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Will the Eddie Long Sex Scandal Force Black Churches to Confront Their Homophobia?

The sordid tale of megachurch Bishop Eddie Long may provide an opportunity for black churches to deal with their regressive attitudes toward gay men and lesbians.

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Playing the anti-gay card proved quite profitable for Long. He built a religious empire over the last two decades, paying himself a reported $3 million a year salary. His New Birth Missionary Baptist Church includes a multimillion-dollar network of charities and businesses, a private school and the Samson’s Health and Fitness Center, where he holds court and pumps iron with young people. His membership has, according to the New York Times, swelled to about 25,000.

He lives in a 5,000-square-foot house with five bedrooms, which he bought in 2005 for $1.1 million. When he took over New Birth Church, it had only 300 members and a small building.

With the level of Christianity-backed homophobia, regardless of color, it makes you wonder why gay men like Aaron continue to embrace Christianity. To this question, Aaron has a very simple answer.

“My relationship is with God, not man, and certainly not the church, which is just a building,” Aaron said. “That’s something I had to learn for myself early on. It’s a good thing. I never take anything that any pastor says at face value. I don’t believe in leaving my brain at home when I go to church on Sundays. That’s a huge flaw of churchgoers, not just black churchgoers. They don’t know and they don’t read for themselves.”

Devona Walker has worked for the Associated Press and the New York Times company. Currently she is the senior political and finance reporter for

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