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!