Bishop Eddie Long in a statement to his church The New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, has said he is not the man being portrayed in the media following allegations of misconduct with teenaged boys.
"There have been allegations and attacks made on me. I have never in my life portrayed myself as a perfect man. But I am not the man that's being portrayed on the television. That's not me. That is not me," he said as applause interrupted him.
Bishop Long is being accused of using church funds to seduced young men, all in the presence of rumors that the bishop might step down from leadership of the church. Pastor Long has, however, insisted he will fight the allegations.
The New Birth Missionary Baptist Church is one of the largest black churches in the world with some 25, 000 followers, on a 250 acre expanse.
In another statement from the church it was stated "Our position about the lawsuits has not changed. Bishop Long categorically denies the charges. We believe that it is unfortunate the young men have chosen to take this course of action..."
On September 24, Spencer LeGrande, a member of a New Birth satellite church in Charlotte, North Carolina, filed a similar suit, making him the fourth man to file a lawsuit claiming misconduct by Long.
Will the world's largest black church topple under accusations against its pastor?
Bishop Long has not denied the inappropriate relations between the boys and himself. He has said he is not the man being protayed on the television, and he would fight in the court, but not in the media. Could the bishop be thinking that all relations were consensual?
Eddie Long and The New Birth Missionary Baptist Church
Long started as pastor for New Birth in 1987, there were 300 church members. Since his installation, membership has grown to 25,000.
According to the church website Bishop Eddie L. Long, is a bold revolutionary spiritual leader, best selling author, life coach and motivational speaker, recognized as a gifted charismatic orator and rising voice of the global faith based community.
A best-selling author, Bishop Long's messages are in a number of books including: It's Your Time: Reclaim Your Territory for the Kingdom, The Elect Lady, I Don't Want Delilah, I Need You, What a Man Wants, What a Woman Needs, Called to Conquer, Gladiator: The Strength of a Man and his most recent: 60 Seconds to Greatness: Seize the Moment and Plan for Success.
Bishop Long is the senior pastor of more than 25,000 members. His Emmy award winning broadcast, Taking Authority, which airs on the Trinity Broadcast Network,(TBN), reaches 172 countries and more than 270 million people.
Bishop Long and his wife Vanessa are the parents of four children.