The Nov/Dec issue of faith-based glossy Gospel Today is catching flack from some of its subscribers who take issue with Bishop Eddie Long being featured on its cover.
With a headline that reads: “Bishop Eddie Long At The Center of The Scandal That Rocked The Church World;” the magazine is being accused of downplaying the allegations against the pastor of the New Birth Missionary Church in Lithonia, who was accused in September of sexual coercion by four consenting-age men from his church. Additionally, some readers believe that Gospel Today lacks objectivity as Long serves as the chair of the magazine’s board.
One unedited subscriber note read: “I got my latest issue of Gospel Today; with [Bishop] Eddie Long on the cover. I read the article and said to myself hmmmm seem like some sugar coating going on. Turned back to the 1st page and saw where the Bishop of his Church in NC is on your Board of Directors, I looked down and also saw that Eddie Long is on your Board of Advisors, I said all of that to say this. The best thing your magazine should have did was to not comment, but I do understand why you did. God is not pleased with all of the hypocrisy going on with these leaders and the things people will say and print just for MONEY!!!!”
Gospel Today publisher Teresa Hairston is facing the criticism head-on. She posted a letter in response to reader comments on her website:
“The Word of God teaches us that God is love; and far too many times we have been unbalanced and unloving-all in the name of a God who not only loves, but loves unconditionally and restores sinners-us included. Whether Bishop Long is guilty or not; whether the young men are guilty or not, the BODY OF CHRIST must handle this situation according to the Word of God! The mainstream press has painted a hideous picture; some have even called for Bishop Long’s resignation! They’re not even members.”
Some believe that Hairston took a softball approach to Long by purposely omitting his legal woes from the story. She believes her stance was a spiritual one.
“Gospel Today did not explore the legalities or the issues; we presented a biblical perspective-something no other outlet gave,” she countered.
“For those who don’t want to ‘deal’ with or look at this situation; I encourage you to read this story so that you can have a BIBLICAL perspective to help you ‘answer’ the mainstream perspective. Yes you should pray and speak about the ‘hope’ that you have that God will turn this situation into something that will be used for His glory! Yes, you should respond! You should ‘Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.’ (1 Pet. 3:15).”
Gospel Today magazine has been in business for more than 21 years. In Feb of 2009, the magazine announced it would end publishing the traditional magazine and become a digital-only publication because of the bad economy. In June of that year, it resumed printing in magazine format with a cover featuring President Barack Obama.
Over the years, the Christian lifestyle magazine has featured gospel luminaries and celebrities like Star Jones, Steve Harvey, Bernice King, Kirk Franklin, Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child, Marvin Sapp, and married couple Kenny Lattimore and Chante Moore on its cover.