Princeton Philosopher Dr. Harry G. Frank has written a book by the daring title “Bullshit!” He chose this title because it accurately addressed his subject: people who engage in bullshit. In choosing his title he could well have used Bishop Eddie long as his role model, because from all appearances he is a bullshit artist par excellence. I mean, it takes no small amount of talent to bullshit 25,000 parishioners into believing that you are an honorable messenger of Jesus Christ, when you are simultaneously engaged in the kind of scurrilous behavior that would shame the Devil!
Let me be clear, I care not a whit about people’s sexual preferences so long as they are consenting adults. Nor have not I pronounced the Bishop guilty on the charge of coercing sexual favors from the young men to whom he is supposed to be offering moral guidance, and teaching how to be responsible citizens. I shall leave that determination to the courts. But the fact that there are four different complainants make their charges hard to dismiss. Should they prove true however it would only verify my suspicion that Long is false to his profession in more ways than one, and his moral failings are worse than I thought. I knew he was guilty of duplicity, vanity and avarice. This is plain enough to see for anyone who understands what it means for a black southern leader to identify himself as a “conservative Republican,” while living like an ancient Persian Pasha at the expense of his hard working congregation. Even if they are so blinded by his charisma they have become willing dupes.
Inside the Bishop’s Crib
The epitome of vulgar opulence
Long’s lavish Lifestyle is as vulgar as his bogus theology; which has been labeled “The Prosperity Gospel.” On the face of it this doctrine is a subversion of the teachings of Jesus Christ, which the Bishop claims to represent. Was it not Jesus who said it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven? Did he not chase the moneylenders from the temple? From where I sit, it seems that the Bishop’s theology owes far more to Reverend Ike and Daddy Grace – who is rumored to be Ike’s father – than the preaching of Jesus. When Rev. Ike says “The Absence of money is the root of all evil” the bishop says Amen! When Rev. Ike says “The best way to help poor people is not to be one of them,” the Bishop cries “Let the church say Amen!” The greed of these clerical worshippers of the false God Mammon is such, they appear to be willing to even make a deal with the devil in exchange for gold!
It is this worship of wealth that has led Eddie Long into the arms of the Grand Obstructionist Party – which is a classic Faustian bargain. And it appears that he has lost his soul! While I know that there are people who are actually too stupid to recognize the danger Southern Republicanism represents to the aspirations of African Americans, it would be scandalous for someone who has the trust of 25, 000 striving hard working black people not to understand what is at stake. Maybe Eddie Long is just a simple minded hustler who knows not what he doeth, but given the way he dissed the great Civil Rights warrior and world famous performing artist Harry Belafonte at Coretta Scott Kings funeral he seems pretty savvy to me…and a shameless charlatan as well.
At great risk to his career, Harry Belafonte supported King and his family during the darkest days of the movement; he walked with Martin in the shadow of death, yet Long refused Harry a podium after he was scheduled to speak because he was an outspoken critic of the horrendous and criminal invasion of Iraq – a position that Dr. king would have passionately embraced just as he came our against the Vietnam War – and long was afraid that he might say something to embarrass the Bushmen: George The First and George the Second. And the fact that he was allowed to stay in his pulpit after that outrageous act speaks to the simple mindedness and moral confusion of his congregation.
The most charitable explanation of their behavior is that they know little of their recent history and next to nothing about present political realities. They walk by faith not by sight. Hence, like most of the southern evangelical movement and the Tea Party poot-butts, they are indifferent to facts and dwell in a fact free zone. The alternative to this explanation is that the Bishop’s followers are willfully ignorant; in their mad rush to acquire the material trinkets of this consumerist society they are blinded by the glow from the Golden Calf before whom they genuflect. This is idolatry: A mortal sin!
Even an un-churched heathen like me can see that this is blasphemy. However, as I write, a study has just been released showing that those who know most about religion are they who are least religious! For instance, the study reveals that over half of the people who identify as Protestants don’t know who the founder of the Protestant church is, or what they were protesting. And an equal number of Catholics don’t know what the wafers they ingest in the Eucharist means! No wonder these religious Charlatans can get away with all manner of debauchery.
The Bishop Embraces the Devil
Long’s action at Coretta’s funeral – in which her daughter preached – would have been an outrage in any case. But the fact that George I voted against the Omnibus Civil Rights Bill of 1964, which freed black southerners from a system of legal inequality based on race, and enforced by white terrorists, a system Dr. Martin Luther King gave his life to change, and George II supported a legal philosophy designed to limit the exercise of those rights by African Americans, makes Long’s decision a case of soulless treason against the interest of Black Americans! Yet there was the Bishop, all huggy kissy with George W. Bush, who was a near perfect representation of what the devil means in twenty first century terms. From the big Sambo smile on his ebony mug, it was clear that there’s no shame in this neo-con man’s game.
Although I thought his theology a sham, I barely paid any attention to Long before the funeral. I had actually visited his church once when I was in Atlanta and a friend took me by to show me his massive church complex. It was a Saturday and I noticed all the activity in the Gym, where young men played pick-up basketball games while hip hop music blared from the speakers. My impression was that here was a safe haven for young black males from the dangerous streets of Atlanta, which sometimes seem as violent as the streets of Baghdad! But if what these young men are saying is true these youths were anything but safe.
This is also true of the black community’s future if we continue to follow religious charlatans like Eddie Long. To those who offer apologia for his actions, especially his love affair with reactionary Republicans, by praising his “good works” in the community, I say he is no different from dope dealers who give away free turkeys at Thanksgiving, or sponsor basketball teams for youths in communities where their activities have diminished the life’s chances of young people. The Republican Party is committed to a policy agenda that will diminish the life chances of Black People in America. This is fairly easy to demonstrate, and if there are those who think my judgment is too harsh I suggest they read my commentary, “Haley Barbour is a Lying Fat Redneck!” And if that doesn’t convince you read the text I cite in the piece, “The Politics Of Rage,” which is the seminal text on how the Republicans exploited white racist resentments to win national elections.
Sadly, It may turn out that the most disgraceful thing about this entire sorted affair is the reaction of many in the Bishop’s flock to these allegations of sexual impropriety. Aside from the fact that he has engaged in gay bashing, which would make him a hypocrite if the charges are true, he will also be an adulterer and a sodomite based upon the theology he preaches. Yet he was given a standing ovation by his congregation after he spoke to them last Sunday. One need only look the response of some “saved” Christians who have come to his defense in order to understand the twisted logic of these fanatics. Consider the comments of this writer, who identifies herself as Sandra B. on the Atlanta Post website.
“ …why did you wait so long unless it is to gain in a materialistic way and bring dishonor on the body of Christ,” she asks of the alleged victims, “ by going to the world instead of going to the body of Christ, and allowing the men and women of God to handle this scandal of the church…to judge it according to the word of God, if the these persons, that have come forward are in the body of Christ, for the love of God, then the word says that, we do not go to the unsaved to judge the saved, the world will not judge the saints, but, the saints will judge the angels. Even though Saul persecuted David for no reason and tried to kill him, we should respond as David did ‘I will not touch God’s anointed.” Ah, but, we are in the last days where man does not fear man nor God. I am praying for everyone involved and for the body of Christ.”
This comment reminds me of a story told by one of the men who sued the Catholic Diocese in Boston because he was molested for years as a child by a Priest in that Church. When asked why he didn’t tell his parents – who were devout Irish Catholics in South Boston – he said he was afraid because when his friend told his mother the Priest was molesting him she hauled off and punched him in the mouth with her fist and called him a dirty liar! A similar naïveté was echoed in some of Long’s parishioners after his Sunday sermon: “”We know and we love Bishop,” said Annie Cannon, a seven-year member of New Birth.”We love our place of worship. My son goes to school here. We do everything here.” It is due to this level of ignorance and fanaticism that religious charlatans continue to thrive in spite of the constant revelations that hypocrisy, perversion and fraud abound in their ranks.
It would seem that after the scandalous revelations of superstar evangelical preachers such as Jim Baker, Jimmy Swaggart and Reverend Haggard, a fire eating gay basher who was outed by a male prostitute who saw him performing his anti-gay act on television and recognized him as one of his most enthusiastic customers, the Jesus freaks would wake up and become more sceptical. But these lost souls searching for salvation in all the wrong places remain willing sheep, happily waiting to be fleeced. This is why the force of law must intervene, especially where the welfare of children is concerned, for these unthinking fanatics cannot police themselves – and being a religous faker or fanatic does not exempt them from obeying the law. While many will await the Bishop’s day in court to judge him, my friends who live in Atlanta have always insisted that the Bishop was a fraud. And when he dissed Harry Belafonte, I concluded then and there, that he is a shameless charlatan who is full of BS. And I don’t mean bible study!
Click on link above and witness the collective madness that passes for a church service at New Hope Baptist Church. Watch the master BS artist at work!
Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
September 29, 2010