Friday, July 01, 2011

Eddie Long scandal underscores failure of the black church

The pictures which may have cost Eddie Long millions.
My friend Rod McCollum from Rod 2.0 Beta has written an incredible piece on the recent controversy regarding disgraced Georgia pastor Eddie Long. Long, head of the megachurch New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and a critic of homosexuality and marriage equality, has recently settled a lawsuit with four young men who claimed that he coerced them into sexual relationships.

McCollum's piece the controversy and reveals the sad fact that while it may have seemed tantalizing, neither the black church nor the black community used it as a chance to have crucial dialogues on the subjects of lgbtqs of color, HIV/AIDS, or even sexual abuse in the church.

Some of the best parts of McCollum's piece:

“This could have been a beautifully brilliant opportunity for the Black Church to talk about molestation, our youth and young adults and how they must be protected,” says the Rev. Kevin E. Taylor, the openly gay New Jersey-based senior pastor of Unity Fellowship Church of New Brusnwick, a predominately black LGBT denomination. “It could have been a galvanizing moment to separate the wolves from the lions. All of those opportunities were missed.”

“The church has been pummeled by fondling, fear and secrets for generations,” says Taylor, who is also an author, activist and a veteran BET producer. “And now with Eddie Long, the Black Church is doing what it’s always done: ‘Don’t Ask and Don’t Tell.’ “

It’s an apt comparison. But at the same time the military is dismantling DADT and moving toward open service, the informal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policies of many black congregations remain more entrenched than ever.

 . . .  In the weeks and months after the Long case broke, denial became the standard operating procedure for many leaders within the church community. The disgraced pastor even covered the November/December 2010 issue of “Gospel Today.” A number of subscribers complained, and critics slammed the magazine for not reporting that Long is the chairman of its board of advisers, reported the Belief Blog of
The Catholic Church has attracted global scrutiny for the many cases of sexual predators within its ranks. But it’s also a problem within many traditional black churches. One example: The Church of God in Christ. COGIC is the largest Pentecostal denomination in the U.S. and the second largest African-American denomination. COGIC has become embroiled in numerous criminal investigations around clergy sexual abuse. There is even a clergy abuse micro-site on the Church website.

  . . . As news began leaking in May that Long settled the four lawsuits, few, if any, high profile black pastors were willing to publicly criticize the pastor. Instead, Long was defended or even praised. Creflo Dollar, another Atlanta-based mega-church pastor who preaches so-called “prosperity gospel,” criticized the new members of his congregation who had left Long’s church.

“I can’t believe people would leave their preacher because he had a wreck instead of praying for him,” Dollar told his congregation.

 . . . Others also found the hypocrisy unsettling. Twitter became a venting outlet for frustration over the way mega-church leaders rallied around Long. In early June, Afro-Austro actor Boris Kodjoe sent a fantastic series of pro-LGBT tweets, slamming Eddie Long and his defenders’ hypocrisy on gays. “Too bad that the real Eddie Long issue was covered up again,” tweeted the actor. “Missed opportunity to address, grow and heal ourselves.”

Kodjoe’s tweets kick started a larger conversation on sexuality among straight allies and some homophobic black youth. The actor also engaged in a Twitter debate with CNN’s Roland Martin, who had previously defended homophobic pastors. “Being gay is NOT a choice,” Kodjoe told Martin, who suggested that people “chose” the gay “lifestyle.”

Related post:

Eddie Long scandal - Chronology of what has happened and where we are now

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