Sunday, November 28, 2010

Another Eddie Long controversy

Gospel Today magazine is catching a lot of flak for its decision to feature the scandal-plagued pastor Eddie Long on the cover of its December issue. It has the appearance of being little more than a public-relations fluff piece for a prominent pastor who is currently embroiled in lawsuits alleging clergy sex abuse.

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.
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Related posts:
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


News updates:
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.")

4 comments:

vwhitw said...

I agree that it's a sad day for Pastor Long and his family. And, although I am not a member of his congregation, it appears (based on what I've seen and heard from both him and his accusers) that the allegations are true. We, as a christian family, can only pray for the ones that have been defiled by this man and ask that the pastor pray for forgiveness!

Jim said...

The first thing Eddie Long should do is resign from ministry and repent before expecting forgiveness from God or humanity. He is a disgrace.

Lynn said...

I wonder how this same lady who heads the magazine would react to Muslims adopting her attitude. What if they were saying, "How dare you tell us how to run our religion and how to deal with our more boisterous members?"

I'm really beginning to see it as adult members of a religious body are so in love with their leaders, that they will fail to protect the children in the group. They are not willing to have their comfort shaken up and make the necessary changes.

It seems their leaders (and I'm criticizing any religious group-not just this one) can do almost anything-and the FIRST reaction is to talk of unconditional love and forgiveness. They seem to skip over all the harm done to the victims.

I don't think they would feel this way if the perpetrator was a leader of a DIFFERENT group. If the leader was a Muslim, or an atheist, or Catholic or whatever, they would see the perp for what he is. But NOT if it's within THEIR group. Then the defenses go up.

To vwhitw, who commented above, I'd say-Did Jesus pray for the victims of the moneychangers? Nope. Did he ask the moneychangers to pray for forgiveness? Nope. He threw them out! He basically said, "How dare you defile this place?"

I don't think people expect their pastors to be perfect people. But, surely to goodness, they have a right to expect a higher level of behavior than to have a pastor who abuses children or teenagers. Surely we can set the bar at least that high. And if the pastor can't manage that much, we should be outraged!

I'd say these perps in the SBC or whatever church hope and pray that the members continue to be sad -instead of mad.

Anonymous said...

Christa,

I quit reading this magazine many years ago. Why? I don't know if you remember the scandal of the National Baptist Convention president (his name escapes me now--and this Convention is made up of African American Baptist Churches) who used convention funds for personal use--including buying stuff for his mistress! This magazine then did an interview/article with said mistress! I figured that I had no business paying money for a magazine whose editor had so little spiritual discernment (much less common sense!) It seems that time has proved me right, unfortunately. I grew up in an NBC church, and I can tell you that a lot of the members leave their brains at the door! That's part of the reason why Darrell Gilyard was able to get away with so much for so long down in Florida--what the pastor does is always right (they think), and they refuse to see or hear anything evil about him.

Eddie Long's parishoners are doing him no favors by not holding him accountable for his sins/crimes. Somehow, they believe that his preaching talents will more than make up for his so called "mistakes". They really have no concept of what unrepented sin does to a person--I think the Catholics are right when they assign such actions as "mortal sins that kill the soul". Yes, their preaching gifts may remain intact, but there is no real spritual life within them. And they put others on the path to spiritual destruction as well--destroying the souls of their victims, and worse, telling others by their actions that such behavior is OK. They create a spiritual atmosphere in their churches that produces a multitude of sins--lying, deceit, and anger and manipulation, just to name a few.