Well, supposedly not what’s inverted but hanging loose on the outside,
    One thing or should that be four things, this many is impossible to hide,
    In fairness it is Saturday 09/25 tomorrow will be his first time in church,
    Since the allegations surfaced so let’s give him the benefit of doubt first.

    Pastor Eddie, please rebuke the sinners and kindly show them the door,
    Hey, do not be like Tiger with another dozen or so tirades, maybe more,
    He claims his problem was that he stopped chanting to Buddha, sure ok,
    But you Mr. Long preach, teach the gospel and in Jesus’ name you pray.

    Yeah, for sure a roaring lion will easily find and laughingly devour a lamb,
    But, from 300 members to a congregation of 25,000 you were, “Da-Man! ”
    On Sunday I took pleasure in, “Taking Authority” your sermon on the Word,
    Sexual misconduct was the farthest thing, still can’t believe what I’ve heard.

    Don’t forget for Bishop this is apparently and it is yet a proven fact,
    Goes to show the higher the echelon more scrutinized are your acts,
    09/26 Eddie said he feels like David but he too has 5 smooth stones,
    By the congregation’s shouts Pastor Long isn’t facing Goliath alone.

    Randy & Paula White divorced no scandal but what about Zachary Tims,
    Holy! Not with a man just a stripper in Paris, France his infidelity begins,
    Pastors and Ministers wherever the church or whatever the case may be,
    Much higher standard when speaking from the pulpit is required of thee.

    The Atheists are smiling, wagging their finger, you’re proving their point,
    Hold up in a Paris hotel room, a stripper, red wine, cocaine and a joint,
    Back on the spiritual podium, center of attention, joint custody of kids,
    It’s acceptable that you effectively spread the word after what you did?

    Ah, Paula pretty Paula, oh yes my dear selling cosmetics looking fine,
    While you are singing the praises of vitamin-D, just purchase online?
    Flying all over the world not commercially but on your own private jet,
    Sow a seed, the first fruit offering, that’s right honey, all you can get.

    Nothing wrong with spreading the gospel when you’re above reproach,
    However, incidents and those like them make religion out to be a hoax,
    I do not attend church much as I use to because I would hate to be rude,
    At home when a preacher tells a lie I just change the channel on the tube.

    The Oval Office is where our President’s have misused the power and lied,
    Isn’t there a difference between elected officials compared to the sanctified?
    In the sanctuary it is not about votes then demanding a recount to be sure,
    Although no human is perfect from the pulpit you’d better be next to pure.

    • Well done, well done, bravo.

    • A lot of talk about the devil and Lucifer and Satan! But don’t the preachers say that God creates each man? The question then is, WHEN did Lucifer reach his victims (Haggard, Long, et al.)?

      Was it when he tempted them with young boys and drugs? Or was it earlier, when he tempted them with wealth and power and influence, so that they turned their backs on God’s creation and started preaching hatred of their own, God-given nature?

      Maybe Satan gave them years to build up homophobic, hypocritical ministries, so that he could be more successful when he tore then down from the pinnacle, damaging not just the individual but the whole congregations the individuals had built to worship hate.

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