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September 22nd, 2010
10:27 AM ET

Megachurch Pastor Faces Sex Claims

Bishop Eddie Long is accused of betraying the trust of those who follow him. Two men have filed lawsuits, claiming he coerced them into sexual relationships when they were teenagers. Long is a nationally-known minister, and the claims are in shocking contrast to his public image. He passionately crusades against homosexuality. Long's success as a pastor is undeniable. Two decades after taking over a small church, his followers now number 25,000.

A spokesman for Eddie Long denies the allegations. Art Franklin spoke to our John Roberts earlier on CNN's American Morning. He said the claims against Bishop Long are without merit. CNN’s Kyra Phillips spoke with BJ Bernstein. She represents the two men who accuse Long of the sexual coercion.

Watch CNN Newsroom with Kyra Phillips M-F from 9-11am ET.

Filed under: CNN Newsroom • Kyra Phillips
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. LA

    Lets wait to hear ALL the detial before making a rush to judgement!

    September 22, 2010 at 10:48 am |
  2. Michael Armstrong Sr.

    Sounds like it could be a revenge strike from the accuser were hanging people again without a trial maybe CNN should slow down until after he's found guilty or at least give him the benefit of a false accusation .

    September 22, 2010 at 11:32 am |
  3. Tez

    Well, as a former member and a young man that was under the leadership of Bishop Long, I know that he did have direct contact with guys from Morehouse university in Atlanta Ga, that are known Homosexuals. I know that some of them travled with the Bishop as well, many have flown with him on his private jet and so on... The problem now to me is that we have to remember that he is NOT a super man... I say that not to excuse the behavior if the alligations and they are just alligations right now, but if they are true there is so much more to really consider. I have much to say but don't want to put it out there right now... I will say that I know from my own run in with Bishop long outside of the church he had these young guys around him on a REGULAR...

    September 22, 2010 at 12:44 pm |
  4. Your sister In Christ Patricia in Arkansas

    Heavenly father I bow down and worship and praise before you I apply the blood of Jesus Christ over Eddie Long and his Ministry and his flock today from the top of their heads to the souls of their feet. I pray the blood of Jesus over each of them over the air ways that surround them over them and under them over telephone lines over sale phone frequencies over business and medias to render powerless and harmless and nullify the power, destroy the power cancel the power of any evil spirit demonic spirit demonic strong man messenger of satin any witch craft that come up against Eddie Long ministry's in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth I ask you to wash an cleanse all of their minds give them clarity of thought to respond to the accusations against him with a sound mind of judgment in Jesus Christ his holy name, may he cover you and let us all unite together in the Body of Christ as a race to stand not divided in Jesus Christ name your sister in Arkansas Amen

    September 22, 2010 at 1:23 pm |
  5. Raymond Henderson

    Pastor Long's ministry has been a source of hope for my life for many years. Even if something like this proves to be true I will still respect and honor this Man of God. He have spoke God's word for many years. We all are flawed people an I can't be so quick to rush to judgement on this man when I'm flawed myself. These two young men are grown and no one can force you to commit homosexual acts if you are not a homosexual..

    September 22, 2010 at 1:59 pm |
  6. pay

    Let the first without sin cast a stone

    September 22, 2010 at 2:31 pm |
  7. wilradel w

    Please do not try this case in the media,let's reserve judgement until all facts are in place.

    September 22, 2010 at 2:47 pm |
  8. jaylah

    CNN....stop jumping to all these conclusions and opinions of this man....what happened to Innocent until proven guilty? The media sure does try to brain wash people...please stop trying to blow things out of proportion and make matters worst than they are.....please...i say....please get the facts.......not opinions.....then you will have real would you feel if it was you?

    September 22, 2010 at 7:19 pm |
  9. DF

    It amazes me how he has been tried and convicted in 2 days. I agree, lets wait to hear the other side of the story.

    September 22, 2010 at 7:53 pm |

    why did the boys wait so long,before they said anything,if that man did that ,they should spoke up when it first happen,instead wait so many years to said anything.

    September 22, 2010 at 9:37 pm |
  11. Deborah T

    The effectual, continual and sincere prayers of the righteous availeth much. As a believer I pray for ALL of these families involved, ALL the leaders involved, ALL the self righteous persons that have never stolen, been in trouble, had smoking habits, sexual issues or lying spirits, ALL non believers that don't have he benefit of the power of prayer for deliverance and ALL of Bishop Long's immediate family, especially his wife and children and ALL of his members and the Body of Christ at large as this is now a GREAT OPPORTUNITY to "BE" the church rather than go to one. Consider yourself so that you won't be tempted to break in, steal, abuse, or even just fall.

    September 22, 2010 at 10:08 pm |
  12. Not At All Surprised

    I am always amazed at how people are shocked by this type of news. At the end of the day, Eddie Long, is still a man made of flesh and bones. I guess people have their own reasons for holding man in such high esteem.

    While the allegations do not surprise me (nor would any other publicly announced allegation of misconduct by any pastor, priest, evangelist, phophet, or bishop), the prosecutor's case doesn't sound very solid.

    September 22, 2010 at 11:01 pm |
  13. Jane

    Bottom line, something happened. There is no way he would be a part of such scandal if something didn't happen. Whether if the scandal was sex or not, something happened, that's it and that's all. Everything done in dark will eventually come to light. Truth shall prevail, are people willing to receive the truth?

    September 23, 2010 at 12:04 am |
  14. Believer131

    This man spoke out against homosexuality in a major way. This could very well be an attack of the devil to discredit him and his stance on homosexuality. One of the plaintiffs was caught breaking into his church and is facing criminal charges. It was only after this plaintiff was criminally charged in this separate incident that these allegations were made. Atlanta has a large gay community that could easily be backing these plaintiffs as some sort of movement against Long’s anti-gay movement. People think that everyone who thinks that homosexual behavior is a sin is homophobic. I think homosexual behavior is a sin like many other behaviors but I love gay people. I believe what the Bible says and what the Holy Spirit inspires me to believe regarding homosexual behavior. There is nothing that any human could ever say that would make me think otherwise. It is very possible that this man is being attacked because he preaches that homosexuality is a sin in a world where such behavior is widely condoned. We must be steadfast and stand firm against all attacks of the devil and use the weapons of spiritual warfare to fight against such attacks. Having been so outspoken on the topic of homosexuality, Bishop Long should have been prepared for such attacks. The Bible tells us that true Christians will be persecuted. We must still stand firm and preach the truth. I am praying for Bishop Long, his family and his church.

    September 23, 2010 at 12:25 am |
  15. 1KESB

    Why is it, when you're talking about a Pastor, the "Christian folk" want to say let's wait for the details before we rush to judgement? Where is that need to wait for judgement when a gay person walks into the church for service or a single mother walks in with her 3 kids making noise? Hypocrits, I swear.

    September 23, 2010 at 10:06 am |
  16. Part of the body

    And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Judge nothing before time. Remember church truth shall prevail.

    September 23, 2010 at 2:02 pm |
  17. Ruth

    In about a week when all the evidence is shown, the pastor like many others pastors and religious leaders who abuse their power and young boys will pray for forgiveness and cry a little. This is so typical of "straight" man on the DL. The pastor can be as gay as he wants but why speak against homosexuality and lie about what he does. Before anyone feels sorry for the bishop, feel sorry for the three young boys first, they are the victims.

    September 23, 2010 at 6:57 pm |
  18. pastor

    Those of you who are using the scripture reference "judge not" it's important that you understand this scripture is not meant for you to become blind to what you know is wrong. If you are a person of integrity you will be able to judge a situation fairly. Not on emotion, and not biased. What bothers me about some of the comments I see is those who support Bishop Long give no reference to the alleged victims and there families. IF these allegations are true or even close to being true everyone involved is going to need prayer and support not just Bishop Long. I ask that you be MATURE and not NAIVE about this situation.

    September 23, 2010 at 7:01 pm |
  19. TheNow

    Greed, Lust, and Corruption = churches/priests/pastors

    Smell the coffee yet people?????

    September 24, 2010 at 8:49 am |
  20. gayle mccreery

    that young man that Kyra is interviewing as a congregant of the mega church in Atlanta is so well spoken. That is authentic faith-open to grow and not afraid to face the truth as it comes out. You picked a good one!

    September 24, 2010 at 9:41 am |
  21. Joni Reynolds

    I just watched your interview with CJ a member of New Birth. I am astounded that you spent so much time talking to someone who had no insight to offer on the subject. He admittedly had no close contact with the Bishop so his observations were worthless. There are 25,000 members of the church and most of them do not have direct contact with the pastor. the ones that could actually offer some true insight aren't talking. so please spare us don't have CJ on Monday try to get someone who has more to offer than a pleasant smile.

    September 24, 2010 at 9:50 am |
  22. A Billups

    My heart goes out to the young men that filed the suit and others that are afraid to speak out. He will never admit it, he would lose members like hot cakes. He would have to move and live under a rock. He knew who to pick. He just didn't go and pick young men at random. He is a very smart man that has a lot of power. The officers and family had to know what he was doing. I am looking for more people to come out because it just did not start this week. A lot of young men are walking around that need some type of counseling from this. It is something that needs to dealt with. When you start having so much problems with our youth, ask them about their teachers and pastors. Something needs to be done. Wake up people

    September 24, 2010 at 9:51 am |
  23. TVJournalist

    I've been in television and radio news for 36 years. I am also gay and have been totally disengaged form relegion because of the prejudice. But I have to say your thoughtful interview with Long's church member this morning stopped me in my tracks. He was thoughful and (appeared to be) sincere. Your questions were the very ones I was throwing at my television set during the interview (I find myself talking to the tv a lot these days...) That was not an easy interview. Your questions were thoughful and worded respectfully, and because of that, we were led to a real discussion. THAT is what true jounalism is all about. Moments like this one rescue me from cynicism and remind me that tv journalism can still be a nobile profession if we chose to make it so...
    AND- can still make us watch! What a concept! Great job.

    September 24, 2010 at 10:15 am |
  24. Ashley

    The interview with the young man this morning was good. I like the way he attempted to be honest and objective. However, kyra needs to bring on other victims of child sexual abuse ( I was one ). Most people donot understand all the dynamics that plays a role in this behavior. Most abusers are closely associated with their victims in very personable and trusting relationships. It's not about Mr. Long's theology, wealth or homosexuality. It's about "trust" and whether or not He used his position of trust to groom these young men to become his lovers? would he have had access to them were it not for his position and his church involvement in their lives? They may have been over 16-years old-but they were still impressionable and in their sexual development stages. The things that he said and did with them are very relevant to the abuse aspect. My concern is for the young men. Mr. long can afford to hire the best lawyers money can buy. And obviously some of his church members are on the defense because if true- someone should have known or suspected something was happening and held Mr. Long accountable. Afterall,he's only a man! CNN should interview people who are authorities on child sexual abuse to help the public understand how this can and does happen ,and especially with the likes of a minister. I am a survivor of child sexual abuse. And even in my middle age I still deal with the pain and consequenses. I am a woman for whom it was never easy to ownthis painful part of my life. What must those boys feel? And who will see them through it all. Money won't fix them but it will enable them to get the counseling they are going to need as they move forward. Sometimes the only way to deal with a storm -is to walk right thru it, with your head held high-inspite of the shame. let us pray for them all.

    September 24, 2010 at 10:59 am |
  25. Erika Lehnsherr

    Where is the crime here? These young men–four, now, according to the latest–were all over sixteen when these alleged sexual acts supposedly occurred. As I understand it, sixteen is the age of consent in Georgia. So even if there *were* sexual relationships between Long and these young men, it is not something that the legal system should be concerned with. The fact that one of these men is already under charges for breaking into and stealing from Long's office calls his credibility, and by extension that of the others, into question. This is clearly nothing more than a reprehensible attempt to discredit Long, most likely–as several other posters have stated–as payback for Long's anti-gay stance.

    September 24, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
  26. Erika

    Where is the crime here? Why is an attorney even involved in this, why is there a lawsuit?? From what I have understood, these young men were all over sixteen years of age when these alleged sexual acts supposedly occurred. In Georgia, sixteen is the age of consent, so even if there were sexual relationship(s), it is not illegal. Also, there is the fact that one of these young men was involved in a break-in and robbery of Long's offices, and that these allegations did not come out until after that particular individual was charged with *that*., I say the attorney should walk away from this and drop before it gets any more out of hand than it already has. These young men–especially the one involved in the break-in–clearly have issues of their own, and hauling Pastor Long into court will not solve them. This is clearly nothing more than a reprehensible attempt to discredit Pastor Long, and it should be exposed as such before any more damage to his life and the functioning of his church is done.

    September 24, 2010 at 7:23 pm |
  27. nora

    I have watched Bishop Long for some time I have read his books and I truely believe in him. I will keep him his church and his family in my prayers. As for the so call victims, I don't see any victims here I see two young men whom both have records. two young men make it three young men who knew exactly what they were doing at the time they did it, if this so call mess from the devil is true. there is no victims and they the so call victims should not be awarded nothing.

    September 25, 2010 at 9:45 pm |
  28. Kenn

    Rather than playing this out in the court of public opinion, let's wait and see what happens in the courthouse. I would not be at all surprised to here that another fundamentalist pastor is proved to be a hypocrite. Especially since he has been preaching hate rather than the love that Jesus Christ did.

    September 26, 2010 at 6:59 pm |
  29. Ladd

    I don't know Bishop Long. I saw him for the first time on CNN News.
    But I think facing his church this past Sunday in a Dr. No outfit speaks volumes! I remember when James Bond saw Dr. No for the first time he knew that he wasn't going to get any information from this chap!
    Another thing I noted was that Bishop Long said "I have five rocks......"
    Does this mean there are more accusers?

    In the end it is men/women that at times will fail us. Our trust in God is the wisest investment anyone can make!

    Best regards, Ladd

    September 27, 2010 at 10:50 am |
  30. Duamel Torres

    The comments I posted earlier regarding Kyra's interview with Rev. Pearson were not meant to be defamatory or offensive and I apologize if they were received that way. As Roland Martin indicated in his article, for men who claim to be shepherds of the flock and lead people to Jesus the Son of God, the Head of the church, the Bible should be the standard or manual on how to live. I'm no expert on the matter, but I just believe that when it comes to issues of the church or people living or doing things in the name of God, we should refer to His Word, the Bible. In the end, God's opinion is the only one that matters, certainly not mine. I think these men need our prayers, so that God will make it clear to them how He feels.

    September 27, 2010 at 12:26 pm |

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