Bishop Eddie Long, spiritual leader of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church and its thousands of members, is in the midst of a gay-sex scandal involving two young men who have accused Long of coercion. Local and national media picked up the story late yesterday.
Today, another lawsuit was filed, details forthcoming.
CNN originally broke the story nationally and devoted much of its coverage last night to the scandal. CNN spoke with Art Franklin, New Birth’s head of public relations, this morning.
Anchor John King points out that the lawsuits imply that Long has made a habit of sexual coercion, a charge Franklin denied on air. Franklin made a point to discredit the accusers by highlighting their criminal pasts.
Atlanta’s Fox affiliate, Fox 5, covered the story last night and spoke with members of New Birth’s congregation as they left Tuesday night services. The report said that many of the church’s followers were unaware of the accusations against their pastor but those who were familiar with the case adamantly supported Long.
Local radio stations also weighed into the controversy. Atlanta’s V-103, a predominantly African-American radio station, discussed the topic on this morning’s show. Art Franklin called into the station and spoke vaguely on the subject. He proclaimed Long’s innocence and suggested that the lawsuits were financially motivated. DJ Frank Ski, a member of Long’s congregation and an admitted friend of the pastor, said he hoped the accusations against Long were untrue.