The fierce gust of wind you may have felt was the legion of Bishop Eddie L. Long’s supporters exhaling a collective sigh of relief that he was not admitting that he coerced his underlings into gay sexual activities. Their hearts also commenced to beating again after he indicated his refusal to relinquish his reign as leader of one of America’s largest and most influential religious enterprises.
But if congregants and curious onlookers came to hear a categorical, unequivocal denial from the besieged megachuch pastor, they departed sorely disappointed.
Needless to say, it would represent the pinnacle of hypocrisy if it is proven — either through legal means or via his own admission — that Bishop Long did engage in homosexual activities considering his very public anti-gay union campaign. That would include a ministry that promised to “cure” gays and lesbians of their homosexuality.
At the first public comments since the incendiary accusations of coerced gay sex from four former mentees broke earlier this week, Bishop Long only said that he was far from perfect and that he is not the man that the media has made him out to be. He also vowed before his parishioners that he would mount a fierce offensive to defeat the lawsuits mounted against him.
Bishop Long could have done much to diffuse this time bomb of an international scandal if he had of emerged and proclaimed in his famous cadence: “I did not do this,” or “I am completely and 100 percent innocent,” or “My accusers are lying.” The cavernous cathedral would have erupted with relief. It would have signaled a defeat of the mainstream meda, particularly the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which seems to almost gleefully pursue Bishop Long’s demise. But he did not do that.
Instead, Bishop Long cloaked himself in legal jargon and said his lawyers advised him to abstain from commenting on the specifics of the accusers’ allegations.
Critics of Bishop Long will point to statements like his curiously indignant retort to a local Atlanta newspaper investigation into his opulent lifestyle back in 2005.
“We’re not just a church; we’re an international corporation,” he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in order to justify his extremely handsome compensation. “We’re not just a bumbling bunch of preachers who can’t talk and all we’re doing is baptizing babies. I deal with the White House. I deal with Tony Blair [former prime minister of England]. I deal with presidents around the world. I pastor a multimillion-dollar congregation.”
Long says this, yet he mentioned during the Sunday service he wasn’t cognizant that his church was such a big deal to people nationwide. Instances such as these, as well as his questionable propensity to floss his sculpted physique in the pulpit and sending photos of himself in tight shirts and spandex to young men half his age, leaves throngs of supporters, detractors and pundits grasping for the unabridged truth. They all hope it is revealed soon. –terry shropshire