*During services Sunday, Bishop Eddie Long did not directly mention the sexual allegations leveled at him by four young men to thousands of cheering supporters at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. But his remarks seemed directly addressed to his accusers.
“In times of challenge, there are several things that come out. Your faith will be strengthened or weakened,” he said, to growing applause. “My faith is being strengthened.”
Long told supporters that he is “not going to be pulled into a street fight” and that he doesn’t hate anyone. But he directed his listeners to turn to a passage in the Book of Job that read: “Those who hate you will be clothed with shame, and the tent of the wicked will be no more.”
As his devoted flock cheered, Long joked that he accidentally led them to the wrong page. “That was the Holy Ghost,” he said, flashing a smile as the sanctuary echoed with laughter.
Long’s more than hour-long sermon was greeted with thunderous applause and adoration. Several thousand parishioners flocked to the suburban Atlanta complex for the 8 a.m. service, and cars snaked in traffic for miles after it was over, reports the AP.
Last month four men filed a civil lawsuit claiming Long abused his spiritual authority to lure them into a sexual relationship.
Long has not addressed the accusations directly, but promised Sunday that he would not let his legal troubles prevent him or his church from doing its work.
“I ain’t going to stop living,” he said amid more applause.