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Bishop Eddie Long (PICTURES): Pastor Speaks out for First Time

Long has called for a national ban on same-sex marriage and his church counsels gay members to become straight. In 2004, he led a march with Bernice King to her father's Atlanta grave to support a national constitutional amendment to protect marriage "between one man and one woman." He also has released several gospel albums, authored books on relationships and spirituality, and hosts a weekly television program.
CBS/The Early Show
Bishop Eddie Long (PICTURES): Pastor Speaks out for First Time
Bishop Eddie Long (CBS/The Early Show)

ATLANTA (CBS/WGCL) Bishop Eddie Long spoke out for the first time Friday about allegations that he had sexual relationships with at least three teenage boys in his Atlanta-area church.

PICTURES: Bishop Eddie Long

CBS affiliate WGCL was the only news organization on a telephone conference call with parishioners from across the country who were looking for answers.

Long said he was in the middle of a battle.

"We will arise through this situation, and go forward, and we are moving forward," Long said.

WGCL reports that Long said several times that he didn't know who was on the call, so he had to be careful what he said because the case is in litigation. He also said he would not take any questions.

In his first public statement since the allegations became public, he asked others on the call to pray for his wife, his children, and his church.

"I have never dealt with anything like this before. I have been under attack before, but everything else has been different levels and different challenges," Long continued.

Never once did Long say he was innocent, but he said the truth would be revealed, and that he is praying for his accusers.

"Know that I am also praying for the families and the young men who are accusing. I always operate in the spirit of love, and we are going to move through this," he said.

Story Contributed by CBS Affiliate WGCL

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