I listened to portions of the words said by Bishop Eddie Long to his congregation at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church today. In response to the litany of charges raised against him - he adamantly denied all of these claims and said that these others were lying.
When he first spouted his innocence and said that he would fight the charges - I heard a thunderous applause from the congregation in support of Bishop Long.
Let me clarify my point for a second.
Over the past 10 years as all of these "Mega Church" leaders (Long, Dollar, Jakes) have been attacked by one force or another - I have strongly defended them.
The positions that they hold coupled with the medium of television, Internet and printed books have allowed them to expand the reach of their positive message far beyond the walls of their church.
About 3 years ago as I snuck away from the office to go to the "Mega Fest" at the Georgia Dome I had another 'Million Man March"-type experience as a large pack of Black males took over the MARTA "Five Points Train Station" and let out a unified chant bout responsibility. (I don't recall the exact works of the hymn they sang). Compare that to the high likelihood of seeing an EMBARRASSING spectical on a normal day of riding the train.
I am the first to admit that this spontaneous chant was merely an emotional draw - at the same time I have to conclude that I would prefer to see a train station full of Black men doing so in the context of their religions faith than in submission to an entertainment or political figure.
The Need For Governance To Fill The Void
The difference between "wasted emotionalism" and the spark that allows someone to span that last inch of doubt is the management of the credibility and integrity of an institution. As I said before there is no MAGIC in this world. Upon "trying harder" at doing the very same thing it is likely that you will be frustrated and tired as a result.
I am of the opinion that the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church fielded a "miss" today.
The subject of scrutiny about unthinkable actions was allowed to take to his microphone in his bully pulpit and proclaim his own innocence.
WHERE is the "New Birth ORGANIZATION", which must be independent of one man, in all of this?
I instead see the very same "us against them" - team sport - that is present in Black political activism - being present in this space.
With 4 young Black males making public pronouncements that the man who was entrusted by New Birth as their mentor has VIOLATED this trust and the power afforded to him by the church - it is the CHURCH ENTITY that needs to be a bit more TRANSPARENT in its actions.
After listening to the words said by Bishop I got the feeling that New Birth loves its pastor more than it loves its INSTITUTIONAL INTEGRITY.
There is no harm in making a decision to ask their pastor to step down from his public facing duties while this matter is being adjudicated. A pastor enjoys a position that requires supreme trust. This is a position that deals with the highly emotional charged issue around people's salvation and its connectedness to the real world challenges that they struggle with.
Instead the New Birth community seems to choosing the claims of its founder above the indictments that 4 independent Black males have put forth. I am not calling for them to do a "perp walk" with Bishop Long being lead out of the church. Something more than what I saw today is appropriate though.
How many mothers upon hearing the molestation charges against their male significant other have chosen to believe that their children are "lying" or "not in their right minds" BECAUSE she seeks to not believe that her male significant other is capable of doing what he is alleged to do?
The New Birth INSTITUTION needs to take these allegations seriously and NOT GET INTO A DEFENSIVE POSTURE.
They risk permanently fracturing the largest church in the state of Georgia if they fail to act appropriately.