EDITOR, The Tribune.
The pastor of the Atlanta based New Birth Missionary Baptist Church Bishop Eddie Long is presently holding his Spirit and Truth Conference on Atlantis Paradise Island. The controversial African American prosperity preacher is expected to minister at this conference. Other speakers who will also be participating in this church event are Bishop Neil C Ellis, Pastor Jacobus Brouwer, Bishop Terrell Murphy, Bishop Gary Oliver, Pastor Stephen Davis and Pastor Laurence Powell. I understand that those who are interested in attending this conference will have to pay a registration fee of $100.
Some weeks ago I read in one of the dailies that a Nassau based pastor was planning on protesting Long's presence in this country. I haven't heard anything since then concerning this particular minister and his planned protest. He probably changed his mind. For those who either have forgotten or are ignorant of what has transpired over the past several years with the pastor of New Birth, several young men have alleged that they have had improper relations with the televangelist.
I understand that a handsome financial settlement had been reached by the pastor with the young men in order to prevent criminal proceedings from being carried out against him. Long may have gotten off the hook, but his reputation lies in tatters. Many Bahamians are all up-in-arms over Long being allowed by the Bahamas Christian Council and the government to hold church services in this country. I understand their frustrations, but Long hasn't violated any of the civil laws of this country. Besides, many foreign entertainers who live bizarre, shady lives are allowed into this country every other week. So why would anyone expect for the government of The Bahamas to treat a foreign preacher differently? Besides, Long's conference is a major shot in the arm for Atlantis in particular, and for the entire nation. For years the government of The Bahamas has been seeking ways to capitalise on religious tourism.
Televangelists like Long and Benny Hinn have a massive following. If they hold a conference in The Bahamas, hundreds or thousands of their loyal supporters will follow them here. And the government is keenly aware of this. That is why the government has turned a deaf ear to all the noise in the market concerning the situation with Long. If truth be told, however, preachers like Long are really only an epitome of not only the American church, but of the church in this country as well. I know of many clergymen whose lives are not in conformity to the Lord Jesus Christ, yet the government has allowed their ministries to go on. Collectively speaking, we are not in the moral position to scrutinise the bishop.
The alleged incident with Long never surprised me anyway. While he may be a high profile preacher, for all we know, he may not even be a true born-again Christian. In fact, I don't think he is one. But who am I to judge?
Quite frankly, if I were Long, I would have given up the pulpit ministry, if only to spare God the public humiliation and ridicule that such an allegation would bring to Him. Because of this situation, many have blasphemed the name of Christ. What's more, if a preacher is guilty of committing gross immorality, he would become essentially disqualified from public ministry. In the final analysis, holding anti-Long placards outside the conference on Atlantis or writing derogatory things about him on Facebook is a complete waste of time; and it is uncalled for. That is not the Christian thing to do.
My guess is that the conference will be a smashing success because of the sheer weight of Long's popularity. I have noticed that the African American church, which for the most part is liberal, cares very little about how preachers live. I have seen American preachers who have been involved in major scandals lead massive congregations. Their membership just don't care.
If Bahamians are so opposed to Long preaching here, then they should not attend his conference. And while they are at it, they should pray for the salvation of his soul. No right-thinking Christian would want Long to be a castaway on Judgment Day. The thought of being rejected by your Creator should send shudders down the spine of every preacher, especially those with mega ministries like Long.
September 11, 2012.