There’s a scandal brewing in The Bible Belt: Well-known anti-gay Atlanta pastor Bishop Eddie Long is fighting for his spiritual life this week after two young former parishoners filed suit against the minister of the famed New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in suburban Atlanta for using his cash, cars, and other lavish gifts to coerce them into homosexual relationships with him while the young men — now 20 and 21 — were still teenagers.
According to CNN.com: “Two Georgia men have filed a lawsuit claiming that prominent Atlanta, Georgia, pastor Eddie Long coerced them into sex. The suits, filed Tuesday in DeKalb County, Georgia, allege that Long used his position as a spiritual authority and bishop to coerce young male members and employees of his New Birth Missionary Baptist Church into sex. The pastor took one plaintiff, Anthony Flagg, 21, on overnight trips to a half-dozen American cities in recent years, Flagg’s suit alleges. ‘Long shared a bedroom and engaged in intimate sexual contact with plaintiff Flagg including kissing, massaging, masturbating of plaintiff Flagg by defendant Long and oral sexual contact,’ the suit says. Long took the other plaintiff, Maurice Murray Robinson, 20, to Auckland, New Zealand, in October 2008 for his 18th birthday and engaged in oral sex with him, Robinson’s suit alleges. Long frequently denounces homosexual behavior. A 2007 article in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s magazine called him ‘one of the most virulently homophobic black leaders in the religiously based anti-gay movement.'”
Bishop Eddie Long is a married father of four. Craig Gillen, who represents the reverend, denies that her client is guilty of pastoral abuse and argues that the gay sex suit may steam from Maurice and Anthony’s anger over being charged with a break-in at Long’s church office last summer. BJ Bernstein, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, admits that Maurice is facing a criminal burglary charge in connection with the incident. He was arrested on June 23 and charged with stealing an iPad and an iPhone from Bishop Long. He says he committed the burglary in retaliation after learning that the Bishop was also romantically-involved with other young men.