|Correspond with us, including our executive editor, professor
Yves A. Isidor, via electronic mail:
|email@example.com; by way of a telephone: 617-852-7672.
|Want to send this page or a link to a
friend? Click on mail at the top of this window.
learnedly read, too; in part, of intellectual rigor
Posted Thursday, September 23, 2010
ATLANTA — As a Christian author, gospel singer, and leader of one of the
nation’s best-known black megachurches, Bishop Eddie Long finds a wide audience
for messages such as marriage is “between one man and one woman.’’ Those words
hung heavy yesterday over accusations that the television preacher, a married
father of four, used jewelry, cars, and cash to lure three young men into sexual
|A 25,000-strong church
pastor is sued after he allegedly used jewelry,
cars, and cash to lure three boys into sexual
|By Errin Haines
|and Greg Bluestein
Lawsuits filed Tuesday and yesterday say the young men were 17 or 18 at the
time, enrolled in New Birth Missionary Baptist Church’s ministry for male teens.
|Bishop Eddie Long, the accused pedophile.
A lawyer for Long, who writes books on heterosexual relationships and has strong
ties to the family of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., adamantly denied the
allegations. Few at Long’s 25,000-strong church will discuss the situation, and
the grounds were quiet yesterday, save for a small group walking in prayer.
Those who will speak say they are supporting him.
Lance Robertson, who joined New Birth nearly two decades ago and has coached
youth basketball there, said yesterday that members are hurting.
“I support and will stand with my bishop, but right now in the court of public
opinion, it does not look good,’’ Robertson said. “This affects too many people.
As the bishop goes, New Birth goes. He built New Birth.’’
B.J. Bernstein, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, said she opened her
investigation after getting a call from one of the men. The Associated Press
normally does not name people who say they are victims of sexual impropriety,
but Bernstein said that all three — Maurice Robinson, 20, and Anthony Flagg, 21,
and Jamal Parris, 23 — have consented to making their identities public.
Bernstein said she did not trust local authorities to investigate the
“This is a really large church that’s incredibly politically powerful,’’
Bernstein said. “There are pictures of this guy with every politician around.
With something this important, how can I trust that word didn’t get back to the
DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown has been a member of New Birth for more than
15 years and sits on the advisory board for Long’s Longfellows Youth Academy.
Brown said he would stand by the bishop and bristled at Bernstein’s suggestion
that local authorities cannot be trusted.
“I take offense to that,’’ he said. “It does not merit a dignified response.’’
Bernstein said that her case hinges on the testimony of her three clients and
that she does not have much physical evidence backing up her complaint. Long
sent dozens of e-mails and phone calls to her clients, though they were not
“overly sexual,’’ she said.
Bernstein said she plans to subpoena records from Long that will show he
traveled with the young men to New York, Las Vegas, New Zealand, and elsewhere.
Long has been silent since the lawsuits were filed, though he did have a press
conference planned for today. But radio, Internet sites like Facebook and
Twitter, and cable television news shows have been abuzz.
Atlanta radio host Frank Ski devoted much of his four-hour morning show to the
issue. Ski, a 12-year member of New Birth, called the accusations painful and
said he does not believe them.
Ski said he and his fellow church members are generally supportive of Long and
are awaiting the outcome of the case.
Robertson, the church’s youth basketball coach, said he wants to hear Long
respond to the accusations.
“The bishop has helped so many people,’’ he said. “It’s not uncommon for him to
mentor young men and groom them to be productive members of society. The
bishop’s heart has always been in the right place. But the New Birth family,
we’re weeping. This is not a good day for New Birth.’’
Long, who was appointed pastor of New Birth in 1987, presides over a church that
has athletes, politicians, and entertainers as members.
President George W. Bush and three former presidents visited the sprawling
church in the Atlanta suburb of Lithonia for the 2006 funeral of Coretta Scott
King, the widow of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Today, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church has more than 25,000 members; a $50
million, 10,000-seat cathedral; and more than 40 ministries.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press
|Wehaitians.com, the scholarly journal of
democracy and human rights