Bishop Eddie L. Long, whose ministry, image and marriage have been reduced to complete ruins, announced Sunday, Dec. 4 that he is “taking time off” as pastor of one of the nation’s biggest congregations in order to work on his family.
Long made the announcement before his congregation at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in suburban Atlanta, just three days after his wife Vanessa filed for divorce.
Although New Birth issued a statement later that same day saying Vanessa Long was withdrawing the divorce petition, her attorney said she intends to proceed with it.
This announcement is seen by most as the excruciatingly slow but inevitable demise of one of the largest and most influential ministries in the country. This past spring, Long settled a lawsuit filed by four young men who accused him of pressuring them into sexual relationships while they were teenagers and members of the congregation by showering them with lavish gifts, trips, cars and even places to stay. When Long did not “fight” the charges in court, as he promised his congregation that he would, it was seen by most as the beginning of the end.
Here are five other prominent ministers whose religious empires imploded under scurrilous sex scandals: