Bishop Eddie Long has died at the age of 63. The powerful legacy the megachurch pastor has left behind will surely live on, unfortunately, so will the many health rumors, sex scandals, and shocking headlines the controversial pastor was implicated in. In September of 2010, Bishop Eddie Long was accused of coercing four teenage boys into sexual relationships, according to the Daily Mail. The young men were members of his congregation.
At the time, the boys were 17-years-old and 18-years-old and due to the age of consent in Georgia being 16, a criminal investigation was not pursued by the police.
Eddie Long was known for preaching and practicing a “prosperity gospel” in which the faithful would be rewarded with wealth. Long was also known for his flamboyant lifestyle. According to the Daily Mail, Long flew around the world on a private jet and hit the streets of Atlanta in a $350,000 Bentley. The Christian author and gospel singer lived in a lavish $1.4 million house with six bedrooms and nine bathrooms.
As I look back over my life, and I think things over, I can truly say, that I've been BLESSED, I've got a TESTIMONY. Not "was", Not " going to be ", but say it with me: I'VE BEEN BLESSED! Encourage someone with your testimony today! #NewBirth #WatchThis #EddieLong #WeAreNewBirth
A photo posted by Bishop Eddie Long (@bishopeddielong) on
It was alleged that the Bishop took the teens on extended trips to New York, New Zealand, and South Africa. According to the Daily Mail, the boys were gifted with cars. The teens alleged Long used biblical quotes to try to convince them that the activities they were engaging in — both sexual and otherwise, were acceptable.
There were four publicly named plaintiffs in the sexual impropriety lawsuits; however, Long made an undisclosed out-of-court settlement with five individuals. Eddie Long has continued to deny the validity of the allegations. However, according to the Daily Mail, he did reveal some details of his relationships with the teens that seemed unusual to many.
According to the Daily Mail, Long said in the four separate documents that he often encouraged his New Birth Missionary Church members to refer to him as “Daddy” and that some even called him “Grandaddy,”–a term used as a sign of respect.
Bishop Eddie Long passed away this morning, we end our condolences to his family and friends ???????? pic.twitter.com/7x6oXCJNeJ
— Hip Hop Intel (@HipHopIntel) January 15, 2017
For years, Long preached passionately against homosexuality. He has even lead a number of sexual reorientation camps in an effort to “convert” homosexuals.
Long promptly took a leave of absence from his role as the leader of his megachurch after his second wife filed for divorce, according to the Daily Mail.
“I am still your pastor. You’ll still receive my direction. You’ve given me some weeks to take care of some family business,’ he said during Sunday morning’s service… If you go out there, the news said I stepped down,’ Mr Long continued… I haven’t stepped down, I’ve actually stepped up.”
Lawyer, Craig Gillen, defended the photos that Long sent some of the men from his cell phone. The images displayed the pastor in fitted workout gear. Gillen called him, “a health advocate, he’s a weight lifter… He’s a fella, who’s gonna go to work and he’s gonna have on a muscle shirt.”
Eddie Long’s Wife Files For Divorce, Then Changes Her Mind
Eddie Long married Vanessa in 1990 and had three children together. Long’s first marriage which ended in divorce, resulted in one male child. In those court filings, Long accused his first wife, Dabara Houston, of having a “violent and vicious temper,” according to the Daily Mail.
In 2011, Eddie Long’s second wife, Vanessa Long, filed for divorce. In the divorce documents, Vanessa wrote that the marriage was “irretrievably broken” and that there was “no hope of reconciliation of the parties.” Eddie’s public statement differed and hoped for a positive outcome.
“Vanessa and I are working together in seeking God’s will in our current circumstances.”
In an odd chain of events, the bishop’s wife initially filed papers for a divorce on a Thursday, made a public announcement the next day on Friday, and then announced that she withdrew the divorce request hours later.
Her lawyer then announced that she was going through with the divorce on a Saturday, according to the Daily Mail. Vanessa asked for privacy during the time Long was being accused of sexual assault.
“It is my sincere hope that this matter can be resolved expeditiously, harmoniously, and fairly.”.
Shortly afterward, Long told his followers that he was taking a hiatus from work to heal the broken bonds of his family and marriage.
“I do want you to know that this is, for me and my family, especially with me, one of the most difficult times and things I’ve had to face, and only because my strength, other than God, is in Miss Vanessa.”
“And I want you to rest assured that I love her and she loves me… In all the things that I’ve ever had to deal with and being pastor, my rock has been to be able to come home to a virtuous woman who always had peace in my house… We’re going (to) work it out.”
Eddie Long’s Health: How Did Bishop Eddie Long Die?
It has been reported that Bishop Eddie Long died after a battle with an “aggressive form of cancer,” according to a statement by the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. In September of 2016, rumors of Long battling a serious illness spread, according to Fox 5 Atlanta. Long revealed in 2016 that he was recovering from a “serious health challenge,” but did not provide specific details on his condition.
According to a statement Long gave to the Christian Post, the Bishop said his weight loss of more than 100 pounds was attributed to a vegetarian “life diet” he had switched to.
A photo posted by Bishop Eddie Long (@bishopeddielong) on
“I am recovering from a health challenge that I trust God to deliver me from. It is unrelated to the eating for life diet consisting of mostly raw vegetables that I am continuing, as part of a holistic approach to good health.”
In August of 2016 Long posted a Facebook video acknowledging his dramatic weight loss. The Facebook video that is now deleted, according to The Root.
“People are asking, ‘Bishop, what happened to all of you?’… Well, all of me has melted away.”
— Portia Bruner (@PortiaFOX5) September 6, 2016
He said his new diet would help him live to 100-years-old and that would not happen by eating fast foods.
“… stopping by Popeyes. That was my weakness. The biscuits with honey and chicken wings, spicy… I’m on the medicine that God gave you to feed your immune system to build you up. You know what? If you really want to move through this world and have influence, you gotta be spiritual and you have to walk by his commandments and you have to be healthy.”
Eddie Long Investigated By Senate
The sex scandal was not Bishop Eddie Long’s first run-in with controversial matters.
In 2007, Long was investigated by the Senate to see if he had made financial gains as a result of his church’s tax-exempt status, according to the Daily Mail. The local paper The Atlanta Journal-Constitution claimed that he received more than $3 million from his charities. The investigation found Pastor Long not guilty.
His widow Vanessa said in a statement that his absence has now left a void for those who love him dearly.
“I am confident through my belief in God that my husband is now resting in a better place… Although his transition leaves a void for those of us who loved him dearly, we can celebrate and be happy for him, knowing he’s at peace.”
When Long joined New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in 1987, the congregation only had around 300 members. The megachurch at its peak had about 25,000 members.
“Bishop Long was known as one of the most influential faith leaders in the world… He stood strong as a Kingdom Builder, pioneering leader, and revolutionary mind changer.”
Continued in its statement, the church called Long a family man and a well respected spiritual leader who was unapologetic for his courageous preaching of the gospel of Christianity.
“… A family man and spiritual leader who was well respected and loved for his passion to unapologetically and courageously preach the gospel of Jesus Christ… Bishop Long was known as one of the most influential faith leaders in the world… He stood strong as a Kingdom Builder, pioneering leader, and revolutionary mind changer.”
Long is survived by his wife of 27 years, Vanessa, four children, and three grandchildren. Funeral arrangements for Bishop Long have not been announced.
Will Bishop Eddie Long health rumors, past sex scandals, and multiple divorces tarnish the powerful legacy left behind by the famous Georgia pastor? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
[Featured Image by John Amis/AP Images]