In a statement posted on the Web site of Long’s New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, church officials said, “This decision was made to bring closure to this matter and to allow us to move forward with the plans God has for this ministry.”
“This resolution is the most reasonable road for everyone to travel,” the statement said.
BJ Bernstein, attorney for the plaintiffs, was similarly tight-lipped. “The matter has been resolved,” read a statement. “Neither attorney Bernstein nor the plaintiffs themselves will be available for interview on this matter, now or in the future.”
Back in September, the Associated Press reported on allegations that the pastor “abused his spiritual authority to seduce [teenage boys] with cars, money, clothes, jewelry, international trips and access to celebrities.” Later details reported in the Christian Post said that the married father of four “admitted to mentoring the men and sharing rooms with them while on trips, but denied any sexual activity took place.”
After news of a lawsuit against him became public, Long addressed the claims in a sermon, saying, “I have never in my life portrayed myself as a perfect man.” But, he added to cheers from his congregation, “I am not the man that’s being portrayed on the television. . . This thing, I’m gonna fight.”
Beyond his sizeable and influential church ministry, Long is well known for his anti-homosexuality messages and activism against same-sex marriage, a perceived hypocrisy that only inflamed his critics.
With the case settled out of court and representatives from both sides claiming that no further details will be released, it is possible that the public will never know the truth behind the allegations against Long. This tension between transparency and privacy in allegations of sexual misconduct against clergy members is not unique to Long and his ministry. In recent years, many religious organizations have struggled with the principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ in the face of allegations of sexual impropriety. For a few examples, see the cases of Fr. John Corapi, Ted Haggard, and the Vienna Presbyterian Church.