Bishop Eddie Long, the controversial leader of one of the nation’s largest megachurches, has died, according to the suburban Atlanta church he presided over. He was 63.
Long died after a battle with an aggressive form of cancer, according to a statement by the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church.
Long was a national figure and one of the most innovative and polarizing pastors in the contemporary church. He was also a paradox.
He was a preacher who led an infamous march against same-sax marriage and denounced homosaxuality, but he also settled a lawsuit by four young men who said he pressured them into saxual relationships.
He was a man who wore tight muscle shirts and radiated self-confidence but used to throw up before sermons because he was so nervous.
He was a man who gave away cars and paid the college tuition of needy people, but he also was investigated by Congress after a charity he created had provided him with a million-dollar home and a Bentley luxury car.
Though Long dressed like a middle-aged hip-hop star, he once said the figure who led him to his greatest religious awakening was Jimmy Swaggart, the charismatic white pastor.
It was Long’s relationship to men, though, that virtually destroyed his ministry. In 2010, he and his church reached an out-of-court settlement in a lawsuit filed by four young men who accused him of pressuring them into saxual relationships while they were members of his congregation. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
Long, who preached passionately against homosaxuality for years, denied the allegations.
Long is survived by his wife, four children and three grandchildren, the church said.