Long is the pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in suburban Atlanta. Four young men have accused him of using spiritual authority to coerce them into sexual acts when they were teen church members.
Long is also Chairman of the Board of Advisors for Gospel Today magazine. Therein lies a big part of the problem. The conflict of interest seems obvious to a whole lot of people . . . but apparently not to the people at Gospel Today.
As reported by CNN, Gospel Today owner and editor Teresa Hairston went on the magazine’s website to defend the article, after readers complained. Personally, I applaud those astute Gospel Today readers who cared enough to voice their concern; it’s a shame Gospel Today didn’t take its readers’ criticisms to heart.
For those who have followed other Baptist clergy sex abuse cases, Hairston’s remarks will carry an eerie air of familiarity. She took aim at the press for how it has covered the Long scandal, and she claimed that Gospel Today had chosen to present a “biblical perspective.” She also said this:
“The Word of God teaches us that God is love; and far too many times we have been unbalanced and unloving — all in the name of a God who not only loves, but loves unconditionally and restores sinners — us included. Whether Bishop Long is guilty or not; whether the young men are guilty or not, the BODY OF CHRIST must handle this situation according to the Word of God! The mainstream press has painted a hideous picture; some have even called for Bishop Long’s resignation! They’re not even members!!”My response: You don’t have to be a member of the church to know that power without accountability leads to abuse of power. You don’t have to be a member of the church to know that it’s wrong for faith groups to allow men into positions of high trust without also assuring that effective oversight systems are in place. You don’t have to be a member of the church to know that such a failure of oversight is a travesty that puts huge numbers of trusting kids and congregants at risk, not only in independent Baptist churches, but also in Southern Baptist churches and many other sorts of Baptist churches. You don’t have to be a member of the church to speak out about this sort of travesty. Indeed, it’s a shame that, so often, it is outsiders who must speak out, because, so often, it is the “members” who try to cover it up.
Eddie Long: The Real Scandal Is Even Bigger, 9/28/10
Denominational Double-talk, 9/29/10
Independent Baptist Eddie Long, 10/2/10
Our selective curiosity on sex scandals, 10/10/10
Where’s the Discipline? 10/13/10
Bishop Eddie Long agrees to mediation, Huffington Post, 12/6/10
Another "I'm innocent" guilty case of sex abuse, Thoroughly Anderson Cooper blog, 12/8/10 (In video, expert says, "Mediation would be the last place you'd think he would wind up.")