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Bishop Eddie Long, his face glistening with sweat, paces onstage before his cheering congregation.

He’s preaching about the Bible, the role of a preacher, and “fresh sperm.”

“The word of God is potent. The word of God is His sperm,” Long thunders. “The job of the preacher is to bring fresh sperm and when he speaks it, the womb — the church — is to take it in and say, ‘Sho’ you’re right.’ ”

The video of that sermon, delivered during the early days of Long’s ministry in the 1990s, has gone viral. And now it is being discussed in the context of four lawsuits that claim the 57-year-old Long used his spiritual authority to coerce four young men into sexual relationships with him.

Long has denied the allegations, characterizing them as assaults against him and New Birth Missionary Church, his 25,000 member megachurch in suburban Atlanta, Georgia.

Since his denial, Long has stopped talking publicly about the allegations. Yet debate about the scandal persists. Many people are trying to figure out: Who is Long? And what are his beliefs?

Long has already provided some of those answers, in his sermons and books. For the last three decades, he has publicly preached and written about some of the same issues raised in the lawsuits: homosexuality, his relationship with men, and his style of leadership at New Birth.

Art Franklin, a New Birth spokesman, did not return calls requesting an interview with Long.

In earlier sermons and books, though, Long has been open about his stance on an array of controversial topics.

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