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Atlanta’s Own Bishop Feelgood—Eddie Long

Jasmyne Cannick: Much to the chagrin of Black gay men everywhere, who have enough to deal with without the latest outing of a Black pastor, and to the relief of Catholic priests everywhere, all eyes are on Atlanta’s Bishop Eddie Long.
bishop eddie long

Bishop Eddie Long

Much to the chagrin of Black gay men everywhere, who have enough to deal with without the latest outing of a Black pastor, and to the relief of Catholic priests everywhere, all eyes are on Atlanta’s Bishop Eddie Long. A prominent Black evangelist accused of coercing four young male members of his mega-church into sexual relationships. They don’t call Atlanta the Black gay Mecca for nothing.

I guess no one ever told the good Bishop Feelgood that it’s one thing to get caught committing a crime or participating in so-called immoral activities—no matter how scandalous, but the trouble really comes when you deny it. Just ask President Bill Clinton and former US Senator Larry "Wide Stance" Craig.

Instead of leaving well enough alone and letting it play out in a court of law and on the blogs, Long’s ego, bad advice, or the thought of losing Sunday’s tithing money, convinced him that holding a press conference was the way to go.

“I’m not a perfect man but this thing I’m going to fight. I feel like David against Goliath but I’ve got five rocks and I haven’t thrown one of them yet,” Long told his massive congregation at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in his first public comments on the scandal.

Years ago I wrote my thoughts about Bishop Eddie Long and his brethren who use the pulpit to rebuke and condemn lesbian and gays to hell.

Let’s just say that closeted Black pastors are nothing new—to Black people, that is—and those who scream the loudest—well, you know.

Long said in his press conference that he was “under attack,” and urged his church to pray for him saying he would not let the case be tried in the media.

Did I mention that the Bishop held a press conference for the media?

If this was really about having his congregation pray for him and denying the allegations to the people who have given him the lifestyle that he’s grown so accustomed to over the years, complete with a private jet, why invite the media?

But even more troubling than everything I’ve mentioned so far is the fact that Long’s church members gave him a standing ovation.

I wonder if these are the same church members who helped make Tyler Perry a gazillionaire, sent R. Kelly’s latest album platinum, and really believe Queen Latifah when she says she’s waiting on the right man to get married to and settle down.

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You know, as Black people, we’ve really got to get our priorities in check and stop following the Pied Piper behind the pulpit.

I mean, it’s bad enough that we’ve adopted, claimed, and branded a religion that was originally given to us by the “Massah” to justify our enslavement, complete with a blond-haired blue-eyed Jesus. But when the truth is right in front of us—in a bright colored custom tailored zoot suit and all—we still want to scream victim. Try screaming guilty instead.

I hate to break it you, but you saw that video and you know that girl was underage and he was dead wrong. There’s a reason why Madea is so popular. No, she is not getting married anytime soon or at least not until the decision on Prop. 8 is announced. And yes, chances are, the man is gay. That doesn’t make him a bad Christian, the fact that he’s attracted to and carried out these acts with barely legal—if they even were at the time—young men is what does.

“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 engage in sexual relationships,” according to the lawsuits filed on Tuesday. Now where have we seen that before?

Looking on the brighter side of things, maybe Long’s alleged indiscretions will give Latinos and Blacks something to talk to each other about and further Black and brown relations. There’s nothing like a scandal to bring people together—just ask the residents of the city of Bell. Like the tithes from the Catholic church and the priests sex abuse scandal, hey, Long apparently gave his young men friends expensive jewelry, international trips, and cars in exchange for sexual touching and kissing and we all know who footed bill for that.

But I can tell you who didn’t pay for it—yours truly.

I pay my tithes, $6 to be exact, to the parking lot of Kenneth Hahn Park on Sunday mornings where service for me involves putting on a pair of old Nike’s, my iPod, and offering prayers up that if I can make it back down the canyon before I have to use the Ladies Room again, I’ll skip the skinny vanilla latte next week. There are a lot of things that need to be organized in my life but my religion isn’t one of them. But I digress.

So let me tell you how this saga is going to play out. There will be a buzz for the next couple of weeks in the media and online. We’re also likely to see an abundance of accolades conveniently bestowed on the good Bishop hailing from Los Angeles to Washington, New York and yes—even in Atlanta—all purportedly cosigning the Black community’s love and admiration for Long’s community service and heterosexuality. I wouldn’t be surprised if he made the cover of Ebony and JET magazines and was nominated for a NAACP Image Award come next year, because you know how we do. It’s rally around Bishop Eddie Long time now and don’t think he’s not going to milk it for all it’s worth—literally.

Which brings me to Bishop Long who will most likely continue to offer his comments on the accusations and requests for prayers on the matter quite conveniently on Sundays around 8 a.m. and 11 a.m., just before the collection plate rolls around to his 25,000-member congregation.


While I have no intention on throwing anymore of my money away—if you didn’t know, I live in California—I may take the good Bishop Feelgood up on his offer and pray that his congregation sees the light of day or at least that, yes, he’s gay.

And now let the church say Amen.

Jasmyne Cannick