Finally, after five days and the emergence of a fourth plaintiff in the sexual coercion allegations against New Birth Missionary Baptist Church’s, Bishop Eddie Long—he speaks out. Long addressed an overflowing sanctuary at the 8 a.m. service on Sunday, Sept. 26, while I, and several other media representatives waited eagerly in a secluded press room.
I was not surprised at the overwhelming, supportive applause that filled the church as members watched Long clutch his wife’s hand as they presented a united front. As the crowd simmered, Long greeted his New Birth members, followed by a pause and then acknowledged all his other guests (referring to the media and spectators), whom he informed that church is held there every Sunday at 8 a.m., implying the crowd size was due to the extra media attention caused by the scandalous sexual allegations.
As he prepared to address the sexual coercion allegations, Long commented to his congregation that he wanted to address his family (New Birth) first. He spoke about the many phone calls they had more than likely received, and this being the most difficult time of his life. He created a clever acronym for the word power: P=power for prayer; O=outreach; W=power of worship; E=encouragement; R=resolve; and quoted various scriptures.
He compared this “attack” on him to David and Goliath, remarking, “I’ve got five rocks and I haven’t thrown one yet.” That statement threw me off a little because there are only four suits filed at this time against him. Why did he say five stones? I wonder what he was referring to. Also, he touched on how difficult situations will show you who’s in your corner and who is not.
As I slid to the end of my seat anticipating the high-profile pastor to adamantly deny the allegations laid before him and smite down with fire and brimstone his accusers. Thoughts raced through my head as to how he would approach the situation. The music settled. The crowd hushed as Long began to speak.
“I’m not a perfect man,” he said. “…I am not the man that they are portraying me to be on television.”
In his brief response, Long didn’t use the words “innocent” or “not guilty” that I wanted to hear–phrases that I needed to hear so I could no longer straddle the fence. Instead, he said that he will “fight these allegations vigorously in a court of justice, and not in the media,” where he “didn’t think I’d get any justice at all.”
So, after the media build-up I expected more from the Bishop. It was only a drizzle—I expected a storm.