Sunday, December 04, 2011

Bishop Eddie Long to Step Away From Pulpit

To my way of thinking, Eddie Long - the young man loving pastor of an Atlanta mega church - is basically a retread of the Ted Haggard story: outwardly preaching conservative anti-gay Christianity and using the pulpit to get rich while lusting after men and playing on the side. It's hypocrisy taken to extreme heights and one of the unfortunate results of men tormented by a toxic religious message that spurns medical, mental health and scientific knowledge in a desperate desire to continue to revere the Bible even as it is increasingly shown to be false on many issue, not the least of which is - as noted in a prior post - that Adam and Eve as depicted in Genesis never in fact existed. Now, after an out of court settlement with young men who claimed that Long had sexual relations with them, Long has announced that he's leaving the pulpit. Part of me might be able to feel sorry for Long except for the act that even while seeking same sex relationships, he continued to publicly preach an anti-gay message. Yes, I was in the closet for years myself. But, unlike Long, I never pushed an anti-gay message or agenda. Here are highlights from the New York Times on Long's announcement:

At the height of his power, Bishop Eddie L. Long would pack tens of thousands of people into his megachurch in the suburbs of Atlanta. With his well-cut suits, passion for Bentleys, and dynamic, accessible style of preaching, he quickly climbed the list of the nation’s most powerful religious leaders.

He built his ministry, which stretches to Kenya and other countries, on a strong message of conservative Christianity that included promises of prosperity and attacks on homosexuality.

But life inside Bishop Long’s home had been crumbling. And on Sunday, members of his dwindling congregation heard news they had been bracing for.

Their charismatic bishop, who in May settled with five young men who accused him of sexual coercion and who has fought a series of other legal battles, said he was temporarily stepping away from the pulpit to try to save his marriage.

The announcement came after his wife, Vanessa Long, 53, filed for divorce Thursday. Friday, she recanted after “prayerful reflection” but later in the day changed her mind and said she did intend to end their marriage of 21 years. They have four children.

[N]ot everyone remains a believer. Valencia Miller, a property manager in Lithonia, said she left the church after the young men who accused the bishop of sexual impropriety came forward. “A lot of us left. I mean, a lot,” she said in an interview Sunday.

Like others, she hopes that Bishop Long turns this temporary break into a permanent one. “The church needs a cleansing,” she said. “I’m real disappointed. He was a man we all looked up to.”

Long settled a lawsuit in which young men claimed that the pastor offered gifts, trips, and emotional and spiritual guidance that eventually led to sexual relations. One of the young men, Maurice Robinson, said in court records that his relationship with Bishop Long began when he was 15 and that on a trip to New Zealand the two engaged in sexual acts.

Support for Bishop Long continues to shrink. Just before the sexual coercion settlement was announced, the Rev. Bernice King, the youngest daughter of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., left the church. On Sunday, a small group of antigay, religious protesters stood outside the church urging Bishop Long to step down permanently. They said they planned to return every month until he left.

It truly is all about the hypocrisy. Long preached an anti-gay message while seeking sex with young men. I feel no more pity for him that I do for former Congressman Ed Schrock who I helped Mike Rogers to "out." Long and Schrock both had a choice and they chose to lying hypocrites who preached against gays while seeking gay sex on the sly. It may sound cruel, but both Long and Schrock have gotten what they deserved.

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