Bernice King, the youngest daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., is expected to resign her post as an elder minister at Lithonia, Ga.’s New Birth Missionary Baptist Church on Tuesday in the wake of a sexual-coercion scandal involving Bishop Eddie Long, according to news reports. Last Friday it was announced that Long had reached an out-of-court settlement with the four young men who alleged in a civil case that he had manipulated them with gifts, travel and other forms of patronage to coax them into sexual acts.
The news stories have differed on whether the resignation is connected to the settlement.
The payoff to the young men will not be disclosed, according to their attorney. When the allegations first came to light eight months ago, Long, pastor of the Atlanta-area mega-church that claims a membership of 25,000, declared that he would fight the accusations as heroically as David laid waste to Goliath.
In the aftermath of the Memorial Day-weekend announcement that the civil suit was settled, attendance for Long’s Sunday sermon at the church was reduced to a few hundred devotees. No mention of the settlement was made.
Bernice King eulogized her mother, Coretta Scott King, at New Birth after her death in 2006. Last year she was embroiled in controversy over leadership of the Atlanta-based Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which her father co-founded. Though she was elected SCLC’s next president in 2010, she ultimately decided not to accept the post. She also drew criticism for marching with Long in a demonstration against same-sex marriage.
King, 48, is expected to make a formal announcement about her resignation from New Birth Tuesday afternoon on the Atlanta gospel radio station Praise 102.5-FM. Given her reputation as a recluse who reveals very little about her personal life, all ears will be tuned to whatever she has to say.