Four suits against Bishop Eddie Long allege sexual impropriety with young men. The accusations are complicated by what the men claim was the spiritual and familial nature of Long’s relationships with them.
Even so, the bishop deserves due process and cannot be prematurely convicted.
As the validity of the men’s claims is determined, one must admit that the scandal reads like a series of bad jokes.
His home church is in Lithonia, Georgia, a town named after Greek words for “rock” and “place,” according to the state’s government web site.
Long is stuck between a rock and a hard place, in front of 25,000 church members, an inflamed LGBT community, and an international street committee of bloggers and pundits.
He is a curious juxtaposition with a curly concoction on his head, anti-gay sentiments on his tongue, and allegations entangling his name. He is simply too sensational to miss.
Long’s story is multi-faceted and incorporates westernized gender roles: men-be-men and women-be-women logic.
He preached against feminized men and masculine women, as if one’s sex automatically connotes a social order.
“Everybody knows it’s dangerous to enter an exit,” he preached against homosexuality.
If he is found culpable, the people he denounced will remind him of his condemnation.
The accusations against him bring a dirty secret to the forefront. To modern equalists that secret is not homosexuality.
It is abused authority, especially in supposed connection with a higher power. Catholic Church conjured much? Long was a father figure to the men, according to a recently released video featuring one of his accusers.
Cyberspace crucified Long. A Twitter page with Long’s avatar and modified name attracted more than 1,100 followers. The tweets are spiritually satirical and raunchy.
Long risks becoming another proper noun turned verb. “Eddie Long-ing” someone could become the go-to phrase for improper power usage or corrupt Christian carnality.
The world might want to have its way with Long, but should consider the repercussions of meeting judgment with judgment.
The Black and religious communities are called to assess their leaders. Just because masses stand behind a leader does not mean that he/she is appropriate to connect the dots for others.
Pulpit propositions and prostitution threaten institutionalized religion. With religion being the foundation for millions in this country, the implications of Long’s story extend beyond closet touching or not touching.
What happens when that which is preached against is privately practiced?
I befriend people who were childhood victims of sexual predators. All expressed identity and relationship confusion after the incidents. One said that a prominent person in a local church was the perpetrator.
This person talked about how the congregation defended the so-called spiritual leader and ostracized the child. Too often society blames the victims.
While emphasizing the need for fairness, we must consider the repercussions of leaning on the (mis)understanding of people who are as flawed if not more so than we are.
Whether Long was sexual with these men and paid them in gadgets and trips or not, community fixation with leaders should be reconsidered.
“Be ye transformed,” Long told his congregation.
As we wait for the verdict, the judicial system will reveal what Long’s vision of transformation includes.