Fabulous article in Slate by Christopher Hitchens on the Bishop Eddie Long scandal …
Passing through Union Station in Washington, D.C., last week, I made my usual nod to the statue of A. Phillip Randolph. You can miss it if you are not looking for it, and it has been allowed to suffer defacement. (The sculpted pair of reading glasses held in the great man’s hand was snapped off some years ago and was never replaced.) Randolph built a powerful trade union for black railroad workers and proposed the first march on Washington when Franklin Roosevelt was president. His role in the later civil rights movement was germinal and dynamic. But you never hear his name anymore, and it is not taught to schoolchildren. Nor is the name of Bayard Rustin, a charismatic black intellectual and pioneer of gay rights, who organized the March on Washington in 1963. Along with many other secular democratic heroes, Randolph and Rustin have been airbrushed from history. The easiest way to gain instant acceptance as a black “leader” these days is to shove the word Reverend in front of your name.
Or, if you are really greedy and ambitious, the word Bishop. Bishop Eddie Long of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Georgia preaches that Bayard Rustin was a vile sinner who suffered from the curable “disease” of homosexuality. I have a rule of thumb for such clerics and have never known it to fail: Set your watch and sit back, and pretty soon they will be found sprawling lustily on the floor of the men’s room. It may be a bit early to claim the scalp of Eddie Long for this collection, but I doubt I shall have to withdraw. Here, after all, is what his friend the Rev. Timothy McDonald III, of the First Iconium Baptist Church (no less!), has to say: “This is the issue: how can you be against homosexuality and you are allegedly participating in it? That is the epitome of hypocrisy.” Cynicism and naivete seem to coexist happily in this statement. The Rev. McDonald does not quite seem to believe the rather unimpressive denials issued by his richly draped brother in Christ. And he talks as if fevered denunciation of homosexuality has never before been an early warning of repressed desire.
One of his alleged partners in depravity may have been on the borderline of the age of consent, but otherwise I can’t make myself care about whether the self-anointed Bish was rogering his flock. What concerns me isn’t even the laughable obviousness of his cupidity: the jewels and gold chains and limos and bodyguards. This is all a familiar part of the tawdry business of “Churchianity” now finding loopholes for the rich and venal at a well-upholstered religious establishment somewhere near you. No, what offends me is that Long was able to get four presidents of the United States to attend his opulent circus for the funeral of Coretta Scott King in 2006.