Bishop Eddie Long and former Republican Presidential Candidate Herman Cain were once considered to be pillars of their community. Long was the lead pastor at one of the largest churches in the south(the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, where he remarkably maintained power), and Cain was on his way to becoming the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for President of the United States.
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Since then, both Long and Cain have been found to be nothing more than self-proclaimed men of God who spent their spare time doing the work of demons. Eventually earning nicknames like “Eddie Long Stroke” and “Pee Wee Herman Cain,” these men would be the center of one sex scandal after another, often accused of waving their powerful penises at every man, woman (and child) who happened to want a job, some financial support or a little extra “mentorship.”
Mind you, Herman Cain was not quite as bad as Eddie, given that Cain at least harassed grown women. While Cain simply ruined careers of women under his authority, Long appears to have gone even further by taking advantage of young boys who once considered him to be a father. In spite of their differences, both Cain and Long can be accused of embarrassing themselves and their families for living lives that were nothing less than entirely hypocritical.
We can also note that in addition to being powerful, wealthy, “men of God” from Atlanta, both of these men also happen to be conservatives (remember that picture of Eddie Long hugging George W. Bush?). Now, this doesn’t mean that liberals don’t cheat on their wives or live life on the downlow, but it does remind us of the risks of bible thumping condemnation of those who are different from ourselves. Cain spent years telling black people that we are brainwashed and undisciplined, while Long spent his time attacking the same gay community where his boyfriends reside. Only the blindness caused by wealth and power could make either man think that their secrets would never get out.
This kind of hypocrisy appears to have been over the head, out of the view or stuffed into the subconscious of Mrs. Cain and Mrs. Long, who ended up looking as silly as their husbands, standing next to these men as they confessed to an undisciplined, unhealthy, and unethical lifestyle that would put Tiger Woods to shame. One can only wonder what it’s like to have to get tested for STDs every six months, even though you’ve been married to a preacher for decades. Even worse, none of us can say for certain what the results of those tests happened to be.
Mrs. Vanessa Long seems to be the most confused, given that she filed for divorce, reversed her filing hours later, and then changed her mind once again. Mrs. Cain has at least been consistent, seemingly convinced that her husband is righteous, while all those other women are lying gold diggers. It’s hard to figure out whether these women are victims, heroes or dummies; but then again, marriage can make us into all three.
Love is a complicated thing, and I speculate that it gets more complex as you get older. Most of us have grandparents who stayed married through thick and thin, even as grand daddy’s male instincts drove him to find physical companionship outside the marriage. I have no doubt that the fairytale delusion was shattered for these women decades ago, and at this point, it may be a matter of sticking by the screwed up man you know, rather than taking a chance on other screwed up men you meet after the divorce. Their experience may also serve as a cautionary tale for women who are fascinated by men with money and power, for they should realize that wealth, influence and an infinite number of options can corrupt the souls of even the most righteous men.
Herman Cain and Eddie Long, the two black male prides of Atlanta, are actually just the tip of the iceberg. Most of the Eddie Longs operate in stealthy silence, condemning others on Sunday because of an internal self-hatred for the part of themselves that they don’t want to accept. The Herman Cains of the world enjoy being tools of racial oppression, claiming that black people have no personal responsibility, yet refusing to take responsibility for the long string of women falling out of the closet. I am disgusted by both men, not because they are sexually undisciplined, but because of their hypocrisy. You shouldn’t spend so much time making others feel bad when you yourself are up to no good.
Both Herman Cain and Eddie Long are birds of a feather. Their narcissistic disregard for the pain they’ve caused so many others is a sad reminder of how we can be influenced by Christian leaders who’ve abandoned the spirit of Jesus. Perhaps we need to ask ourselves why we gave these men so much power.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.
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