If you haven’t heard about the lawsuits filed against mega-church leader Bishop Eddie Long claiming financial improprieties and sexual harassment…well, you probably will.
Bishop Long heads up one of, if not the, largest black congregations in America…he also has long led a campaign against the LGBT community in general and same-sex marriage in particular. Long, with Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter Bernice King by his side, led a march against same-sex marriage in Atlanta a while back…and he has said that “homosexuality” and “lesbianism” are “spiritual abortion”.
Now three young men who were active in Long’s church have filed lawsuits claiming, among other things, that Long pursued them sexually and sent suggestive pictures through his phone, gave them expensive gifts in exchange for sex and used his power to force them into sexual relationships.
Long adamantly denies these claims.
This is shaping up to be one hell of a legal battle in Hotlanta!
Homophobia within black churches is a serious problem for a lot of reasons, one being the role churches have traditionally held in black communities. Churches have historically served as the foundation for community organizing in many black communities…they provide social activities for youth and run literacy programs. Many look toward their church for guidance on social issues facing their community…and too many church leaders have led their congregations down Homophobe Avenue, Long chief among them.
That doesn’t make the allegations contained in the lawsuit true…but it does provide some context.
And Long's anti-gayism is an interesting factor...because one of the key ways to distract folks from wondering if a public figure is gay is for that public figure to go forth and preach the gospel of anti-gay fear-based hate.
If I had a dollar for every homophobic politician or public figure that has been outed as gay I’d be able to open a mega-church version of the United Church of Bitchitude and Latter Day Drunks.
The funny thing about this scandal is that one of reasons I’m leaning toward believing the allegations is that Long is so damn anti-gay…and I just can't ignore the Mehlmanification factor in all this.
The sad thing is that this drama, regardless of the outcome, does nothing to address homophobia in black communities or to repair the damage done by so-called leaders like Long or Bernice King - leaders who frame LGBT people as predators and same-sex marriage as a threat to the black community, who have so much power yet chose to use it to stir up hate and fear rather than inspire understanding and empower their congregation to lead with love and peace.
Whether these allegations are true or just an attempt to cash in on some of the bounty Long has amassed by preaching the gospel of prosperity (the man drives a Bentley, for the love of greed…my childhood pastor drove a used Ford, mercy!)...
Yeah, so um…whether or not this shit is true or not, the haze of homophobia will continue to hover over Long’s massive congregation and restrict them from seeing the damage hate does to the community...
...or the impact the tithe-based hustle going down in the pulpit is doing to their pocketbook.