According to the Associated Press, the number of plaintiffs alleging sexual misconduct by the pastor of one of the largest megachurches in the nation, Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, reached four on Friday, and there are indications that more young men may add their voices in the growing scandal. But even though the number of men alleging that Long had homosexual relations with them has grown since the initial announcement Tuesday, it does not necessarily mean that the men are being truthful. Of course, Bishop Eddie Long, who has historically denounced homosexuality and gay marriage, has denied all sexual allegations that have been directed toward him, but simply saying that one’s accusers are speaking falsely does not mean they’re telling lies. And just because the matter might or might not end up in court does not mean the the truth will win out. So who is lying?
Many parishioners at the 30,000 member megachurch where Eddie Long is pastor are siding with their religious leader. Tonia Sawyer, a member of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, told CBS News affiliate WGCL, “We don’t believe it.” Another member, Warren Allen, said, “I know it’s all lies.”
Bishop Eddie Long, whose ministry oversees an international audience, several churches, schools, and a media empire, has been adamant in denying the allegations. He has stated himself, through spokespersons, through lawyers, and on the megachurch’s website that he “categorically denies” all the allegations.
Craig Gillen, Long’s lawyer, told the Tom Joyner Morning Show, “We find it unfortunate that these two young men would take this course of action.”
Bishop Eddie Long wrote in a statement on the megachurch’s website that he would speak to his congregation on the matter on Sunday.
Roland Martin, CNN contributor and TV One commentator, wrote in an op-ed piece on CNN.com that the legally besieged pastor should step down. Martin said it must be done “for the sake of the church, Long and his family, he needs to remove himself from the pulpit as the leader of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in order for the issue to be resolved to its conclusion.”
Martin noted that in a Christian church, the senior pastor or leaders usually orders an accused pastor to “be sat down.” This is done to protect the ministry, the church itself, and, according to Martin, the word of God. Quoting from the Book of Timothy from the New International Version of the bible, Martin notes that an “overseer must be above reproach.” He also counsels Bishop Long to, if innocent, to fight the charges with everything at his disposal, and, if guilty, to not put his church through the “charade” of lying about his involvement with the young men, confess what he had done, and ask his congregation, family, and god for forgiveness.
His accusers, none of which are above the age of 23, are looking to the legal system to tell their side of the story. They have chosen to place the matter before a court and give testimony under oath — which assumes they not lie under oath.
But therein will lie the rub. The opposing parities cannot both be telling the truth. One or more — if not all — will have to maintain the lie (or lies) already expressed in order to present their side of the case. Unfortunately, regardless of how a court decides, the most truthful of the parties may not win the decision.
Sadly, who is lying and who is telling the truth may never be known. But one thing is certain: If Bishop Eddie Long coerced those young men into having sex or if those same young men are filing lawsuits without justification, one or more parties involved in this sex scandal could ultimately be severely and irreparably wronged.
WGCL via CBSNews.com