- Getty Images / Amanda Edwards
A December 2004 march in downtown Atlanta called for a return to family values in the African American community, as defined by Eddie Long, leader of a Lithonia mega-church called New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. Those values included straight marriages only — and denounced gay relationships. Now, the leader of that anti-gay march is accused in four lawsuits of seducing teenage boys.
“He said that homosexuality is worthy of death. He is a raving homophobe,” said civil rights legend Julian Bond, who was visiting Atlanta for an awards banquet.
The one-time Georgia legislator says he knows Bishop Long only by reputation.
“Well, you hope these charges are not true because it’s bad news for his family. It’s bad news for his church,” said Bond of Bishop Long.
“If (the allegations) are true, it’s just sort of typical of people who are raving homphobes who are secretly homosexual. And who are homophobes because they are filled with so much self-loathing and self-hate that they’ve got to let it come out in some way, and it comes out in homophobia,” said Bond, who is now a gay rights activist.
Bond was an early leader in the civil rights movement, alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He’s also a co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which “characterizes (Long) as one of the leading homophobes in black America.”
When King’s widow Coretta Scott King died in 2006, her funeral was held at Bishop Long’s church. Julian Bond boycotted the funeral because of the location.
“I knew her, and I knew she was a big defender of gay rights. I knew that Bishop Long was a raving homophobe. And I knew she would be twisting in her grave if she were buried there. And I’d be twisting in my grave if I went to the funeral there. And so I stayed away,” Bond said.
Julian Bond calls the charges against Bishop Long destructive — but not necessarily to the cause of gay rights.