New Birth Missionary Baptist Church is denying rumors that Bishop Eddie Long's wife, Vanessa, has moved out of the couple's house, calling the claims "completely and absolutely false."
"Recently, some blog entries have surfaced claiming to have anonymous sources stating that New Birth First Lady Elder Vanessa Long has moved out of the house. That claim is completely and absolutely false," said church spokesman Art Franklin in a statement Tuesday on behalf of New Birth. "Mrs. Long is very much a loving, dedicated and committed wife and mother."
The rumors surrounding Mrs. Long's departure recently escalated in the weeks following Eddie Long's announcement that his sexual misconduct case was settled out of court. Four young men filed lawsuits last fall accusing the Atlanta megachurch pastor of coercing them into sexual relationships. In May, both parties reached a settlement and the lawsuits were dismissed in court.
One blog, The Mo’Kelly Report, citing unnamed sources that include present members and current employees of New Birth, reported that Vanessa Long had moved out of the couple's home months ago, taking along their children, due to the scandal. On Monday, the blog claimed that Mrs. Long has also left New Birth and is now worshipping at another Atlanta church, Word of Faith Family Worship Cathedral, which is led by Bishop Dale Bronner.
Black Media Scoop, another blog claiming that Mrs. Long moved out, wrote Tuesday that Eddie Long's wife "allegedly agreed to stick by Long until the sex scandal drama was over and then she’d leave."
New Birth is calling on the blogs and bloggers to retract their reports.
"It is unfortunate that anyone would make such hateful and damaging false claims of this nature," said Franklin in the New Birth statement, which doesn't mention the names of any blogs. "These cruel and insensitive rumors have the potential to cause immeasurable pain and suffering. Those involved should feel obligated to retract their earlier statements."
In the statement, the church said it initially chose not to respond to the rumors about Vanessa Long but it felt compelled to following the multiple blog entries.
"However, in this new digital world, along with a steep decline in quality reporting, many people can’t discern the difference between legitimate journalists and irresponsible bloggers," read the New Birth statement.
Vanessa Griffin Long is the bishop's second wife. They married in 1990 and have three children together.
Long has one child with his first wife, Dabara S. Houston, whom he divorced after a brief marriage.