"You've got to put me on a different scale than the little black preacher sitting over there that's supposed to be just getting by because the people are suffering," Long said, explaining the compensation he received from his charity.
Since no one has touched this subject (I've been following via CNN and other news outlets) I'd like to break it open. I've never been a major advocate of organized religion but this stems from having taken a part of my life to dedicate myself to a Pentacostal Church where I was 'cured' of being a homosexual (gay gasp) and part African American/Ethic I have a unique perspective when it comes to the charges that Bishop Long used his religious position to pressure young male members of his congregation to have sexual acts with him.
First, let me be clear: i neither agree with or discount these allegations. America is a land of selfish individuals who will do anything, even if it means destroying a fellow brother or sister, to get a few bucks or gain a few moments in the spotlight.
The lawsuits filed by Maurice Robinson and Anthony Flagg request punitive (money) damages so make no mistake that money, as it is with everything else in this country, lies some where near if not at the very heart of these lawsuits.
But, who cares? Long is a very wealthy man whose built an empire that includes a mega church in Atlanta with over 25,000 members, satellite churches all over the country, and is an extremely popular and public figure in the African American religious community.
Well, you should care because unlike movie stars and other celebrities didn't build their stardom and fortunes off of a position of religious power and through influencing thousands of people based on personal interpretations of the Bible.
My Bishop Longs OWN admitted above, "you've got to put me on a different scale than the little black preacher sitting over there that's supposed to be just getting by because the people are suffering" and with that being said these charges should ALSO put Bishop on a different level then just some random public person who denies charges of these against him when he has influenced thousands of people based on his position of religious power.
Homosexuality is and always will be a major taboo within the African American community. Street slang terms such as the DL (Downlow) were created based on the many African American men who lead 'public' heterosexual lives but 'private' homosexual ones.
African American men who come out of the closet are often ostracized by their families, friends, and religious institutions many of which they've been a part of since birth. This stems from the firm belief within the African American community that a gay Black male is worthless.
This belief propagates a major 'fear controlled' environment where it's better in the eyes of these mens to handle 'their business' behind closed doors rather then coming out because of the expected fallout.
Building an empire and publicly denouncing homosexuality time and time as part of ones livelihood, business and public image now puts Bishop Long on a 'different level' than others and damn well fucking should.
Men of the cloth are held to a higher standard because of their position of religious power which is a wave of influence over hundreds, and in this case, thousands of people. Even if these allegations prove to stem from these mens pursuit of a cash pay out (which many believe) let me remind you that just by filing these lawsuits these men have outed themselves and now have to deal with the already in full blown negative reaction from their families, friends, and community.
No one, and I mean NO ONE would willing do this unless at the core of it had damn good reason to.
And while I don't know everything involved with this case I do know the pressure of being a part of a religious community where people come to expect and in many instances demand of you to be who they want you to be and you become overwhelmed with so much pressure that you loose yourself in order to appease them.
If you don't you feel totally ashamed and as if you've failed not only them but yourself and God.
That kind of pressure is not to be taken lightly or shrugged off as unimportant. If Bishop Long is found guilty of using his position of religious power to get these young men to have sex with him he should face not only public outrage from every member of his congregation for deceiving them for years and instilling in them a groundless anti-homosexual belief but also demand for justice for being one of the biggest hypocrites of the African American community.
The phrase 'do as i say, not as i do' comes to mind and this more then anything is at the core of my angst when it comes to organized religion.
Men are not perfect, easily corruptible, lie and will use any means necessary to get what they want and maintain what they have.
Why should these universal truths be any different for Bishop Long?!