Bishop Eddie Long has announced that he will be taking a sabbatical. This announcement, reported in the Associated Press, comes days after his wife Vanessa announced that she had filed for divorce -- only to retract that announcement within hours of making it.
This strange sequence of events comes just a year after the sex scandal that put Long in the headlines. Bishop Eddie Long had been the long-time, highly respected pastor of Atlanta New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. He made headlines in 2010 when he was accused of having sexual relationships with several teenagers in his congregation. Four young men came forward, alleging that Bishop engaged in homosexual relations with them. The young men sued Long but the matter was later settled out of court.
The sex scandal, which may have gotten moderate media attention, received extensive coverage from the media because Long was an unapologetic opponent of same sex marriage and ardent anti-gay spokesperson -- he also was known to have political connections as he is shown here with President George W. Bush further adding to his "celebrity status".
The sex scandal rocked the African American evangelical community as Long was looked upon as a star in the prosperity gospel genre -- with an empire of niche ministries, books, gospel shows, seminars and a $50 million megachurch, Long represented to many the physical embodiment of prosperity theology. He also flaunted a lifestyle that included expensive cars, homes and private jets.
However, one of his "niche ministries" involved the spiritual counseling of young men who needed to be “delivered” from homosexuality. It was through this ministry that Long came into contact with the four young men who later sued him.
The New Birth Missionary Baptist Church continues to display a page dedicated to Bishop Eddie Long on its website. The page says, "Bishop Eddie L. Long is a bold revolutionary spiritual leader, best-selling author, life coach and motivational speaker, recognized as a gifted charismatic orator and rising voice of the global faith-based community."
Stay tuned -- if this story continues to unveil in the way that similar stories have in the past, we'll be hearing more. It's just a matter of time.
Publisher, LA Progressive