Tag Archives: Scandal

Is it a Case of “Let He Without Sin”…Or “Therefore, Rid Yourselves of Hypocrisy”?

21 Sep

As is normally the case, tonight’s regularly scheduled post was already prepared (yet another motherhood angst draft completed and in mid-revision) before the BREAKING NEWS bomb was dropped in my inbox all Hiroshima-like this evening.  Thanks to cable news networks and the instantaneous nature of the social networks that I subscribe to, my Twitter Timeline, Instant Messengers and emails pretty much imploded my Blackberry amid news of yet another seemingly fallen Good Reverend.

According to CNN.com, two male parishioners have alleged sexual misconduct and coercion by an esteemed Atlanta Pastor:

Two Georgia men have filed a lawsuit claiming that prominent Atlanta, Georgia, pastor Eddie Long coerced them into sex.

The suits, filed Tuesday in DeKalb County, Georgia, allege that Long used his position as a spiritual authority and bishop to coerce young male members and employees of his New Birth Missionary Baptist Church into sex.

“Defendant Long has a pattern and practice of singling out a select group of young male church members and using his authority as Bishop over them to ultimately bring them to a point of engaging in a sexual relationship,” the suits allege.

Long is considered one of the nation’s top black preachers. His church has more 25,000 members, according to the suit, and was the site of Coretta Scott King’s 2006 funeral, attended by then-President George W. Bush and three previous presidents. King was the widow of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

The pastor took one plaintiff, Anthony Flagg, 21, on overnight trips to a half-dozen American cities in recent years, Flagg’s suit alleges.

“Long shared a bedroom and engaged in intimate sexual contact with plaintiff Flagg including kissing, massaging, masturbating of plaintiff Flagg by defendant Long and oral sexual contact,” the suit says.

Long took the other plaintiff, Maurice Murray Robinson, 20, to Auckland, New Zealand, in October 2008 for his 18th birthday and engaged in oral sex with him, Robinson’s suit alleges.

“Following the New Zealand Trip, Defendant Long regularly engaged in sexual touching, and other sexual acts with Plaintiff Robinson,” Robinson’s suit alleges.

Long spokesman Art Franklin said Tuesday that “we categorically deny the allegations.”

“It is very unfortunate that someone has taken this course of action,” he said. “Our law firm will be able to respond once attorneys have had an opportunity to review the lawsuit.”

Long frequently denounces homosexual behavior. A 2007 article in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s magazine called him “one of the most virulently homophobic black leaders in the religiously based anti-gay movement.”

“Everybody knows that a bishop or church pastor … cannot have any sort of sexual relations or sexual relationship with one of your parishioners,” the lawyer, B.J. Bernstein, said at a news conference Tuesday evening. “And even worse to have it with two young men who trusted him and got to know him at a very young age.”

Bernstein said she has alerted federal authorities about the allegations.

In June, Robinson was arrested and charged with burglary in connection with a break-in to Long’s office. An iPhone, iPad and other items — more than $1,300 worth — were taken from the office, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

On Tuesday, Bernstein said the theft was Robinson’s attempt to retaliate against the pastor. She said that once Robinson began telling others about his experience with Long, “he realized he wasn’t the only one.”

“It made [Robinson] angry,” she said.

Both plaintiffs said the pastor, his church and church employees gave them cash and lavish gifts that ranged from cars to college tuition.

The suits also said that Long framed the sexual relationships as religious in nature.

The suits allege that Long chose the plaintiffs to be his “Spiritual Sons,” a program that allegedly includes other young men from the church.

Flagg moved into a home owned by another New Birth pastor when he was a high school junior, according to the suit, where Long would sometimes share a bed with him. Flagg was eventually put on the church’s payroll, his suit alleges, with Long personally delivering his checks.

Flagg’s suit says that Long presided over a spiritual “covenant” ceremony between the two of them.

“It was essentially a marriage ceremony, with candles, exchange of jewelry, and biblical quotes,” Bernstein said Tuesday. “The bishop [told] him I will always have your back and you will always have mine.”

Robinson’s suit alleges that “Defendant Long would use Holy Scripture to discuss and justify the intimate relationship between himself and Plaintiff Robinson.”

The suits are seeking unspecified amounts of punitive damages from Long on various counts, ranging from negligence to breach of fiduciary duty.

Now, I will be the first to admit that although I don’t preach eternally damnation to random strangers and infidels or claim to possess the power to evoke a Fire and Brimstone downpour on all non-believers (you know, that new-age religion that some on The Right and many of those who travel on The Tea Party Express would have you believe that Christianity is all about), as a compassionate church-going, God-loving, Kingdom Striver, these allegations were incredibly disturbing.  And not so much because there are implications of gross sexual impropriety committed by a well-known and respected man of the cloth; one of the faces of the black “mega-church” culture, but because people have used this story to further vilify Christianity, “the body” and collective church-going as a whole. 

I cannot tell you how many comments I’ve read or responded to today that ranged from joking about whether Bishop Long’s S-Curl and silk too-tight shirts would be charged as accessories to this crime to people accusing the man of pedophilia with adolescent boys.  Please understand that I don’t repeat these crass opinions as a way in which to pass judgment. I only mention them to show how easy it was for the world to jump on the “there-goes-another-preacher-spending-my-up-my-tithe-while-creeping-with-the-choir-boy” bandwagon without having heard a single word in the way of Bishop Long’s side of the story.  Moreover, I know in media how important it is to get “the jump” on a hot and fresh story (as I can guarantee every blogger and their momma will probably be weighing in on this topic tomorrow morning, if they’ve not already done so) but I have to wonder if CNN.com, with more than 18,000 recommendations of this story via Facebook and it being touted as the most popular article on their website, cared more about the sensation that this story would garner as opposed to reporting on the whole story in its entirety.  Now, far be it for me to suggest that Bishop Long’s two accusers in this case are peddling falsehoods; I am not saying that at all.  I just think that we should all be careful to consider not only people’s motives in instances like this, but also the source from which such information would come.

What I do know to be true however, is my sincere desire for fact, accuracy and vindication to reign supreme and be made known when this snafu is all said and done.  As crazy as this situation is though, it’s bound to get even uglier before it gets resolved.  That is all the more reason why (in my opinion) we have to step out of our cloak of judgment and not put our mouth on a situation we are only privy to via second hand revelation. 

In the book of 1 Peter, it talks about how the people of God shouldn’t be surprised at being mistreated and made to suffer as a result of doing the Lord’s work (paraphrasing), while on the other hand the book of Matthew addresses the sadness and destruction that people bring upon themselves as a result of the sinful behaviors they allow in their lives.  In reading just these two bible passages it is evident that God will not be mocked, and I have a sneaking suspicion that one way or another this incident will be the catalyst for God allowing people to be exposed for who and what they truly are.

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“They’s Married Now!”

2 Aug

Chelsea Clinton was not the only notable celebrity to tie the knot in a private but grandiose ceremony this weekend.  While the former first daughter was becoming Mrs. Marc Mezvinsky in a paparazzi-free service with a reported 400 tight-lipped guests in Rhineback, NY, on the other side of the world another luminary wedding had taken place.  In a ceremony officiated by spiritualist Deepak Chopra near the French isle of Corsica, Kaseem Dean aka Swizz Beatz demonstratively (and finally) made an honest woman of his Grammy Award winning superstar fiancé, Alicia Keys.

 The pair was married in a ceremony reported to have taken place aboard a 260 foot yacht overlooking the Mediterranean Sea near the exclusive Costa Smeralda enclave.  Like Chelsea Clinton, Keys donned a Vera Wang original for the special day, while her beau was decked out in a Tom Ford white tuxedo-fusion ensemble.  Friend of the couple, Christian Louboutin designed the wedding footwear for both the bride and groom.  Aside from the couples family and close friends who were in attendance, it’s been reported that celebs like U2’s Bono as well as Queen Latifah were among the stars on the high-profile guest list.

 Having stumbled upon this “breaking news” last night and then again in a CNN.com story this morning, the nuptials were described as “a wedding between R&B power couple Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz.”  It is simply amazing to me how all of a sudden, mainstream media has coined the two a “power couple.”  In fairness, Swizzy has held his own as a super-producer over the last decade, but it seems a stretch to me that his marrying Alicia Keys would now propel their relationship into the realm of power anything in the eyes of mainstream media.  I suppose though, since Alicia has continued to be the darling of R&B (the recent home-wrecker accusations notwithstanding), her marriage called for some sort of conspicuous coverage and categorization, even though her husband was a virtual unknown outside of the Hip-Hop/R&B world until news of their affair relationship came to light back in 2008.

 For me, I think it will be interesting to see how Swizz and Alicia quickly go from R&B newlyweds to proud “power couple” parents in the media in just the next few months, and if the world will remember that although this will be their first child together, the baby’s pappy has sired three other children (two with his ex-wife Mashonda Tifrere and one other, whom it appears he doesn’t openly acknowledge).  Regardless of the way that I personally feel about their relationship though, I am not saying that they don’t have the right to move on with their lives and be happy.  What I am saying however, is that I am always very amazed to find a situation where scandal and infidelity are so easily swept under the rug and dismissed when otherwise respected and celebrated figures are involved, while their less famous ex’s are left with the “other” children and looking like angry and bitter ne’er do wells.

 But hey, although united through situations and factors on seemingly opposite ends of the marital spectrum, I wish both the Mezvinskys and The Beatzs a happy and prosperous marriage where love, integrity and fidelity shape the legacy of their lives together.

Shmucks Who Want it All: The Tiki Barber Edition

31 May

We all heckled, jeered and threw out the three-fingered Celie curse at Tiki Barber when it was revealed last month that not only was he cheating on his wife of 11 years, who by the way was very (8 months) pregnant with their twin babies at the time, but had brazenly left her for a young, blond, strumpet intern whom he worked alongside as a correspondent for NBC’s “Today Show”.  Many of us even applauded when NBC exhibited the kind of moral backbone not readily observed in the media lately, (okay, okay; I’ll admit that they probably did it in their own best interest) when the television giant sidelined the retired New York Giants running back once allegations of his infidelity arose.  Then, before the ink of the latest gossip columns were dry, women everywhere gave Ginny “Decisive” Barber a standing ovation for cutting to the chase and deciding that she no longer wanted to be married to a philandering oaf who had no qualms with making a mockery of their marriage in a very embarrassing and public way.

You’d think that being ostracized at work, ridiculed in the media and lambasted by the mother of his children would make Tiki take a timeout and reevaluate how his life spiraled out of control, right?  Humph, that would be a resounding no.  While his soon-to-be-ex-wife was the one on a timeout (mandatory bed rest) and sorting through what went wrong with their marriage, good old Tiki was out cavorting around New York with his mistress and making plans to share a new den of iniquity with said paramour.  Clearly, the last thing on his mind was the welfare of his wife and children (both the unborn twins and their two adolescent sons).  Now Tiki defenders, don’t get indignant with me and say that I don’t know what was on his mind…I’ll be the first to admit, I have no clue what goes through the mind of a man who abandons his family for some young tail, but note that I didn’t say he didn’t care about his wife and kids. I simply stated that they were the last things on his mind; a statement that based on his behavior, I believe to be true.

And what further solidifies this notion in my mind is Tiki’s recent refusal to give Ginny the settlement that she asked for in order to move on with her life and to care for their four children sans his help.  Keep in mind that she wasn’t in the papers or on television telling anyone who’d listen how shameless he and his mistress were and how emotionally draining such a public scandal was for her and the children’s physical well-being.  She simply (and quietly) accepted his trifling ways, filed for divorce and decided that his monetary support would have to substitute for his lack of presence in their lives.  But in true I’m-doing-wrong-but-still-want-things-my-way-celebrity-entitlement-fashion, Barber would rather fight his wife-for-now in court over money and custody than acquiesce.  A classy dude, that one.

So is it any wonder that this former family man who all of a sudden up and decided to ditch his familial duties in order to recapture his bachelor-dome would think that he’d be welcome in his wife’s delivery room as she prepared to bring two new lives into the world?  Clearly, the rich, famous and unscrupulous operate by a different set of standards than the rest of us.  Well, Ginny was prepared for Tiki’s foolishness, and had some firm instructions for the football great: Sit It ALL The Way Down!!  According to insiders at the hospital where Mrs. Barber gave birth to the couple’s twin girls earlier this week, Tiki-Lamp showed up to the hospital for the births of his children, but was surreptitiously forced to wait outside of the delivery room.  Ouch.

Now, I know that there are those who believe that Ginny Barber was being hateful; wielding the only power she had over Tiki as a way to get him back for his humiliating indiscretions, but to those people I ask: have you ever actually given birth?  The situation by itself (without the stress of a cheating, absentee husband) is already wrought with unnerving pressure and anxiety.  What woman in her right mind would want such a man present during this strenuous time to frazzle her already delicate nerves further and possibly make things worse? 

In all honesty though, I will submit that Tiki undoubtedly loves all of his children and wanted to be present to usher his daughters into the world, but seriously, he had to know that with his scandalous antics as of late, the furthest that he’d get would be the hospital gift shop!

It is my sincere hope that now, since Ginny has made it quite apparent that she can do bad all by herself, and the Barber babies have arrived safely and without complication, that Mr. and Mrs. Barber will be able to come to suitable terms in their divorce and for the sake of the kids (a common theme in all of these cheating/divorce scandals lately, I know) live amicably ever after.

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