|Dc Area Pastors React to Eddie Long Sex Abuse Allegations
By Hamil R. Harris
September 27, 2010
The decision by an Atlanta pastor to fight charges of sexual impropriety filed by members of his megachurch has sparked a call by ministers across the Washington area to check the lives they lead in and out of the pulpit.
With network cameras rolling, Bishop Eddie L. Long, pastor of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, vowed to "vigorously," defend himself, amid lawsuits filed by four young males who charged that he coerced them into sexual acts.
While Long is using his 25,000 member pulpit to go on the offensive to save his spiritual empire that is replete with lucrative TV contracts, expensive cars, homes and other wealthy, a number of ministers say the issue comes down to integrity.
Rev. Derrick Harkins, pastor of the 19th Street Baptist Church in District used part his Sunday morning message to talk about the need for integrity in the pulpit. "The only way we are empowered to do what we are called to do is if we have integrity in our churches."
Harkins went onto say, "Aside from the guilt or innocence in this particular case, the best thing that can happen is a heartfelt discussion about the negative impact of materialism, excess and human hero worship that is too prevalent in many of our churches today."
"I understand the need of being supportive of an individual but the ultimate thing you should want is truth and unfortunately the truth in this situation will either be damaging to these four men or Bishop Long."
"This is a call for greater humility and a greater focus on the core purposes of the church," said Harkin, a District pastor with close ties to the White House. " So much of this has happened because the possibility of his wrong doing exist because of the lavish trips and vacations homes and the excesses that can be the temptation to even the best of us."
"I hope that people are concerned about these young men in the same way they have expressed their concern and support for Bishop Long."
But Bishop Harry Jackson, pastor of the Hope Christian Church and a leader in the anti-gay marriage movement, sees Long as the person under attack. Long is featured in Jackson books new generation of black pastors that are more conservative than their predecessors.
"Bishop Long is one of America's superstar preachers in terms of media. He has written many books, he has a flourishing TV program and at one point his one of the largest churches in America. I think we owe to him not a rush to judgment.
"I know Eddie Long personally. The way CNN has presented this case has been very lopsided against Bishop Long. They put themselves in the place of prosecutor in the way they have attempted to paint him as a major leader in the anti-gay marriage movement which is not the case. The bigger drama which is going on is this case is being used by CNN and others to attempt to cast dispersions on the black church as an institution."
But Rev. Dwayne Johnson, pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, said "The issue here is not homosexuality. Some will try to make it that. It is not the issue the issue is sexual abuse and abuse of religious power. The number one concern needs to go to the victims they need support from their community that should be the first concern.
Rev Graylan Hagler, pastor of the Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ, said "The reality is having a luxury life style of jet planes couldn't be more incongruent with who Jesus is than the examples of this kind of opulence."
In terms of Long's criticism of the gay community, Hagler said "All of us have clay feet. Sometimes it is just best to be humble."
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