To Long’s credit, he never said he was innocent, just that he had five rocks. His reference to the number five was a stalling tactic intended to evoke a mystical fervor of anticipation among feeble-minded churchgoers who believe that numbers have some spooky hidden meaning. New Birth members actually believed that Long would provide a thorough explanation of the particular meaning of the number five as it related to him having sex with teens at some point in the future. “The ‘bishop’ got something up his sleeve, you just wait” they whispered. All magic men engage in games of confusion and distortion. The self-proclaimed bishop is no different.
So we waited and waited, only to find that the “bishop” didn’t have anything up his sleeve, but that he did have something in his pocket; millions in cash. And reportedly, Long’s loyal flock is totally fine with him coughing up 25 million in tithes to settle sex allegation charges as long as it means they get their fake bishop back.
Money changes outcomes. In this case, the outcome shapeshifted from Eddie Lee Long going to trial, and possibly jail, to going free. But think of the potential outcomes New Birth Missionary Baptist Church could’ve manifested had it invested the 25 million it paid in hush money to young entrepreneurs instead.
As it stands, most young black graduates are entering a workforce with few available jobs. This is a perfect opportunity to provide recent graduates with the intellectual space required to intensify their skills by coupling them with other young innovators and encouraging them to make pitches for funding. Other twenty something entrepreneurs are already in the innovation game. A little seed money is all they need.
A few facts:
• Angel investor Ron Conway recently noted that 17 and 18 year olds are the best entrepreneurs to invest in.
• Seed investment company Y Combinator invests an average of $18,000 in several tech start-ups each year.
• TechStars makes an average investment of $5,000 per founder, up to $15,000 (3 founders).
Imagine how many African-American led start-ups could’ve been financed with 25 million dollars?
There is no shortage of bright 17 and 18 year olds in the halls of Spelman and Morehouse, and since Long’s New Birth Missionary Baptist Church is in Atlanta, and many of his parishioners are shuttled to New Birth from their campus, it’s obvious that those young up-starts aren’t hard to find. They just aren’t valued. The African American community would much rather divest from their community so that their pastor can drive a Maybach than invest in their own young and talented innovators.
This scandal isn’t as much about Eddie Lee Long’s predatory sexual behavior as it is about the black hole into which black America funnels its collective wealth every Sunday. Whether we’re discussing Eddie L. Long or Creflo Dollar, the story is the same: a group of Negroes coming together to exchange millions of dollars for a fleeting prosperity pep talk. Listening to a man tell them what they already know, that they can be great; that they too, can succeed.
Preaching prosperity only leads to real prosperity for the man in the pulpit, not the community as a whole. Until the African American community can grasp the true value of a dollar and invest that dollar with some expectation of a real return, the only tools we’ll have at our disposal with which to meet the 21st are “Bishop” Long’s five rocks.
But the caveman era is over. Evolution is happening. The universe will move on with or without us. The choice we face is whether we go with the flow of evolution – innovation – or hang back with the relics of blind hyperbolic religiosity. As always, the choice is yours.