LITHONIA, Ga. (CBS/WGCL/AP) Despite the allegations that he lured four young men into sexual relationships and theleaked on the internet, many of Bishop Eddie Long's followers remain unwavering in their support for him as he pledges to fight the accusations like David fighting Goliath.
The pastor closed his Tuesday night empowerment service with "a massive hugfest," reports The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Though his sermon - like all sermons he's delivered since the accusations surfaced - did not make any direct references to the scandal, he explained that God is always there, even in times of trouble, reports the paper.
"God never ends on a negative," Long told his members according to the paper. "God will bring from within you what you didn't think could come out of you."
Four young men claim Long, their pastor, first adopted them as his "spiritual sons," then seduced them with scripture, cars and jewelry for sex.
"What the parents didn't know was that part of being a son is actually an abusive emotional and physical relationship with the children," plaintiff's lawyer B.J. Bernstein told CBS News. All four teens were older than Georgia's age of consent.
The allegations have rocked the church, one of America's most influential mega-churches.
Long became one of the country's most powerful independent church leaders over the last 20 years, turning a suburban Atlanta congregation of 150 to a 25,000-member powerhouse with a $50 million cathedral and a roster of parishioners that includes athletes, entertainers and politicians. And there was almost no sign Sunday that his flock wanted to turn him away.
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