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Bernice King, MLK's daughter, leaves Eddie Long's church
The Rev. Bernice King shares the pulpit with Bishop Eddie Long at New Birth Missionary Church in this file photo.
May 31st, 2011
06:30 PM ET

Bernice King, MLK's daughter, leaves Eddie Long's church

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - The Rev. Bernice King, daughter of the legendary civil rights leader, is leaving an Atlanta megachurch that’s been rocked by a sex scandal involving its preacher.

King’s announcement came a week after Bishop Eddie Long, senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Church, settled out of court with four young men who filed lawsuits against him last year claiming he coerced them into sexual relationships.

King said her announcement had nothing to do with Long’s legal battles. She said Tuesday she was “tremendously blessed” by Long’s ministry but that now she’s going start her own.

“I’m going to launch a ministry. I’m not calling it a church right now,” King said during an interview with Atlanta radio station Praise 102.5. “What God is showing me doesn’t look like what people are accustomed to.”

King said her ministry would “educate, empower and equip” a new generation of church leaders, and she promised more details in the future. King had been an elder at New Birth for eight years.

During her interview, she said it was incorrect to say that she had “resigned” from New Birth because she was never on the church’s staff.

“I occasionally worked in the pulpit and preached, but that was the extent of it,” she said. "When I came to New Birth, I came for a season.”

King’s stay at New Birth was punctuated by controversy.

In 2004, she and Long led a march to the Atlanta tomb of her father, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., calling for a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

The march was publicly condemned by some members of her father's inner circle. One of her father's closest advisers was gay, and his widow, Coretta Scott King, was a vocal supporter of gay rights.

Bernice King also was criticized for holding the 2006 funeral of her mother at New Birth instead of at Ebenezer Baptist Church, the Atlanta institution once led by her father. Critics said Long’s embrace of the prosperity gospel contradicted the emphasis on social justice that her father preached.

The Rev. Raphael Warnock, senior pastor of Ebenezer, said Bernice King ultimately will be known for more than her association with Long.

“This might be for her a moment of spiritual renewal and serious reflection about what her next steps might be,” Warnock said. “Rev. King has been through a season of transition in many ways.”

The Rev. Gerald L. Durley, senior pastor of Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, said King won’t be tainted by her association with Long.

“New Birth was a bridge,” he said. “I’ve never seen anybody build a house on a bridge. A bridge takes her to another destination.”

During her radio interview, King said she had recently talked with Long about leaving his church.

“He gave me his blessings and supported me,” she said.

Whatever she chooses to do next, Durley said, King will bring many strengths: intelligence, humility and empathy forged by her own unique upbringing.

“She had to go through so much suffering at a young age,” Durley said. “She’s been in the spotlight. She’s expected not just to be Martin Luther King, but to pick up the mantle.”

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Celebrity • Christianity • Pastors

soundoff (276 Responses)
  1. Richard-Alan Lovell

    For the Christian, words correction, inspiration, and encouragement can be found in the Bible. In Paul's Epistle to Galatians, he tells them to share & bear burdens of other Believers, if a Christian trespasses restore them with a spirit of gentleness (Galatians 6:1-5).

    May 31, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
    • ComeOnMan9

      If a Christian trespasses, restore them with gentleness. I say pour some oil on the pulpit and slide Eddie Long's lying, cheating, and stealing a$$ out the door! Any preacher with time on their hands can discern if Eddie is touching any other children and hit him in the head with a royal diadem.

      May 31, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
  2. ComeOnMan9

    Bernice, you had to know you were in the bed with a dog. Shake them fleas and start preaching an inclusive
    dogma.

    May 31, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
  3. Cherry

    Dumbfounded at what took her so long. Long's predilection for young men is a poorly kept secret. Did she just choose to ignore it and 'pray on it.' Seriously, ministry 101 is all about discernment. As the old folks used to say, "She shoulda been done went!' Cut your losses and rebuild on a solid foundation or get a factory job.

    May 31, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
    • Richard-Alan Lovell

      Amen!!!!!

      May 31, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
  4. Hmmm

    Mr. Blake, that is a very well-written article. You took a story about crazy people and made it not only interesting to read, but it is also a very subtle piece of human interest.
    Well done, sir.

    May 31, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
  5. blake

    Good move. Should have done so years ago. Another charlaton giving Christ and His Church a black eye.

    May 31, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
  6. God

    “I’m going to launch a ministry. I’m not calling it a church right now,” King said during an interview with Atlanta radio station Praise 102.5. “What God is showing me doesn’t look like what people are accustomed to.”

    Whoa whoa whoa. This seems like she is making a power grab by former her own church to take followers away from Long. Perhaps this was an inside job all along, and King had these boys all form this same "scout leader alone in the woods with canteen boy story". Why does God need to speak to her? Who is she? She is like a vampire...or Yoko Ono....someone feeding off the dead.

    May 31, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
  7. joey

    i heard eddie is joining the priesthood

    May 31, 2011 at 11:29 pm |
  8. Adelina

    Secular Americans should stop their stupidity and start reading the books written by Rev. King. Americans don't know why their heroes are great because they don't read the heroes' writings. All of them are Christian thoughts from the Bible.

    May 31, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
    • Tom Tom Piper's Son

      I usually cut my finger nails using my teeth. I made them for snacks.

      May 31, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
    • Reality

      I lost my scissors and has ran out of paste, while my cranium is just there to grow me some hair.

      May 31, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
    • dustl

      Yeah, forget all that crap about Gandhi and nonviolence.

      May 31, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
    • David Johnson

      I drink my pee, let's get party!

      CHEERS!

      May 31, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
    • Adelina

      CNN, would you make it possible to register the user name in religion section? A lunatic is here, messing up many people's names.

      June 1, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • Adelina

      Gandhi got educated by the Christian British and his method worked only for Christian British or Christian America. Elsewhere, he'd be a deadmeat in silence.

      June 1, 2011 at 12:11 am |
    • CNN Registrar

      I checked and found out that she's the real Adelina, so you better quit using her handle and HS's as well. You Atheist Phony Troll!

      June 1, 2011 at 12:25 am |
  9. Richard-Alan Lovell

    She should have shared Biblical Truth, with supportive Scripture. Eddie Long's actions bring DISCREDIT upon calling himself a Christian. EVERY member should LEAVE that church if he doesn't step-down; he's making a mockery of Christianity! What he has done or appeared to have done has "defiled the Body of Christ,' which is his Christian congregation and every other confessing Christian (1 Corinthians 5). Since his actions are "immoral, unrepentant" he should resign. At least Jimmy Swaggart openly repented.

    Mr. Long is an "immoral brother" and he needs to repent, and if he's to be restored the Lord will do that in his time. Ms. King is being politically correct instead of biblically correct. Simply, her actions as a Christian are DISGRACEFUL! I'm appalled. The Elder Board must remove him as Pastor.

    May 31, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
  10. PatronAGE

    Nice development. Other members should regain their senses and must follow what Bernice has done.

    May 31, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
    • myklds

      Paying the accussers to shut them up makes Eddie Long lost his integrity, hence, lost some of their church members.

      May 31, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
  11. dr. perry fisher

    Bernice go get a job

    May 31, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
    • Mango Mon

      I disagree with when you said good job to Ms. King. There has to be a better way to go through the motions. You just don't leave the head of a church as a woman and start your own. God made man in his image; he made women to be his help mate. If the head messed up, it is God who will judge.

      June 3, 2011 at 4:39 am |
  12. Mango Mon

    Ms. King, almost everyone want to start their own Ministry. What a mess! The day of His wrath is coming upon all pegans and false witnesses who separate themselves from the true Church, from the vine.

    May 31, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
    • RayneVanDunem

      And your statement of bigotry against intellectual dissidents in your religion is somehow absolved or justified by Bernice's behavior? Please, thoughts and spouts like yours and hers are counterproductive and do not help anyone of any (non-)religion, not even your own. Learn the history of Abrahamic religion and why these individuals turn out to be such mental misfits later in life.

      May 31, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
  13. Kool Aid Gang Member

    Is she maximizing on his loss? I think, finally, that Long's guilty, but this is so Business101.

    May 31, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
  14. Mango Mon

    I now just can't walk away from the church. This is all that's left in a dying world. Jesus did not come for the save and perfect, but for sinners and lost souls like me. All the Apostles that were with Jesus failed at some point. I thought Dr. Eddie Long had learned from the mistakesmade by those men! God will forgige you of all your sins { If you committed any}, but you will have to pay the consequences........ whatever that is !!!!

    May 31, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
  15. John Richardson

    She could have made an important statement with her departure, but did the usual soft soap two step. Disappointed. Not terribly surprised.

    May 31, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
  16. Henry

    Just by her calling herself a preacher, goes against her father. The real baptist preacher hold that the office of peacher sould only be held by a man. Paul said, I suffer not a women to teach or have authority over a men. Eddie Long paid out 15 millon in hush money, to me that says guilty.

    May 31, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
    • Henry Lockey

      I would not go that far. The Bible was written many many moons ago. Let us accept the modern world but without some of the things that are "considered normal" here in the USA.

      May 31, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Henry
      You said: "Just by her calling herself a preacher, goes against her father. The real baptist preacher hold that the office of peacher sould only be held by a man. Paul said, I suffer not a women to teach or have authority over a men."

      Ancient men, didn't like women. Their genitals were scary. And sometimes icky! Ancient men also believed the world was flat. LOL. The bible was written by ancient men and reflect the morals and knowledge of their time. It is crap.

      You said: "Eddie Long paid out 15 millon in hush money, to me that says guilty."

      People said that, when Michael Jackson paid off accusers in the 1990's.

      You don't see the double standard displayed here? Why is there one set of justice for the poor and another for the rich?

      As I've stated before, If a poor man molests, he is going to jail. If a rich man molests, he is going to the ATM.

      Evidently, when the rich commit a crime, it isn't the same as when a poor man does the same thing. Perhaps, it is the Republican influence. ?

      What is the difference between haggling with the girl on the street corner over price and haggling over an amount that would quiet allegations? Isn't it really just a matter of amount? Isn't it still prost_itution?

      I don't blame Michael Jackson or Eddie Long. I blame the system, that allows two sets of justice.

      My opinion. Everyone has one, just like anuses.

      Cheers!

      May 31, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
  17. jrcnnjr

    She and Long deserve each other, and as a Christian myself, both of them seem to be Bigoted, Hypocritical, Ignorant Religious Zealots. Many people (including me) woulld not attend either of their ministry services . . .

    May 31, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      I'm so glad I'm not a hypocrite. I'm the only true Christian.

      Amen.

      May 31, 2011 at 9:07 pm |
    • Tom Tom Piper's Son

      My d!ck has cringed like silkworm, good thing I have it cut and made a slice where it was hanged. At last I was laid last night by a drunk drifter. I've never been laid half of my life

      May 31, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
    • Wife2AtheistSteve

      I din't heed Steve's request to shave my armpit and to bathe at least once a week. My lawn mower is busted and taking a bath would bring me fever. Steve just filed a divorce.

      May 31, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
    • david Johnson

      Let's all drink (my pee) to that!

      CHEERS!

      May 31, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @david Johnson

      You said: "Let's all drink (my pee) to that!"

      It's funny when you do it to other people. When you do it to me, not so much. *frown*

      June 1, 2011 at 2:26 am |
  18. Henry Lockey

    OOPS. left out the word NOT, – "You should be ashamed to NOT associate"

    May 31, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
  19. Henry Lockey

    As someone who wears the mantle of religion, you are a hypocrite. You should be ashamed to associate yourself with the beliefs of your late parents. SHAME ON YOU

    May 31, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
  20. bugs eyes

    The men got a lawyer named "B.J." What are the odds of that?

    May 31, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
    • joey

      thats funny!

      May 31, 2011 at 11:25 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.