Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Eddie Long angling for MLK mantle?

Posted By on Wed, Aug 8, 2007 at 4:24 PM

Eddie Long, the self-proclaimed "bishop" of the 25,000-member New Birth Missionary Baptist megachurch in Lithonia, has the largest congregation in Georgia. He's also got a $350,000 Bentley; a 20-acre, $1.4-million estate; and a heavenly bank balance.

But it appears he also wants to be the spiritual kingpin of metro Atlanta. Last year, he officiated at the funeral of Coretta Scott King and, just this week, the DeKalb County School System used his church as its official meeting hall for teachers -- a controversial choice given Long's long history of anti-gay sermonizing.

Now, Long, a proponent of the gospel of prosperity who puts his followers' money where his mouth is, is gearing up for a blowout gala Aug. 17 to celebrate his 20 years at the helm of New Birth. We're guessing the guest list of 1,200 for the black-tie affair at the Georgia World Congress Center doesn't include many of the poor and needy types mentioned in the New Testament.

It does, however, include a roster of movers and shakers, most prominently Mayor Shirley Franklin and former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young. A highlight of the event will be a "special presentation" by MLK's youngest daughter, Bernice King, purportedly on behalf of her late mother. It seems to us that Long is hoping to claim the spiritual mantle of the slain Civil Rights leader. Will Atlanta let him succeed?

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