Atlanta Fox 5 I-Team Reporter Dale Russell Adds to Story About Bishop Long, Ephren Taylor and The Cheated Parishioners
I think Bishop Long was tipped off about what was coming from Dale Russell when he made that rather hasty video Sunday imploring Ephren Taylor to give back the money owed to New Birth parishioners. That video sure didn’t lessen the damage, and in fact may have made things far worse. Russell revealed his findings about the latest scandal to hit the bishop and his church last night in Atlanta.
What got me about this whole thing is that why would church members invest in so spurious an investment as gambling, which is considered by some if not all fundamentalist Christians to be a vice? And second, that the members interviewed still believe wholeheartedly in Bishop Long. If there is any time for these people to completely shake loose from the cult of personality around Bishop Eddie Long, it is now.
Now, some of those investors fear they may have lost their money. Instead of making big profits, they found that Ephren Taylor’s company that sold them the sweepstakes game machines has been indicted for operating a gambling enterprise.
“I’m not mad at Bishop long, but I do wish church maybe had did more follow up as well,” said [J.B.] Bailey.
Bailey, trusting his Bishop and buying Ephren Taylor’s pitch, put down nearly $14,000 to buy four sweepstakes vending terminals– machines that would be put in gaming centers. It’s the latest venture of 27-year-old self-made millionaire whiz kid.
The Sweep Stakes Income website states the machines would allow customers to “play Sweepstakes games” and “win cash prizes” in “dozens of stores across the nation.” Up to 11,342 each and every month, like clockwork.
Bailey was hooked. His contract included a “Certificate of Guarantee” that the sweepstakes machines would “generate revenues greater or equal to the amount of the investment,” even though the contract also stated the company was making “no guarantee as to how much money may be earned.”
Bailey says he was promised as much as $1,500, but when his monthly checks came in, they were just a fraction of that. And after seven months, the checks stopped coming.
When asked if he felt cheated, Bailey told FOX 5, “Oh, yeah, definitely. I wanted an explanation, never got it.”
Bailey was better off than his roommate, John Meddling. His contract shows he put in close to $10,000 for two sweepstakes machines. He says he never received a penny.
Russell found that the reality was much worse. Last September, Virginia state police cracked down on a number of these sweepstakes game machine storefronts, including the one in which Ephren Taylor had induced New Birth congregants to invest. In effect, Bishop Long had steered his parishioners into an illegal gambling racket. The video above shows Long praising Taylor’s work as being based on the word of the Divine.
The reason why I think Long didn’t look closely into Taylor’s moneymaking scheme? He may have gotten a cut of the proceeds, and that he was moved to endorse Taylor based on flattery and other blandishments. I mean, he was another good-looking, smartly-dressed, smooth talker like Long. And I say this, isn’t vanity one of the seven deadly ones? Do I think Long has any real expertise in financial matters? No, not really. And my view is that religions should not be in the business of directing people’s personal finances.
A lot of this money was the life savings of Long’s parishioners. And this money will never completely be recouped. I just wonder, how can one explain this debacle to people who are elderly or who are near retirement, or who have lost money already through foreclosures on their property or have lost their jobs in this economy as just one of those things.
These are people who have found out that they have nothing. And yet, these people are expected to tithe to him.