Hitchens on Bishop Long

September 30, 2010 • 9:19 pm

Hitchens is still turning out his weekly column for Slate.  The latest, “God’s bigmouths,” takes on the sorry spectacle of Bishop Eddie Long, using him as an example of mendacious black preachers.  And I swear, the column almost exactly duplicates the language and cadences of H. L. Mencken:

The easiest way to gain instant acceptance as a black “leader” these days is to shove the word Reverend in front of your name.

Or, if you are really greedy and ambitious, the word Bishop. Bishop Eddie Long of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Georgia preaches that Bayard Rustin was a vile sinner who suffered from the curable “disease” of homosexuality. I have a rule of thumb for such clerics and have never known it to fail: Set your watch and sit back, and pretty soon they will be found sprawling lustily on the floor of the men’s room. It may be a bit early to claim the scalp of Eddie Long for this collection, but I doubt I shall have to withdraw . . .

The day can’t be far off when Long follows the traditional script and starts to yowl for prayer and repentance. And this would all be the greatest fun if it didn’t also involve the degradation of the King family and the steady erosion of the real memory of the civil rights movement, which is not safe when left in the keeping of God’s bigmouths and tree-shakers.

Is that Mencken-esque or not?

13 thoughts on “Hitchens on Bishop Long

  1. From the article:

    One of his alleged partners in depravity may have been on the borderline of the age of consent, but otherwise I can’t make myself care about whether the self-anointed Bish was rogering his flock. What concerns me isn’t even the laughable obviousness of his cupidity: the jewels and gold chains and limos and bodyguards. This is all a familiar part of the tawdry business of “Churchianity” now finding loopholes for the rich and venal at a well-upholstered religious establishment somewhere near you. No, what offends me is that Long was able to get four presidents of the United States to attend his opulent circus for the funeral of Coretta Scott King in 2006. What a steep and awful decline from the mule cart that carried her husband’s coffin in 1968. And the decline can be measured out in dog collars, from the Rev. Jesse Jackson all the way down to the Rev. Al Sharpton and the venomous Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

    Truly priceless! What a piece of work is Hitch.

  2. How too bad Hitch didn’t twist the knife a little deeper by pointing explicitly how utterly perverse and immoral it is that the black Protestant Christian culture is even (if you can believe it) more hysterically homophobic than the population at large.

    Eddie Long is certainly shitting on MLK’s legacy (not least by his abuse of the deceased Bayard Rustin). But the entire mainstream black Baptist culture is redolent with homophobia, and it needs to take a good, hard, critical – and shame-faced – look at itself.

  3. Unfortunately, Hitchens’ prose is wasted on so many, including a large part of Long’s congregation.

    1. Fred Phelps is an opportunist and a publicity hound.

      If he could generate the same publicity for being against cat-licking, then for sure god would HATE cat lickers.

  4. It was Sikivu Hutchinson who really opened my eyes to the extent that religion, and particularly religious patriarchy, is fucking over African-American communities. It’s truly scandalous. 🙁

    1. It’s probably why HIV disease is running rampant in US black communities.

      Black men who have sex with men don’t identify themselves as “gay” because of the disapprobation that comes with the designation. And don’t grok that it’s not the gay that’s the risk, it’s the sex. Cuz only gay men get HIV, don’t you know…(not).

      And then, they go to their wife/girlfriend and pass it along. So HIV is the leading cause of death among US black women aged 25 to 34.

      Big issue. Huge. And the black churches not only aren’t helping, they’re part of the problem.

  5. I never thought of the Mencken/Hitch similarity! Good one. Glad Hitch is somewhat more of a liberal than HL was, though.

  6. When I first read that column, I thought, “Well, I’ll be damned. God actually answered Francis Collins’s prayers.” Having s story like Long’s must be wonderful sustenance for Hitchens.

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