The scandal involving Bishop Eddie Long and New Birth Missionary Baptist Church has prompted nationwide discussion. Unfortunately, scandal is not new to the church.
It’s unpleasant. But scandal in the church is a reality for so many congregations. But how it’s dealt with both among the public and within the congregation can determine the health of the body as a whole.
Scandal in the church body is as old as the bible itself. Unfortunately, every couple of years some stunning accusation within the church is brought to light and the nation is forced to deal with the fallout.
What Bishop Eddie Long and the members of his church now have to face is just the latest in a string of scandal within the body.
Who can forget the circumstances surrounding the resignation of Pastor Ted Haggard, who eventually admitted to sexual infidelity and drug use. Or Earl Paulk, who is considered one of the country’s first great megachurch leaders. At the time of his death last year, his reputation had been tarnished from allegations of sexual misconduct, including accusations that he molested children.
Infamy within the church is so prevalent, Bunnie Jackson-Ransom is a media professional who is often hired by churches to help deal with public scrutiny. And she says she always advises her clients to be prepared and determine when a public statement is necessary.
“There have been many instances where I have advised clients to don’t do anything. But in this story, we knew it had legs. It was a national story. So not to say something immediately was a gross error,” said Bunnie Jackson-Ransom, a crisis public relations specialist.
Now, not every issue in the church is media worthy. Much of the time, the scandal may be a disagreement among the members that threatens to divide the church. But one local pastor says, even then, it’s good to get outside help.
As the pastor of Community Church of God in the city’s west end, Pastor Michael Smith says he must deal with a wide range of church issues. He says that when there was major conflict in his congregation some years ago, he used the services of an outside mediator.
Whatever the outcome, both the pastor and PR professional agree the impact will be far-reaching and watched by the world.
Bishop Long has publicly stated that he “categorically denies” the allegations made against him and says he will fight the accusations.