"The black church is very loyal, even sometimes to a fault."
—Kevin Bond, former New Birth employee
A powerful moment last week from CNN anchor Don Lemon, who said on live TV that he was the victim of a pedophile as a child, something he didn't even tell his own mother until he was 30 years old. It was done in the context of a discussion about the Bishop Eddie Long scandal.
My impression of Christianity as being a great tool for brainwashing isn't eased by watching the very earnest, sweet-seeming defenders of Long on the show, who seem incapable of entertaining the thought that their spiritual leader might be imperfect in any way.
The allegations are extremely convincing. So far, four different men have told similar stories of being groomed for and having sex with Long, who also sent out (supposed-to-be) sexy images of himself that have surfaced. Long refused to address the scandal until yesterday's services at his church, when he was defiant.
It's easy to be defiant when you're a shepherd and the court of public opinion is made up of sheep.
Frighteningly, one congregant states that he stands behind Long because:
"He's my leader, and as members of the body of Christ, it is our duty to stand behind and lift the arms of our prophet, and that's what I will continue to do until he gives me reason not to."
So Long is a prophet?
Another congregant—even after Lemon's touching admission—claims innocently that Long couldn't be a pedophile:
"When I look at different 'pedophiles'—as you said—I don't see Bishop as one. If you look at the various things that he's done for the community and for young people in general, none of it boils down to him looking like a pedophile."
Only Bond, quoted at the top of this post, seems willing to betray any doubt about Long's innocence. And that's what makes it so easy for people like Long to get away with whatever crimes in which they decide to engage—a mix of blind faith and selfish or stubborn racial loyalty and, perhaps, dangerous naivete.