Nothing Much on Eddie Long: The Billboard, The Lawyers, The Finances, The Mess
(I was just starting this when my connection flamed out and I was forced back onto the Library WiFi resources. It’s taken me this long to come back online. Some people may be bored shitless about this case by now, but things do have a way of sliding under the transom. You be the judge.)
A role model, Bishop Long isn’t. Not any more.
Which is why many people are rather disturbed by this billboard above.
One young woman said that it was uncertain whether the billboard referred to Long or to J.C. Well, Long certainly is not the second coming of J.C., but it presents his vanity for all Atlanteans to see, despite the fact that this advertisement had been approved and paid for before Long’s alleged transgressions came to light. If the Messiah is the point, then where is a depiction of him while Long is shown in lower case?
New Birth is a cult. A cult. And its members are still sticking with this guy and his grandiose sermons that hint strongly of his so-called tribulations and how he is being ‘tested.’
Just today, however, a fifth lawsuit surfaced charging that Bishop Long and two others reneged on a $1.9 million dollar property loan. This is unrelated to the New Birth troubles; nevertheless, I wonder if the Feds are checking all this out. He defaulted on this big a loan? What does that say about the so-called “prosperity gospel”? Is the bishop becoming over-extended?
The suit filed Monday asked the DeKalb County State Court to order Long and the others to pay off the debt in 10 days or incur additional fines and attorneys’ fees.
This is the fifth lawsuit filed against the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church leader in less than a month. The other four suits, which were also filed against the DeKalb County megachurch, accuse Long of coercing four young men into sex in exchange for cars, lavish trips and jobs. The AJC is the only media outlet to obtain the latest suit.
The financial suit filed Monday names only Long and does not include the church.
Long’s spokesman Art Franklin and his attorney Jason Wright declined to comment Monday.
“I am unaware of the lawsuit that you referenced and have no comment about it at this time,” Franklin said.
The new suit stems from August 2007 when Long and two business partners as part of the West Indies Holding Company bought a gym in Jonesboro. Long’s partners include Marrion Heflin, a self-employed businessman, and Frederick Folson of McDonough, who runs non-profit Strategic Community Initiatives in Lithonia.
This is also the same year Bishop Long was made to appear before Senator Grassley.Vodpod videos no longer available.
Meanwhile, over at Rod 2.0, after a like hiatus of a few days, Rod was back to form reporting this time about Samuel Brown, a black gay male who has also been a member of New Birth MBC for the past seventeen (17) years. Apparently Brown, interviewed by BET News, tried to move towards a dialogue and a softening of views espoused by Bishop Long. He’s finally seeing some light after he said that he is considering leaving the church–but there is no finality about it. I think this journey of Brown’s is going to take a little more time if he is indeed dithering.
It’s common knowledge in Atlanta’s Black LGBT community that many Black gay men attend Long’s anti-gay mega-church. One of those gay men is finally speaking out. Samuel Brown was interviewed by BET News and says he has been a member of New Birth MBC since 1993 … and it’s “insulting” to him that Long is apparently being hypocritical.
“He was unable to say that he was 100 percent guilt-free, and it was insulting to me to not come out and be straight-forward. Basically him and his lawyer crafted a statement where he didn’t have to hit the situation head on. The reason Bishop Long is so popular in Atlanta and all over the world is his transparency. He preaches about it in his sermons. He will say things that other people won’t say. He will push the envelope on a lot of things. So with him speaking so strongly about transparency and now not being able to deliver a clear-cut answer, it doesn’t sit well with me.”
Samuel Brown explains why he and other Black gay men attend services at New Birth.
BN: Do you think New Birth Church would have allowed you to be a member if they knew you were gay?
SB: Probably not. But at the same time, there are a pretty large number of congregants in the church that are gay or appear to be gay that I know of personally as well.
BN: Do you know why other homosexual Christians would become members of a church that preaches sermons condemning their lifestyle?
SB: The majority of the homosexual, gay members of the church that are at New Birth, most of them ‘fall in line’ with the teachings. They feel like it’s wrong, they are sinning, they are sinners and it’s something you have to get rid of.
Brown has a significant other.
These ‘teachings’ seem to suggest that homosexuality is like drugging, gambling, sex addiction or smoking. Homosexuality is not an addiction or a compulsion or a vice that you can eventually gain power over. You can behave, however, according to your own ingrained values, spirituality, and inclinations. But if you are gay or bisexual, this is something that is within you, and praying away your desire isn’t going to happen. Not in this lifetime.
Later, Brown responded with a comment at Rod 2.0. I’ve corrected some of the grammar:
He wrote a personal testimony called Son of a Bishop, My Testimony (his parents are ministers). He has a blogsite www.sonofabishop.blogspot.com where he refutes the abuse of Scripture traditionally used by preachers to condemn homosexual people.
His blogsite is there to correct those who abuse Scripture and also their to help heal those who has been abused by religion and religious leaders. He recently wrote an open letter to Bishop Long that included this statement:
“I’ve often said to my close friends that I sincerely feel that you have and could offer a positive and greater revelation on the subject matter of homosexuality in the church-world; however, I’ve felt that you were too concerned and afraid of the masses and your traditional Christian Fundamentalist peers. I’ve also mentioned to my close friends that I share each blog post that I write for this blog site; I share them with you, your wife and other New Birth staffers via email; and I hope and trust that my sharing has had a little something to do with the respect that you have been displaying in recent years to the many same gender-loving members in your congregation.”
Samuel Brown stayed their at New Birth to make a point by sending his very passionate blog post to Bishop Long, his wife and staff for the last few years to enlighten them and let them know that we do not fall for the Scripture twisting and abuse of tradition that berates SGL people. He was concerned about his SGL brothers and sisters who sat there uninformed and too afraid to speak out.
Please spend some time on his blog site and you will completely understand. He is certainly not a queen.
As if queendom is something to be ashamed about, too.
As far as the case is concerned, I think that it is great that no one else is saying anything untoward that might prejudice a jury later. Silence is golden, but I know that people are itchy to find something anything current about Long or the young men. Frankly, nothing is going to happen yet for some time.
For one thing, I don’t believe that all of these young men are mainly motivated by cash. For the second, I am sure that there are more than just these four men who are going to be filing suit against Long. Believe it. I just cannot believe that during all those years Long only chose them and them alone.
From what I understand, Long is alleged to have had dozens of liaisons with young men. For all those New Birth youth ministers who have gone on record that they were not treated sexually by Long, there were those who were. B.J. Bernstein, the lawyer representing the four, has to separate fact from fiction with all the others. Are they credible as witnesses as well like Parris and LeGrande? These boys and men cannot be dumb-asses sitting in court. This is as serious as a heart attack. It will be interesting just how many young people will be named or not named (indicated as “plaintiffs five through twenty-seven” for example) in the court documents.
Thirdly, as far as anything legal is concerned, there has to be first discovery for a jury trial. That is, both sides have to come up with documentation showing what they know that support or deny the charges in the complaint. So that means that both sides have to give up hundreds of documents, receipts, photographs, etc. for the information of everyone involved, even diaries and notes. That alone would be an interesting development for every news site and blog in the country, and every investigative (and gossip) reporter worth his or her salt will be trawling over every fragment offered up.
Fourth, there would also have to be deposing those involved. That is, the four young men and Bishop Eddie Long and those named in the complaint would have to give testimonies or depositions involving certain dates, occasions, and events, and recollect to the best of their abilities what happened at that time. This is another occasion where the press could have a field day in speculating and coming up with a logical framework over what really happened.
The depositions could also make or break either side. Craig Gillen, Bishop Long’s attorney, is no slouch when it comes to fighting. He advised Long when he went before Congress in 2007, which resulted in allegations going nowhere. (Some parishioners or admirers of Long have attributed this to some kind of heavenly intervention, but I am not so convinced. It may have been the Bush White House putting the squeeze on Grassley, as most of the black evangelists leaned or were Republicans and were receiving funds from Bush’s “faith-based” initiatives.) A former Federal prosecutor, Gillen once represented a Mob guy, and got him off. So I don’t expect anything quick coming from the Long camp, unless they are really desperate that this case just go away.
Long has brought in a private investigator to dig up dirt on the young men, a move which has already formed a bitter taste in people’s mouths from the gate. Don’t think that Long hasn’t bought off or silenced some who thought to get involved in the case as it first unfolded. He’s not above these kinds of tactics. I’m thinking that there is going to be a lot of expenditure–above and below board– before all this is over. As I said before, a quickie settlement would immediately confirm everyone’s suspicions that what the young men were saying was true. If Long goes down, he’s going to go down hard.
The depositions, which are public documents, could result in a situation where Long would have to settle (or some young men might have to withdraw). We may be looking at some millions or none at all, depending on what Bernstein comes up with.
However, as I said before, I don’t think that this is all what the young men are looking for. It’s important, but I think that they are looking for Long to resign. I’m sure they and a few other people would like to see Long gone, and have New Birth under new management. (Here is where Reverend Bernice King could come in, but she may be tainted as well.) Perhaps a new New Birth would regain the idea of a church board that would oversee the vast complex and properties not belonging to Long, and investigate any sniff of improprieties that would allow them to chuck any other misbehaving pastor out.
Such an event would mean an internal insurrection by some or all of Long’s inner circle, if not members of his flock who would become thoroughly repulsed by the proceedings. The revolution hasn’t happened yet to the banana republic, although the earthquake has shaken its foundations. Look for the
dictatorpastor run for cover with what he has left if and when it occurs.
It’s going to get down, it’s going to get dirty, and it will be interesting. Law.com, though, has an idea as to how the case will go down, and it is based on a ongoing case involving Long’s mentor-in-crime, Bishop Earl Paulk.
At issue were claims by Mona Brewer saying that Paulk, bishop of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, previously known as the Cathedral at Chapel Hill, abused his role as her spiritual adviser to force her into having sex with him during a 14-year-long affair. Brewer and her husband, Bobby, sued Paulk.
The case, against Paulk’s estate, church and corporate entities, is awaiting trial.
“There was evidence that Paulk was so situated as to exercise a controlling influence over the will, conduct, and interest of another,” wrote Ellington, who was joined by Chief Judge M. Yvette Miller and Judge G. Alan Blackburn. “Thus, whether Mona Brewer consented to the sexual relationship would be irrelevant when Bishop Paulk was, by virtue of his confidential relationship, in a position to manipulate her into giving that consent.”
The Brewers, therefore, would be allowed to state a claim of breach of fiduciary duty, Ellington said in the decision, Brewer v. Paulk, No. 296 Ga.App. 26, 673 S.E.2d 545.
The argument that attorney B. J. Bernstein is making on behalf of the four plaintiffs in the Long cases is “exactly the same legal argument” that attorney Louis Levenson said he made at the trial level in the Paulk case.
Possibly, but I would like to know what Long’s private investigator might have up his sleeves once he concludes his research forays regarding the young men. Not all of them have clean noses, I would think, which is why their mothers and families delivered them up to ‘father-figure’ Long to straighten them out. But anything hinting at previous shakedowns? It wouldn’t look good, and looking good is what these young men need to be at the final analysis.