Faith

Gay Sex Scandal Rocks Popular Atlanta Bishop

A sex scandal is threatening to destroy the multi-million dollar religious empire of the conservative Georgia-based Bishop Eddie L. Long. Four former members of LongFellows Youth Academy, a group of teenage boys handpicked by Bishop Long for spiritual mentoring, are accusing him of using moral authority as well as the promise of money and new cars to coerce them into sex acts. Bishop Long is a self-proclaimed social conservative who declaims against homosexuality, calls for a ban on same-sex marriage, and holds seminars that promise to “cure” homosexuality. Bishop Long preaches a heterodox gospel in which Jesus was a wealthy man and wants his followers to be wealthy, too. In this, at least, Bishop is no hypocrite: He is often seen around Lithonia, Alabama, in a Bentley attended by bodyguards, wearing Gucci sunglasses, gold necklaces, diamond bracelets, and Rolex watches. His church, often called “Club new Birth,” has around 25,000 members and provides Bishop Long with considerable political clout—the church hosted four U.S. presidents during the 2006 funeral for Coretta Scott King. According to the charges, Bishop Long provided cars for the four young men and put them on the church payroll. Two of the men said they also were put up in Church-owned housing, where Bishop Long visited them for masturbation and oral sex. Bishop Long says he will address the accusations during services on Sunday.