It’s becoming an everyday thing now:
The 80-year-old leader of a suburban Atlanta megachurch is at the center of a sex scandal of biblical dimensions: He slept with his brother’s wife and fathered a child by her.
Members of Archbishop Earl Paulk’s family stood at the pulpit of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit at Chapel Hill Harvester Church a few Sundays ago and revealed the secret exposed by a recent court-ordered paternity test.
In truth, this is not the first — or even the second — sex scandal to engulf Paulk and the independent, charismatic church. But this time, he could be in trouble with the law for lying under oath about the affair.
Earl Paulk’s brother, Don, is a piece of work, too, and together it looks like they’ve been very naughty boys:
Today, though, membership is down to about 1,500, the church has 18 pastors, most of them volunteers, and the Bible college and TV ministry have shuttered — a downturn blamed largely on complaints about the alleged sexual transgressions of the elder Paulks.
In 1992, a church member claimed she was pressured into a sexual relationship with Don Paulk. Other women also claimed they had been coerced into sex with Earl Paulk and other members of the church’s administration.
The church countered with a $24 million libel suit against seven former church members. The lawsuit was later dropped.
Jan Royston, who left the church in 1992, started an online support group for former members to discuss their crushed faith and hurt feelings.
"This is a cult. And you escape from a cult," she said. "We all escaped."
A refreshing change though from other scandals — no homosexuality involved.