But some here are concerned that the message of New Birth’s pastor, Bishop Eddie L. Long, does not mesh well with the precepts of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who was a champion for poor and disenfranchised blacks.
Why are they concerned? The Times explains:
Long also has angered some liberal pastors with his support of Bush’s faith-based initiative, which directs taxpayer money to church-sponsored groups, and his opposition to gay marriage. The latter position put him at odds with Coretta King, who interpreted her late husband’s message as one that was tolerant of gays and lesbians.
“Thus far, Long has not been connected to the social justice movement in the city of Atlanta,” said Robert M. Franklin Jr., a professor of social ethics at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. “People wonder if this [funeral] is a passing on of the mantle to one of the new leaders who hasn’t been a part of the grass-roots struggle.”
The decision to have the funeral at New Birth probably has more to do with the fact that the Church has a 10,000 seat sanctuary and that King’s daughter Bernice is an Elder in the Church. DeKalb CEO Vernon Jones is also a member of New Birth and says this:
“Dr. King preached prosperity — he said feed the poor … but he didn’t say be poor yourself, right?” Jones said. “So that’s what Bishop Long is saying. He just went a step further. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, but at the same time be in a position where you can help.”