Allegations Against Bishop Eddie Long
Bishop Eddie Long is the senior pastor of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church which is located in the Atlanta, GA area. The church's membership is around 25,000 making it a mega church.
On September 21, 2010, two men filed lawsuits alleging that when they were teenagers attending New Birth, Bishop Long coerced them into having sex with him. The men claim that Bishop Long took them on over night trips and engaged in sexual acts with them at the hotels. On September 22, 2010, a third man filed a similar lawsuit and on September 24, 2010 a fourth man filed a related lawsuit.
At the advice of his attorneys, Bishop Long was keeping quiet about the allegations on the day the story broke. On September 22, 2010, Long's attorney Craig Gillen released a statement from Bishop Long. It read in part,
"I am anxious to respond directly to these false allegations and I will do so. However, my lawyers have counseled patience at this time. But let me be clear; the charges against me and New Birth are false. I have devoted my life to helping others and these false allegations hurt me deeply."
Bishop Long states that the allegations/charges against him are false. This may be a truthful statement as there may be something in the lawsuit that is not true. The problem is Bishop Long did not deny the specific allegations. He did not say, "I did not engage in sexual acts with these men." It is true he said he wanted to "respond directly" to these allegations but his attorneys have told him to be patient.
On Sunday September 26, 2010, it was believed that Bishop Long would address these allegations from the pulpit. After thanking his church family for their prayers and support, he preached a sermon on "How to Handle Painful and Difficult Situations." He said that the righteous will face painful situations but that God will help us through these situations if we focus on Him. At the end of the service, he spoke about the allegations.
"There have been allegations and attacks made 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's not me. That is not me. By the counsel of my lawyers they have advised me not to try this case in the media. I am not going to try this case in the media. It will be tried in the court of justice and dealt with in the court of justice. And please understand because I think that is the only place I'll get justice but being in the hands of God. Please hear this. 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 gonna fight. And I want you to know one other thing, I feel like David against Goliath. But I got five rocks and I haven't thrown one yet."
In addressing his congregation, Bishop Long again does not deny the specific allegations. He states, "I am not the man that's being portrayed on the television." In his mind, this is a truthful statement. Something was probably said on television that is not true which then allows him to make this statement. However, his denial does not necessary include everything that was said about him on television. His statement that he is going to fight these allegations is not a denial. He said that he does not want to try this case in the media which is understandable. However, stating that you have never had inappropriate conduct with these men is not trying the case in the media. It is letting people know that you did not do these things and you are innocent. Two times Bishop Long states he is not a "perfect man." For him to mention this twice indicates it is a sensitive issue. We know this is a truthful statement since everyone on the planet falls into that category. All of us have done things we should not have done. For Bishop Long to mention this as he addressed these allegations tells us that something happened. He is setting the stage for some type of confession. I suspect in the weeks to come we will find out what it is. Any good journalist or church member would ask Bishop Long, "When you say you are not a 'perfect man' what are you referring to?"
After addressing the allegations against him during his church service, Bishop Long then made a brief statement to the media. An unidentified man gave the following introduction before Bishop Long gave his statement.
"Good morning. Welcome. Uh, Bishop Long is going to make a statement this morning. As you have been previously informed uh there will not be any questions and answers after his statement. Thank you very much."
Bishop Eddie Long's statement.
"Uh, good morning and I just want to take this uh moment to address you again as I, as advice of counsel uh I am not going to uh address uh the allegations and the uh attack that's been levied upon me at this moment because again as I stated earlier in the service you know I would want this to be dealt in, in the court of justice and not by public opinion. I uh will say that uh I am going to fight, fight very vigorously uh against these charges and uh I've been at this church for 23 years. This is the first time I realize we are as important as we are to get this much attention and uh we're going to continue as a church to do the things that we do to touch the world; hospitals that we built in Nigeria, and in Kenya and uh things that we're doing in Honduras with uh building homes for missionaries even as we support hospice in South Africa as you witnessed even today. Uh, there's so many things and I even increased my commitment to working with youth. I've always done that. We've always done that as a church. Uh, we've always helped young men and young ladies and families and to make sure they're able to move forward, and move into college and to do things that make them better and more productive citizens. So, the things that New Birth has stood for, the good things that we have done and we will continue to done, continue to do and increase in all of that. So uh without violating anything that my attorney has uh so commissioned me and uh (unintelligible) to instruct me I appreciate your time, I appreciate you uh being here and uh I thank you."
The first thing we see is Bishop Long pauses 20 times in this statement using the interjection "uh." I don't think he once used that interjection during his sermon. We can see his sermon was much more polished than his statement to the media.
The other thing we see is again Bishop Long does not deny the allegations. I can understand him not wanting to take questions from the media. However, stating "I have had no inappropriate contact with these young men" is not trying the case in a public forum. It is assuring everyone that you are innocent.
As he walked off the stage someone asked, "Bishop Long, are you innocent of these charges?" As promised, Bishop Long did not answer the question.
Bishop Long said that he is "anxious to respond directly to these false allegations." We will have to wait and see if he does so.
In November 2010, attorneys for both sides agreed to go to mediation to resolve this matter. I thought Bishop Long was "gonna fight" like "David against Goliath."
As of early May 2011, an out of court settlement had not been reached. Judge Johnny Panos has stated that if a settlement is not reached soon, the case could go to trial in the fall of 2011. My prediction is there is no way Bishop Long will allow this case to make it to the courtroom.
On May 26, 2011, it was announced that Bishop Long reached an out-of-court settlement with his four accusers. But what about Bishop Long's statements?
- "I am anxious to respond directly to these false allegations and I will do so."
- "It will be tried in the court of justice and dealt with in the court of justice."
- "This thing I'm gonna fight."
- "I uh will say that uh I am going to fight, fight very vigorously uh against these charges."
It turns out he did not "fight very vigorously." The case was not tried in "the court of justice" since he settled it out-of-court.
When the allegations were made Bishop long said "I feel like David against Goliath. But I got five rocks and I haven't thrown one yet." He is right. He did not throw any rocks. Most likely he threw a lot of cash in their direction.