The gay sex scandal that erupted against Bishop Eddie L. Long and Newbirth Missionary Baptist Church is hardly anything new in the world of black churches and black clergy. Here is an excerpt for a fascinating article that appeared in the Boston Herald:
Clergy abuse in black churches of all denominations is vastly under-reported, experts said, with young victims too terrified to come forward for fear of being blamed and banned from their close-knit, family-oriented houses of worship. Indeed, P. Edward Harrison’s accusation against the Rev. Lawrence Brown of Mount Calvary Baptist Church is believed to be the first reported case in Boston of purported clergy abuse involving an alleged victim who is black, according to Department of Social Services officials.
“It is much more widespread than any of us want to believe,” said David Clohessy, the national director of the Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “All sexual abuse is underreported. We believe clergy sex abuse more than most and clergy sex abuse in the minority communities is even less reported.” Clohessy said minority abuse victims have even fewer resources, more distrust and greater vulnerability. “If you’re a young African-American kid brought up in a family or neighborhood that has a considerable fear and skepticism toward the police – you’re not apt to speak up,” Clohessy said.
Many don’t come forward for fear of the “practical” consequences and harm that can surface, said Clohessy, who cited one black sexual abuse victim in the Midwest whose family depended on the church’s food bank. “He thought, ‘If I disclose, my family, literally, will go hungry,”’ he said.
Clohessy, who spent two years working in minority communities and churches in Boston, said it’s much harder for minority victims to grasp that they will be believed and supported – and not blamed. “While it’s very tough for anyone to speak up, if you are African American or Hispanic or Vietnamese, ministers are often held in minority cultures in even higher esteem,” Clohessy said. Phillip Aaron is a Seattle-based attorney who represents about 100 black victims allegedly abused by Catholic clergy. But Aaron estimates that less than 10 percent of sexual abuse victims in black, non-Catholic churches nationwide have gone to authorities. Source
What has happened in many black churches, and dare I say, a few white ones, when a scandal breaks about their pastors is nothing short of shocking. Many of the congregants will surround the pastor and protect him, ad nauseam, knowing that they can’t vouch for every second of their pastor’s life. This blindness is worth noting, as evident in the latest scandal involving Bishop Eddie L. Long, senior pastor at Newbirth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga. It should be noted that there are some rumors floating out there that Jamal Parris, the third male to file a lawsuit against Long for sexual coercion, attempted suicide because of the alleged inappropriate sexual relationship with Long.