My Thoughts on the Case of Eddie Long

My Thoughts on the Case of Eddie Long

Yesterday, this story hit the airwaves (and Twitter) like wildfire.

I am one of those people who tries not to come up with my own conclusions before facts are presented (I said try!).  I almost wish that lawsuits were kept secret until right before the trial because the court of public scrutiny can be a major bitch.  So here are my thoughts on the story, which are unrelated to what I think about the case itself.

1. While we should reserve judgment until more facts are made available (please remember Shirley Sherrod), we must see that there are two sides of the coin.  These are allegations.  Which means Long is innocent until proven guilty.  However, we must be careful to not cast judgment on the accusers.  This morning, the head of PR at New Birth said in an interview on V-103 that we must remember that these guys have been on the other side of the law.  I have two problems with that: a – It’s a common tactic to criminalize the victim.  Many victims don’t have pristine backgrounds, but that shouldn’t bar them from speaking out when they’ve been harmed. b – I would just expect a little more from a church.  If you’re not ready defense-wise, then just say “he didn’t do it” and leave it at that.  Trashing these guys who have been members of the church, participants in the programs, and on the church payroll isn’t a good look.  So I said all that to say–to be neutral is to stay in the middle.  Jumping on the accusers/possible victims is still picking a side and is just as bad as jumping on Long’s case before he has had the chance to defend himself.

2. This case immediately made me think of Juanita Bynum getting mollywhopped in a parking lot and all the backlash that caused.  We church folk have to remember that we go to the House for the Word and to worship God, not bask in the pastor’s fervor.  They are not superhuman.  They are people too, and when we keep that in mind, it’s easier to swallow when things happen.  Yes, they are spiritual leaders, and we must believe that God will lead us to where we’re supposed to go to hear His message and to fellowship with other believers, despite whatever imperfections the pastor has.

2b. There are folks who love when stuff like this hits the media so they can talk about how religion and spirituality are irrelevant and the church is full of fake people.  But as we all know, the church is full of sinners, and that’s the point.  No one is perfect, but we can all be saved under the perfect love of Christ.  So, stay strong, folks.  Especially you guys on Twitter and Facebook who may be inundated with defending your faith.

3. Regardless of whether or not Long did it or not, I hope people in power positions everywhere are taking note that you have to protect yourself from even the appearance of malfeasance.  Of course, it’s not always preventable, but be aware of rumors and take heed to not feed into those rumors.  Also, know that what is done in the dark will always come to the light.  I say that as a tribute to all these politicians (who have a duty to the public just as spiritual leaders do) who keep getting caught because they thought they were invincible then end up resigning.  People who are in public leadership roles are held to a higher standard, so just know there is only so much privacy to be expected. Which is sad, yes, but it’s reality.  So this is to you and to me, just be careful out there.

I’ll be watching the news and reading the paper just as you will.  Just keep Long, the two young men, all the families involved, New Birth, and this entire society in your prayers, as I will.

By the way, happy last day of summer!

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20 thoughts on “My Thoughts on the Case of Eddie Long

  1. I’m in agreeance with Justin, this is a masterful post Ranada! No need for me to add anything, you pretty much summed it up. For me I always keep in mind when allegations surface for anybody(whether celebrity or regular Joe), that at the end of the day we all are just cracked vessels with a crooked heart trying to love our crooked neighbor. Stay strong and keep up the great work!

  2. I agree with you Ranada, however I am reading this the next day, in the wake of the release of the cell phone pictures, the cancelled Long interview, and the third accuser.

    I know it upsets a lot of people that this is becoming a “black church” scandal, but its inevitable. Even if it’s not directly related, I do think there has to come a time when we as a community start holding the black church accountable. If scandals like this start the conversation, so be it. The black church, particularly during the civil rights movement, used to be a center for social and political change. There is no denying the role of the church has changed, though society has changed a lot too. A lot of people go to church looking for different things…a man, acceptance, hope, etc. However, black leaders are dropping the ball. Everyone is human, but when you put yourself in a position of leadership, obligations come with that. I think we’ve all been told a million times that with great power comes great responsibility. For example, as memebers of a sorority we are held to a higher standard and certain behaviors are seen as unacceptable. How is the role of a spiritual leader to tens of thousands any different? Yes, people fall. No one is perfect and we all stumble. However, you have to demand excellence and hold people accountable for their actions. You won’t do better unless you know better.

    Additionally, there are a lot of implications for financial responsibility. As many churches, there’s always a lot of pressure to “tithe” give an “offering” or “contribute” at churches like these. This pastor, spiritual leader, was allegedly spending tens of thousands of dollars (which very well could have come from hard working families who struggle to give 10 percent) to trick off on these young men. It infuriates me because there is such a NEED in the black community for resources and so many times when people need housing, or their light bill paid, or their rent is due, they tell me that they already went to their church and they cannot help them. Yet you have prominent Christian leaders like Bishop Long driving around in luxury cars, buying high-end muscle shirts and their wives carrying Gucci purses. I just find the entire thing very, very sad. And you’re more than right, this will provide many critics the opportunity they need to crucify not only the black church, but Christianity today.

    1. *applause*

      So this is re: church and leadership in gen’l (not specifically Eddie Long cuz I don’t have a lot of info altho I have some general idea that makes me cringe) – We’ve had this convo before about the role of the black church and black leadership in general. I definitely think that the conversation is long overdue and needed. I am a huge proponent of community responsibility and ensuring that churches uphold their old reputations of pillars and resources. And just like with politicians, we have to hold our leaders accountable, in these types of situations and in others. We put them there, so we should be vocal, while supportive, about the job they’re doing instead of being passive observers. They are leaders, but we are too. God blessed us all with discernment (whether we use it or not). Let’s think about Moses and the people he led. Caleb and Joshua weren’t blind followers that never spoke up!

      As Barbara Jordan said, “If the society today allows wrongs to go unchallenged, the impression is created that those wrongs have the approval of the majority.” This applies here as well. If we allow our leaders to do these that we question at home or in the confines of our brains and never speak up and voice those concerns, it’s the same as condoning it.

  3. Many of us have the nerve to call ourselves Christians, but we don’t want to emulate the actions of Christ. The fundamental axis of following Christ is to bear witness to unabashed truth, expose lies, care for the poor and weak, and more importantly, love folk in the process. Many of us in the black church dont question anything as far as our so-called leaders are concerned so its easy to be fooled. For some reason we put these humans on a pedestal and take on their teachings and forget about Christ’s teachings and conform to society’s majority. I have a few issues with Bishop Long that are aside from these latest allegations. First, that new hairpiece he wears is painstakingly hideous. Next, his addiction to luxury cars and high dollar toys and expensive threads is down right disrespectful to his parishoners. I hate to see poor and working people exploited in the name of greed. So, thats why I wasn’t surprised to see him in solidarity with George W. Bush. Jesus didn’t exploit folk; Eddie Long is. And here’s another thing I hate that is running rampant in the black church and many other churches: HOMOPHOBIA. EDDIE GLAUDE SAID IN ONE OF HIS BOOKS THAT THE BLACK CHURCH IS USING THE BIBLE TO JUSTIFY OPPRESSION AND DISCRIMINATION AGAINST GAYS/LESBIANS IN THE SAME WAY WHITE AMERICA USED THE BIBLE TO JUSTIFY SLAVERY. HOMOPHOBIA IS A REAL ISSUE THAT WE CONDEMN BUT WE FORGET TO LOVE AND EMBRACE THE PEOPLE DEALING WITH THESE ISSUES. IF JESUS CAN PREACH THE GOSPEL WITH A PROSTITUTE BY HIS SIDE, THE BLACK CHURCH CAN BE MORE OPEN AND LESS DEMEANING TO OUR GAY/LESBIAN BROTHERS AND SISTERS. EDDIE LONG AIN’T DOING THAT. The hypocrisy in that is history has shown us the loudest voices against homosexuality quietly wrestle with those same issues within the the dark precincts of their own souls. Black leaders are placed so high on a pedestal, they start to really “smell themselves”, as granny would say. They are surrounded by “yes men” and those on the payroll that refuse to be honest, truthful, and Socratic all in the name of moral constipation and spiritual malnutrition. So when I see allegations of this nature levied against Long, am I surprised? Absolutely not. Do I think he’s guilty? The facts will reveal that and I am nobody to pass judgement. Ted Haggard, Catholic priests, Eddie Long. When will we have the courage to stop upholding people in their immoral acts? I think black folk don’t want face scrutiny by calling out “the man of God”. When we see other races our white brothers/sisters do wrong, we yell to the top of our lungs to have that person removed(Don Imus, Dr. Laura) but when our black brother/sister falls short, we get real quiet. We close ranks on the issue, sweep it under the rug, and want to handle it internally. Thats wrong. Being a Christian means speaking and living truth at all times UNCONDITIONALLY. I’m not seeing that in many of our black churches. Hell, the church used to be a hub for social activism. Nowadays, the church probably couldn’t spell social activism. The black church is full of gutless cowards that are afraid to love radically, speak radical truth, be radically courageous, serve radically, and be radically modern in our faith and walk with Christ. As long we continue to cultivate a culture of cowardice, cracked vessels like Long will continue to get away with things like this. Lets get back to being a follower of Christ; not Eddie Long. He will die; Christ lives. Lets serve our brother so we may achieve greatness and greatness is not measured by Rolls Royces, hairpieces, muscle shirts, etc. Jesus was a radical. He called out those who were wrong in their actions in a bold way. He created a culture of accountability among the people? WHEN WILL THE BLACK CHURCH GET BACK TO BEING RADICAL?

    listen to Dr. James Cone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y33U-a8wZm4&feature=related

  4. I would just encourage those who does not attend New Birth to consider and be sensitive to the 25,000+ members that do attend New Birth. We are devasted, hurting, struggling, in disbelief and confused right now and are in need of prayer and support. We can definately do without all the negative commentary and judgmental opinions based on things that have nothing to do with the case. It seems as though most people that have an opinion have never or rarely sat foot in the doors of the church. At this point no one knows what really happened. We must be fair to both sides. At the end of the day, no matter how this thing turns out nobody wins and more people than those directly involved will get hurt.

    1. I agree with you, Jenn, that the negativity and pre-judgment of the case are harmful. I also agree that alot of hurt is going to be involved–however, I think that by having necessary conversations and actually examining the circumstances surrounding the case–not necessarily the case itself–can end in a greater good/heightened awareness for the community-at-large. Also, I’d like to just give this to everyone who may be upset, hurt, disappointed, dejected, etc.:

      “And we know that all things work together for good to them who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

      While things may look dismal, nothing happens without God’s planning and purpose. Short-term problems lead to long-term progress.

  5. “The hypocrisy in that is history has shown us the loudest voices against homosexuality quietly wrestle with those same issues within the the dark precincts of their own souls.”

    This was BEYOND well said!

  6. There is not an issue with healthy discussion, in fact I would encourage healthy discussion and examination. However, people will start off saying “I’m not judging…” then go right ahead and say negative and persecuting things as though Bishop Long has been found guilty already. Everyone is responsible for doing the right thing. As a member, mother and youth development professional, I consciously work to stand by what’s right and true, no matter the outcome. All I can ask is that we be fair. Let’s not be so criticle of others because their wrong is in the spotlight and forget the wrong we may have committed yesterday in the dark.

      1. I am responding in general and in response to this entire conversation. People on both sides of the fence are not being fair and for the most part are not having constructive conversations. When I speak to non New Birth members they attack Bishop Long, church leadership and the Black Church in general. When I speak to New Birth members they attack the young men. Not one person has called me out of concern for my well being. Let’s tread lightly, show some empathy, seek the truth and stand for what is right.

  7. Excellent post Ranada! I agree with not blaming the victim and expecting more from a church. innocent until proven guilty..but then the pictures came out and the attorney spoke. The pictures are VERY disturbing if in fact they were sent to young men. On a different note, as a Mom it bothers me that parents would allow their child to take trips and receive gifts of the magnitude, someone had to know this was wrong.

    1. Well it comes down to moral code and who determines that code. A friend of mine and I had a conversation about what we think is and isn’t inappropriate, and legally, all of it can be quite subjective. I look forward to seeing how this case progresses–not just because of the issues of the case, but also because of my interest in how the law will be applied (if it actually goes to trial).

  8. I enjoyed the blog Nada! I’ve been talking about this issue w family and friends since it broke. I believe the bigger lesson in all of this was stated earlier: worship Christ, not Eddie. I think people have found issue with the fact that attending New Birth became a status symbol instead of a place of worship, which definitely caused some people to give NBMBC & Bishop Long a side-eye. I pray that this situation provides the black church w a sense of urgency as it relates to restoring and healing our communities.

  9. @Jenn, your wellbeing? I feel for the New Birth congregation, I do. I feel for anyone personally and directed affected by this. But the whole community has been affected as well, and our wellbeing at-large needs to be checked on, and solutions need to be created and implemented. The convo that was started in my comments are not just about New Birth or even churches in Atlanta, as a couple of my commenters don’t even live here. I’m not sure what you consider a healthy conversation, but I’ve already said that presuming the guilt of Long or the fraud of the young men is not cool. I’ve said it several times, actually.

    However, dialogue about the black church, leadership in general, and what we actually need to be discussing to build a stronger community is necessary and welcome here on my blog. I would venture to say that my post is the most unbiased opinion piece that I’ve seen thus far. As well, the topics that have come up in the comments are valid debate topics as well. We don’t have to continue to talk about the case itself–as there isn’t much more to discuss until it actually goes through the court process. But all these other factors that create wedges and problems and issues within our community are up for discussion, and I won’t censor anyone unless I feel they’re jumping the gun regarding the case itself.

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