The fall of Bishop Eddie Long was apparently more inevitable than the public could have ever imagined. At first I thought that his alleged sexual misconduct with some of the male teenagers in his congregation blindsided all of his followers, but I quickly found out that there were rumors that persisted through the Atlanta circles where he is based. Though I’ve never attended the church of any man of the cloth that has been accused of homosexual indiscretions with children, I realize the affect of this on their followers. Religion is one of the only avenues where people will blindly believe in and follow a person despite evidence that something is amiss. If a clergyman has charisma, people will support him in all his endeavors and look past significant proof that something is wrong. I don’t know if Eddie Long is guilty of anything improper as far as the law is concerned. State law in Georgia states that the age of consent for sexual acts is 16. All of the accusers were of age at the time they claimed to be intimate with Long, so the case has to be civil suit. One of the accusers was recently caught breaking into the church, so it seems like this could be a case of a scorned lover, instead of coersion. If this is true, then Eddie Long would only be guilty of an affair.
The bigger impact of this affair affects both the Christian and Black communities profoundly. Men that teach the Christian faith are held to a higher moralistic standard than the average public figure. And, with so few positive Black role models that are not connected to sports or music, the fall of Eddie Long has an exponentially devastating effect on the Black community, the followers of the Christian faith, and specifically those who are Black and Christian.
People that practice Catholicism have suffered mightily with questions of faith from the numerous molestation scandals that have been revealed in the last 5-10 years. There is a deep trust that is given to men of the cloth and the Catholics were betrayed by the people that were supposed to lead them morally and spiritually and then deceived by the church itself. Deception, in general, causes mistrust and contempt, but when an institution meant to lead and serve the community antagonizes, perverts, and debauches the children, the disdain that it induces spreads exponentially. A conviction of Eddie Long could contaminate the image of all the rest of the Christian churches.
The ramifications for the African-American community is just as dire. Though African-Americans are entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, and many other admirable professions, athletes, rappers, and preachers are held in the highest esteem with many of the younger people. They are the most visible and successful people in the community. However, the rappers and athletes are not held to any moral ideals. The Black clergyman is expected to be successful, provide motivation for the congregation, accommodate anyone that has problems, dispense ethics throughout his church and community, and live the perfect, chaste, virtuous life. If Long is proven to be an adulterer and homo/bisexual (a transgression in Christianity) it corrupts the sole, publicly visible role model in the African American community.
Whether Bishop Eddie Long did coerce male members of his church to engage in sexual activities or not, the damage to religion and his image has been done. Some of the members of his church steadfastly deny any improper behavior by him despite having no proof that he is innocent. But some of his following is fervently clearing from his patronage and the church. The problem with leaders of religion being accused of and/or committing the same mistakes that everyone else makes is that they’re held to a higher moral standard than the general public. And when men of faith fall from the pulpit through scandal, the people that believe in them fall too, and are left confused, disenfranchised, and hopeless.
These pictures are not proof of anything, but one has to wonder who he sent these to, and why.