Sadly, the news that another religious leader has been accused of sexually molesting same-sex children isn't surprising. News like this seems to have become commonplace. The prevalence of such news, however, does not make it any less disturbing or appalling. And, these reported incidents are even more outrageous when the accused religious leader has been an overly outspoken opponent of that of which he is accused. Such is the case with Bishop Eddie Long.
Eddie Long, pastor of the 25,000 member mega-church, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, has been accused of sexual coercion by three young men. This, of a man who is so anti-gay that, according to ABC News, he once referred to homosexuality as "a spiritual abortion." He reportedly went so far as to lead a march of thousands across Atlanta protesting gays and same-sex marriage.
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, one young man, Maurice Robinson, 20, alleged that "Long has utilized his spiritual authority as Bishop and leader of [his] ministries to coerce certain young male members and employees... into engaging in sexual acts and relationships for his own personal sexual gratification." Robinson also charged that Long used ritualistic ceremony and Bible verses to reinforce the bond between the young men and himself and that he used church funds to entice his alleged victims with cars, jewelry, clothes, and electronics. Further, according to the suit, Long flew them around on public and private jets, put them up in luxury hotels, and got them access to celebrities and politicians.
On the same day that Robinson filed his lawsuit, another young man, Anthony Flagg, 21, filed his own, nearly identical, lawsuit.
Then, just when it seemed things couldn't get any worse, a third man, Jamal Parris, came forward with similar allegations.
Long issued a statement Thursday denying the allegation and says he will be addressing them on Sunday from his pulpit. According to ABC News, he said he is "'anxious to respond directly to these false allegations and... will do so," but that his lawyers have urged him to be patient.
Although Long denies these accusations, referring to them as "ugly charges," B. J. Bernstein, who is the lawyer of the accusers says that she has photos, texts, and e-mails to the contrary.