October 14, 2010 | by Michael Long
Stop the silence, Bernice King

If the charges against Bishop Eddie Long are true, now would be a perfect time for Rev. Bernice King, the sole surviving daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr., to renounce her belief that the bishop is her “spiritual father” and to rethink her own campaign against homosexuality and gay rights.

Because of the close alliance that she has built with Bishop Long, such a renunciation would no doubt be difficult. But it would certainly offer hope to those of us who are deeply concerned that she will continue to express anti-gay themes as she moves into the top leadership position of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the civil rights organization begun by her father in 1957.

In December 2004, King joined Bishop Long — who is now facing lawsuits alleging that he used his riches and Episcopal authority to lure men into sexual encounters — in leading a march that opposed gay marriage and supported a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and woman.

This was not their first public statement on gay rights. Three months before the march, King and Long had traveled together to Auckland, New Zealand, to offer support to a church-affiliated political party whose primary purpose was to defeat legislative efforts to establish civil unions for gays.

Speaking before an audience filled with conservative Christians, King stated: “I know deep down in my sanctified soul that [Dr. King] did not take a bullet for same-sex unions.” And shortly after this anti-gay speech, Long delivered a sermon in which he described homosexuality as “spiritual abortion.” It was just one of a number of anti-gay sermons he has preached through the years, sometimes with young men surrounding him in the altar area immediately below the pulpit.

Predictably, the anti-gay themes of King and Bishop Long were very popular among their followers. When King spoke in New Zealand, audience members leaped to their feet, shouting “Hallelujiah!” Long’s church members at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, just outside Atlanta, did virtually the same thing, but replacing the shouts of praise with loud laughs, when he spoke with a lisp that mocked effeminate men during one of his anti-gay sermons.

Of course, no one is laughing today, and no one is shouting praises from on high. The bishop stands accused in three separate lawsuits and King has been silent. Too silent. Her silence is understandable, though; she must be shocked at the allegations against a man in whom she has reposed so much trust.

But if the charges are true, King would do well to return to the one of the themes of her 2004 march — Stop the Silence! — and speak out about her misplaced trust so that we can be assured that she no longer identifies herself so closely with a man who has built his ministry on a regular practice of mocking gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgendered folks.

Better yet, King would do well to use this crisis as an occasion to rethink the credibility of her own longtime conviction that gays are sinners and that gay rights are merely special privileges sought by individuals who have wrongly chosen a sinful lifestyle.

I’m not optimistic. Unlike her father, King is theologically conservative and reads the Bible literally and chances are that if the lawsuits are true, she will see them simply as additional fodder for continuing to label homosexual acts as sinful and gay rights as socially destructive.

So let me make a modest proposal: If King is still not willing to see gays as citizens deserving of all the rights and privileges identified by our founding documents and legal precedence, if she is still opposed to entertaining the notion that gay rights are civil rights, and if she is still unable even to conceive of the thought that marriage is a civil institution that all citizens should have the right to access, perhaps King — and all of us — would be better served if she were to refuse the open leadership post at her father’s civil rights organization and, instead, actively offer herself for what may turn out to be a brand new job opening at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church.

12 Comments
  • Great article. However, you are missing the much larger irony of Rev. Bernice King. After all, she has been rumored for years to be a lesbian. I am not suprised at all that she has been so quiet when she probably knows she is next!

    • Robert, you are SO correct. It’s not a rumor. The information is quietly kept and is carefully maintained. They all should learn how to “study to be quiet”. Jesus said nothing about homosexuality and perhaps we should do much of the same.

  • Bernice King’s mother was a dear friend of mine for almost 40 years and she would be devastated to know what her youngest daughter is doing. Mrs. Coretta King was one of the staunchest supporters of equal rights for LGBT persons in all walks of life including the military and marriage. Shame on Bernice.
    Winston Johnson
    Atlanta

  • Winston, I couldn’t agree more.

    Robert, I never heard the lesbian rumor but it SOOO fits the profile. That oh so Christian theme of ‘Love the sinner, but hate the sin’, which is already proven to be tired and hypocritically applied, in reality is more like ‘Hate the sin that you know you desperately want to do.’

    Eddie, and Bernice, need to just come out and let the chips fall wherever. The burden of living a lie is heavy, and deadly.

  • whoever posted the comment about Mr. Long making fun of gays can you prove that statement? If so,pls do. I went to the church myself for a period of time and heard him speak of ministry/healing for gays on at least 3 maybe 4 occasions. Never, ever heard him mock or make fun of gays-I think you’re just making that up or are misinformed. Or are you just being defensive and biased because he marched against gays calling their unions marriage v.s. unions or partnerships?

    And as far as Berniece coming out-is that any of your business? I didn’t think so. And everyone who’s gay has their own personal or private reason’s for not coming out and don’t need/ask your permission or opinion. It’s a shame that gays become embitterred, spiteful, and hateful (the same emotions they dislike for their choices) over not beng accepted/loved for who they are.

    Love will always be more powerful than fear and hate-try that instead.

  • Thanks Joy. I went to Newbirth as well. He wasn’t a bitter or mean person in regards to homosexuals. Bishop, to me is a loving person. Think about this: if I’m unmarried and having sex (heterosexual) outside of marriage, and I’m called a sinner, then it’s okay. If a person of homosexual persuasion is called out for going against the original biblical intent for men and women. They get upset. I’m sorry. I get upset when I see two men or two women adopting children like it’s okay. I hate what the world is doing. Choosing to create an altered family type rather than follow God’s original intent and structure for the family. I’m sure the kids will be better adjusted than most considering that they have to deal with their parents twisted choices. It’s confusing to children. God created the sexes to compliment each other.

    • I’m glad that you so firmlly believe in the Bible, which was written two centuries AD,(if there is an AD) by a group of men who related stories and tales that were finally written down and taken as “gospel” . Do you wear red? eat pork; work on the Sabbath? Do you have sex during your period? Then you are condemed to hell. You are “disgusted” at gays adopting children. How about the single mother in South Carolina who sold her 4 month baby to her “boy friend” for prostitution at the same time she was pregnant with another child; the Prince Georges County woman who attacked a pregnant woman and cut her belly open to steal her baby; DC wards 3 and 4 having the highest rate of HIV in the United States; the countless Hollywood personalities having children out of wedlock; “Anderson Coopers’ 360” program on Catholic priest who have fathered children and the Catholic spokesperson response was “well, David Letterman did it.” There have been 5,000 children born to priest in Britain and another 6,700 in Ireland (Google search). In a 1990 study 20% of U.S. Catholic priests were involved in a continuing heterosexual relationship and another 8% to 10% were involved in an occasional sexual relationship. So reread your bible and concentrate on the “love your neighbor” part.

  • Mooky-the only twisted choice I see is to promote hatred of gays and lesbians, like what you’re doing

  • Gwendolyn Williams

    I have been taught that the Bible is God’s effort to reach man, that God’s Word will never fail, that His Word is truth, that He is the same yesterday, today and forever. I believe that!. Oprah may say I have a closed mind. Others may say I am full of hatred. I have gay and lesbian relatives and it is hard to convince them I love them when I do not agree with their lifestyle. That is between them and God. I am going to love them anyway and there is nothing they can do about it. There is no difference in the sins of homosexuality and fornication/adultery between heterosexuals. They are all an abomination to God. It is time for Gays and Lesbians to stop using the “Hate” excuse for their lifestyle. That is not true, at least not as much, anymore.

    Because of the “I’m going to do whatever makes me happy” attitude today, availability of drugs, open gay and lesbian lifestyles, and new rules for “tolerance” and open mindedness, it has caused our young people to not only explore sex between heterosexuals but has also sparked an interest in trying out the gay and lesbian lifestyles. Some go both ways for the rest of their lives, and others finally find their niche. Yes, I do believe some are born with a gender deficit that is beyond their control, the same as those born with a disability that is beyond their control. But there are far too many who have chosen their sexual identity or have caused them to assume a new or different sexual identify or preference. No studies have been made to establish what causes this deviation from God’s original creation.

    I wonder how those children brought up in gay and lesbian families are going to turn out. In some cases probably better than those brought up in promiscuous relationships. Either way, it was not how God had ordained family life.

    It is sad to see how God’s Word is being twisted to suit whoever reads it and I dread the consequences of His judgement on our New World. What is going to happen to the Bible as we know it. There are already so many translations that wonder who will memorize verses and from how many versions.

    But to our Gay and Lesbian community, you are first male, female, black, white, yellow,brown, red, etc and your rights are secure under those bases and further, you have legal redress with wills, powers of attorney, guardianships, all under the aforementioned bases. Fortunately, some employers have made your benefits to be the same as any other employee’s because of your choices.

    I just wonder what other new found freedoms will pop up and be declared as “unconstitutional” and lead our country into further ruin in the name of progress??????

    By the way, I only remember Mrs Coretta Scott King champion the rights of Gay and Lesbian persons, not Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. himself. Someone has included an error in history.

  • p.s. Stop treating gay and lesbian people as though they are some sort of disease in need of curing or some sin in need of salvation. People don’t chose to be gay…get that in your head once and for all!
    You can see a two-year old already “being gay” not CHOOSING TO BE but BEING GAY…not sexually gay, but behaviorally it’s already there…you know it, I know it, we all know it. And, all the preaching,praying, beating, scolding, shaming, outing, punishing,imprisoning,rebuking, “therapizing” and otherwise trying to CHANGE this in-born, endemic, Natural Inclination simply do no good: not now, not ever. If God make no mistakes, then why do you thing being gay is a mistake? It’s not a choice no more than a straight man acting straight is an “act.” It’s not an act, it’s who he is! You can’t make him straight no more and you can make him gay. He IS what he is, she IS what she is and no amount of denial, attack, retribution, argument, trial, or deprivation will ever change it. If it could, it would have already done so. From time immemorial we have heard of and experienced gay people, mostly for the better. True there are a few bad apples in any group. Strangely, this group of hated folk comprise the greatest league of intellectuals, geniuses, artists, musicians, leaders (military and otherwise), and world-class imaginations in the history of mankind. Actually, everyone else seems quite ordinary and hardly worth the time it takes to debate the point.

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