As the investigation into Eddie Long’s conduct continues, one Baptist leader is urging Christians not to buy into the “razzamatazz and hype” surrounding the case.
Long has been accused of sexual misconduct and abusing his authority by four young men who used to attend New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, the megachurch he pastors in Atlanta, Ga.
Although his megachurch is based in the U.S., Long has a strong following within the black majority Christian community in the United Kingdom as a result of his broadcasts, audio resources and books.
The Rev. David Shosanya, co-founder of Street Pastors and a member of the London Baptist Association, said the case had sent “tremors” through Christian communities in the U.S. and U.K.
Writing in the latest edition of Keep the Faith magazine, he said it would be “misguided and immature” to jump to conclusions about Long’s guilt, but equally unhelpful for Christians to refuse to accept that ministers of the Gospel occasionally fail.
“Circumspection is necessary in cases such as this,” he said.
Shosanya warned that perceptions were often not objective and that Christians therefore needed to look to Scripture in forming their response to the allegations.
“Firstly, we are to be more concerned with the individuals than we are with the story,” he said. “In other words, our interest should be for the alleged offender and those making the allegations, and not in the razzamatazz and hype.
“Being scriptural in our outlook means that we recognize that we are dealing with individuals who are made in the image and likeness of God, and that irrespective of whether the allegations are true or false, human relationships have been severely, perhaps irreparably, damaged.”
The four men, now in their twenties, say they were teenagers when Long gave them money and lavish gifts and coerced them into engaging in sexual acts with him. In responses submitted to Dekalb County State Court on Monday, Long admitted giving the men gifts and occasionally sharing his room with members of his congregation.
Some Christians angry over the lawsuits have gone as far as to protest outside Long’s church and call for his resignation.
Shosanya said Christians needed to be more concerned about the establishment of truth than the possibility of being “embarrassed” by the actions of a fellow Christian and hold onto the possibility of people being restored and regaining their wholeness in God.
He also spoke of his desire to see justice, forgiveness and healing emerge from the case.
“If the allegations made against Bishop Long are found to be true, they in themselves will not preclude him from experiencing the grace of God,” he said.
“The same is also true for the individuals making the allegations. Their experiences need not stop them from knowing the love of God and his people and, by doing so, finding healing and offering forgiveness.”