Bishop Eddie Long told his parishioners at 9:00 a.m. Sunday in the first of two addresses that he would be taking his fight against the sexual coercion allegations leveled at him earlier this week by four men into the courtroom. He delivered his words much like he does every Sunday, before thousands in attendance at his 30,000-member Lithonia, Georgia, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and via a live broadcast sent out to international receivers. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Eddie Long told the congregation that he felt like David confronting Goliath, but he had yet to throw his first rock.
“I have never in my life portrayed myself as a perfect man,” the popular evangelist told an overflowing crowd, “but I am not the man being portrayed on television That’s not me. That is not me.”
Sunday’s words to his congregation, which were also live-streamed on the Internet, were the first Bishop Eddie Long has uttered in direct reference (except for short statements of denial) to allegations filed in four lawsuits brought against him in the last week. Even so, those words barely touched on the sex scandal allegations other than to say that it had been a “painful and difficult” situation. Long said his first responsibility was to his family. He also said he would not “try this case in the media” and that “it will be tried in the court of justice and decided in the court of justice.”
“Please hear this: I’ve been accused. I’m under attack. I want you to know as I said earlier I am not a perfect man. … But this thing I’m going to fight. I feel like David against Goliath, but I’ve got five rocks and I haven’t thrown one yet.”
The number of rocks the pastor used in his address refer to the traditional number of stones that the biblical character David carried when he confronted the champion of the Philistine army, Goliath, a giant. In the story, David felled the giant with a sling and stone and would later rule the kingdom of Israel. The biblical story is symbolic in that it alludes that all things are possible, even the vanquishing of seemingly unconquerable foe, if one has the power of god on their side.
Bishop Eddie Long’s “Goliath” began to make his presence known on Tuesday when attorney B. J. Bernstein held a press conference and announced that two young men, Anthony Flagg, 21, and Maurice Murray Robinson, 20, were alleging that Bishop Eddie Long had engaged in sexual misconduct with them on trips, at the megachurch, and even in his own home. The lawsuits brought against Long also targeted New Birth Missionary Baptist Church due to further allegations that megachurch members and employees knew about the goings-on and did nothing to stop or correct it. The suits also alleged that some of those same persons delivered gifts and messages for the Eddie Long.
Two more lawsuits would be leveled against the Bishop by Friday. Jamal Parris, 23, filed a lawsuit Thursday after pictures of Bishop Eddie Long dressed in tight spandex clothing were released to the public. The two pictures were allegedly sent to members of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church affiliated school, Longfellows Youth Academy. Parris’ statements claim he was Eddie Long’s personal assistant and would be asked to stay after sermons and engage in sex with Long.
The fourth lawsuit was announced by Bernstein Friday. Spencer LeGrande, 22, alleged that Bishop Eddie Long had also coerced him into a sexual relationship which began in 2005 when he was 17 years old. LeGrande claimed that the relationship began on a trip to South Africa.
B. J. Bernstein represents all four accusers. She has implied that she has had several conversations with young men alleging misconduct on the part of Bishop Eddie Long and the complicity of members and employees at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church.
Bishop Eddie Long, his attorneys, and spokespeople have adamantly denied all allegations.
Long told the congregation of one of the nation’s largest megachurches Sunday, “… I do want to remind. We’re here today and every Sunday morning. And I’ll be here next week.”
A press conference was scheduled for 10:00 a.m. A second address to the megachurch congregation was scheduled for 11:00 a.m.