The accusations center on the LongFellows Youth Academy, an exclusive group of teenage boys handpicked by Bishop Long for spiritual mentoring.
The boys went through a bonding ritual, known as a “covenant ceremony,” in which Bishop Long gave them jewelry and exchanged vows with them while quoting from Scripture as ceremonial candles burned, according to court complaints filed against the pastor. Reciting Bible verses, the pastor promised to protect them from harm and called them “spiritual sons.”
Now the defenses of an impressionable young person who puts stock in his pastor's religious mumbo jumbo are so low that it would never occur to him to run screaming from his pastor's little "covenant ceremony"—I don't want to blame the victims here—but if some creepy, pumped-up peacock like Bishop Long put me through a "ceremony" like that, well, I would've run from the room and kept on running until my shoes disintegrated in some neighboring state or other.
In other news: Bishop Long intends to fight on. Which ought to be good: it'll be divisive, parishioners will take sides, and Bishop Long's malicious little scam—excuse me, his suburban mega-church—will be wounded.
Here's hoping the wounds are fatal.
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