Whether Bishop Eddie Long is ultimately found guilty or not of coercing several men into performing sexual acts, the controversy brings to the forefront the all-to-common practice of pastors using the Bible to enforce their own personal beliefs.
Plaintiffs are alleging that Bishop Long quoted Bible scriptures and used the word of God to brainwash them into thinking that the sexual acts were a necessary part of pursuing a better relationship with God. According to the lawsuit, Long took the men on lavish trips and showered them with gifts, all the while proclaiming that the alleged relationships were required by God.
Think about the last time you heard about a minister using the Bible to advance his personal agenda–whether it be the minister who urges you to “give unto the Lord’s building fund” when in reality it’s his personal building fund or the minister who urges people to send in a “love offering plus shipping and handling” for a prayer cloth to get closer to God. How about the minister who admonishes his flock with scripture for indulging in “acts of the flesh” while he regularly indulges in extramarital affairs?
It’s unfortunate that some “men of the cloth” take advantage of the hundreds and sometimes thousands of members who place them on a pedestal and adore their every move. In the African American community, in particular, religion is an integral part of the group and scandals like this often have devastating effects on more than just the few parties directly involved.
Whether Bishop Long is found to be guilty or not, this isn’t the first, nor will it be the last, time a pastor is accused of using the Bible to advance a personal agenda. These acts are shameful. It’s time that men of the cloth take their roles in the church more seriously and stop abusing their power and use these positions for their intended cause: to spread the word of God.