Eddie Long, the Lithonia, Georgia, anti-LGBT pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church who made headlines in 2010 after sexual contact allegations, died yesterday.
The church released a statement Sunday morning saying Long fought “a gallant private fight with an aggressive form of cancer.” According to WSB, a 2016 video of an “extremely thin” Long sparked speculation about his health, and the pastor missed several services recently.
Spencer LeGrande, one of five former members of Long’s congregation who sued him for sexual coercion, told the AJC they did not plan to comment.
“As much as we’d like to make a statement about the passing of Bishop Eddie Long, we’ve all decided to remain silent, for now,” a joint statement issued by LeGrande, Maurice Robinson, Anthony Flagg and Jamal Parris said. “Our perspectives will be addressed in our book, ‘Foursaken,’ which we hope to release soon.”
The four accusers, along with Centino Kemp, reached a settlement with Long in May 2011 that included a confidentiality agreement, but some continued to speak out about the case. Kemp’s book, “The First Lady,” was published in 2011.
The men accused Long of using money, extravagant gifts of jewelry and trips to coerce them into sexual relationships after they reached 16, the legal age of consent in Georgia. The accusations were shocking to many because of Long’s anti-LGBT views, including a 2004 protest march in Atlanta. Gospel singer Kim Burrell, herself recently kicked off the “Ellen” show schedule due to anti-LGBT remarks, called out Long in the very same sermon earlier this year because of his rumored homosexuality.
She called Long “an embarrassment to the Church.”
Memorial services for Long will be held at 11 a.m. on Jan. 25.