- (Photo: New Birth Missionary Baptist Church via The Christian Post)
Bishop Eddie Long said he wanted to run his Atlanta megachurch “without distractions” after two of the four youngsters who accused him of luring them into homosexual sex acts declared they were writing a book about their experiences although they had withdrawn all lawsuits.
“Unfortunately, we are in the media again and people are wondering what I am going to say,” Eddie Long, senior pastor at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga., said in a statement Thursday. “All I have to say is what we stated earlier. All parties involved decided to resolve the civil cases out of court. The decision was made to bring closure to this matter and allow us to move forward with the plans God has for this ministry.”
Long’s statement came a day after two of the accusers, who withdrew their lawsuits in May as part of a settlement deal, told Atlanta’s SWB-TV that they were writing a book to express what they had been through and to warn others.
“I don’t know if I’m angry anymore at the abuse, I think I’m more so angry at what I lost from it,” Jamal Parris was quoted as saying. “I don’t need the clothes. I don’t need the jewelry. I’ll stand up in front of you like a man more than you ever were. Now tell me I’m lying, tell me I’m wrong. Tell me you didn’t do this. Look at all of us now face up.”
“We weren’t anything more than kids who went to the church to learn about God,” Spencer LeGrande said. “What trapped us is we were just addicted to the lifestyle. We were addicted to the love that we got… I’m gonna tell the world, money does not buy happiness.”
Eddie Long has denied the allegation that he coerced the four into sexual acts by offering cash, cars, lodging and lavish trips, but he went for out-of-court settlement on May 27 to get the lawsuits filed in September 2010 dismissed.
The four former members of the LongFellows Youth Academy, a group of teenage boys selected by Long for mentoring, charged that the real purpose of the academy was to lure youngsters into sex.
In his Thursday’s statement, Long said he would “continue to honor and abide by my commitment of confidentiality and restraint as it relates to the resolution of the civil litigation and will not be diverted from the important work of the ministry.”
According to Houston Chronicle, Long is a “flashy figure” in Lithonia, the Atlanta suburb where he lives and built his church. “He is often seen in a Bentley attended by bodyguards. He wears clothes that show off his muscular physique. He favors Gucci sunglasses, gold necklaces, diamond bracelets and Rolex watches. He lives in a 5,000-square-foot, five-bedroom house that he bought for $1.1 million in 2005.”
In his sermons, he often tells his congregation that God wants them to be wealthy and asserts that Jesus was not a poor man, the newspaper added. The megachurch claims to have 25,000 members. Long’s Emmy-Award-winning broadcast, “Taking Authority,” which airs on the Trinity Broadcast Network, reaches 172 countries and more than 270 million people.
After Long’s out-of-court settlement, which reportedly involved payment of big sums of money, Bishop Paul S. Morton of the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship, who ordained Long as bishop, urged him to repent.
While Long’s statement expressed desire to serve God, it did not include confession.
The statement mentioned Long’s journey to South Africa “where thousands where blessed and more than 700 people gave their lives to Christ.” “We also were able to sow more support into the HIV/AIDS Hospice in Johannesburg that we partnered with last year. We built a wonderful bridge of relationships with pastors and community leaders to further establish the Kingdom and bless others.”