A few weeks ago the very prominent senior pastor of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, Bishop Eddie Long, looking a bit frail and sickly posted a video online. The video of Long doing a slight workout in the gym was created to refute rumors that he was facing a major health crisis. To respond to numerous calls, emails and text messages from some of the 25,000 members of the mega-church, regarding his health, Long wanted to address the concerns.
In the video, Long gave a spiel about how his new vegan lifestyle helped him with a dramatic weight loss. His video also talked about maximizing your influence, where he boasts that he plans to live until the age of 100, and certainly couldn’t do that eating what he termed a “slave menu.” Although the pastor shared his love for Popeye’s biscuits, he said he could no longer subject himself to such and was eating his best version of a vegan menu.
Watching the video one would wonder if the Bishop was telling the truth. He did not look well and healthy as one would imagine from implementing a new healthy regimen. While attempting to derail the rumors the plot quickly grew thicker when it was reported that Bishop Long was hospitalized with what some were saying is stage 4 intestinal cancer.
Bishop Long responded to reports this time with a bit more accuracy explaining that he is indeed sick but is expecting a complete healing from God. Bishop Long’s response was met with criticism due to his first video weeks earlier. In spite of his reported illness media outlets and critics lambasted his response because it appeared that he was dishonest.
Bishop Eddie Long is no newcomer to media attention, and his answers from previous crisis’ are the catalyst for the criticism.
In 2005, Long was under investigation for receiving more than 3.07 million dollars in compensation from his non-profit charity. Long contended that the money received were derived from royalties, large sum donations, and speaking engagements.
Bishop Long was also one of several mega-church pastors included in State Senator Chuck Grassley’s investigation regarding the finances related to the large churches. Long along with some others refused to cooperate, and the three-year investigation ended with a conclusion of an absence of definitive wrongdoings.
Long faced his most critical and damaging period in 2010. Known as a virulent opponent of homosexuality, members of New Birth and the public-at-large were shocked in when several young men filed separate civil lawsuits alleging that Long used his influence to coerce them into sexual relationships. Those accusations were followed by the leaking of several questionable photos of Bishop Long online. Those cases were eventually settled out of court but tarnished the bishop’s image.
Living in the public eye has ups and downs and unfortunately for Bishop Long even if he wants to keep his health issues private, the speculation will continue in spite of any calculated responses. Hopefully, his attempts at a healthier lifestyle and his faith will render healing for him.