In (not quite) shocking news, Eddie Long, the extravagant, ethically-plauged and outspokenly anti-gay pastor of one of the nation's largest black mega churches, is being sued by two men for sexual coercion. Both men claim that Long, who leads Atlanta's New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, singled them out and lavished them with expensive gifts in exchange for sexual favors, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
CNN recounts the lawsuit's most damning allegations:
"Defendant Long has a pattern and practice of singling out a select group of young male church members and using his authority as Bishop over them to ultimately bring them to a point of engaging in a sexual relationship," the suits allege.
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.
"Following the New Zealand Trip, Defendant Long regularly engaged in sexual touching, and other sexual acts with Plaintiff Robinson," Robinson's suit alleges.
Long spokesman Art Franklin said Tuesday that "we categorically deny the allegations."
"It is very unfortunate that someone has taken this course of action," he said. "Our law firm will be able to respond once attorneys have had an opportunity to review the lawsuit."
It's worth noting that one of the men suing Long was arrested in June and charged with burglary for breaking into Long's office, CNN reports. His lawyer says the break-in was retaliation against Long for the sexual advances. They'll sort it out in Dekalb County Court now. But whatever happens on the legal side, the lurid details that will surely keep emerging are certain to enflame the heated emotions Long already inspires--both among his supporters and among those who have raged against his outspoken anti-gay stances.
Blogger Rod McCollum, who authors the black gay blog Rod 2.0, points out that Long is also the spiritual advisor to Bernice King, who's Martin Luther King, Jr's youngest daughter and was recently appointed chair of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Both Long and King have a troubled history with LGBT people--so much so that Julian Bond refused to attend Coretta Scott King's funeral because it was held at Long's church. As McCollum writes:
If schadenfreude could be compared to a gourmet meal, the bombshell allegations against Eddie Long certainly qualifies as a four-star feast at Le Cirque. In addition to being one of the nation's most prominent pastors, Long is also among the most vocal critics of gay rights and same-sex marriage in the Black church. In December 2004, one month after voters approved an amendment to the Georgia state Constitution that banned gay marriage, Long led a 25,000 person march against gay rights and marriage equality.
Eddie Long is also the spiritual mentor of the anti-gay Rev. Bernice King, the youngest daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr and new chair of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the organization founded by her father more than five decades ago. Julian Bond, the chair of the NAACP and a strong supporter of gay rights, refused to attend the funeral of Coretta Scott King that was held at New Birth MB Church. "I knew her attitude toward gay and lesbian rights. And I just couldn't imagine that she'd want to be in that church with a minister who was a raving homophobe. And I couldn't see myself in my church either."