Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I Need To Say Something

It's old news now, but I still wanted to share some thoughts about the saga surrounding Atlanta mega-church pastor Eddie Long.

Do y'all mind?

When news broke about Long's alleged misdeeds with young men at his church I could muster no surprise and only a smidgen of outrage. I wonder if that says more about my cynical nature, or the current state of the black church? Unlike many Americans, I had heard of Long before news broke that he might be the new face of the much ballyhooed "down low" movement.

A few years back, I read a story that discussed how Long and other prominent ministers such as Joyce Meyers, Creflo Dollar and Joel Osteen were being examined by the federal government for their lavish lifestyles. Apparently, because of a system of "gift-giving" among each other and with their congregations the clergy were acquiring fancy cars, houses and toys without paying a commiserate amount in taxes. I never heard what happened with the investigation, but I remember the list of stuff was quite impressive.

I say all that to note that I already had a certain image of Long in my mind when news of his alleged dalliances broke, and that shaped my reaction. Due to personal experiences, my opinion of most preachers isn't that high, and my feelings have only been validated by the recent prosperity movement and the non-stop rumors of rampant homosexuality in the pulpit. Many ministers are preaching a sort of Christianity-lite that's heavy on blessings and storms, and light on anything that resembles challenging the moral character of their congregations.

What's sad is that Long and his ilk have become the face of black Christianity in America. When people think of black folks and church, they think of ministers in flashy cars with flashy jewels and a harem of pliable church sisters.

It's quite sad, but not inaccurate.

Far too many preachers feel entitled to a certain lifestyle and many of them are infected with the "me too" disease. They are constantly comparing what other preachers have, and scheming on ways to get something similar for themselves. And many of them, like true pimps, love to twist the Truth in order to advance their goals.

I don't know if Long is guilty of cheating his flock, or being a hypocrite, but I do know he's guilty of excess. He's guilty of perverting the purpose of the church and turning what is supposed to be a job of spiritual leadership, into just another corporate gig. In fact, he's even compared his job to being a CEO, as if that is the message Jesus preached when he told the disciples to feed his sheep.

That's what really bothers me about this whole situation. The possible hypocrisy about homosexuality is irritating, but the idea that churches are supposed to be huge and preachers are supposed to be wealthy is the real evil sweeping this nation. These ministers are feeding folks pap, and because it smells good and makes them feel good they swallow it down whole.

I hope they all gag.



Deacon Blue said...

I only gave this passing commentary at my blog, but I share your muted outrage in the sense that I'm a cynic too and not surprised, though the whole situation does rankle me for what it says about the Christian church as a whole these days.

But I think you and Blackgirlinmaine got the salient points out, so I don't have to worry that I spent too little time on it.


Big Man said...

Thanks for the vote of confidence.

Also, how big of a deal is the propserity movement in the white church. I know you've attended black churches in the past, but I also know you're more in touch with the white evangelical Christian movement.

Are the flashy cars and excessive spending an issue in those churches? I know Osteen, and Meyers and Warren and Harding were all white mega church pastors, but I wasn't clear if they were as flashy as their black counterparts.

Deacon Blue said...

Overall, I'd say that white preachers in the prosperity movement are less flashy in their personal style (though they will often have big houses and nice cars and jets and crap), but will pour the glitz into their church setting or production values or setting up elaborate programming and marketing stuff.

For the white prosperity folks, they will tone down their appearance a bit, but really hit the public-facing business and merchandising side of things.

At least, that's my read on it.

Raving Black Lunatic