The latest of such cases is now being leveled against the popular and charismatic Pastor Eddie Long, of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Georgia, USA.
The pastor is now under fire and has been accused by four, (4), young men who are part of his following, charging him with sexual coercion. The men have released photos taken by the pastor himself and purported to have been sent to them by the Baptist leader.
During his televised church service on Sunday, (26 September), Pastor Long told his congregation that, “There have been allegations and attacks made on me. I have never in my life portrayed myself as a perfect man. But I am not the man that’s been portrayed on television (news).That’s not me. That is not me.”
His comments were interrupted with loud applause from worshippers but he neither discussed specifics of the lawsuit filed by the men, nor did he flatly deny the accusations.
Of the four men who took the legal action this past week, three live in Georgia while the other resides in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he attends one of Long’s satellite churches. Two of the men are also members of Long Fellows Youth Academy that teaches youth about sexual and financial discipline. They claim that Long took them on trips and gave them gifts to seduce them.
The charges however seem to run counter to Pastor Long’s outstanding record of being an outspoken opponent of gay marriage and whose church has counseled gay members to become straight.
The lawsuit claims that Long abused his “spiritual authority”. The allegations however are currently not been investigated by federal nor state authorities because the men were 17 and 18 years, when the relationships were said to have started with the pastor. In Georgia, the age of consent is 16.
Long has said little about the charges, indicating that he is following the advice of his lawyers not to say much about the case given the ongoing legal process. All he would admit is that he intends to fight it.
Only recently the Catholic Church has been put under renewed pressure to punish those leaders of the faith, who have been accused of sexually assaulting young boys throughout the world. The current Pope himself has come in for much criticism for his previous silence and the part he may have played, before he was Pope, in the “cover up” activities to protect the church.