Bishop Eddie Long: Molestation Charges Not the Main Issue
Bishop Eddie Long: Molestation Charges Not the Main Issue
Bishop Eddie L. Long, spiritual leader of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia, has been accused of sexually abusing two young men and possibly more members of his church. Overnight, the Black church has connected itself with the Catholic church, whose priests are often accused of the same crime. Many African Americans, especially members of New Birth, are quick to defend Bishop Long, refusing to believe the allegations but have never been as quick to reserve judgment for the Catholic priests.
The deeper issue at hand has to do with why so many so-called “men of God” are accused of sex crimes. In the Black church, homosexuality is not a new phenomenon—it’s just more in the open nowadays. Gay, Black men are often the most demonstrative in displaying their love for Jesus and are among the most dedicated members of their churches.
Why is the Black church comprised of 70 percent women and a large percentage of homosexual men? Is there something within the church or the tenets of Christianity that is attracting these two demographics of society?
Upon a closer examination of the Black church, it is easy to see why it is appealing to women and gay men. There are usually displays of beautiful floral arrangements near the pulpit, soft music is mainly played in minor keys, the choir is draped in long, flowing gowns, the pastor is typically a well-dressed man which attracts women and homosexuals, and the overall atmosphere exudes a safe, non-threatening, secure environment.
The church’s appeal to women and homosexuals is understood best, however, when considering the trauma that Black people experienced during their American enslavement period. Faith and hope in the prospect of one day obtaining peace were necessary defense mechanisms and Blacks were conditioned to be afraid. There was the constant fear of being beaten, getting caught trying to escape or family members being sold. These experiences, over time, have caused Blacks to develop a spirit of apprehensiveness. We witness this spirit playing out in our inclinations to seek comfort, security, protection and “shelter from the storms of life.” We have been trained to be afraid. These experiences have also created the perfect storm for religiousness which requires submissiveness, subservience and calls for someone else (Jesus) to get behind the wheel of our lives and do the driving.
Black men, heavily involved in the church and possessing a great love for Jesus are subjecting themselves to an effeminizing element of society. Jesus is often presented as a tender, sweet man in a long robe who’s forgiving and all inclusive. Ultimately, the underlying message in the Black church is to “lean on the everlasting arms of Jesus.” As a heterosexual man, it is challenging to commit to the idea of placing oneself in the arms of another man; even if that man is a perceived savior. Sometimes a man must go into the eye of the storm to solve his problems. Encouraging Black men to lay their burdens in the lap of Jesus has offered Black men an escape from the reality of their situations. Seeking comfort, shelter and protection from a mythological figure should be seen as a “turnoff” for strong men with lofty aspirations.
Black preachers, especially, are notorious for starting their sermons in dark, gloomy clouds, underlining the many problems that we all at some point experience. This storm-chasing tactic is used because it provides them with opportunities to rescue their congregations by offering them the shelter and comfort provided by their benevolent Jesus.
In the long run, Christianity is effeminizing the Black man. Preachers who espouse this lean-on-Jesus doctrine are doing a disservice to potentially strong men. The satellites orbiting the earth, oil rigs that run thousands of feet into ocean floors, the cell phone towers that reach the clouds, etc., exist because of brave men who view themselves as gods and are absent of fear and apprehension. Men who measure the thickness of ice in Antarctica, carve roads and highways through mountains or build dams to hold back mighty rivers are not churchgoing, Jesus-loving, shelter-seeking men. This is partly why Black men do not initiate in these fearless and courageous feats.
Loving Jesus and waiting on him to bring rewards is counterintuitive to a heterosexual man and has kept them in a child-like state. Also, Black believers do not love Jesus because he allegedly gave his life so that we may live. If giving one’s life was the measurement of one’s degree of love then we would love Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., more than anyone. Blacks love and accept Jesus as their savior because they have been taught that doing so will bring them favor and rewards. It is an act of selfishness.
Bishop Eddie L. Long is wrong; not just because he may be found guilty of sexual abuse but because he—like so many other mega church preachers—is helping to create a feminine environment for Black men. Not all Jesus-loving men who attend church regularly and love Jesus are homosexuals, but an atmosphere where men continuously seek Jesus’ love and shelter, certainly has the potential to effeminize the strongest of brothers.
Christianity will continue to appeal to women, gay men and the elderly population. Single women seeking a man sometimes find that man in Jesus. Gay men, because of the stigma attached to their lifestyle, find comfort in knowing that Jesus accepts them as they are. The elderly are set in their ways and are usually unwilling to entertain any criticisms of their church, pastor or Christianity. Heterosexual Black men represent the smallest segment of the church’s population—as they should. Maybe we can reduce this number to an even greater extent, and perhaps more Black man will begin to compete on a fearless and greater level in society.