Eddie Long, founder of the megachurch New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, issued a statement today on the church's website saying he will abide by the confidentiality agreement reached in a settlement with four men who sued him for sexual coercion. Two of the men recently spoke to Atlanta reporters, apparently defying the agreement.
The complete statement from Long posted on New Birth's website today:
"We have a long history of dutifully serving those in need in the local and global communities and we will continue to do so. We are committed to the calling of a strong, viable and relevant ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
"Unfortunately, we are in the media again and people are wondering what I am going to say. All I have to say is what we stated earlier. All parties involved decided to resolve the civil cases out of court. The decision was made to bring closure to this matter and allow us to move forward with the plans God has for this ministry.
"I will continue to honor and abide by my commitment of confidentiality and restraint as it relates to the resolution of the civil litigation and will not be diverted from the important work of the ministry.
"I thank God for your faithful support of my journey to South Africa where thousands where blessed and more than 700 people gave their lives to Christ. We also were able to sow more support into the HIV/AIDS Hospice in Johannesburg that we partnered with last year. We built a wonderful bridge of relationships with pastors and community leaders to further establish the Kingdom and bless others.
"I love you and thank you for your continued commitment and dedication.
Bishop Eddie L. Long"
Two of the accusers, Jamal Parris and Spencer LeGrande, spoke to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and WSB-TV a week ago, saying they had found no inner peace with the financial settlement reached with Long and the church in May.
Long was sued by LeGrande, Parris, Anthony Flagg and Maurice Robinson last September. The men accused Long of using money, extravagant gifts of jewelry and trips to place such as New Zealand to coerce them into sexual relationships after they reached the legal age of consent in Georgia of 16. He met all of the young men through New Birth.
The accusations against Long were somewhat shocking to many because of Long's strong anti-gay views, including a ministry as part of his church that works to "convert" gay people. Long also led a march through the streets of Atlanta against gay marriage as well as other for other issues, including health care.
Many LGBT leaders decried the apparent hypocrisy of Long and said the allegations against him, if true, would "blow the hinges of the church's doors."
Civil rights icon Julian Bond skipped Coretta Scott King's funeral because it was held at New Birth. He said because of her progressive views on LGBT equality and Long being a "raving homophobe" he knew he could not be there.
On Sept. 26, 2010, days after the lawsuits were filed, a defiant Long addressed a packed church of some 8,000 supporters and said, "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 is being portrayed on the television," Long said to cheers from the congregation. "That is not me."
“I have been accused. I am under attack. I want you to know, as I said earlier, I am not a perfect man, but this thing I’m gon’ fight,” Long added.
“And I want you to know one other thing: I feel like David against Goliath, but I got five rocks and I haven’t thrown one yet,” he said, dropping his microphone with an audible thump.
Long denied all the allegations made against him.
Atlanta attorney BJ Bernstein, who represented the four men, issued a statement at the time of the settlement in May that "The matter has been resolved. Neither attorney Bernstein nor the plaintiffs themselves will be available for interview on this matter, now or in the future. There is no spokesperson for the plaintiffs' team other than attorney Bernstein, and she will have no further comment on the case."
h/t Rod 2.0