Gay member of New Birth Church speaks out.
Samuel Brown is a member of New Birth Church, the same church where Bishop Eddie Long has preached many anti-gay sermons. In 2004, Long led a march in Atlanta in support of banning same-sex marriage. Brown also happens to be a gay male.
Brown and his life partner Derrick joined New Birth initially, not saying a word about their sexuality to anyone. In light of the allegations of sexual misconduct surrounding Bishop Eddie Long, Brown has decided to share his story exclusively with BET News to express his discontent with his pastor.
BET NEWS: Why did you choose Bishop Long as your spiritual leader, even though you are a homosexual man and he is a known opponent of gay rights?
Samuel Brown: Well, he speaks powerful words and normally he speaks with integrity. Also, being a member and hearing the rhetoric we would hear didn't bother me because I felt like he was speaking against himself.
BN: In what way?
SB: Basically I felt like Bishop Long had some sexuality issues and with those sexuality issues he was running away from himself. He was basically doing one thing and preaching another. From my observation, just my personal observation, his inner circle seems pretty gay or gay-friendly to me; that’s just my personal observation over the years and I have been there a number of years.
BN: How many years have you been in the church?
SB: Since 1993, that’s when I joined.
BN: Did you hide your sexuality from the church?
SB: There have been times where I was concerned with what people thought. Sometimes people would ask, 'is that your brother, is that your cousin?' My partner may have said one thing and I said another.
BN: Do you think New Birth Church would have allowed you to be a member if they knew you were gay?
SB: Probably not. But at the same time, there are a pretty large number of congregants in the church that are gay or appear to be gay that I know of personally as well.
BN: Do you know why other homosexual Christians would become members of a church that preaches sermons condemning their lifestyle?
SB: The majority of the homosexual, gay members of the church that are at New Birth, most of them 'fall in line' with the teachings. They feel like it’s wrong, they are sinning, they are sinners and it’s something you have to get rid of.
BN: Did you personally feel being a homosexual male was wrong?
SB: My father was an evangelist growing up in the Church of God in Christ, and the rhetoric that Bishop Long preaches is very light compared to what's preached to the Church of God in Christ. Coming up in the type of environment and knowing something was different about me at a young age, I tried to get rid of it basically. I tried to pray it away, I tried to fast it away, I tried to meditate it away. It was something that would not go away. I wasn't molested, never touched on as a kid. I was born like this.
BN: What are your thoughts on Bishop Long's statement to your congregation?
SB: He was unable to say that he was 100 percent guilt-free, and it was insulting to me to not come out and be straight-forward. Basically him and his lawyer crafted a statement where he didn't have to hit the situation head on. The reason Bishop Long is so popular in Atlanta and all over the world is his transparency. He preaches about it in his sermons. He will say things that other people won’t say. He will push the envelope on a lot of things. So with him speaking so strongly about transparency and now not being able to deliver a clear-cut answer, it doesn't sit well with me.
BN: If these allegations are true will you feel vindicated?
SB: Will I be vindicated? No, because I always had this feeling about him. I will be happy for him, because when you’re carrying baggage like that, because I have been there you know, you can’t be who you are; you’re making up stories, telling lies about this and that. Personally I just feel it will be a relief because it had to be hanging over his head pretty heavy.
You can reach Samuel and read his open letter to the Bishop on his blog at: