Amid Falling Church Membership and Diminishing Revenue, Bishop Eddie Long Meets His Young Accusers in Mediation
Made my rounds of newsmakers, and yes, Bishop Long popped up. I knew that there was something to Bishop Long’s instituting a Monday prayer meeting three times out of the year, but pointedly asking that the invited black male congregants bring an offering to the service. From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:
Art Franklin, spokesman for the Lithonia megachurch, said it also adopted a “pilot program” adjusting the work week from five to four days.
“Like numerous other churches and charitable organizations across Georgia and the rest of the country, New Birth and its faith community have been impacted by the nationwide downturn in the economy,” according to a statement.
Franklin said the church “responded with fiscal prudence and common sense” to the changes in the economy.
It was unclear whether the compensation of the pastor, Bishop Eddie Long, was affected by the changes or how many people are employed at New Birth. The statement said Long’s compensation is determined by an independent board, “in conjunction with advice and counsel of New Birth’s CPAs and tax advisers, all in accordance with IRS regulations.”
The Fox 5 I-Team first reported the cuts Wednesday. Fox 5 said it obtained internal records that showed the church collected nearly $20 million last year, with more than $1 million designated for Long as a love offering. The love offerings are added to the church’s general operating fund, the church said. It did not confirm or deny the amounts.
This article also reiterated that Long would no longer present his famous Easter service at the Atlanta Dome until further notice, marking the third year in a row that the program would not return there. And yes, I think that beyond everything else, Bishop Long is still getting paid.
However, I know for sure that it was not only the economy that has diminished offerings at New Birth. Other churches, including mega-churches, have had financial setbacks, but nothing has yet topped the doings at New Birth. For it has been the series of scandals involving financial misconduct on the part of the bishop and his “friends” who turned out to be shysters who gypped his congregants, as well as the sexual misconduct charges leveled at him by four young men who allege that he groomed each one to be his lover, and then dropped them when he tired of them.
As usual, Dale Russell and his I-Team has the story of how these young men finally confronted Bishop Long in the mediation proceedings that occurred in mid-February.
The FOX 5 I-Team has uncovered when the talks took place and learned about the explosive interaction between Bishop Long and the four young men suing him for sexual misconduct.
Three weeks ago Wednesday, in the early morning hours a black Lincoln Town car with the engine running, sat in front of Bishop Eddie Long’s house.
Not long after, Bishop Long arrived at a top secret location for the first of back-to-back mediation talks.
Those talks turned to an angry face-to-face confrontation.
Last September, Bishop Eddie Long told his congregation that he was going to battle allegations of sexual misconduct. That public fight is now embroiled in private settlement talks.
The I-Team was first to tell you how Jamal Parris and three other young men filed suit against Bishop Long and his 10,000-seat New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. The lawsuits claim that the bishop lavished money, trips and gifts on the young adults while having sexual contact with them.
In all four of the law suits, Bishop Long admitted he was a mentor who traveled with the young men and at times shared a room. He denied any sexual activity.
But in the very first court hearing, Long’s lawyer said both sides were ready to resolve the case. Court records showed the mediation was set for the second week of February.
According to sources familiar with the case, they were all there. FOX 5 I-Team sources say the court-ordered mediation began a week ahead of schedule in a top secret, undisclosed location. And during mediation, sources say all four young men angrily confronted Bishop Long.
According to FOX 5 I-Team sources, the back-to-back days of mediation were nearly three weeks ago. Senior I-Team reporter Dale Russell was told all four young men and their attorney along with the bishop, church and insurance lawyers sat down together in the same room.
A source familiar with the discussions described the atmosphere as “heated” with a lot of “emotion and anger.” The source told Russell the young men “cursed the Bishop” as they described in “graphic detail” what they allege he did to them, and the “Bishop never responded.”
Which is why child sex offenders almost never plea bargain. They’re in denial. They’d rather do the time than admit to anything that they did. And Long’s not going to admit to wrongdoing. Not even to his own attorney. He’s never wrong. He does no evil. He never did anything. Everything happens to him. He’s the anointed one. He’s more than a man. Admitting wrongdoing is the diminution of this image that he has of himself. And he worships himself more than he worships the truth.
Granted, these youths are now young men, but they were all below the age of consent when he met them, and he plied them with things that they had never had before: gifts and most importantly, affection. They didn’t know then that it was fake, that it was all in aid of eventually forcing them to submit to him. I laud Jamal Parris, Spencer LeGrande, Maurice Robinson, and Anthony Flagg. I laud them for telling their truth. Yes, they cursed out Bishop Long, and while this is supposed to happen in mediation–letting it all come out–a lot of children or men and women don’t have the luxury of letting the abuser have it, short of beating the crap out of him. This is not about money. It never was. Nothing Long pays them will ever give back their integrity–that is, of being whole and undiminished by their experiences.
Bishop Long deserves everything that is coming to him.