An Atlanta pastor is weighing in on the scandal involving Bishop Eddie Long via YouTube.
The Rev. Dennis A. Meredith, pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Atlanta, posted a message on the popular video-sharing Internet site in which he admonishes the prominent Lithonia pastor and urges him to "tell the truth."
The nearly four-minute video was posted on YouTube on Monday, the day after Long made his first public comments about the scandal in which four young men sued the pastor, accusing him of coercing them into sexual relations. Long, in two sermons at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church last Sunday, vowed to "vigorously" defend himself against the allegations. However, Long did not directly state that he did not have sex with the men who filed the lawsuits.
Long compared himself to the biblical David against Goliath, asserting, "I have five rocks and I haven't thrown one yet."
In the video, though, Meredith takes exception to that description, calling Long a "giant of an individual, who claims he's David. No, you're the Goliath. "
The video has been viewed more than 2,300 times.
Art Franklin, a spokesman for Long, said he had not seen or heard of the video. He declined an offer to have a link sent to him.
Meredith said he decided to make the video because he was "saddened and disappointed" that there seemed to be little concern for the four men by Long and members of the 25,000-member church, who were interviewed later by the media. Meredith, who describes himself as openly gay and bisexual, said he called on a film crew, that's also making a documentary about himself and his church, to shoot the video with downtown Atlanta as a backdrop.
Meredith said his congregation is about 85 percent gay, lesbian and bisexual. Meredith said he has lost some members to New Birth because they disagreed of his views about welcoming gays in the church.
Another Atlanta pastor who recently organized a prayer meeting at New Birth with Long and other pastors said he wants to do the same with the four young men who filed lawsuits. The Rev. Jasper W. Williams Jr., pastor of Salem Bible Church, said he has reached out to the bishop, his accusers and "everyone who is involved."
He said he has not heard from the young men.
"I'm not trying to help Bishop Long one way or another," he said. "I'm trying to help the body of Christ." He said he wants to hold a prayer vigil, possibly at several churches in metro Atlanta "to pray for everyone who is hurting in this saga. "
Meanwhile, one of Long's "spiritual sons" Amos Dotson, 26, who lives in Lithonia, defended Long, saying he did not believe the accusations were true.
"The truth is being so stretched out," said Dotson, a producer, rapper and "rock alternative" singer, who worked with New Birth's music ministry.
Dotson said he joined the church in 2003 and was "sat down" by the pastor several years ago because he was sleeping with women in the church.
"Anything you did in the church or in the streets got back to bishop and it was a reflection on him," he said. "We had to carry ourselves as bishop's sons in a certain way. If you didn't, the name that's bigger than anybody's is Eddie Long and guess who gets judged?"
Dotson said he never saw Long do anything inappropriate with his other "sons." He said he knows of two of the young men who filed lawsuits, but doesn't consider them friends.
He says the lawsuits may be the result of "spite. Because if you're not doing this for me. I will rise against you."
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