Bishop Paul S. Morton, founder of the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship (FGBCF) that ordained Eddie Long as a bishop, has openly rebuked him for remaining completely silent after settling a sexual coercion scandal involving four young men from his church, New Birth Cathedral (New Birth) in Georgia.
To date Long, who is under a gag order, has not so much as offered parishioners, the community or the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship an acknowledgement, apology or admission of innocence or guilt about the allegedly licentious relationships.
An audio recording of Morton addressing the matter in a Father’s Day message appears on YouTube. (Click here to listen)
Indicating Long stopped returning his phone calls, Morton said in the recording:
“Tell me something … those that have stood with you. Tell us something. Tell your church something. We all make mistakes and come short of the glory of God, but tell us something … I know there’s a gag order, but you can apologize.”
Morton rebuked Long and said the embattled pastor must repent if he wants forgiveness, based on the authority of scripture (Luke 17: 3-4).
“I can’t forgive somebody that does not repent,” said Morton, pastor of Greater St. Stephens FGBCF in New Orleans.
Reportedly members are leaving New Birth in droves. Bishop Morton understandably wants the pastor he promoted to Bishop to take responsibility for the fall out.
Despite the public outrage over the case, this may be the first time since the ordeal surfaced last September that a senior church leader has publicly called for accountability and outright decried Long’s nonchalance. In fact, shortly after the settlement, friend and fellow Georgia-based pastor Creflo Dollar declared his support for Long and urged members who left New Birth to return because as Dollar put it, Long is “still anointed.”
In contrast, politicians had a ready answer when the sex scandal bug struck now former Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY). Weiner’s Democratic colleagues did not hesitate to request much more than an apology, but a resignation.
By the same token, in 2006 church over-seers insisted that Pastor Tedd Haggard leave New Life Church in Colorado Springs, CO amid allegations of a gay tryst.
We do not know if other clergy have asked Bishop Long to step down, but considering the swift intervention of peers in similar cases, the legnth of time it has taken for an authority figure in the chruch to address the moral and spiritual aspect of this scandal is unusual. This lag may be a sign that “The Black Church” at large lacks a system of restoration protocol or corrective actions for recalcitrant leaders.
At last, Bishop Morton has made his position known formally and is asking Long to face the consequences of the allegations.
Sounding flustered, Morton continued during the Father’s Day address:
“The settlement has already been made. They can’t sue you again. Some people are gonna stay with you some people are going to leave, but you gotta leave that up to God. Those are the consequences for the sins that we do.”
For those who are saying Long’s actions are a blow to the “Body of Christ” Morton’s reproof has been a long time coming, but better late than never.