I’m not usually inclined to further gossip and stories that tend to be blown out of proportion, but I found a story on MSNBC to be relevant to the topic to the focus of this blog. That article, Megachurch leader in mega-sized sex scandal, provides details about another church-related scandal:
DECATUR, Ga. – 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.
I’m guessing that most people won’t be shocked by this (I’m certainly not). However, it makes me wonder: If these religious “leaders” really believed in anything that they preached, wouldn’t they be less likely to commit these kind of offenses? We have some of the richest organizations in the world that claim to be devoted to religion. They don’t have to pay taxes and, in many cases, don’t even have to report where their money goes. The leaders of these rackets have been found hiring prostitutes, covering up organized pedophilia, and so many other bizarre acts that a complete account would be even wackier than most of the stories in the Bible. Still, this doesn’t seem to hurt their popularity all that much. Here’s more from the article:
At its peak in the early 1990s, it claimed about 10,000 members and 24 pastors and was a media powerhouse. By soliciting tithes of 10 percent from each member’s income, the church was able to build a Bible college, two schools, a worldwide TV ministry and a $12 million sanctuary the size of a fortress.
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.
My theory: Much of what religions state as “good” from a moral or behavioral standpoint are flat-out contradictory to human nature. From the promotion of abstinence-only programs to general sexual repression, it’s really no surprise that religious people run into these types of problems. What is (or at least should be) surprising, is that no one ever seems to learn from these failures.
Despite the fact that there’s no verifiable evidence of miracles, Hell, or events in religious texts, people still follow these teachings. It does seem consistent with the nature of religious belief. Many people I’ve talked to feel that facts and evidence are only useful if they agree with their preconceptions and prejudices. I’d like to think that some good might come from this latest “scandal”, but I doubt it will have any effect on the typical religious mind.