Bishop Eddie Long is the pastor of New Birth Christian Center, the largest congregation in Georgia (which, I suppose, must make Creflo Dollar green with envy… I couldn’t resist). In 1987 he also set up a non-profit charity to help the needy and spread the Gospel. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting that the primary beneficiary of charity funds turns out to be… Bishop Eddie Long. Between 1997 and 2000, when the charity was apparently folded, Long has reportedly received a little over $3 million in salary, housing, and other benefits, close to the same amount that it has paid out to the needy over the same period. Included in the payout are the use of a Bentley (a $350,000 car) and a $1.4 million mansion, and another million in salary.
In his defense, Long said that the charity did not solicit funds from church members, relying mainly on royalties, speaking fees, and a few large donations. He argued, “We’re not just a church, we’re an international corporation. We’re not just a bumbling bunch of preachers who can’t talk and all we’re doing is baptizing babies. I deal with the White House. I deal with Tony Blair. I deal with presidents around this world. I pastor a multimillion-dollar congregation. You’ve got to put me on a different scale than the little black preacher sitting over there that’s supposed to be just getting by because the people are suffering.”
Maybe he did, in fact, earn all that money. But it seems that there is at least the appearance of impropriety… not to mention what comes off, at least in print, as a haughty attitude. It doesn’t help that he wrote a book called Taking Over, which in part details how he convinced his congregation that a “biblical leader shouldn’t have to answer to a board.”
Before leaping to conclusions, though, we need to remember that this is the AJC we’re talking about, and they certainly have no love lost for a conservative African-American voice of such influence. But it is too bad that that voice belongs to a man who apparently lacks a little discretion.