Eddie Long is Guilty


Bishop Eddie Long is guilty.

He maintains otherwise but the pastor of New Birth mega-church hasn’t exactly come out and declared his innocence. Addressing his church for the first time since charges of sexual misconduct were filed by four young men from his congregation, Long said, “There have been allegations and attacks on me. I have never portrayed myself as a perfect man. But I am not the man that’s being portrayed on the television. That’s not me.”

Long is referring to the image of him grooming boys to grant him sexual favors, but his point is well-taken: There’s no question that Long is not the man that’s been portrayed on television, on billboards, on book covers, and on his church’s own website.

Let’s get this one thing clear — Long is no Bishop at all. He’s a Baptist preacher. There’s no such thing as a Bishop in a Baptist church. It’s just one more thing he awarded himself in his personal pursuit of profane excesses. He can declare his righteousness from the pulpit or the mountaintops but the truth is he is guilty of abuses.

Whatever the courts decide about the sex abuse charges, Long has a troubling history of abusing his position to coerce people into serving him.  In a flagrant abuse of scriptures, Long has preached a false gospel – the Prosperity Gospel. Tragically, it’s one that Americans have been groomed for since Oral Roberts arrived in shining white polyester promising that God loves Capitalists best.

It’s a message that allows pastors like Long to exact obscene amounts of monies from the manipulated masses in the name of the bloodied Christ.

Long’s abuses have been well-documented. According to an investigation conducted by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, between 1997 and 2000, Long received at least $3.07 million in salary, benefits and the use of property from the nonprofit tax-exempt, now defunct, Bishop Eddie Long Ministries, one of 20 charities Long established to reportedly help the needy.

Apparently that referred to Mr. Long.

Tax records revealed that the $3.07 million channeled to Long was as much as the charity gave to all other recipients during the same time period. Long’s compensation included a $1.4. million six-bedroom, nine-bath home on 20 acres in Lithonia, Georgia, use of a $350,000 Bentley and more than a million in salary. A single unnamed donor accounted for 90 percent of the church’s income in 1999 and 2000.

Long and his wife Vanessa were two of the charity’s four board members. When Long came under Senate investigation for his alleged financial misconduct, he was reluctant to co-operate.

“I’m not going to apologize for anything,” Long told an Atlanta-Journal reporter. “We are not just a church, we’re an international corporation. We’re not just a bumbling bunch of preachers who can’t talk and all we’re doing is baptizing babies. I deal with the White House. I deal with Tony Blair. I deal with presidents around this world. I pastor a multi-million dollar congregation.”

First and foremost, Mr. Long is a businessman. He purposely dismantled the deacons and set himself up as the church’s CEO. The good works the church accomplished are just part of the “front” that allows preachers like Long to fleece the flock.

Money, power and sex are always the manifestations of the Gospel of Greed.

Jesus is nothing more than the brand Mr. Long has exploited in his march for self-gratification.

Karen Spears Zacharias is author of Will Jesus Buy Me a Double-Wide? ‘cause I need more room for my plasma TV. Zondervan, 2010.

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  • Get on it, sister! Knock out.

  • Debbie W

    I may reply later cause the words I want to type are not very ‘christian’ – a….hole! I wonder if God gets angry about this sort of crap? Beause I don’t know how the heck He can be so patient sometimes.

  • Karen,

    Good to finally meet you at the conference. One small note: there are bishops within several African-American expressions of baptistery. The Full Gospel Baptist denomination comes to mind.

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Yes, Larry, that’s true. But according to the church’s own history, all the other preachers of this church were called Reverend and, initially Eddie Long was a Reverend. At some point, under his leadership, the change to “Bishop” was instituted. From their own history book:

      “Reverend Eddie Long was a nontraditional pastor down to his red and black “pope robe,” as some of the members called it.

      One of the things Woods remembers most about Pastor Long is that he took a lot of time with the youth,
      and he strongly supported education. He wanted the
      children to know there was more to life than just what
      they saw within a one-mile radius of their homes. True
      to his word, Long sponsored church trips (Washington,
      D.C., Chicago, Baltimore and Canada to name a few)
      and would ride the bus with the youth. Long even had
      them over for dinner. “Unselfish,” is the word Woods
      uses to describe Long. “He would let you drive his car, anything he had, if you needed it, he would make sure you had it. He was a charismatic leader; wherever he went, everybody wanted to go. He was something different that hit the scene. God was using him to do a new thing, great things,” says Woods.

  • Peg Willis

    The phrase, “The emperor is naked,” comes to mind.

  • Could not agree more. The “prosperity doctrine” makes me want to throw up…and has, since it first raised its ugly head a few decades ago.

  • Karen: I saw a news photo in the paper several days ago, and three things stood out: the big ring, a heavy bracelet and the white suit. That does not convict, of course; but the real shocker is how much of what you related is by now completely predictable. It just fits the pattern to a tee. Honsetly, is there some kind of pro forma checklist for this somewhere?

  • No surprise here, but great writing Karen.

    I love this line especially: “It’s a message that allows pastors like Long to exact obscene amounts of monies from the manipulated masses in the name of the bloodied Christ.”

    Sure puts things in perspective. Scary the places people go when we try to mold Jesus like clay. Weren’t we supposed to be the pliable ones?

  • I wondered how long it was going to take you to weigh-in on this … and I’m glad you did. Thoughtfully and eloquently put, as always.

  • Don’t stop telling it like it is, Karen!

  • Pat

    As an African-American, I can tell you that in SOME church circles, the excuse used for what would be considered by some as a lavish lifestyle, is that they are just giving people (many who are often poor and disadvantaged) an example of how God wants us to live. After all, He owns “a cattle on a thousand hills” (an oft-quoted scripture in some of these churches). It’s a mix of prosperity and liberation theology all rolled up into one. Problem is, if you stay in these churches long enough, you will find that many of the poor don’t get rich and the theology is pretty shallow.

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      Pat: It’s a problem in white churches as well. Osteen comes to mind. The biggest offender of all, I think, is David Cerullo, who coerced the state of South Carolina into giving him millions at a time when unemployment in SC (a large African American populus) was at 12 percent. We don’t mix it with liberation theology, but we do soak it in that whole work hard get ahead Calvinist tradition.

  • Karen Spears Zacharias
  • Deeply troubling. Thanks again for speaking so clearly and forthrightly, Karen. May the Lord overturn the money tables, and bring deep, life changing repentance to this man, and to those who are misled. And may we all grow in our following of Jesus who had no place of his own to lay his head.