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Tuesday, August 30, 2005                                                                                       View Comments

Charity Benefits Pastor, Founder

LITHONIA, Ga. (AP) -- The pastor of Georgia’s biggest megachurch was also the biggest beneficiary of the nonprofit religious charity he founded, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported.

Bishop Eddie Long Ministries, Inc. provided Long with more than three million dollars in salary and benefits between 1997 and 2000, including a one-point-four million dollar, 20 acre home and use of a 350-thousand dollar Bentley automobile.

Long has pastored New Birth Missionary Baptist Church since 1987 and started the now-defunct charity in 1995. During his 18-year tenure, the church has swelled from 300 members to 25 thousand.

The 52-year-old pastor says his church is an international corporation and that his congregation is inspired by his success. Critics say the benefits he received as an executive of the charity were excessive and in opposition to federal guidelines for such nonprofit groups.