September 30, 2010 at 7:40 pm EDT | by Dyana Bagby
Congregation shows support for Long

ATLANTA — The mood at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church Sunday morning was one of cheer and elation as thousands of parishioners gathered to show their devoted support to their bishop, Eddie Long.

Long, embroiled in scandal after four young men filed lawsuits against him last week alleging he used his power as their spiritual leader to coerce them into sexual relationships, told the some 8,000 gathered for the 8 a.m. service that he was like David fighting Goliath.

“I feel like David against Goliath, but I got five rocks and I haven’t thrown one yet,” he said after a brief sermon and then walked off the dais. Congregants cheered and stood and applauded Long.

A press conference was held after the service at about 10 a.m. It was believed Long would take questions at the press conference, but his attorney said before Long addressed reporters no questions would be allowed.

“As advice from counsel I’m not going to address the allegations and the attacks,” he said. He said he didn’t want his case tried in the court of public opinion but rather in the court of justice.

“I will say I will fight, fight very vigorously these charges. I’ve been at this church 23 years and this is the first time I’m realizing how important we are to get this much attention.”

He then said he and the church would continue its missionary work in countries such as Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.

He said he’s always worked with youth as well and will continue to do so and his church will continue to do what it has been doing.

Long was flanked by his wife and other supporters, including a young man wearing a T-shirt that read, “I Support Bishop Long.”

When he finished speaking, several reporters shouted questions, including, “Are you innocent?” but Long ignored them and he and his entourage just walked off the stage.

People began arriving at the church before 6 a.m. and stood outside the front doors of the church waiting to enter at about 7 a.m. A small prayer circle of about 10 people formed to pray for Long. One woman in the circle said they should pray for Long, his family, his grandchildren and even those who have brought the allegations against him.

Numerous ushers wearing white gloves and black suits with the New Birth emblem guided people to seats once the doors were opened. For more than an hour, more than 100 of mostly men gathered in a group at the front of the church praying and applauding loudly.

When Long finally came out at 9 a.m. with his wife, he was greeted by a thunderous standing ovation of thousands.

He took in the applause for several minutes and when he finally spoke he tried to make light of the situation by greeting members as well as the “rest” of the people who were in attendance. And because the service was televised, he also said he wanted to “greet the world.”

Long said his first responsibility was to his family during the most difficult time in his life. His next responsibility was to his other family of New Birth.

“You don’t have to tell us anything,” one person shouted, bringing a grin to Long’s face.

After the service, several church members refused interviews with the media.

One young man, Joshua Buggs, 25, was filling up his car with gas at the Citgo down the street from the megachurch.

He said he’s attended New Birth on and off since he was 17 but specifically avoided attending today’s services because of the crowd.

“This is not a regular Sunday at New Birth, this is more so like a New Year Sunday,” he said as traffic trickled past the gas station.

He said he does not believe the allegations against his bishop because one of the accusers, Maurice Robinson, was arrested in June for robbing Long’s office and charged with stealing the pastor’s iPad and jewelry and other items.

PHOTO: Eddie Long

  • This is just embarrassing for them. No one wants to admit they were deceived.

    I say the we believe the kids first, then that nasty old troll with the tight pants.

    Come on people. Open your eyes…

  • Rev eddie, R(epuslsive) e(gotistical) v(ulture) People like Long, Robertson, Haggard, and the Grahams are out for themselves and as much money as they can chisel from the suckers who sit in the pews. Religion and especially these megachurches take full advantage of the fact that our laws give them a free ride on the gravy train. Legalized extortion rackets.

  • @Jerry, your points are well-made. Additionally, it is the black church that has been a tremendous breeding ground for hate and homophobia.

    • So Bill I assume that you’re saying. All Black people that attend church are homophobic???? Some of you white queens give me gas. Breeding ground for homophobia huh?

      Well then tell that to Pat Robertson Ted Haggart, Rod Parsley, Jenzteen Franklin, Billy and Franklin Graham, Jonathan Falwell, The AFA, Focus on The Family and while you’re at it GOProud.
      They’re all ran by WHITE peoplen whose groups has been a tremendous breeding ground for hate and homophobia.

      Haven’t you seen the HORRIBLE suicides this week? Well it was 1 black kid and all the rest was white. Do you tHink it was Black kids that bullied them too????

      Clean up your own house (Your race of people) before trying to condemn others and don’t forget to Clorox those sheets you wore while making your comment!

  • The Reverand Hypocrite is just one more example of a self-loathing queen who can’t deal with his own homosexuality. Like so many other gay-bashers, he is targeting his fellow gay people to draw attention away from his own sexual orientation.

  • I’ve read the comments but I think you should re-read the article. This pastor is not bashing anyone, he is in fact being bashed. Even if the allegations are true, why does the gay community have to throw each other under the bus? People should just grow up and take responsibility for their actions and not have to cause a scene whenever they don’t have their way. Thats why they say that gay men are drama queens and clearly not all are. And yes although the black church has been a breeding ground for hate and homophobia not all churches are; and its not only black churches. I’ve been to several white operated churches who’s done the same thing. Not to mention those are the churches you see protesting on tv all the time. Let’s not make this a racial issue. This is an issue based on someone who didn’t get their way and now they are lashing out just like a little kid. What grown person do you know still acts like a child and is not questioned whether or not they are in their right mind.

    Just food for thought. Think before you speak.

  • Joe –

    Get a grip! He is “being bashed,” because he has no balls to tell the truth. How nice of these Christian Soliders to lead but not follow their own advise. In my book I describe a moment when my “Christian” brother in-law tried to moleste me, but later when my sister read the truth, he says he was ministering – just like the Preacher man!
    Besides all that, a little drama goes a long way.

    You think comparing your pitiful self to David fighting Goliath is not DRAMA, well I suggest you look up the word.

    He is being thrown under the bus because he wanted to throw us there. Who is throwing who under the bus Preacher man, Joe…?

    I guess you are right, we are all drama queen including little David…

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