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Audience Sounds Off On Eddie Long Gay Sex Scandal

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Audience Sounds Off On Eddie Long Gay Sex Scandal

Audience Sounds Off On Eddie Long Gay Sex Scandal

Audience Sounds Off On Eddie Long Gay Sex Scandal

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Listener feedback and important news updates to recent conversations heard on Tell Me More are combed through by the program's "digital media guy," producer Lee Hill, and host Michel Martin. This week's installment includes listener reaction to recent reports on a gay sex scandal facing prominent megachurch pastor Bishop Eddie Long.

MICHEL MARTIN, host:

And now it's time for Backtalk, where we lift the curtain on what's happening in the TELL ME MORE blogosphere and get to hear from you, our listeners. Lee Hill, our digital media guy, is here with me, as usual.

Hey Lee, what's up?

LEE HILL: Hey, Michel. Well, in our Faith Matters, we were just talking about those bombshell allegations of sexual impropriety against Bishop Eddie Long of the Atlanta-area megachurch pastor. And we've been talking about those allegations a lot this week. Four young men have accused Bishop Long of using his spiritual authority to coerce them into sexual relationships. And as you might imagine, this has raised some very sensitive conversations about sexual abuse. And so before we go forward, I just want to warn folks that this content might be a little delicate, and so if you have small ones in the car, you may want to cover their ears.

You may know that Long has been an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage. Here's the bishop addressing his congregation this past Sunday.

Bishop EDDIE LONG (Pastor, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church): There have been allegations and attacks made on me. I have never in my life portrayed myself as a perfect man, but I am not the man that's being portrayed on the television.

(Soundbite of applause)

Bishop LONG: That's not me. That is not me.

(Soundbite of applause)

HILL: Well, after that address, Michel, writer Maleek Washington penned a post on the TELL ME MORE blog that blasted the black church for making sexuality such a taboo, all while - according to Maleek - many pastors are just a heartbeat away from being publicly accused of sexual hypocrisy.

And that led blogger Sophie to post this response to our blog. She writes, quote, "As a gay woman of color, I can forgive a man who was born into privilege and has never known what it's like to be discriminated against. I cannot forgive a man who belongs to one of the most suffered minorities in the history of this country and spreads his hate onto another group."

MARTIN: Thank you, Sophie. And Lee, an interview surfaced this week with Jamal Parris, one of the young men who has accused Eddie Long of an inappropriate sexual relationship with him. A local Atlanta TV station tracked down Parris in Colorado, where he now lives, and interviewed him at a grocery store parking lot. And he described the turmoil he says he suffered because of Eddie Long.

Mr. JAMAL PARRIS: I cannot get the sound of his voice out of my head, and I cannot forget the smell of his cologne. And I cannot forget the way that he made me cry many nights when I drove in his cars on the way home, not able to take enough showers to wipe the smell of him off of my body.

MARTIN: Now Lee, you wrote a blog post questioning the ethics of that interview and whether the hunt for Jamal Parris crossed an ethical line. And somebody who blogs under the name Justice Reign posted this response. She wrote, "As a victim of sexual abuse, I'm very happy that Jamal decided to grant the interview. It was powerful, and I think it will give strength to more boys and girls that have been confronted with this nightmare."

But Lee, not everybody agrees with that. Somebody who blogs as the Music Snob posted this reply: This is a flat-out exploitation of an alleged rape victim. If this young man had different genitalia, there would be no question that this type of ambush interview would be unethical.

HILL: Well, thanks for that, and we thank everyone who reached out to us on this story - especially those, Michel, who were courageous enough to share their own stories of sexual abuse.

MARTIN: And thank you, Lee.

HILL: Thank you, Michel.

MARTIN: And remember, with TELL ME MORE, the conversation never ends. To tell us more, you can call our comment line at 202-842-3522. Please remember to leave your name. You can also log onto our website at npr.org. Click on Programs, then on TELL ME MORE and blog it out.

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