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. whatever

    Eddie Long puts out a message the opposite of Martin Luther King, but I guess he is too powerful for people in the religious community down there to say it. I don't know what Rev. Bernice ever saw in Eddie Long. They both "hate" gays. However, I doubt it. It's fake.

    June 1, 2011 at 6:29 am |
  2. Melvin

    “What God is showing me doesn’t look like what people are accustomed to.", she says. First off, this sounds like the beginning of a scam, as God has no new revelation for his people but to love. IMHO, sounds like she is simply going down the wrong path hanging out with men like this. Don't get me wrong, Mr. Eddie Bishop deserves love too but until he can get straight (no pun intended), he's only doing the opposite of love. So, whether she realizes it or not, Ms. King has been too. Although she claims the timing has nothing to do with him (highly unlikely), she does see the need in the name of self-preservation, to distance herself from this one way or the other. Saying God has shown you something no one else has been accustomed to is pretty naive as Love is the only thing you can show to represent God honestly, and this is nothing new. God would give you the courage to speak against this mans behavior while at the same time mentioning your true transformation. There is a difference between loving and condoning such behavior. Not to mention that her father (not without his faults too) stood up for the truth of God a million times more than Eddie Long has ever dreamed of. She should know better and does. We all do. The beatings will continue until morale changes.

    June 1, 2011 at 2:23 am |
    • Ed

      Melvin – by what Divine knowledge can you sit and type that "God has no new revelation for his people but to love"?? And because Eddie Long was doing improper things, it means she (Rev. King) has been doing the opposite of love too? Because she was associated with him? Your logic is astounding!!! Jesus Christ dined with tax collectors, but did that make him a sinner as well? NOT! You seem to have some sort of omnipotence complex to suggest that her departure has to do with his legal problems, despite her claim to the contrary – why did she not leave a YEAR ago if that was the case??? Finally, you place Dr. Martin Luther King on a pedestal as if he was somehow more knowing of God's message than Eddie Long. Yes, as you said, he was not without fault. He was adulterous. Is that somehow any "better" than Eddie Long? Dr. King wa a MAN...Bernice King's claim is not that she has some unique message from God that no other person has received...it is a new path for HER that she perceives as God's message to her. How dare YOU presume to know what God is all about.

      June 1, 2011 at 3:10 am |
    • whatever

      everything you said sounds like the truth

      June 1, 2011 at 6:26 am |
  3. Ronnie Harper

    Black biggots.

    June 1, 2011 at 2:18 am |
    • YogerTheOgre

      It's spelled b-i-g-o-t-s, moron... And just what does that make catholic priests, who prey on little boys? Or did your racist learning and up-bringing stop at blindness to your own issues? Your incompetence is hilariously amazing, idiot!

      June 1, 2011 at 4:24 am |
    • cj

      Catholic Priests also come in black.

      June 1, 2011 at 4:59 am |
  4. jesse

    It looks like it's just another case of the offspring chooseing their own path over their parents. Let's face it though, in the last 10 years we've seen to much in the media around the world about pastors of various religions getting caught with their pants down. If you read between the lines on this article you can clearly follow that she's had enough of that kind of BS and that she's trying to distance herself from this church to try and maybe address the issue because the classic powers behind the churches clearly aren't or are guilty themselves.

    June 1, 2011 at 2:17 am |
  5. joey

    and may god bless the victims who when they pass gas, it sounds like wind blowing through a barn.

    June 1, 2011 at 1:34 am |
  6. lance corporal

    why is it that every one who speaks out against gay rights has to pull a d-ck out of their mouths first?

    June 1, 2011 at 1:20 am |
    • shawn

      Well I am waiting on the shoe to drop on her head next.

      June 1, 2011 at 1:31 am |
    • Donald


      June 1, 2011 at 2:08 am |
  7. Giancarlo

    There is a stench of hypocrisy here. How any of those members continue in that church is beyond my comprehension. This oil snake salesman should be dropped by the church. This is not God's house; it is a house of greed and money hungry evil people. May God bless those who continue.

    June 1, 2011 at 1:06 am |
  8. Robert Austin

    There's nothing like religion to bring out the worst in people. The megachurches are nothing more than personality cults, they have nothing to do with Christianity." Prosperity Gospel" is a contradiction in terms. I don't think MLK would be very proud of his children.

    June 1, 2011 at 12:48 am |
    • DJ

      You know, she won't say but whatever her reason, I believe this thing with Eddie Dong has opened her eyes. This man is guilty and they all know it or believe he is. You don't settle out of court and pay money for something you did not do.

      June 1, 2011 at 1:01 am |
    • X39

      But if every member of every megachurch found out that they weren't really Christian, they would be so fraught with depression that everything would turn all topsy-turvy and we'd be over-run by gays and all sorts of different, colorful people behaving freely and adding richness to life. It would totally confuse our sense of normality! We can't have that!

      June 1, 2011 at 4:32 am |
  9. RJP3

    It is amazing to me that a daughter can miss the message of God spoken by her legendary Father and wise Mother – and be taken in by a hate mongering snake like this man – but I give her a pass considering the impact of her Father's murder.

    But when your Mom and Pop are leaders in faith and love – and preach gay acceptance by deeds and words – and you turn your back on that. Well ... the devil is in the ego there to know better than Coretta and Martin. How her siblings deal is beyond me. .

    June 1, 2011 at 12:46 am |
    • JustIs

      People can believe what they want to believe. If her parents had been Klan members would you chastise her for not being one? Again, people are free to believe what they wish. Because you don't agree doesn't mean a thing.

      June 1, 2011 at 1:15 am |
  10. RJP3

    It is amazing to me that a daughter can miss the message of God spoken by her legendary Father and wise Mother – and being taken in by a hate mongering snake like this man – but I give her a pass considering the impact of her Father's murder.

    But when you Mom and Pop are leaders in faith and love and preach gay acceptance by deeds and words - and you turn your back on that. Well ... the devil is in the ego there.

    June 1, 2011 at 12:43 am |
    • X39

      But there are so many messages of God - even the messages that say that gays are evil! How will we ever find the truth with a capital T if we can never settle on the right interpretation of God's message? Maybe she's right. Who knows?

      June 1, 2011 at 4:27 am |
  11. seth

    I am so happy to know that God has given all of you the gift of knowledge into other peoples affairs, now all he has to do is give you the gift of insight into your own sin.

    June 1, 2011 at 12:39 am |
    • Callmeishmael

      Since I don't believe in God, the whole question of sin doesn't apply to me. "I count religion but a childish toy and the only sin is ignorance."-Christopher Marlowe

      June 1, 2011 at 1:09 am |
  12. Chuck

    Gingrich has a gay sister and VP Cheney has a gay daughter and Dr. King has a conservative daughter. Bazaar!.

    June 1, 2011 at 12:27 am |
    • shawn

      Believe that if you want to. You should have continued on with the sentence and left out conservative. 🙂

      June 1, 2011 at 1:33 am |
  13. Brian

    "Critics said Long’s embrace of the prosperity gospel contradicted the emphasis on social justice that her father preached."

    It's easy to worship mammon. I have seen Long preach on television. He raised his right hand, exposing his Rolex watch. A few minutes later he raised his left hand exposing another Rolex on his left hand. Praise the Lord ! ! !

    June 1, 2011 at 12:26 am |
    • DJ

      We all know what most of the mega church preachers are all about – Live large, drive and wear the best, jet planes – while the flock can barey pay the rent. I don't believe our Savior is pleased with this.

      June 1, 2011 at 1:06 am |
  14. Robert

    Settled out of court? Hmm. It's the same as pleading no contest. Guilty.

    June 1, 2011 at 12:20 am |
    • X39

      Ooh! Robert knows a little something about human behavior, doesn't he?

      June 1, 2011 at 4:25 am |
  15. Rev. Henry Bates

    She stayed with Long even while others in the civil-rights movement stayed away from him because of his vicious tirades against gay and lesbian people, but now she leaves because God told her to? I think God was telling people a long time ago to leave but they didn't listen, including Bernice King!

    June 1, 2011 at 12:16 am |
  16. che-3

    I knew this Tight wearing Red T-Shirt fake pastor was up to NO good in the Black community. Why she hooked up with this pervert in the first place is mind boggling. Bernice King may have been attracted to those Tight Red T-Shirts this pervert used to wear on Sundays when he first started. Why she wouldn't stay in his father's own Church is beyond us. I have watched her over the years and she seemed to drifting. She ought to be very careful where she sets her next foot. She might step onto a sink hole.

    June 1, 2011 at 12:15 am |
    • X39

      @che-3: It's good to know that you're out there spotting the Christians who are drifting from the path. That's good work. I hope your finger is properly sharpened as you waggle it condescendingly over her sink hole.

      June 1, 2011 at 4:44 am |
  17. Simone

    ...and Bernice didn't want to soil her hands--she should have said that this fiasco was the reason-it's so obvious.

    June 1, 2011 at 12:00 am |
  18. Simone

    She did the right thing. He's a down low player, he doesn't think he's in the wrong. Forget about him admitting he's gay, it won't happen. Black church community hold your leaders accountable when they are in denial. Wake up people.

    May 31, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
  19. Damiana

    Interesting picture....it's hard to tell whether Long is trying to get a look down her blouse,or if he's appraising her jewelry. Probably both. As for Bernice, she's a religious princess the same way Lisa Marie Presley was touted as the so-called "Princess of Rock"-parents were stars, kids just coasting/cashing in on it. And like Lisa Marie, Bernice is no fit heiress to her father's work.

    May 31, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
  20. Elizabeth

    I am saddened that she couldn't say anything in support of those boys. Why are the victims always left out?
    Her father always spoke out for victims; she is not her father, but at least she isn't staying in that church.
    There must be a balance between justice and judgment: with no mercy, there is no peace, but without morals, there is no hope, no future, no way to steer. A leader must have both justice and judgment.

    May 31, 2011 at 11:48 pm |


      June 1, 2011 at 12:12 am |
    • JustIs

      And he is guilty because what? You feel it in your gut? He didn't admit to being guilty. How easy for you to point the finger at who you THINK is guilty. I bet the boys won't be calling victims when the check clears.

      June 1, 2011 at 1:27 am |
    • LiVerty

      @JustIs...Would you neither believe that there is air coz you only feel and breath it but didn't see it nor the sun, stars, moon and the sky coz they can only bee seen but out of your grasp?

      Should the accused could only be found guilty through his admission, jail would be the loneliest place on earth.

      June 1, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6
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.