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Eddie Long, investor clash over church money
February 3rd, 2011
05:45 PM ET

Eddie Long, investor clash over church money

Bishop Eddie Long, the Atlanta pastor who has received massive media attention since four young men accused him of sexual coercion last September, is entangled in a dispute with an entrepreneur over $1 million in investments that Long wants returned to his church members.

The week-long dispute has included dueling press statements, an accusation of character assassination and a YouTube video in which Long pleaded with the entrepreneur to show compassion.

Long, senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Church in suburban Atlanta,  said in the YouTube video that Ephren Taylor from City Capital Corporation held a “wonderful” financial seminar at his church last year that inspired some members  to invest about $1 million in retirement accounts through the corporation.

Long said those investments went “sour” and is asking Taylor and City Capital to return the money because some investors from his 25,000-member church are experiencing hardships.

“Please do what’s right,” Long said, addressing Taylor in the video posted on Sunday. “You’re a great fellow. You’re a great man. You do great things. Let’s settle this so these families can move on.”

Long, who declined to be interviewed, did not say in his video how the investment allegedly went sour.

He says that neither he nor New Birth received any "financial blessing or gift" from hosting Taylor’s seminar.

Efforts to reach City Capital, which has an Atlanta address, by phone over a two-day period were unsuccessful because the line remained constantly busy. Taylor, who said he left his position as CEO of City Capital last year, released a public statement on Tuesday.

Taylor called Long’s YouTube video misleading.

“Due to many inaccuracies, and based upon what I view as a direct character assassination and an attempt to paint a picture of an inability, on my part, to take responsibility for the actions of City Capital Corporation during my tenure as CEO, I am extending facts…” Taylor wrote in his statement.

Taylor declined an interview request.

Taylor said that he has been personally involved in resolving concerns from New Birth members. He said City Capital attorneys hosted a conference call with “all New Birth members involved” as recently as last month.

Taylor said City Capital’s legal team had also contacted New Birth members via telephone and e-mail based on a list provided by the church.

“Since last year, the legal team has been working with individuals to legally and privately resolve, refund and restructure any potential issues,” Taylor said.

Taylor also disputed Long’s claim that New Birth did not make any money from his seminar. He said the church “received a percentage of product sales” from his seminar.

Long released a statement Wednesday saying that he stood behind his video.

“New Birth and Bishop Long are not personally attacking Ephren Taylor, or his former company. New Birth and Bishop Long are merely supporting New Birth members…” Long's statement said.

Long reiterated that he did not receive any personal financial benefits from Taylor’s appearance at New Birth but said it is standard practice for New Birth’s bookstore to handle speakers and vendors who appear at the church.

“There are associated operational costs in having these events occur at New Birth, which as a matter of policy, are to be reimbursed by the applicable speaker or vendor,” Long's statement said.

Long has denied the sexual coercion claims against him and asked that the suits be dismissed. The men alleged in the suits that Long used his position as their spiritual counselor to pressure them into sexual relationships, and gave them gifts that included money and cars.

A judge set a tentative trial date for this July, but both parties have agreed to meet for mediation, which is expected to be held in mid-February.

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Christianity • Georgia • Pastors • United States

soundoff (362 Responses)
  1. DMVLive

    Since I am not the holder of a Finance degree, I may not be the correct person to offer this advice, but I shall provide it nonetheless. If you can not afford to lose your investment, do not invest. This makes perfect sense to me

    February 4, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • Seriously!

      Nobody wants to be accountable for their investment choices anymore. If you don't do the research, then you have no business investing. I don't care if the pastor did host a seminar.

      February 4, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
  2. boydanb203@aol.com

    People like him make me sick, why not sale his $2MM home or his $500K Rolls Royce or his Bentley worth over $300K bought with the parish money??? He is trying to play the nice card because he did not get his share of the investment....Christianity became a business of greed and hatred towards gay, women, freedom of speech, muslin, Jew and the list goes on..If Christ was alive today he would be ashamed of what man has done to his name. How can someone call themselves a Christian and support a church that protects a rapist, or supports the killing of another human being just because you don't agree with this life style, how can a True Christian follow this things and dont stand against the power of corruption and money?? God Help us.... More and more I belive that God really needs to destroy all of us for once and for all, we became nasty, greed, disgusting, hypocrite society who keeps casting everyone to hell.

    February 4, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
  3. scopedope

    He's a common criminal, like other phony black religious figures like Al Sharpton, and Jesse Jackson, who use phony religious credentials for their own financial gain.

    February 4, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  4. KendallH

    Imagine how great it would be if whenever I lost money I invested (or even gambled) I went back for it because it went sour and claiming hardship. It, quite simply, doesn't work like that. From what I can tell there doesn't seem to be any inpropriety. The only question is whether Bishop Long and/or New Birth received any money from the investments. I would bet, at the very least, the church did. Bishop Long may not have directly received, but the church treasury likely did. Either way by allowing the seminar Bishop Long endorsed the product/tool. It's clear his members believe everything he says. Let him pay the money back. Besides, since when does a Bishop take to YouTube to settle a dispute?

    February 4, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  5. Jim P.

    "There is probably a small humanistic part in Long's strategy to lift people from poverty"

    Yeah, starting with himself no doubt. That wasn't a "seminar", that was a sales presentation. A seminar would teach people how to invest safely, this was obviously an "invest with us and become rich" presentation.

    You don't do poor and uneducated people any service when you present stuff like this, especially from a person they trust as "godly". Never trust a "holy man" who wants to get his hands in your pants' pockets (or your pants for the catholic version)

    I will be very curious to see what the details of this "investment" turn out to be. I am of the opinion it will be shaped very rmuch like a pyramid or be named Ponzi to its friends and made unbeleivable claims on how much money it could make for you. I will bet the words "exciting opportunity" and "act quickly" turned up a lot.

    February 4, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
  6. ZoeZoe

    he needs a big red nose and a long nose... a lying clown

    February 4, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  7. canopy

    Taylor takes the church's money and he's demonized. Long takes the church's money and he's deemed "blessed". I have no sympathy for ignorance.

    February 4, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  8. Gina

    How can we expect the Wig Wearing Bishop to pay back any money. He's got to pay the young men that he used and abused and of course, he's got to keep that wig collection growing.....LOL!

    February 4, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  9. ZoeZoe

    he wants them to get their money back so he can swindle it of them for himself

    February 4, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  10. LESTER

    If the company was in trouble would the investors return their profit

    February 4, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • barbara

      there wouldnt be any profit after the ceo, etc got their salary and bonus.

      February 5, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  11. Pam H

    All a man has to do is say he is a servant of god and Black people will follow. These morons deserve to lose their money. What idiots! They can find money to support some slick minister but they cant send their kids to college nor fix their neighborhoods or schools. Incredible! the females can spend thousands or go into debt with hairveaves and skin lightners but they can't improve their childrens reading skills.Like I said -Blacks deserve what they get

    February 4, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Wow, a bigot calling someone else a moron. Huh?!?!

      February 4, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • Jim P.

      Not just black people. That is an unfair characterization. Beleivers in general are considered a vulnerable group for scams. The pre-dispostion to have "faith" in things that can neither be shown nor proven can lead them to belief in other things just as specious or "invisible".

      The best and safest dodge has always been to be seen as a "man of god" as people will trust you and even after you rip them off and it has been shown to their faces, some will still support you as simply having "strayed from the true path".

      The three most vulnerable groups to scams are the religious, the uneducated and the elderly. The rate of being scammed rises rapidly when any two of those critieria are combined. Nothing to do with race or ethnicity.

      February 4, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • Conservative Black Man

      Well said Pam H. I See it daily here in DC

      February 4, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • The dude

      Well it seems a lot of black churches are full of people meeting all three of those criteria. Black and yellow, red and white they are precious in his sight.

      February 4, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
  12. Ralphie

    If we are to believe Long, he made the New Life congregation available for a sales pitch (no, it's not a "seminar") by an investment company, but received nothing in return? How many others? What vetting was done before this pitch received the implicit endorsement of Mr Long and the church? Seems to me Long is trying to head off a lawsuit against the church.

    February 4, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  13. canopy

    There's a church in NC that requested people's W-2 forms.

    February 4, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • Steve the real one

      "Hosea 4:6 KJV
      My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
      ------–
      Sadly not only are they being destroyed financially, some are having their very faith in God destroyed as well!

      February 4, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • Smite Me

      "...some are having their very faith in God destroyed as well!"

      Ahhh, a silver lining in every dark cloud!

      February 4, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
  14. Church of Suicidal

    That's why they're called the flock. Sheep are so easy to fleece.

    February 4, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
  15. Nat Turner

    Throw both of these bums in jail! I'm tired of hucksters posing as "men of god" taking advantage of poor unsuspecting believers. Bottom line, if your pastor is living better than you, something is wrong. Long is a liar and a thief. There is NO way he would let someone come into his church, selling any type of service, that he would not benefit from. Now, with Long's legal troubles, he's in need of money. That's the only reason he's concerned about his congregation's welfare. If THEY don't get paid, HE doesn't get paid. It'd be interesting to know how many sheep have left that "church."

    February 4, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  16. Eddie Long

    How else am I going to pay those boys off?

    February 4, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  17. Abomination

    This is what God said in Matthew 24:15 – "So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand"

    The abomination God is foretelling us here is the rulership of Satan in today churches and local congregations all over the world. You are commanded to go out and worship God by yourself in the Word of God, the Bible. You can see this language in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 – "Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God."

    The prophecy is fullfilled at the moment. This is the sign of we are very very close to the end.

    Please visit http://www.familyradio.com

    February 4, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • canopy

      I can feel it...can you?

      February 4, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • Nonimus

      Haven't we been close to the end for 2000 years?

      February 4, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • Steve the real one

      Nonimus,

      Yes we have! That means we are 2000 years closer! R U ready?

      February 4, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Steve the real one,
      As ready as I need to be!
      Which is about as ready as everyone for last 2000 years needed to be.

      February 4, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Steve the real one

      Nonimus,

      Cool! When did you embrace Jesus as Lord and Savior?

      February 4, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • Q

      @canopy

      Yes, I can feel the force!

      February 4, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Steve the real one,
      "Cool! When did you embrace Jesus as Lord and Savior?"

      I didn't. As I said, I'm as ready [for "the end"] as I need to be.

      February 4, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • Steve the real one

      Nomimus,

      We have blogged before! I always appreciate your honesty! I know where you stand and you know where I stand. Yet we are still civil! That counts for something! Back to the topic at hand, Without christ Nonimus, you are not ready!

      February 4, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Steve the real one,
      Yes, civility always counts for something. I'm just never sure what.

      You said, "Without christ ..., you are not ready!"
      Again, I say, 'I'm as ready as I need to be.'

      February 4, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • barbara

      what did that say i todays english?

      February 5, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  18. Johnson Long

    CNN missed out on a better headline for this story. "Four young men accused of polishing the bishop in church – Other members of congregation complain that they got the shaft."

    February 4, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • canopy

      Love it!

      February 4, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • Seriously!

      LOL!

      February 4, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • dfs3660

      AMEN! This "preacher" is nothing but a joke...If you want to pray, pray for the 4 boys he preyed upon...

      February 4, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
  19. Bill

    “Please do what’s right,” Long said....He Eddie, the "right" thing to do is to NOT expose your church members to investment flim flams.

    February 4, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  20. canopy

    I guess the seminar didn't mention what the definition of INVESTING is. If some of his congregation is under hardship...perhaps he should sell one of his bentleys or perhaps move into a smaller home. In what way is he sacrificing to help his flcok?

    February 4, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
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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.