By: Andre J. Thomas
“Anytime the pastor’s name precedes the church, it is a sign of impending trouble.” ~Bishop Eddie Long
Metro Atlanta Mega pastor Bishop Eddie L. Long has done a good job staying out of the limelight this past year. The turbulent story of a well-beloved mega pastor turned public spectacle turned back to a humble man walking in his purpose is definitely a Lifetime movie within itself.
I recently received an autograph copy of Long’s new book, “The Untold Story: The Story of Adversity, Pain, and Resilience.”Initially I thought it was a tell all about his controversial scandal. However, it appears that Bishop Long somewhat opens up about his tumultuous journey over the past few years and vaguely shares with the world about the events that nearly ended his marriage and almost cost him his life in the process.
If you lived in Atlanta during the mid 2000s, there was once a time when being attached to Bishop Long’s name meant you were connected to the religious dignitary. After the notorious scandal that nearly crippled his flourishing New Birth Missionary Baptist Church made headlines, the world renowned leader saw his life accomplishments become the source of constant criticism.
In 2004, Bishop Eddie Long and daughter of our beloved civil rights leader, Reverend Bernice King led a group of Christians down the streets of Atlanta in what seemed to be a crusade against marriage equality. As LGBT groups countered, Bishop Long’s influence overpowered them at the end.
In the years to follow, Bishop Long’s message against homosexuality became more volatile in a sense that it was almost destructive to the self-esteem of gay Christians. From the outside looking in, I couldn’t understand how a gay person could sit in his ministry and feel any sense of self-love or worth. I couldn’t process for a long time, how God could allow such an anointed man to breakdown a group of people that were already broken. Being in the inner circle of major celebrities and having an influential name in the community appeared to have given Bishop Eddie Long a skewed sense of self-worth.
A few years ago, Bishop Long found himself the subject of all the abuse he cast on others. Sadly all of the people who helped him fall from grace eventually shunned him, inferring that he was “bad for their image!” He finally had to see that his lifestyle made him a stranger to himself. Is he the same preacher that passionate preached the gospel or did he get caught up in the praise of his name that he forgot the message?.
Earlier this year, Bishop Long talked about some of his struggles and even eluded to the fact that he contemplated suicide. He openly suggested that because his church continued to love him unconditionally and helped him to put life back into proper perspective. As Bishop Long says in the book, it’s no longer “Bishop Eddie Long & New Birth,” it’s simply “We are New Birth.”
Bishop Long also mentions in his book that preachers feed into a celebrity mindset and that sometimes they need to conduct reality checks on themselves to ensure that they always stay focused on God’s purpose and promise for their lives.
I have to say for anyone who has aspirations of becoming a pastor, this is a book you may want to purchase. His life experience can definitely be used a learning tool. Walking away from his infamous hair piece and preaching a gospel that’s more embracing of all people, Bishop Long appears to be on the road to redemption. I met Bishop Long for the second time recently and he appears to be at a happier place in life. His ministry is starting to flourish again as he is preaching a message of love and restoration.
As of today, there is no published release date of the book, but I will definitely keep you all updated when it is available. Proud of you Bishop Long.
Andre J. Thomas is a 5x Award Winning Producer and Entertainment Blogger based out of Birmingham, Alabama. He can be heard every Saturday on the hit radio show, Joe Lockett Show. The Joe Lockett Show airs on 101.1 FM & 1260 AM (Metro Birmingham) every Saturday from 4pm to 7pm CST. You can also read articles written by Andre in The Birmingham Times, Black Moguls Magazine, Gumptown Magazine, and onandrejthomas.com.
All Rights Reserved, 2016.