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.