Some have been waiting for Bishop T.D. Jakes to speak up on the scandal involving the other southern mega-pastor down the road, Bishop Eddie Long. Jakes recently commented on Long’s case, stating that Christians should simply pray for Long because they don’t have the right to do much of anything else.
Long was accused of sexual coercion by four young men in his care at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. A lawsuit was filed, which Bishop Long settled for an undisclosed amount of money. It was reported that Long paid $25 million for the settlement and has chosen to keep the details of the case quiet.
At The Potter’s House in Dallas, Jakes said “Christians should just pray,” for Long.
“When all this is over, one thing is for sure – somebody, if not everybody in it, is going to need the blood [of Jesus Christ].”
Not only does Jakes say that Christians should pray for Long, he says that they don’t have the authority to do anything else.
“We have no other authority but to pray,” he said. “The New Birth Church is a church unto itself who has a board and it has a membership. How they choose to handle their leadership issues is not something that we can control regardless of which side you stay on that issue. It is their issue and their responsibility and their response.”
How convenient that Bishop Long would avoid appearing to support his friend, who might be a gay child molester, but would support his right to handle the situation in his own, private way. With Bishop Jakes’ remarks, in conjunction with those of Creflo Dollar, we are finding that friendship can go much deeper than doing the right thing when it comes to protecting our colleagues.
I wish I could be more diplomatic when discussing the remarks of Bishop Jakes, who is a man I could end up meeting at some point in the near future. But when it comes to protecting young children, I simply cannot allow any of us to skirt around the issue. I can’t imagine anyone who stands firmly behind the legacy of Jesus Christ to simply overlook the idea that an alleged man of god might be harming young children who’ve been convinced to trust him like a father.
While Bishop Jakes stops short of either endorsing or condemning Long, he certainly appears to be protecting him. A pastor who also happens to be an expert at church organizational structure commented to me that one of the great problems of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church is that, for far too long, it was a shop that was run and controlled by Bishop Eddie Long. Board members existed, but few would stand in defiance of a pastor who’d made his own name bigger than that of his church. As a result, allowing this very serious sexual coercion issue to be handled by the board behind closed doors is like allowing an accused criminal to be judged by his own family.
I don’t trust that the board at New Birth has the ability to protect the children in that church, because I fully suspect that Bishop Long’s behavior was allowed to continue due to the negligence of silent enablers of his egregious activity. I also interpret the remarks of T.D. Jakes and Creflo Dollar (who strongly supported Long’s right to forgiveness) to be part of a concerted strategy to support their friend without running into criticism from their own congregations. The reality, however, is that there are moments in our lives when we must ask ourselves the simple question, “What would Jesus do?”
Personally, I don’t believe Jesus would protect a man accused of sexually abusing children in the church, even if he were to lose his Rolls Royce in the process. I encourage Jakes and Dollar to do the right thing and speak up on behalf of the poor boys who may have been perpetually damaged by the man they trusted with their lives. These allegations, which are not being publicly refuted by Long, are simply unforgivable.