Bishop Eddie Long has announced his plans to expand New Birth Missionary Baptist Church only two weeks after settling out of court with four young men who accused him of using his platform to coerce them into sexual relationships.
The plan to expand includes Long opening two new satellite churches and his parishioners are being asked to donate $ 1,000 to the cause, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
“By expanding with satellite churches, New Birth is continuing to do what God has called the ministry to do,” said Art Franklin, a spokesman for Long.
Pastor and therapist Angie Schuller Wyatt whose grandfather Robert H. Schuller founded founded the Crystal Cathedral doesn’t agree with New Birth’s plan for expansion.
“Leaving a broken congregation to build a new one is theologically irresponsible,” said Wyatt, according to CNN. “It’s like sending all your money to care for another family while your own family starves.”
Attendance at New Birth Church has dropped as the Atlanta megachurch reels not only from sexual allegations against its lead pastor but also from a bad investment made in February with an entrepreneur. That incident involved $1 million of the congregation’s money. Long managed to convince that entrepreneur to return the money to those suffering financial hardships at New Birth, according to John Black at CNN.
Other critics weighed in on Long’s decision from a business perspective.
“Expanding is the last thing he should do because people will see that as an arrogant act,” said Cherie Kerr president of KerrPR, a company based in southern California that helps celebrities in trouble fix their image, according to CNN.
Kerr believes New Birth should focus more on their outreach to the homeless and helping the needy.
Wyatt added, “Pastors of mega churches learn to love the spotlight and power. Even in the face of scandal famous preachers will do anything to maintain their platform.”