Am I the only one that loves to hear a story when a supposed “holy man” has allegedly been caught with his hands in the sacramental cookie jar? When I hear these types of stories, stories like that of Ted Haggard’s methamphetamines driven gay sexcapades or the standard pedophiliac priests and the Popes that cover for them, I always assume that they are guilty. Is that wrong, I wonder? Is it wrong that I enjoy seeing people who make a living telling other people how to run their lives gets caught in blatant hypocrisy? I think not.
The latest scandal comes from the Peach State (Georgia) where Eddie Long, the “Bishop”—I appreciate the irony of a protestant preachers adopting a Catholic title in this case—of a mega church has been accused of coercing four young men with cars, jewelry and vacations for sexual favors. The Catholic Priesthood must love this. I bet they are saying to their selves “Damn. Thank Christ it wasn’t one of ours this time.”
After watching a video of Eddie addressing the accusations in front of his flock of sheep and a short interview of Jamal Parris, one of Eddie’s accusers, I couldn’t help but ask myself who I thought was really telling the truth. The gods know, Parris and the other accusers could potentially have a lot to gain monetarily from a civil lawsuit from a preacher worth millions. On the other hand, Eddie, “The Bishop” looked guilty. So I looked to the literature to see if my gut was on to something.
I first looked to work profiling sexual preditors and how they coerce their victims. It seems that “The Bishops” position of authority provides the idea opportunity for sexual predation and coercion. Furthermore, the interactions between the victims and “the Bishop (e.g., the vacations, gifts, etc) could be construed as his “grooming” his victims. Moreover, the difficult family backgrounds of the accusers seem to make them ideal targets. In sum, the few details of this biblical mess, so far, jives with what one would expect from a classic case of sexual coercion (see Olson, Daggs, Ellevold & Rogers, 2007, for complete details).
Finally, my bullshit detector also jives with what seems to be suggestive and convicting—I mean convincing—correlations between the findings in the literature and the details of this story. Why does this matter? Well, considering that even normal adults have a 60% accuracy rate in detecting bullshit (see Vrij, Akehurst, Brown & Mann, 2006, for details about human lie detecting), a keen professional of human observation, such as myself, should be quite confident in his/her gut reactions. So by judging from the brief video of Parris and Long, I’m going to go out on a limb and say this guy is guilty. What do you think? Am I jumping the gun, or is this guy a fruity preditor is an expensive suit? The world wants to know….