Although Bishop Eddie Long has received considerable support from other religious leaders and his congregation, not everyone is supportive of his fight against the allegations of four young men who came forward in September and accused the pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church of sexual coercion. One such person is Bishop Prophet H. Walker of the True Light Pentecost Church in Spartanburg, South Carolina, who believes that Bishop Eddie Long should resign his position at the New Birth megachurch. Walker feels so strongly, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, that he plans to take his message to Long’s backyard, the state Capitol of Georgia.
Bishop H. Walker told the Journal-Constitution that Eddie Long “has no right to assume the office of pastor of any Christian church, A pastor should be above reproach.”
Walker said Long was a “bad influence on the Christian church and future generations.” He said he ignored the news of the sex scandal when it first broke, but he found that he couldn’t stay silent after the number of accusers rose to four.
In a four day period, from September 21-24, four men announced they were suing Bishop Eddie Long for abusing his authority as a father figure and spiritual leader to enter into sexual relations with them. They alleged that Long coerced them into having sex, plying them with gifts, cars, money, and even college tuitions for schooling. The men stated in their lawsuits that they had had sex with Long in his home, at the megachurch, and in various hotel settings throughout the world.
Bishop Eddie Long denied the accusations and told his congregation he would fight the allegations. The Bishop has long been a vocal opponent to gay marriage and the gay lifestyle in general. He likened his battled against the four young men as a “David against Goliath” struggle.
But he has refused to talk about the sex scandal or his accusers, publicly stating he would not be tried in the court of public opinion.
And his congregation and followers (New Birth Ministries is an international organization, controlling several media outlets, branch churches, schools, and charitable organizations) have been quick to show their support of their legally besieged pastor. Not only have they shown vocal support to the local media in the Atlanta area, but they have also launched a Facebook page, “Supporters of Bishop Eddie L. Long,” which boasts over 6,100 members.
One New Birth Missionary Baptist Church member wrote the Journal-Constitution about the planned resignation rally, saying that Walker had “no right to call for him (Long) to step down.” Kamelya Hinson, a member at New Birth for almost 15 years, noted that Long was “not a politician, he is a pastor. He owes no explanation to anyone other than his wife, kids and his church family (yes, his spiritual sons and daughters in Christ).” She insisted that Bishop Eddie Long’s future with the megachurch was “our call, not yours.”
Bishop Prophet H. Walker isn’t the only voice suggesting that Bishop Eddie Long step down. Roland Martin, CNN contributor and analyst, suggested when the matter made headlines that Long should step aside, at least until after the legal matters were settled. The homosexual allegations are problematic because homosexuality is seen as an abomination by biblically literal-interpretative black churches. Like Bishop Walker, Martin, who quoted biblical scripture in his reasoning, said that a church’s “overseer must be above reproach.”
According to Hartford Examiner Roz Zurko, Reuben Armstrong, long a critic of Bishop Eddie Long and other megachurch leaders, has added his voice as well. In fact, Armstrong plans to attend the rally with with Walker. Armstrong, who is the author of couple books about deceptive megachurch ministers, wrote in his megachurch expose, Snakes In The Pulpit, that the type of behavior being attributed to Bishop Eddie Long was nothing new and that he had been approached by youth pastors as far back as 2006 about Long’s alleged sexual misconduct involving young people at the church.
The rally calling for the resignation of Eddie Long is set to take place at the Georgia state Capitol, which is only a few miles from the 25,000-member megachurch Long oversees in Lithonia, a city in the Atlanta metropolitan area. An elder at True Light Pentecost Church told the Journal-Constitution that they were expecting at least a hundred people to travel to Atlanta for the rally.
The rally is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. on October 31.