Eddie Long: “I am not the man portrayed”

Symbols of Christianity
Image by JL Outdoor Photography via Flickr

Via CNN:

Baptist TV preacher, Eddie Long, finally addressed the sexual allegations by four young men today on his TV show. I have followed this through CNN by default since CNN is my default homepage. I’ve also followed it because I do stop by TBN and watch snippets of many of these shows and it just so happened that I caught Bishop Long a few weeks ago. I have watched his work for a while and was impressed with the social aspect of his ministry, but the flashiness always bothered me–tight shirts, the buffiness, ultra cool wardrobe and I’ve even seen him in a matrix-like trench coat. So I was very, very curious to hear his response.

Somehow I forgot to turn to his show at 8:30 but I caught an excerpt on CNN.

Lithonia, Georgia (CNN) — Baptist televangelist Eddie Long said Sunday he will fight allegations that he coerced young male church members into having sex with him.

“I am not the man that has been portrayed on television,” he told his congregation.

Speaking publicly about the accusations for the first time, Long did not address the specific allegations contained in four lawsuits filed against him earlier this week.

“I’ve been accused, I’m under attack,” he said, lowering his head and softening his voice behind the pulpit at the New Birth Baptist Church in suburban Atlanta.

“I want you to know, as I said earlier, that I am not a perfect man. But this thing, I’m going to fight,” he said. “I feel like David against Goliath, but I’ve got five rocks and I haven’t thrown one yet.”

With that, the 57-year-old pastor put down his microphone and walked off stage, receiving deafening applause from the thousands who had come to hear him.

To be honest, I did not hear what I needed to hear. I needed to hear a clear-cut denial. Something to the effect of “I categorically deny . . ..” or “I never engaged in any of the alleged acts . . .” or “I have been faithful to my wife and never  . . .” something along that line. In effect, what we got was that he is not the man portrayed in the media. That could be and in fact probably is very true, but not to the point at all. The media does paint televangelists in a certain light and he is saying he is not what he has been made out to be. But, he still has not addressed the specific allegations.

While Eddie Long is not T. D. Jakes, if this thing drags out and it does turn out that there is merit to the allegations, it could do some damage in the community.

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Vatican calls Iran stoning sentence brutal

Via NBC:

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican on Sunday raised the possibility of using behind-the-scenes diplomacy to try to spare the life of an Iranian widow sentenced to be stoned for adultery.

In its first public statement on the case, which has attracted worldwide attention, the Vatican also decried stoning as a particularly “brutal” form of capital punishment.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said the Catholic church opposes the death penalty in general.

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani was convicted in 2006 of adultery. In July, Iranian authorities said they would not carry out the stoning sentence for the time being, but the mother of two could still face execution by hanging for adultery and other offenses.

One of the most important lessons of Jesus’ teaching, 2,000 years ago was on the occasion of a possible stoning of a woman for adultery. “He that is without sin, let him cast the first stone.”

Adultery, among most of the major religions is a sin, and one can make a good case for it being detrimental to society. But whatever it’s demerits, it does warrant stoning to death.

Update: Via BBC–the woman is to be whipped

Recommended Podcast: “From Israelite to Jew”

by Michael Satlow of Brown University. This is a series of podcasts on the history of the Israelites to the end of the first century C.E. It is very, very, very, well done. One example is the handling of the Ezra-Nehemiah story. It is a complicated story and I have listed to another Ph.D. butcher it. Satlow does his home work and his explanations are very clear.

NIV going Gender Inclusive

Via Huffington Post, the New International Version (NIV) bible is going gender inclusive.

The top-selling Bible in North America will undergo its first revision in 25 years, modernizing the language in some sections and promising to reopen a contentious debate about changing gender terms in the sacred text. The New International Version, the Bible of choice for conservative evangelicals, will be revised to reflect changes in English usage and advances in Biblical scholarship, it was announced Tuesday. The revision is scheduled to be completed late next year and published in 2011.

[snip]

But past attempts to remake the NIV for contemporary audiences in different editions have been plagued by controversies about gender language that have pitted theological conservatives against each other.

The changes did not make all men “people” or remove male references to God, but instead involved dropping gender-specific terms when translators judged that the original text didn’t intend it. So in some verses, references to “sons of God” became “children of God,” for example.

Supporters say gender-inclusive changes are more accurate and make the Bible more accessible, but critics contend they twist meaning or smack of political correctness.

I suppose this is pretty huge. I don’t suspect this move will be as controversial as it would have been 20 years ago. Now when they bust out with the vertical inclusiveness, i.e., God as She, that will get interesting.

Christians and Torture

Via CNN, according to PEW, church goers are far more likely to support torture than non-church goers. I can see why this would seem to be news. The fact is that religion can be very dangerous in that the worship and sanction of a divine lawgiver can abrogate existing moral laws because a lawgiver is greater than the law.

Christianity is based primarily on allegiance to and with and faith in Christ and not in laws. God has frequently in the Old Testament permitted rather foul actions if they ultimately serve His goals.  In the Old Testament, God frequently called on His people to wipe His enemies out completely–and we’re talking elderly, women, children, livestock, etc, the enemies. There were no moral qualms because God sanctioned it. Thus, if torture is put in service of the faith and serves God’s ends torture can be justified because God, who is greater than any moral law prohibiting torture, has sanctioned it.

 It is strange but religion and religious need a major conscience in secular law and life or we can easily see how things can get out of control. This also calls to mind Frederick Douglass’ observation that Christian were the worst slave masters and particularly so on Sundays after church.

Historicity of Moses

While watching The Ten Commandments I wondered about Moses’ historicity. I did find this pretty useful article on the historicity of Moses. Wikipedia has a decent Moses article too.

The History Channel has a series called Battles BC in which they re-create ancient warfare. They have a show on Moses and is worth watching.  They are hard to search for. I watched them on TV and then bought them on iTunes, but you can search for them on the channel’s website a catch some clips. The show covers his escape from Egypt, crossing the Red Sea, the journey to the promised land and his final end.