The downward spiral of the economy forces a prominent anti-gay mega-church to downsize its extravagant Easter Sunday services. For the first time in over a decade, Bishop Eddie’s L. Long’s $250,000 Easter service will not be held at the Georgia Dome this year, reports Sandra Rose.
The New Birth Missionary Baptist Church was forced to scale back its Easter services after seeing its membership (and tithes) decline by 20%. Since 1993, the mega-church held its Easter services at the Georgia Dome in downtown Atlanta, attracting crowds of up to 40,000 that included celebrities such as T.I. and Patti LaBelle. But this year’s Easter service will move back to the 10,000 seat sanctuary in suburban Atlanta.
Bishop Long, who routinely preaches his sermons dressed in expensive tailored suits and dripping in diamonds, acknowledges that his members are no longer receptive to his "prosperity" message since many of them have lost their jobs and homes.
Reportedly the recession has hit the Lithonia, GA mega-church rather hard and the 25,000 member congregation is "down to nearly half that." Pity. That means significantly fewer donations for Long to use to buy diamonds and Rolls Royces.
Long is among the most vocal critics of gay rights and same-sex marriage in the black church. In December 2004, a month after voters approved
an amendment to the Georgia state Constitution that banned gay marriage,
Long led a 25,000 person march against gay rights and marriage equality.
Julian Bond, the chair of the NAACP and a strong supporter of gay rights, refused to attend the funeral of Coretta Scott King that was held at New Birth MB Church. "I knew her attitude toward gay and lesbian rights. And I just couldn't imagine that she'd want to be in that church with a minister who was a raving homophobe. And I couldn't see myself in my church either."
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