In 2010, Bishop Eddie Long, senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Dekalb County, Georgia, was under fire. He found himself being accused of and sued for allegedly trying to use his influence to coerce three young church members, all men, into having sexual relations with him. These allegations, aimed at a married pastor who had previously denounced homosexuality and even had “Sexual Reorientation” programs to make gay men and women heterosexual, were all over the news.
Eventually, Long would settle the lawsuits out of court. His church would stand by him. His wife, despite initially filing for divorce, would also stay with him. He would go on to never really speak of the situation, aside from thanking his congregation for not giving up on him. That is until he sat down with Steve Harvey recently to talk about the toll those allegations took on him, his family, and New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. Their conversation will air on today’s episode of The Steve Harvey Show, but clips from it are already available. What Long shared during their talk is quite engrossing, especially his thoughts of suicide as the allegations spread.
When asked by Harvey what drove him to that point, Long said it was the criticism coming from all sides.
“You hear so much from so many,” Long said. “And I guess the shouts when you’re going through, and I want others to know this when they’re going through something, the shouts of your haters seem to be louder and more multiplied than people who are with you. And somehow, because we have a bend towards the negative anyway, they get to your ear. And that’s just major heavy, to try and see an end. And if you saw a light, it was another train coming.”
And on top of all that he was hearing from the public, Long’s home life was also in turmoil. His wife, Vanessa, had filed for divorce. She would eventually withdraw her petition and use her situation as a way to help others going through something similar. As she put it, “I realized that the best thing I could do was to let you see me as a woman, just like you. A woman capable of making good decisions and a woman capable of making bad decisions. Instead of condemning myself, I can use what happened as an opportunity to minister myself to someone else going through a storm.” All these years later, Long told Harvey that they’re still working to get over their humps, but he wouldn’t have made it without her.
“It wasn’t where we were arguing and all of that, but it’s a lot of focus,” Long said. “We still have some challenges to be very, very honest with you. So I’m not going to sit here and run the white horse. But we’re together and we’re working through that and we’re growing. If it wasn’t for her, I would have been gone.”
And when asked why he eventually settled out of court, despite stating that “the truth will emerge,” Long said he did it to protect himself, his family, and his church.
“The old gambling song: You’ve got to know when to hold it, know when to fold it, know when to walk away,” Long said. By then, after such attack of media, the stress of all of that and all of this, you gotta look at what’s happening to you? At that point, everyone who believed in you was still believing in you. At that point, who didn’t believe in me, wasn’t going to believe in me no matter what I did. You’ve got to figure: Am I going to win the battle or do I need to win the war? So I had to make a decision to save me, save my family and save the church. Because continuing on was just going to be beat, beat, beat and gives everybody more opportunity to beat up people.”
It’s sure to be a good episode. Check out a few clips ahead of it and share your thoughts below.