The faith-based magazine Gospel Today is facing subscriber criticism after featuring embattled Bishop Eddie Long on the cover of its November/December Issue, according to Blackvoices.com.
Readers are accusing the accompanying article, entitled “Bishop Eddie Long at the Center of the Scandal That Rocked the Church World,” of downplaying allegations against him of sexual coercion brought by four male members of his New Birth Missionary Church in Georgia in September. Subscribers also said they believe the magazine is nurturing a conflict of interest with the story, as Long serves as the chair of the magazine’s board.
“The best thing:” for Gospel Today “was to not comment, but I do understand why you did,” one subscriber wrote on the magazine’s Web site. “God is not pleased with all the hypocrisy going on with these leaders and the things people will say and print just for MONEY!!!!”
The magazine’s publisher, Teresa Hairston released the following statement on Gospel Today’s Web site:
“Whether Bishop Long is guilty or not; whether the young men are guilty or not, the BODY OF CHRIST must handle this situation according to the Word of God! The mainstream press has painted a hideous picture; some have even called for Bishop Long’s resignation! They’re not even members.”
Some critics claim the magazine was way too gracious by excluding the bishop’s legal woes from the story. Hairston wrote that the publication took a spiritual stance on the situation instead.
“Gospel Today did not explore the legalities or the issues; we presented a biblical perspective-something no other outlet gave,” she wrote. “For those who don’t want to ‘deal’ with or look at this situation, I encourage you to read this story so that you can have a BIBLICAL perspective to help you ‘answer’ the mainstream perspective.”
Long became engulfed in a swirl of controversy earlier this year when Spencer LeGrande, 22, Jamal Parris, 23, Anthony Flagg, 21, and Maurice Robinson, 20, filed lawsuits claiming that when they were 17 and 18 years old Long took them in as his “spiritual sons,” according to CBS News. The men alleged that Long abused his authority and seduced them with vehicles, trips and expensive jewelry in exchange for sex.
Georgia authorities have declined to investigate the allegations because the age of consent in the state is 16.
In November, New Birth officials confirmed that the four plaintiffs accompanied long separately on trips, but said it could neither confirm nor deny allegations of inappropriate acts.