UPDATE: Bishop Eddie Long Rumored To Be Stepping Down After Those Muscle Shots and A Fourth Litigant Surface

Bishop Eddie Long in red and in black.

Ah yes, well. Bossip (that’s ‘B’ for black and ‘ossip’ from ‘gossip’) is reporting that Bishop Long will step down after Sunday’s church service after delivering a stem-winder of a sermon. If so, that’s a nice, fancy exit when I think that he really should be perp-walked into an Atlanta jail for grooming black youth to be his lovers. And if he even suggests that the young men all tempted or led him astray, he should be dragged from the pulpit, hit with fruits and vegetables, and thrown out of his church.

No, people. This episode is not about homosexuality in the black church. This is about child molestation–pederasty–and sex predators. Gays do not have to “recruit” young men into their number. Men (and women) naturally gravitate towards what stirs or interests them, either other men or other women openly or clandestinely or both. This guy in a high religious position apparently enticed black youth, using Scripture and the power of his own personality, and subverted their natural longings for a male parent into a sexual relationship with him. He was crafty enough to ply them with gifts, trips, and even cars, to wait until they were legally above the age of consent in Georgia, and then he went in for the kill.

Just like Spencer LeGrande from North Carolina, who became the fourth litigant in this case:

Spencer LeGrande was 15 when he met Long and the two began a sexual relationship during a trip to Kenya after the youth turned 17, the latest suit alleges. LeGrande and his mother were among the founding members of Long’s satellite church in Charlotte, N.C., [attorney B.J.] Bernstein told the AJC.

Long later encouraged him to move to Atlanta, where the activity continued through 2009, Bernstein says.

At that time LeGrande started dating, and Long attempted to end that relationship “by increased contact and spiritual talk as to the relationship between the Spiritual Son and himself,” the suit states.

But LeGrande resisted Long’s influence, and eventually left Long and the church.

Sounds really familiar from what the other complainants say. LeGrande, however, was not a member of Long’s now notorious Long Fellows Youth Academy as were the first two young men. While Long’s youth ministers were taught financial responsibility, sensible eating habits and body building, they were also required to remain sexually pure and to stay away from girls and young women. Long’s “Spiritual Sons,” who differed from the youth ministers in that they were his personal favorites, were also instructed not to have sex with or date the opposite sex.

Which makes me wonder for these young men. How can you eventually marry if you’ve never dated a girl or a woman? Or kissed? Or got close, short of sex? It’s natural for that time of life.

That’s how all that boyish sexual energy was trained on Eddie Long. It’s not unheard of. Cult leaders often utilize this kind of strategy on their flocks. Long had to be the one and only in the relationship he had with his young men, if not God. Once they became interested in young women, they increasingly became disillusioned with Long, his interference in their lives, and what they felt was his duplicity.

It was not only LeGrande who was hurt. LeGrande’s father, Eddie, who was slowly building a relationship with his estranged son from the time he turned eleven, feels that Long successfully alienated the boy away from him. The senior LeGrande resented that he could not compete with Long’s wealth, appeal and power. Spencer called Long, “Dad,” in front of his own father. He finally went away to be with Long, and then without explanation, returned to Charlotte. Now:

“He never told me. He never gave me a clue,” said Eddie LeGrande, 55, a furniture store worker in Greensboro, N.C.

But looking back, he said, “There were red flags.” The trips, the gifts, the attention, he said.

“I’m very upset about it,” he said. “I’m very hurt about it. I’m very hurt for my son.”

If the accusations are true, he said, “I think he should be banned from his church. I think he should do jail time, and he should pay the victims for the hurt. He should be used as an example.”

At least 30 other former “Spiritual Sons” of the embattled bishop, says Bossip, are reported to have contacted attorney B.J. Bernstein with their own stories to tell, and Long and his inner circle fear that there will be many, many more in the days and weeks to come.

Meanwhile, speculation about Long’s sexual practices have also focused attention once more on those of his former mentor, the disgraced late Bishop Earl Paulk. Paulk was an early white Southern religious supporter of Martin Luther King Jr., and a fighter against racism all the way up to the time of his death in 2009. His mounting sexual improprieties committed throughout his ministry, which made national headlines in the 1990s, seems to have permanently besmirched that record. From WSB.com:

[…]

When WSB Radio asked [Ole] Anthony [of the watchdog group Trinity Foundation that monitors the activities of ministers like Long] about Long and the three lawsuits filed by three former members of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, Anthony […] was shocked.

“But his mentor was Earl Paulk,” said Anthony.

Paulk, who died last year, was an evangelical mega church leader accused of having sex with many women in his congregation including his brother’s wife and his own granddaughter.

Anthony compared Long’s “Spiritual Sons” program in which his three young accusers were members with Paulk’s “Kingdom Relationships,” saying both were really designed to sexually gratify the clergymen.

Two of a kind, except one seduced women and the other men.

By the time the third young brother’s complaint appeared on Wednesday, I knew it was on. Jimmy Swaggart, Ted Haggard, Jim Bakker, George Alan Rekers. All of these evangelists were brought down by sexual as well as financial improprieties. Why not Bishop Eddie Long?

Why not someone who has made it his business to denigrate black LGBT people while promoting the so-called superiority of heterosexuality and masculinity? Why not the person who, through Bernice King, hijacked the funeral of her mother, Coretta King, so that not even Harry Belafonte, Andrew Young or Julian Bond could bring themselves to pay their last respects to her? Why not the man who received a $200,000 car as a “gift” from his parishioners, a gift that the IRS is now investigating? Why not?

Because those who have so often loudly condemned gay people have closets of their own to maintain. Karma is more than a bitch in this episode. And may his and many others’ closet doors swing wide open.

The cell phone photographs that surfaced on Thursday made me a believer that this burgeoning scandal is quite different than the usual run-of-the-mill. For me, they begin to prove the allegations of these young men that Bishop Long had cultivated a stable of youth ministers and congregants who ministered to him.

How?

It’s not about them. It never was. The photos show how it is all about him.

These aren’t the kinds of photos that you would send to a young man or a young woman under your guidance, unless you wanted that young person to admire your body, if not sexually and carnally. Especially the red shirt photo, which was e-mailed in November 2008, and is signed, “Eddie L. Long, Amazed by His Grace.” Because there’s a lot of current attention attached to the six-pack, the midriff, the abs as the standard in both men and women. Anyone who doesn’t quite measure up to that standard these days has a hard time attracting someone as handsome and as beautiful.

Eddie Long wanted to show that he was attractive, built, cut. He has the perfect V-shaped torso any male of any age would be proud of.

Heterosexual, bisexual or gay.

Isn’t he supposed to be married?

Additionally, these are the kinds of photos that you would find on websites like Yahoo Dating, Gay Romeo, Match.com, and Lavalife introducing single, divorced but available men and women to each other. (Those who are cheating on their wives or husbands under the “Discreet” label post their availability, but few hardly post their photos on these sites, and would rather send you photos privately.) They are also the cover photos to much more blatantly sexual photos found on websites as well. I think you know what and where they are.

If Bishop Eddie Long is currently in a traditional, Christian heterosexual marriage, why is he posing in what appears to be a luxury bathroom in these kinds of outfits? (Sorry, I think sunken bathtubs are in luxury bathrooms.) Granted, he is not posing nude, but they do not come up to the same professional level of dress and attitude in official photographs or portraits that would be permissible to give young ministers or young admirers to frame. These athletic suits and shirts are tight, form-fitting and they are suggestive.

And why a bathroom setting? Need I remind people that getting slippery soap clean in the shower or the bathtub as well as getting skin-to-skin close is a prerequisite to moving on to the intimacies of the bedroom? And aren’t public restrooms, baths, and parks usually where gay men are known to find each other and to engage in anonymous sex?

I still recall former Senator Larry Craig’s shenanigans in a men’s restroom in Minneapolis that got him into legal as well as political trouble. Craig was a known homophobe as well; yet he continues to maintain that he is not gay even after he served out his term and crept back home in quiet disgrace to Idaho. Well, he may not get his underwear at the old All American Boy store in The Castro, but he certainly is tightly, rigidly closeted.

I can’t explain why some men continue in marriages when they are gay or bisexual, even at this time in the life of the Republic, but I have read that many enjoy family life. They don’t want to give that up, and their children. Especially with very tightly-wound conservative men, they don’t want to equate themselves with gays in meccas like San Francisco or New York, even though they may be engaging in the same behaviors–some risky–on the quiet. So when they say that they are not gay, I think they actually mean, “Oh, I’m not like that bunch in San Francisco,” when they are.

Just hypocrisy. The same kind of hypocrisy that Long has engaged in for nigh on twenty years.

So why would Bishop Long send cell phone photos of himself to his young male ministers and chosen male congregants dressed in this fashion? My answer: he was showing off his manly attractiveness to them, and only to them. It was a sexual invitation. This was not presented to other women and it was not for his wife’s enjoyment. It was offered to them. If you want me, you can have me. And if Long’s supposed to be a known and rabid homophobe, this kind of behavior is not something that he can easily explain away.

Long has canceled several interviews and says he wants to address his entire congregation on Sunday. That should be quite interesting. It should rate with Jimmy Swaggart’s crocodile weepy, I have sinned against you, my Lord speech.

I am also wondering whether the IRS is still investigating Long’s money as well as the rest of the Grassley Six. Or maybe the IRS is just lying in wait like a sluggish rattlesnake. Either way, this is just the sort of thing–a sex scandal and lawsuits–that the Feds would monitor for wrongdoing.

I am sure that Long is going to use this time between now and Sunday to control the damage, but I think that the floodgates are opening. Yes, I do believe that Eddie Long is capable of subverting young men for his own enjoyment, and I think that he will do anything to keep from being just another poor Southern pastor, if he knew exactly what that was. Furthermore, if Long continues to deny that he engaged in this behavior contrary to his own Christian masculinist teachings, and if he doesn’t offer any credible, believable evidence to counter that offered by the young men, it’s over.

By the way, this is not the first time that I have heard of Bishop Long being possibly gay or bisexual and having lovers. Rumors abounded in the ATL about his proclivities even before black lesbian columnist Jasmyne Cannick and former Clinton Administration office holder Keith Boykin did a series of articles on the most virulently gay-hating black church religious in 2005. Long was one of them, along with T.D. Jakes, whose down low son Jermaine has since been arrested for propositioning an undercover male cop. While the articles no longer exist online, the pair asked the ultimate question, could these people actually be gay (and closeted, struggling with their sexuality, and self-hating)? Cannick even reported later that Long knew that he had been targeted in those articles. Whether he knew it or not, the clock was ticking even then.

Danielle Belton over at The Black Snob also observed:

What I will say is that Long isn’t the only one abusing his power. He is not the first and he won’t be the last. When there is this much money to be made off the souls of people, both black and white, looking for meaning in their lives, you are going to find individuals like Long. I recently spoke with a friend who has ties to the gospel music industry about this issue and he is adamant that the Long accusations are true and have been known in the community for years. He is also adamant that Long is not the only one with improper relationships with both men and women within the church. He is hoping that this scandal will cause all the opulent robes to come off and expose these so called men and women of faith for who they truly are — fancy snake oil salesmen. Religious hucksters and hypewomen. Hypocrites.

Um, what was that admonition? Trust in no man…

For all of his popularity and omnipotence, there was a segment of Atlanta blacks, in the city and in the ‘burbs, who saw something disingenuous about the bishop and were not taken in. One guy commenting at one news site said that he had heard a while ago that Long was out and about with his teenage charges late at night, and in response, he had wondered aloud what this grown man was doing with them at such an hour.

Now we all may know what and why, too.

UPDATE (10/1/10, 12 noon): MediaTakeout’s letter is actually an open letter to Bishop Long that Parris wrote on his Facebook page in April of this year after his suicide attempt.

UPDATE (9/24/10 , 10:57 p.m.): The online black gossip site, MediaTakeout.com, published Thursday what they say is a letter written by Jamal Parris, one of the four young men who is currently suing Bishop Eddie Long for, among others, abusing his fiduciary responsibility by entering into a sexual relationship with the young man. While I consider MediaTakeout several rungs down the evolutionary ladder from Bossip.com, what led me to read this letter objectively was that it was written earlier this year when Parris allegedly attempted suicide.

Parris has not confirmed that he did attempt suicide and that he is indeed the author of this letter, and there is no way to independently verify whether it was addressed to Long and whether he did read it. What touched me about this letter is that whoever wrote it is a young person capable of great feeling, and who felt betrayed and disappointed about someone that they deeply cared about. Take it with a grain of salt, because there is a lot of wild speculation and a lot of questionable stories out there.

If this letter truly is from Jamal Parris, it says a lot more about him and what is inside of him, than the prevalent speculation that he, like the other young men, is a cold-blooded, mercenary playa who is only after Long’s money.   You can find the letter here.

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~ by blksista on September 24, 2010.

10 Responses to “UPDATE: Bishop Eddie Long Rumored To Be Stepping Down After Those Muscle Shots and A Fourth Litigant Surface”

  1. Birds of a feather flock together; You may recall a 2004 Los Angeles Times revelation that Paul Crouch of TBN denied he had homosexual tendencies but paid $425,000 to silence Enoch Lonnie Ford, another onetime male TBN employee who’d said he and the wealthy televangelist had a sexual affair.

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  2. You don’t know what happened! Judging somebody without all the facts. That’s so stupid. http://revolutionarypaideia.wordpress.com

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    • I’ve got a good idea what may have happened, since I and not a few other people have long suspected that the Bishop is not who he says that he is.

      And it is not stupid to have a point of view.

      Keep your nose clean.

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  3. no comment

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  4. This is a completely reprehensible story. The victims, of course, deserve our sympathy and prayer…and yet, I couldn’t help but sit here and wonder just why young Parris didn’t just go ahead and jump off the Tallahatchie Bridge and be done with it.

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  5. showing once again that children & teens have to be watched around ALL men!
    girls & boys

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    • Got to keep an eye on the women as well; I’m speaking of women like Mary Kay Letourneau. But I get your point, sista. Men are much more likely to abuse children, teens and young adults and women.

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  6. Lord Lord Lord, this is so depressing. I can’t imagine what his wife, family, members & ministers are feeling. I pray the Church hold it together. I’ve been through the break up of a Church and the pain is incredible. Lord help everyone through this.

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    • SG2, you know I am not Christian, only a Buddhist. Even in our own faith we are charged to moderate or change ourselves first rather than point the finger at others. Especially, as Long has done, not to live off the sufferings of others. I am sure the black church will survive, but this kind of hypocrisy being preached must be exposed and must end within the black religious community.

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