By Earl Ofari Hutchinson
Embattled mega church preacher Bishop Eddie Long came as close to confessing his sexual debauchery as any debaucher could come without actually confessing. He cryptically told his singing, shouting, handclapping flock that he wasn’t a perfect man, and that he would face some painful situations. This was a good step forward for Long. He didn’t do the usual soft shoe, duck and dodge around the issue. Or worse, defiantly claim that he was being persecuted for being a pure and righteous man of God. Or even worse still, break out in a teary eyed plea to family and flock for forgiveness.
These are the stock ploys that a bevy of celeb preachers, politicians and a Pope snatch at when caught with their sexual hypocrisy exposed. Long didn’t go there. He simply spun his hypocrisy as that of a man engaged in a thoughtful and reflective soul search. Long now should take one more step in his soul search and apologize for his greatest sin. That’s his near decade long, relentless, gay bash. Long didn’t just do what many conservative fundamentalist black preachers do and quietly twist scripture and verse to make the case that God condemns gays to eternal hell and damnation.
He actively led crusades against gay marriage, and by extension gays, railed against them on his websites, in fiery sermons, loudly backed George W. Bush’s federal amendment banning gay marriage, and led a slanderous march to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s gravesite to denounce gay marriage. Each new accusation that Long used his youth training academy as a cover to procure kid sex, may ultimately prove him to be not just a hypocrite, but a full blown sexual predator.
Long then should issue a statement, better still do what he does best, and deliver a sermon on tolerance. That’s tolerance toward all those who have a different sexual preference. He should invite the leaders of the nation’s top gay rights organizations to take a front row seat at his church and look them square in the eye, as he preaches his sermon on tolerance. He should then make it plain to his mostly black congregation that he does not want them to mindlessly and blindly shout “Jesus Jesus” and “it’s time to praise him,” and sang hymns such as “white as snow” as they did when he made his kind of sort of admission of guilt from the pulpit. This reinforces the despicable notion that blacks are narrow, bigoted, and brain dead zombies who will give a pass to even the most blatant and outrageous criminal and sexual behavior and exploitation as long as it’s done in the name of Jesus and the offender is black.
Afterwards, Long should announce in tandem with gay organization leaders that New Birth Missionary Baptist Church will set up a new academy dedicated to the principle and practice of tolerance. He took a light step in that direction some time back when at the prodding of Soulforce, a gay Christian advocacy group, he played at having a dialogue on his attitudes toward gays. That didn’t go very far. This time it should.
Long set the standard of bigotry and bias for a new generation of conservative fundamentalist mega black churchmen on gay rights. An apology and outreach won’t undo that. It can though be a step toward his personal repentance. God, I’m sure, would approve.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He hosts a nationally broadcast political affairs radio talk show on Pacifica and KTYM Radio Los Angeles. Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter.