Bishop Eddie Long made headlines in September when three male members of his congregation at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia accused him of bribing and sexually coercing them as teenage boys. Another young man came forward soon after (as did numerous photos Eddie Long took of himself and sent to the boys – see above and below) and it seemed like we were in for a long, drawn-out ugly trial with all sorts of skeletons dancing out of the Bishop’s closet.
Then it was revealed that Long was working with the defendants’ lawyer and the case would be settled out of court. Everything was silent.
But, a couple weeks ago, it was quietly announced that Eddie Long had reached a settlement with the young men and initial reports had each of the defendants receiving approximately $2 million. Redding News Review has a source close to the case who claims that figure has more than doubled due to Pastor Eddie Long’s refusal to make a public apology:
What began as a $2 million agreement to settle the case for each of the four men quickly rose to $5.5 million for the respective plaintiffs, the source said, only because Long refused to publicly admit guilt.
The men are to divide $2.2 million equally and then receive $400,000 in payments until the money is paid out over the next 20 years, the source said. The final figure comes to $22 million for the four men and $2.8 million for the plaintiffs attorneys.
There are just so many things horribly wrong with this story. First and foremost the issue of a pastor, preacher, minister, rabbi, monk or any other person in a position of religious power taking advantage of someone looking for spiritual guidance is just about as bad as it gets. Say what you will about the likes of Anthony Weiner and Tiger Woods, but those are situations in which two consenting adults participate in lewd (and somewhat embarrassing) acts. Someone with spiritual authority using that authority to take sexual advantage of trusting people who look up to and trust him (or her) is reprehensible and the blame lies solely on the person in the position of authority.
And don’t kid yourself. No one able to lead a congregation of 25,000 devout followers, whether it is because of their passion, sincerity and connection to God or their charisma, speaking talent and ego, is going to settle these kind of charges out of court for a figure like $24 million without a fight! If those kids didn’t have some sort of smoking gun evidence then Eddie Long could have mopped the courtroom floor with these allegations with his congregation, God and his natural gift for public speaking backing him up the entire way.
Secondly, something is out of whack when a church can afford to pay $24.8 million in the first place! Actually, I’m not sure how closely the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church is tied to this case, or if they are paying for any part of the settlement. If not, and if just Eddie Long is able to foot the $24.8 million out of his own pocket, then that is even more insane!
Any basic understanding of economics will teach you that money is just stored up energy and there is no way in the world that it makes sense for any organization claiming to have Christian principals to be wasting all that energy on Cadillac Escalades, penthouse apartments, and who knows what all kinds of other extravagances instead of using it to promote the teachings of Christ with missionary work, food banks, shelters and numerous other noble endeavors.
I’m not saying that ministers of the word of Christ should live the lives of ascetic monks (although that does seem like a sensible option for someone so inclined) just that they shouldn’t be so willing and able to ride the 24-karat golden calf right up to the pearly gates!
Sherri Shephard from The View also put Eddie Long on blast for a lot of the same reasons, saying earlier this week on the show:
If you are a man of faith, why would you settle out of court? If you have God and you have innocence, those are the two most powerful things you have. David fought Goliath and he won. So you know what that tells me? That tells me there was something inappropriate going on. Because you settled out of court.
[Joy asks: Didn’t Michael Jackson do that?]
Michael Jackson was not a pastor. When you’re a pastor, and you say you have God in your life. If you are right, you are going to be vindicated. God is not going to let your church fall, and he is not going to let you go bankrupt. So when you settle out of court, it just says something was wrong. And it makes me very angry because people prey on women who don’t have a man in their life who takes their sons to people of authority that they trust.
The big question now is whether or not Eddie Long will be given another chance in the pulpit. I know Christianity is all about forgiveness, and I have no problem with that. But this guy more than likely violated the trust of his congregation and used the pulpit to take advantage of young men sexually. Sure, his brothers and sisters in Christ can find it in their hearts to forgive him, but I think it is clear he does not deserve the honor of occupying that position of authority again.
Did you miss out on the whole Eddie Long scandal? CLICK HERE to read our posts about it, including details about the young men who made the allegations against him.
UPDATE – Straight From The A is reporting that Eddie Long’s wife, Vanessa Long, may have moved out!