I am a father of ten year old twin boys, who is committed to being the best dad I can be. Lately, I have found myself in the last two weeks getting really caught up in the Bishop Eddie Long story (Minister Accused of Sleeping with Boys.)

Because of this scandal on last Sunday, the big day that Mr. Long had committed to speak on the alleged sex scandal, I must admit that I sat with nervous anticipation. As a man with sons, I sincerely hoped that Bishop Long would say all the right words that would comfort and soothe the souls of the people. The accusations that have been made public against him has concerned me to the core but at the same time, I am relieved as I breathe a breath of fresh air that my sons are fortunate and blessed to have me, their dad, in their lives everyday.

For as we already know, there are just too many young men who aren’t as fortunate and can’t say that their dad’s are present and in their lives. Many of these young men are so impressionable and desperately need their fathers and/or mentorship programs and support such as what many churches offer.

I really wanted to believe Bishop Long and I wanted his words and his heart to resonate with truth and justice and to spiritually align with the word of God. I hoped that after he spoke, his words and his demeanor would help to change the perception of guilt in the court of public opinion and once and for all I wanted it all to be better and ultimately go away. I desperately wanted his words to speak truth to power.

As I waited, flipping TV channels back and forth, I wondered how would he ultimately address the church members and the media and why did he wait all week to make a statement? If I were his attorney, I would have suggested that he speak out without hesitation and make a preliminary statement…declaring his innocence. Then on Sunday, I would have advised him to put the facts on the table, address his church members and go for the home run of truth.

However, to my surprise and disappointment, I didn’t like what I heard on Sunday. The man was talking in riddles. Even one of my sons ask me to explain what Bishop Long meant. I told him that I can’t really explain what a man is trying to say when he appears to be saying nothing. It was one of those teachable moments…funny and sad at the same time. I then said to my sons…”let this be a lesson sons, whenever you speak in front of people…keep it simple and make it plain, then say what you mean and mean what you say.”

I didn’t expect that Bishop Long’s attempt at making a statement for the purpose of clearing up the alleged sex scandal would create even more doubt in my mind. I didn’t expect to have to explain to my sons who continued watching, why the church members were all standing and applauding when he didn’t really say anything significant. This was actually confusing to me when I tried to explain to these inquisitive little fifth graders, what was happening. One son called his words “double talk” and the other one said “mumbo-jumbo” and I felt stupid as a grown-up having to try and explain or defend Bishop Long’s comments because at that moment, I too had the same questions and doubts.

Because I didn’t hear what I wanted to hear last week from Bishop Long, I decided to write out a statement that I wished I could have heard. Tell me how this sounds to you…let’s play a game of pretend. What if Bishop Eddie Long had said something like this instead of what he actually said on last Sunday? This is called…

STRAIGHT TALK: What I Wish Bishop Eddie Long Could Have Said…

“I am innocent! I have done nothing wrong. I am hurt and sadden by these charges that have been brought against me because I only tried to help these young men as I have tried to help tens of thousands of others. Let me be perfectly clear, you will not be ab1e to prove any of these allegations because my actions and my intentions are pure and can only reflect the sincere love and patience of a man of God with overwhelming integrity. I have provided excellent leadership and nurturing and have only acted in the capacity and role as minister and spiritual father to these young men.

My efforts to positively help shape these young men’s lives were sincere, appropriate, righteous and clean and even though I am under attack and all my sincere efforts have been undermined… I will sleep good tonight like Jesus did when he went down into the belly of the boat with troubled waters all around him.

Jesus slept in peace even though the disciples were afraid. I am not afraid and neither should you my church family be afraid for I have done nothing wrong. In the days ahead, I will calm these troubled waters just like Jesus did for even though I have never portrayed myself to be a perfect man, I can say with complete confidence that I am not that man that they are talking about. I have never abused, intentionally mislead, improperly touched or had sex or a sexual relationship with any of these young men… as God is my witness.

And just like David, I have my five stones but I have not thrown not even one stone yet but let me be very clear, I am going to fight this thing with all my might. I am going to fight and vigorously challenge every allegation and I will be victorious. Soon, I will have my day in court and the truth will be revealed and shall set me free. This I assure you will be my ultimate outcome for I know that God will see me through.

Pray for me and my family and pray for our church. Also, pray for my accusers for God is good, righteous and just – all the time and God will see us through.
Amen….Amen and Amen.”

How does that sound church? I don’t know about you but I believe that it’s time we all step up and demand truth and justice for all. I personally would love to have heard Bishop Eddie Long speak with sincere words that resonate with love, truth and forgiveness and skip all the “double-talk mumbo-jumbo.” Next week or very soon, I hope he will tell the people in plain language that a 5th grader can understand, “I am innocent and I didn’t do it.” This is the way real people talk when they are innocent and have nothing to hide.

Bishop, You Are Innocent…Aren’t You?

Tony L Harris