Everyday thousands of children are being sexually abused. You can stop the abuse of at least one child by simply praying. You can possibly stop the abuse of thousands of children by forwarding the link in First Time Visitor? by email, Twitter or Facebook to every Christian you know. Save a child or lots of children!!!! Do Something, please!

3:15 PM prayer in brief:
Pray for God to stop 1 child from being molested today.
Pray for God to stop 1 child molestation happening now.
Pray for God to rescue 1 child from sexual slavery.
Pray for God to save 1 girl from genital circumcision.
Pray for God to stop 1 girl from becoming a child-bride.
If you have the faith pray for 100 children rather than one.
Give Thanks. There is more to this prayer here

Please note: All my writings and comments appear in bold italics in this colour

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Eddie Long And The Black Church’s Legacy Of Child Sexual Abuse

This is a highly provocative article by a survivor of child sex abuse that I hesitated, briefly, to post. It appears to be critical of the Bible, but, in fact is critical of the misuse of the Bible. It also points out how a preacher can command the love and devotion of his congregation as he is fleecing them and raping their children. 

Christians come under a lot of criticism for being blind and stupidly following what they are taught. It is because of churches like Eddie Long's that we deserve that criticism. Jesus never taught us to help ourselves to money or child abuse as, I'm sure, Eddie Long has already come to realize in his new home.

This article is specifically written for black churches but is certainly relevant to churches of any color.

The same Bible that is used against women, LGBTQ individuals and other marginalized identities is simultaneously used to shame survivors and privilege harm-doers

Written By Ahmad Greene-Hayes

On Sunday, January 15, Bishop Eddie Long passed away. Long was the prominent Atlanta pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, which at its height, boasted a congregation of over 25,000. A man of many controversies, Long had been closely scrutinized by the United States Senate for potentially profiting off of his church’s tax-exempt status.

He also came under fire for his homo-antagonistic sermons and his book, Deliver Me From Adam, in which he cloaks homophobia, misogyny and patriarchy in the lexicon of self-help. Long’s quest to cast out the spirit of homosexuality, however, did not stop there. Some have argued that he fathered and pastored a homophobic theological legacy at New Birth. In 2005, for example, he hosted his infamous “Sexual Orientation and Reorientation Conference” to convert LGBTQ Christians into heterosexuals.

Note: The author here unfortunately believes that gays are born gay and cannot be changed. Please read this article on my other blog if you also believe this.

Bishop Eddie Long Discusses Sex Scandal Allegations  Source: Pool / Getty

Just five years later, in 2010, Long was accused of sexually abusing four young men—Anthony Flagg, Spencer LeGrande, Jamal Parris and Maurice Robinson, who were teenagers at the time of their accusations. Like most predators, Long allegedly “groomed” these teenage boys into nonconsensual sexual activity. As noted on child rape survivor Oprah Winfrey’s website, grooming includes targeting vulnerable victims, gaining the victim’s trust, filling a need or void, isolating the child, sexualizing the relationship and maintaining control. Long was said to have used his prosperity gospel-accrued wealth to lavish Flagg, LeGrande, Parris and Robinson with private planes, expensive jewelry and luxury hotel rooms. According to the lawsuits brought by the young men, he then exploited his identity as a pastor and spiritual leader to add God’s blessing on his sexually perverse behaviors.

If you are far from God, as Long appears to have been, you cannot invoke God's blessing. You can pretend to, but there will be no real blessing. The lawsuits were settled out of court for undisclosed amounts. 

Yet Long’s members stood behind him. Although the New Birth Christian Academy closed down, the church doors remained open. 

The closing of the academy was, apparently, because of decreased enrollment and decreased giving. They had over 200 students, so it would have taken a large number, certainly in the dozens, to have withdrawn from the school as a consequence of Long's behaviour, for it to close its doors. The decreased giving also means that many members of the church also left. 

Congregants heard these children’s horrifying allegations of sexual abuse and many remained faithful to Long, even as he preached messages condoning homophobia, the subjugation of women and rape culture. In fact, after news of the child sexual abuse allegations surfaced, Long used the Bible to victim-blame and deny all charges in a sermon to his megachurch followers: “I’ve been accused. I’m under attack. As I said earlier, I am not a perfect man. But this thing, I’m gonna fight. . . . I feel like David against Goliath. But I’ve got five rocks and I haven’t thrown one yet.”

As a survivor of child sexual abuse and the son of Black churchgoing women and men, I am appalled by the ways that churches like New Birth create safe space for sexual violence. I am even more disturbed by the silence around rape and molestation, and the ways survivors are mocked and called liars. Meanwhile, abusers escape accountability, often keep their positions of power and manage to gain support as if they are the true victims.

I am too!

“To be called beloved is not only to shatter the silence, but to get rid of it altogether,” writes Emilie M. Townes in her essay “Washed in the Grace of God.” “We owe one another respect and the right to our dignity as people of God. If we deny justice, we are telling those who go without that they are worthless […] Folk need to hear the church say in a clear and unequivocal voice that sexual and domestic violence are not acceptable behaviors but they are lethal values.”

However, in a world where Bishop Eddie Long can be accused of being a child molester and garner the support of the majority of his congregation, it calls us to question the level to which some of our Black churches truly care about what happens to Black children. As blogger Son of Baldwin observes, “We love ovum and sperm. We love zygotes and embryos. We even love fetuses. But we do not — no, we absolutely do not — love children.”

Let me be clear, it is not uncommon for child abusers in the church—sexual and otherwise—to be protected by the incessant valorization of the Black male preacher. Long represented much of what the church prizes: fame, fortune and prominence. To see him in any other light than as a “man of God” would mean compromising conservative, prosperity gospel theologies, many of which excuse the church from enacting justice. “God” is characterized as the supreme judge who determines the outcome of all individuals. Long’s followers left him to God for judgment, even as God, like most adults, is regularly a passive bystander when children are sexually abused.

This is a bold, if not reckless statement for which the author may be held accountable. I certainly understand where it comes from for I know children are being sexually abused every day - millions of them (between 1 and 10 million by my count) every day. It is easy to blame God for standing by and allowing it to happen but we don't really know what God is doing; to say He is doing nothing is a big assumption and is probably wrong. Also, it places the responsibility that God gave man back onto God. God hasn't taken that freedom back from us; He allows us to suffer the consequences of our own choices. We, corporately, choose to be evil, lecherous people and our children suffer the consequences here on earth. In Eternity, the children will be blessed and the perverts will suffer. Meanwhile, we, if we are Christians, have the responsibility to pray for the children and for the perverts.

Long’s church continued with business as usual, shouting and dancing week after week to their pastor’s homophobic, sexist and classist interpretation of the gospel. All of which detracted from the severity of the survivors’ testimonies of sexual assault and sent the message that sexual violence within an intracommunal context is status quo and does not warrant the church’s collective action and strides toward justice. Long also used the Bible, one of the leading moral texts of the Western world, to excuse himself of communal accountability. This should not be overlooked. The same Bible that is used against women, LGBTQ individuals and other marginalized identities, was simultaneously used to shame survivors and privilege harm-doers. 

Alas, Bishop Eddie Long has passed away and he will soon be funeralized. However, Black church communities cannot bury his troubled past with him. The church—New Birth et al.—must reckon with the Goliath of child sexual abuse and rescue the true Davids, our children, from the perverse and death-dealing realities of molestation, incest and rape.

I couldn't agree more with this statement. There is rarely a week goes by that I haven't included at least one story on this blog of a pastor sexually abusing children from his congregation. There is clearly a lack of discernment in many, many congregations and elder's boards in American churches. This can only be because of a lack of intimacy with Jesus Christ. I fear many western churches, while well-attended and enthusiastic may be so far off-track as to be in a state of apostasy. The great 'falling-away' may be happening even while our church buildings are full.

Ahmad Greene-Hayes is a doctoral student in the Departments of Religion and African American Studies at Princeton University. He also currently serves as an inaugural cohort fellow of the Just Beginnings Collaborative (2016-2018), where his project, Children of Combahee works to eradicate child sexual abuse in Black churches. Follow him @_BrothaG.