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In this Sept. 28, 2010 photo, traffic moves down a street as a billboard showing Bishop Eddie Long is seen above in Atlanta. The billboard near an Atlanta highway reads, “Love Like Him, Live Like Him, Lead Like Him.” The motto refers to Jesus Christ, but the smiling face next to it is that of Bishop Eddie Long.
Two of his accusers recently came forward with details about their relationships with Long and their plans to write a book about their experiences, according to news reports.
“Unfortunately, we are in the media again and people are wondering what I am going to say,” said Long in a statement posted on the church’s Web site .
“All I have to say is what we stated earlier. All parties involved decided to resolve the civil cases out of court. The decision was made to bring closure to this matter and allow us to move forward with the plans God has for this ministry.”
A national figure in black church circles since the mid-1990s, the internationally known minister built a religious empire near Atlanta. He has been senior pastor of the 25,000-member congregation since 1987 when the church had about 300 members; on Sunday, he celebrated his pastoral anniversary. In 1994, he was ordained a bishop in the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship .
In May, Long reached an out-of-court settlement with four young men who accused him of sexual misconduct. The settlement came after months of mediation and eight months after Long told his congregation he vowed to fight lawsuits alleging he used his position to coerce young members into sex acts.
“Please hear this: I have been accused. I’m under attack. I want you to know that I am not a perfect man but this thing I’m gon’ fight,” Long said in a Sunday sermon in September 2010, according to Washington Post reporters Krissah Thompson and Nia-Malika Henderson. “I feel like David against Goliath but I’ve got five rocks and I haven’t thrown one yet.”
Through a spokesman, Long has denied the allegations.
Bishop Eddie Long speaks, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2010, near Atlanta. Bishop Eddie Long, the pastor of a Georgia megachurch accused of luring young men into sexual relationships has told his congregation of thousands that all people must face painful and distasteful situations.
“The lawsuits describe Long, 57, as a towering Goliath who manipulated four young men from his church. According to those lawsuits, Long enticed members of the church’s male mentorship program into homosexual acts with jewelry, cars, trips and access to celebrities.”
“For years, Long has been either beloved or bemoaned for his glitzy lifestyle and politically connected mega-church. It has TV ministries, a fitness center, a school and a program for the homeless and addicted. According to its Web site, it has also held weekly ‘out of the wilderness’ counseling sessions for the ‘discipleship of men and women struggling with homosexuality,’” Thompson and Henderson wrote .
Since the settlement included a confidentiality clause, the truth of what happened between Long and his accusers may never become public.
In his statement Thursday, Long said he intended to “continue to honor and abide by my commitment of confidentiality and restraint as it relates to the resolution of the civil litigation and will not be diverted from the important work of the ministry.”
He also thanked New Birth members for their “continued commitment and dedication,” expressed his own desire to serve God locally and globally and reported an update on the status of a partnership made with a South African HIV/AIDS hospice.