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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. charlie

    If the leaders of your faith do not take a vow of poverty then the leadership will run the church like a business. The african american churches whose preachers are driving around in fancy cars and living in mansions is sad and appalling. It should definitely be criminal

    February 4, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • Q

      Its not just black megachurches...its all of them

      February 4, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  2. Davis

    Can I get an amen?

    February 4, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • Steve the real one

      Request denied, you have exceeded you amen level! Please call back tomorow between 8am and 6pm Eastern Standard Time!

      February 4, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
  3. Saboth

    Er...that's the problem with financial investments. Nothing is guaranteed. If you want a guarantee on your money, open a savings account at your bank that pays .1%.

    February 4, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  4. Davis

    Bishop Long is a snake oil salesman, preying on people who apparently are too faithful for their own good. Wake up congregation and throw your leader into the streets. If you don't act, you have no one to blame but yourself. Rise up and stop listening to this fool. He is taking you to the bank. Only you can stop him.

    February 4, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  5. ANYBODY SURPRISED?

    Well, I love how the comments started with someone quoting scripture then it all kind of filled in from there with people who obviously don't have much (if any) faith in churches. Heck, I'd even question their belief in religion, but that's NOT what "Bishop" Long is about, nor is this whole charade about.
    It's about the fraud that is religion in general. Explain away all of the unanswerable questions with "God Knows, God made it, it's God's Plan..." etc, etc, etc (ad nauseum); fear-monger people into submission, AND make all of the fundamental dreams of humanity come true! Endless life, you get to be YOUNG again (fountain of youth anyone?), streets paved in gold (sounds kinda tacky and greedy to me-why in the heck would you need or want gold in Heaven?), you get to see all of the people who have passed before you (nevermind if their idea of Heaven would NOT include you being there)... you get my drift.
    Now, nevermind also (and suspend your belief for a second) that all of the "Acts of God" in the Bible were simply natural phenomenae that perfectly coincided with activities recorded in recent (the last 4000 years) history. The Bible is not a work of God, it's a book written by man. It's translated by people. Nevermind that language translation has and never will be an exact science and that word and phrase meaning differ between editions of the Bible, let alone revisions that have come and gone to make it more "with the times".
    Why is it that people who claim to also be a Son of God such as David Koresch, etc are immediately looked upon as charlatains and fools are the ones who follow them, yet Jesus was looked at in the same light during his time? Who is to say that any of the acts attributed to Jesus are even truth and not just stories told to embellish his claim to be the Son of God and reshape the image of God from the wrathful, vengeful, jealous God of the Old Testament to the kindler, gentler God of the New Testament? Which brings me to the question of: If God is perfect, why did he change his tactics? Why would he need to if he knew the future outcome of his previous actions? Why wouldn't he have just given his Son to the Earth in the beginning to lead Adam and Eve through Paradise? If God is perfect, why does he have HUMAN FLAWS?!?!?!?!? Jealousy? Vengefulness? Wrath? Why would he be Jealous if there are no other God's?
    Once again, Nevermind that the story of Jesus so closely mirrors that of the Egyptian god Horus as to be considered legal plagarism in today's age.
    I could go on and on... I've already written a book.
    Religion is a myth. Based on no logical sense, yet so convoluted as to be able to be twisted in the mind of people as to doubt their own logical mind's beliefs and questions.
    DEFEAT CIRCULAR REASONING with the WHEEL OF POWER:
    1)The Bible is the word of God!
    Q: But how do we know it's the word of God?
    2) Because the Bible tells us it is silly!
    Q: But why believe the Bible at all?
    3) Because the Bible is infallable!
    Q: But how do you know it's infallable?
    AND RETURN TO #1 above. Keep going in circles until you finally understand the TRUTH!

    February 4, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Yawn

      Sorry, I got bored after the first 300 pages of your comment. Are there cliff notes?

      February 4, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • ijreilly

      I prefer spark notes if you have them.

      February 4, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • Know What

      Yawn,

      Yet folks will read those 66 old books over and over. I guess @Anybody Surprised didn't include enough genocide, slave dealing, myth, legend, fantasy and superst!tion to hold your interest?!

      February 4, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • Q

      THAT WAS AN AWESOME READ!!

      February 4, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • Eyecee

      I thought the article was about investments gone sour. Do I detect some hostility toward religion. What happened to you? Maybe you should see a therapist. Not a pastor

      February 4, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • Yawn

      To Know What:

      Sorry I wasn't paying attention. What?

      February 4, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
  6. Alina77

    How he can lead people to the God if he lies to himself? I think this man got lost in his own lies and Its sad that he still around the people telling them what to do and they blindly believe him instead of helping him, I think he needs a lot of professional help, even more then any body else around him.

    February 4, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  7. harrisonhits2

    How ridiculous. Everyone knows when you invest you're taking a risk. That is called an assumed risk. And to dump big sums of money into 401k accounts after the crash of the financial markets that massively reduced the value of everyone's investments, that's just plain stupid.

    And if those investments had worked out would Long be telling those people to give some of their profits back to the people who made the investments because they had done such a good job and "it was the right thing to do" ? Of course not.

    And who lets "financial advisors" give their pitch in a church anyway ? Talk about the raw greed involved here by this church who no doubt go some profit or sweet deal for allowing them in the door.

    February 4, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  8. CHUCKJR

    DOESN'T HE HAVE A DDIICCKK TO EAT SOMEWHERE?

    February 4, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • sam99999

      I literally just LOLed in the office!

      February 4, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Q

      HAHAHAHA!!

      February 4, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  9. Rich

    Churches are great hunting grounds for financial con men because the religious are the most credulous people in society.

    February 4, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
  10. CJ

    Bishop Long is SATAN in a sheep's cloth. Just draining his church members completely dry. While he lives in a mansion, drives a Bentley. He should be ashamed of himself. But IRS has something for him.

    February 4, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  11. rev dave

    Filthy lucre?

    February 4, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
  12. Jeff

    This man is a thief and a predator. He is also a millionare and if he is so concerned about his parishioners losing money he should give them some of his.

    February 4, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  13. sam99999

    There's about 100 million of us in this country that would love to get back the money we've invested in various things (stock market, 401k, etc.) over the past 4 or 5 years, excluding this past year. Investments are always risky; that's a chance you take. These people probably also want their money back after a losing trip to Vegas. One more mile paved on the road to being totally unaccountable for our own actions.

    February 4, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  14. tony

    Get thou behind us, O people of Religion.

    February 4, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • LOL

      You made a seriously idiotic comment. Not saying you are an idiot, mind you.

      February 4, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  15. Nicole

    I wonder why some people don't know that it's a good idea to just be quite and go away. If you want my advise Mr. Long, hang up that so called preachers robe and get rid of that wig. Humble yourself and apologize to your family and your congregation then move to the poorest country in the world and don't ever come back.

    February 4, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Derek

      The best comment i've read yet!

      February 4, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • dfs3660

      This IS the best idea that I've heard of – now if the rest of Atlanta could get on the same page......................

      February 4, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  16. astenb

    They must have ran off with the money. Any qualified financial advisor would have to be completely retarded to have actually LOST money since the DOW was a 6000 something points over a year ago. You could have pretty much invested BLIND and made 15-20%.

    February 4, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
  17. AGeek

    AHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAhahahah *breathe* AAHHAHAHAHAHAHAhahaha .. SUCKERS!!!! F–king lemmings would follow this @$$clown off a f–king cliff. Idiots deserve what they got.

    February 4, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
  18. Jeffision

    Gawd is Money! Hallelujaha!! Heaven is Money! Hallelujah!! Gawd is tax-free real estate!! Hallelujah! The Devil is poor...Gawd is rich! Hallelujah!!

    Visualize a post-religious era.

    February 4, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  19. VAJill

    People in hell want a drink of water, too.

    February 4, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
  20. Brent

    What Eddie is really saying, "Give my people their money back so that they may give it to me, where it really belongs."

    February 4, 2011 at 12:30 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.