Reporter's notebook: Covering Eddie Long's service
September 27th, 2010
02:44 PM ET

Reporter's notebook: Covering Eddie Long's service

Editor's Note: CNN's Martin Savidge filed this reporter's notebook from New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. The video report above is the piece Martin and his team filed.  Below is a look at what it took to get the story.

5:30 a.m.: Usually when you show up at a news story at this hour the only people you see are other media. Not so at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. Parishioners were already there sitting in their cars waiting for the church doors to open 2 1/2 hours before any service. Supporters of embattled bishop Eddie Long had risen before the sun.

6:30 a.m.: Like the last scene of Field of Dreams, an unbroken stream of headlights winds it’s way from the highway to the church parking lot.  As they pass our live shot position some shout “Go home” others blast gospel music, most stare stoically ahead, and a few are in tears.

7 a.m.: The heavens open. I know this because the rain pours down my back as I stand on camera talking to anchor Drew Griffin back in the studio. As soon as I stop, so does the rain. Hmmm.

CNN photojournalist John Person stands under a pop-up tent after filming a live shot.

8:30 a.m.: Traffic outside the church is still gridlocked even though the first service has been under way for half an hour. Many people simply park on the side of the road and begin walking. We join them. Occasionally as we pass those still waiting to drive in, I ask what it is they hope to hear. The most frequent answer takes two words: "The truth."

8:45 a.m.: The closer you come to the stadium-size church, the louder things get. Each time the doors open, a wave of up-tempo music and human voices washes over you.

Once inside we're given name tags and escorted to "the chapel," which anywhere else would be called an auditorium. We are told we can’t leave the chapel even to use to use the restroom.

At the front of the room a giant TV is flanked by two huge illuminated crosses. As soon as I sit down, I see Long walk on screen bringing the congregation cheering to its feet.

A picture from Martin Savidge

The following are my scribbled notes…

9 a.m.: Numerous ovations. Long dressed in beige, solemn looking. Congregation on its feet. Music builds Long pumps fist then signals for silence.

“’Good morning New Birth. Good morning to all our other guests!’”

Someone shouts, “Love you Dad!”

Long quotes the Bible. Reading from an iPad.

9:21 a.m.: Long’s first reference to accusations. "I’ve been accused, I am under attack."

After the service we wait for a promised news conference. About 45 journalists are in the chapel/auditorium. Long and entourage step on stage, attorney opens by saying, “As you already know, Bishop Long will only read a statement and not take any questions.” It’s the first time any of us have head this.

Two minutes later: The bishop and company exit behind a curtain.

10:30 a.m. We get to use the bathroom.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Church • Pastors

soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. mary

    the battle is not ours but the lords.

    June 5, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
  2. Minister 414

    To those that dont believe in the Father. News Flash!!!! You better not die. God is real He many not be rela in your life. Can you think of a situation where you should have died? Can you think of the happiest moment in your life and what a warm gentle feeling it is. Challenge to the unbeliever, I been talking to God since I was 3 and can vividly remember his voice, my challenge to you is to get in a quiet room (your bedroom perhaps) turn the tv off, get on your knees and talk to him, tell him what you feel, tell him your thoughts, he knows them already, tell him what you want him to fix in your life, maybe your not pleased with your job, ask him for a new one, I dare you to challenge him, and I can bet you my last dollar he ill move. The second challenge is to close your mouth and expect a reply from him, and watch him touch your heart, you will find your self being nice to people who hate your guts, smiling at the person that cut you off in traffic, and then you will see him moving in your life, you whole demenor will change. Okay Dave logic, I bet you if you have kids or dont if one of them were to get sick you wouldnt be one here denouncing him you would be praying for him to HEAL Hallelujah. I give God the gloory and we rebuke the devil and his attacks. One more thing Dave my soul gets happy when I talk about him, I challenge you toseek him, guess what Saul didnt believe either or shall we call him Paul, not Saul the king. he was a persecutor of christians too.

    October 13, 2010 at 4:05 pm |
  3. lookingeyes

    I asked a church mother about speaking in tongues. She looked at me like I was something evil and she never answer my question. I haven't been to church for some time now but I remember reading in the bible that if one does speak in tongue there should be an interpeter there so that others will understand what is being said. Some members in the church are to afraid to question their pastor and will curse you if you do so.

    September 30, 2010 at 11:14 pm |
  4. Yaeger

    Every time this 'preacher' opens his mouth, all I hear is "I am guilty, guilty, GUILTY! And lose the jerry curl. you look silly

    September 30, 2010 at 10:16 am |
    • Frank

      Hahahaha. Right on.

      September 30, 2010 at 11:20 pm |
  5. Daveloveslogic

    Regarding the following post I did make a mistake and should have stated a Founding Father. However you response of

    HisMelody says:
    September 29, 2010 at 3:25 pm
    I cannot help but think the whole Benjamin Franklin – presidential “slip of the toungue” was God’s way of making an ass outta you dave. And I, and many others im sure, enjoyed it!

    childish. You comment missed the point of what he stated. Nice ignoring that. But then to state this was gods way of making an ass out of me. WOW-I am sure glad god has the time to make an ass out of me but does not have time to protect kids getting abused. What a little world you live in.

    September 29, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
    • Daveloveslogic

      I would like to add that this part of your comment

      And I, and many others im sure, enjoyed it!

      is using the bandwagon technique. So no-people who have a high level of critical thinking skills may not agree with you on that statement.

      September 29, 2010 at 7:19 pm |
  6. Dwight

    Has NeNe weighed in on this yet?

    September 29, 2010 at 1:34 am |
  7. BF2350

    For those of you who are insisting that believers prove to you that God is real......please be advised that it is not a believer's place to prove God exists; that is the work of the Holy Spirit. Last night I posted here for the first time. After my post, everyone vanished....total silence. People who live in darkness run when they are confronted with light and truth. As for Bishop Eddie Long, the Bible says that God holds those in leadership positions to a higher standard. In other words, the Shepherd is held to a higher standard by God than the sheep he or she is supposed to lead. I would tremble with fear if I was in a leadership position and I had secretly committed sins against man and God and my sins were no longer hidden, but out for the whole world to see. I do not judge him or anyone else....God will do that.

    September 28, 2010 at 10:27 pm |
    • Daveloveslogic

      "that it is not a believer’s place to prove God exists; that is the work of the Holy Spirit."

      Then the holy spirit has a lot of work to do to prove he exists. I do not mean to hurt your feelings but in all religions a magic spirit exists that never does anything.

      September 28, 2010 at 10:59 pm |
  8. Shon

    I don't think it was right that he use the pulpit to discuss his drama.The pulpit is for delivering the WORD of GOD and of course he couldn't bring himself to tell a lie in the pulpit.His congregation is very large and they supporting him every step of the way.I bet he can't call half of them by name.I can imagine how much 10% he raking in..his next appearance before a judge should be to answer to some tax questions!!!...now here's my 10%

    September 28, 2010 at 6:12 pm |
  9. Daveloveslogic

    I might add the following about Thomas Jefferson. Here is one of his quotes-

    In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.
    -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814

    September 28, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
    • Daveloveslogic

      And from President Franklin

      "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." Poor Richard's Almanack, 1758

      September 28, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Bet you won't hear those on Glen Beck!

      September 28, 2010 at 5:54 pm |
    • Daveloveslogic

      You got that right. Grin

      September 28, 2010 at 6:30 pm |
    • Tell_Me

      And from President Franklin

      "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." Poor Richard's Almanack, 1758

      Good one. Not sure how Ben would feel, though, about your making him 'President' !?

      September 28, 2010 at 11:11 pm |
    • HisMelody

      I cannot help but think the whole Benjamin Franklin – presidential "slip of the toungue" was God's way of making an ass outta you dave. And I, and many others im sure, enjoyed it! 😀

      September 29, 2010 at 3:25 pm |
  10. jemimah

    Black Babylon is fallen! I gotta believe the wife and a bunch of the members knew what Long was doing to the boys. Pedophiles are pack animals – they form rings, share information and network better than those greedy for filthy lucre! Pedophilia is a major global industry and Long apparently knows some very high profiled perps. He may be able to get some cover for a while but somebody will convince him to go away and be content not to catch a felony or felonies.......

    September 28, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
  11. LDopa

    @ Daveloveslogic: Mind your "p's and q's," Dave. If you mean logic to be the Greek invention of discerning truth (if p then q, etc.), then you are one of those folks that I like to call, "wrong." The Greeks deduced the existence of god(s) with logic. Descartes deduced the existence of god with logic. The Enlightenment period in the West (which gave rise to modern Western science) was based on the logical principle of "if there is a clock, there must be a clock maker." Such American greats as Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Adams, and Benjamin Franklin all believed this way. The belief in god is very logical indeed.

    September 28, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
    • Daveloveslogic


      Logic used in the present time period would indicate there is no god. A kind caring god as taught in church, would not allow children to be abused. A kind caring god would not create some humans with a genetic code for cancer. A kind caring god would not invent something called faith making it difficult for you to believe in him. There would not be this game of faith. That is not logical. I could go on and on but faith is not logical. I do respect your thoughts-but in the present time religion is far from logical.

      September 28, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
  12. Daveloveslogic

    I think I have found some of the key words I used to send my last note to moderation-thus when describing an issue will use words that should get the idea across.

    I find it hard to believe that anyone follows a guy like this. Driving a $300,000 plus car-does that sound just a tiny bit out of line. Comments such as god speaks through through religious leaders-if there is a god he should be able to control his leaders on Earth. After all he is a god. These same religious leaders abuse children. I don't care what excuse you give me-if there was a god he would protect innocent kids from the horrors of abuse. I hope people come to understand that if you use logic and evaluate the world there is mo god as religion describes here on Earth.

    September 28, 2010 at 2:06 pm |
  13. Michael Hudson

    Those that love God, will not let this shake their faith. Yes this may be an earth moving matter. But faith in Jesus Christ is standing on a foundation that was not made by hands. You may have been hurt by this news, this is natural. nothing is wrong with being hurt when standards fall. But hold on to that rock that is higher than you and I, The Lord Jesus will never leave us nor forsake up. Maybe we have been looking at flesh and blood too closely, Now look to Jesus Christ and live.

    September 28, 2010 at 2:06 pm |
  14. Ed

    What a pathetic excuse of a man hiding behind the church. Oh yes that is what they all do when caught in SIN! It doesn't apply to them because they know all this religious crap is a bunch of lies that they make people believe. What's the matter Eddie little wifie couldn't suck your lollipop right? Your fighting because you can't give up your egotistical headionist ways. You are afraid of losing your extravant life style and you will have to give up your Bently and private jet and your gold toilet seat. Trying to play the Catholic church aren't we? LOOSER!

    September 28, 2010 at 9:56 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.