Bishop Earl Paulk:

A face only a jail... eh, mother could love.

A face only a jail... eh, mother could love.

Here’s the million-dollar question: What’s his legacy?

Is he a remarkable man whose ministry began at the age of 17 and spawned a megachurch amidst urban sprawl in Atlanta, seen by millions on TBN and attended by tens of thousands?

Or, is he an octogenarian debauchee whose reputation for getting handsy since the 60s (allegedly), has countless cases against for sexual harassment and allowed his son believe he was his nephew for more than 30 years?!

Either way, he’s notable, that’s for certain. But, is that a good thing?!

Don Paulk, a retired minister [and his brother, but more about that later] at the Cathedral, said he hoped people would remember Earl for his good works and forgive the scandals. “Preachers are just like anyone else — they’re a man,” he said.

Yes, “they are a man” [bad grammar alert, but hey, he’s a preacher so cut him some slack].

BUT… do they have to lie under oath about being an unscrupulous perv, practice “laying on of hands” to his choir leaders and see his megachurch attendance go from 12,000 to less than 1,000 in months as a result of your deceit?!

I can’t say I was ever a fan, but when you have a national ministry like his was, and an apparent anointing like he did, you should appreciate the mantle God placed upon him… despite the trophies of debauchery, aberration and prevarication he laid proudly on that joker.

That said, what does it say about a man who in a matter of mere months sold his church for $24 million, plead guilty for lying under oath – you know, as in laid a hand on the bible he was supposed to be so familiar – and then died practically alone, ridden with cancer, hand-in-hand with the brother whose son was actually his (yeah, I just can’t get past that part)?

As recently noted in CNN from Paulk’s real nephew:

“As most of you know, my family has been walking through a very long nightmare season in connection with things concerning him,” [said nephew, Bishop Jim] Swilley wrote in his blog post. “Please pray for some much needed healing and closure for us all.”

Prayers won’t do Paulk any good. And although I’m sure he’s hanging with Jesus right now, many people are thinking with their carnal hat and considering the other path for good ol’ Pauley Paulk.

Again, what does that say about his legacy? I once heard a pastor say, “Live as if the town gossip lives with you.”

That mentality creates accountability. And accountability breeds integrity. The thing of which it seems Earl lacked more than parishoners. The thing that should be never be said of anyone who goes by the title “Bishop”, much less “man of God.”

His legacy, you ask? Perhaps quoting a preacher with a little less more luggage than what the Beverly Hillbillies trotted over to the Hollywood Hills would be appropriate as an epitaph:

Our days are numbered. One of the primary goals in our lives should be to prepare for our last day. The legacy we leave is not just in our possessions, but in the quality of our lives. What preparations should we be making now? The greatest waste in all of our earth, which cannot be recycled or reclaimed, is our waste of the time that God has given us each day.

Rev. Dr. Billy Graham

Godspeed, Earl. Some say you will need it to outrun the demons who will be chasing you down.

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Comments
  1. mainliner says:

    To Free and Azalea, The Paulks are a sick and manipulative bunch, a disgrace to the Body of Christ. Everything you said about them is true. However, I have not experienced all churches and ministers the same. I cannot paint them all with the Paulk brush. I have met wicked shepherds and churches which fail to love along the way. However, I have also experienced humble servants of God who imitate Christ and live the cruciform life. I have also participated in communities of faith that shared graciously with one another in exemplary ways.

    I do not believe in granting ultimate loyalty to any person or to anything but God. To offer ultimate loyalty to any persons or to any institution is idolatrous. Though the church too often serves to insulate one from God, as did CHHC/Cathedral, some communities of faith have been exemplary in their faith, hope, and love. I cannot grant the Paulks the power to color all Christians and ministers in a bad light for me. They certainly cannot seperate me from the love of God in Christ. Nothing can.

  2. mainliner says:

    I am friends with many former CHHC/Cathedral members who left church disheartened, their faith destroyed, and their trust in ministers shattered. For many the spiritual damage is irreparable. The Paulk ministry legacy is one of spiritual destruction. Somewhere Jesus uttered words of sober warning to any leader who causes “one of these little ones to sin”. I believe that was the passage where Jesus recommended that it would have “been better had they fastened a milestone around their neck and been drowned in the sea.” Those are perhaps the harshest words ever spoken by Jesus.

    What I have observed is that the Paulks owned and operated a family business they called “church”. Paulk replaced loyalty to Jesus Christ with loyalty to himself. Earl Paulk schooled the CHHC/ Cathedral sheeple in his mantra, “The Kingdom of God is built on trust.” It translated into trust in Earl and his spiritual authority, not trust in God. This subtle shift in the object of faith meant that people placed their trust in a very arrogant and insecure man who lied to them, covered up his wrongdoings, vilified and sued the victims and abused the sheeple for so decades. Few questioned his wicked tactics as they simple “trusted God’s anointed man of the hour”. This all was a clear departure from Christianity and a very different gospel than the one taught and exemplified by Jesus.

    The spiritual fallout has been for many a wholesale exodus not only from CHHC/Cathedral but also they are a repulsed by any church and even from the name of Jesus Christ. Earl claimed to preached and prophesy in his name but he was surely a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a false prophet who tore the sheep. Jesus warned of those who preach prophesy and cast out devils in his name but he never knew them. Earl was no great man of God who simply made a mistake. Don disingenuously castigates the people for placing Earl on the pedestal. He chides people for not understanding that we live in the “real world”. He scolds that people just don’t understand and that these were “real men who faced temptations like everyone else.” That has long been the Paulk MO: Blame the victims and deflect the responsibility. No one doubts that these are real men. No one held Earl and Don to unrealistic standards and were disappointed that they failed to meet their high expectations. These brothers exemplify the infiltrators of Jude 12-13: “These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.”

  3. Azalea says:

    you know, free, the paulks helped me see the light too….the fact that the church is no place that i ever want to be. ever. i have not willingly set foot in a church since 1992. i saw the light that “men of god” cannot be trusted. i am a hard sell and heaven help anyone who wants me to buy their encyclopedias. i do not give money to churches or religious organizations of any type, and i will not. i do not trust that my money would not be spent on abortions, new cars, condos on the beach and putting their mistresses in penthouses, like the paulks did. i gained suspicion, mistrust, and cynicism. these are life lessons that have served me well in my years since leaving the paulk’s church. i am a changed person! by all means, thank you earl for the rich legacy you left behind!

  4. Azalea says:

    kwazi, no one will “enjoy” don’s book. i have read his previous books and he’s just not that good a writer. moreover, we know don all too well to be entertained by his spin on things. earl and don paulk are about the evilest, most vile creatures imaginable, and now don is trying to make money off it. you said on the youtube site that this was not an autobiography on don’s part; well, i beg to differ. his book is about a pastor having an affair with a church secretary and the aftermath. kwazi, you do know that this is what don did and got nailed for in 1991 and 1992, don’t you? don didn’t mention this but his own affair was what started the whole house of cards crumbling at CHHC. i was there when 4000 people left the paulk’s church in 1 day. furthermore, kwazi, if i paid you $3000 to represent me, i would hope you would give me more PR than to post a poorly made video of my hawking my own book on free websites. i’m just sayin’.

  5. Free says:

    This family helped me and 1000’s of others to see the light. Today’s christianity is a pathetic and minipulative game, often with tragic results for those foolish enough to play. The paulks are very sick people

  6. mainliner says:

    To Kwazi
    The book could not possibly be “based on the whole ordeal”. Remember, “it is not autobiography”. The whole ordeal would read more like an account of the activities of a Jim Jones cult leader. I am quite sure that the book is not an account of a sexual predatory leader who operated for decades abusing the flock.

  7. mainliner says:

    Hischrivener,
    I hope people will watch the video clip. For those who know the truth of the Paulks spiritual abuse of their flock the video is pure Monty-Pythonesque. I hope people will read the comments mostly from former CHHC/Cathedral surviviors. Don mistakenly believes that people do not realize that these high profile ministers are “real men living in the real world”. This completely skirts the issue of the enormity of the abuse and damage inflicted by the brothers Paulk over decades. Talk to real “scandal surviviors” about that ,not to the unrepentant predators. Why neither Paulk brother could not find it in their hearts to admit they ever did anything wrong and issue an apology is beyond me. Taking advise from Don would be like taking hints from Bernie Madoff on business savy. Character matters.

  8. mainliner says:

    In the video clip Don implies that people dont know that we live in the real world & fallen leaders are real men who suffer temptation and make mistakes. A minister who commits a sin, should feel remorse, admit the sin, apologize to those hurt and accepts the pastoral discipline of the church; he or she may be restored in time depending on the gravity of the offence. The Paulk brothers omitted all these practices of repentance to keep the “family business” going. Don wants to instruct others? Physician, heal thyself!

  9. kwazi says:

    Hi Everyone

    You’d be happy to learn that his brother Don Paulk just published a book called “A night in Gaza” a novel based roughly on the whole ordeal.

    his interview is posted on

    You’d enjoy it!

    • hiscrivener says:

      You know, I’ll let you have this. I understand this was a subtle attempt at PR, with your link directly to Don’s site and your e-mail “jdbakerPR.com.” I’m sure the book will be interesting, from his point of view and all.

      If the book does well, I hope he understands the pain and the misery that Earl boy caused so many people. Although no amount of PR will help that, maybe a book will help.

  10. greetings , we need more present truth teachings to advance his kingdom ,so please send us many teachings to proclame his toughth in this present time.
    blessed!

  11. I wonder if Jeff would spin things in such a sunny light if it was his friend, his daughter, his wife or his mother who fell prey to the predator. I wonder.

  12. HiScrivener,
    Earl was a legend in his own mind and apparently in Jeff’s mind, too. However, EP’s shenanigans are already well known. In the following days and months, more will become clear. Many whom EP hurt, lied about, vilified, sued and cursed will listen to the revision of history spun by the Cathedral bunch. They will find their voice. They will watch the crass way the Cathedral bunch will exploit EP’s death to get money (through the sell of tapes and books, establish memorial funds, etc.). These victims and former followers of Paulk will tell their stories.

    It would prove wiser for the Paulk family to keep quiet and try to weather this with as little public exposure as possible. After all, they already have Jeff doing the whitewash job for them. Jeff busies himself placing his “Tribute” to Earl Paulk on the YouTube and in many venues trying to rehabilitate the reputation of a man who stands under God’s judgment. When he writes, “One of History’s great men of God has passed away; Bishop Earl Paulk went home to be with the Lord during the evening of March 29, 2009. Countless thousands and millions by extension throughout the earth have been touched by the positive message of the Gospel of the Kingdom,” I have to chuckle. A great man of God in history? C’mon. EP made a mess of things.

    Meanwhile, the Cathedral itself is imploding, drifting into the new “Gospel of inclusivity”. Whatever Kingdom message Earl Paulk preached they have certainly abandoned whatever of Christ remained in the preaching of Earl for another gospel. Come to think of it, I can’t recall that much mention of Jesus Christ in the preaching of Earl. His message was mostly about spiritual authority…his.

    DEP leads the sheeple into that broad path where the scripture comes true, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” 2 Timothy 2:3-4 I wish it was not true. With EP’s death, they have a chance to return to basic Christianity and follow Jesus again. However, it appears that the direction has been set. Too many people depended on EP’s “covering” to now come forward and come clean. They remain under his thrall and will it that way. As the Apostle stated that some people “…perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness”.2 Thessalonians 2:11-12

  13. euclid ave says:

    Earl left a legacy, but not the kind that he and his friends with rose-colored glasses thought he was leaving.

    [1] His “Kingdom Theology” was merely recycled garbage and heresy from generations ago. It was neither original thought nor sound doctrine.

    [2] His “battles with the flesh” were not a lifestyle to be proud of nor was it a lifestyle that set a proper example of how to minister to someone. I certainly wouldn’t want my sons to take from his example that it is OK to molest women and girls. And I wouldn’t want my daughters to get the message that it is OK to allow a minister to molest them just because he says it’s God’s will and is not a sin.

    [3] He made his choices knowing full well what the potential consequences could be. He studied the Bible and went to seminary. so in no way does this compare to the un-churched or layperson’s knowledge concerning God, Jesus, and biblical concepts. To whom much is given, much is required.

    [4] The legacy he will be remembered for, unfortunately [because he could have turned things around, repented, made amends, etc. but he chose not to] is the sexual perversion, molestation, lying, and manipulation that was pervasive in his ministry as well as in his personal life. He deserves no pedestal or medal for shame and disgrace.

  14. I wanted to post the above message on Jeff Nix’s blog where he gave the undeserved “tribute” to Earl Paulk. However, Jeff screens out the posts with which he disagrees to silence those who know the truth about that wicked man. It is not time to whitewash the legacy. It is time to offer healing for the many whom that man affected negatively. We can begin by ackowledging the enourmous damage inflicted by Earl Paulk. The broken marriages, damaged lives and spiritual devastation caused by that one man’s “kingdom message” and his deviant lifestyle are enormous. I would love for Jeff to explain what the message that Earl Paulk purportedly brought into “mainstream Chrisianity” was. The Kingdom Theology, as taught by Paulk, was mostly a polemic advocating his personal and unquestioned “spiritual authority”. This led to the abuses of authority which cost him the majority of his congregation. He was able to use the unfortunate slogan, “The kingdom is built in trust” to hoodwink his benighted followers into trusting that what he said and did was right and true and good. He vilified his victims and detractors. He threatened folk with his thundering “Touch not God’s anointed and do his prophets no harm” to foil any question or accusation against him. It worked for years and kept the poor sheeple cowed and submissive. The ones who saw this form of social manipulation for what it was he castigated and cursed. However, the truth began to leak out everywhere. I am sorry for this man, for his arrogance and stubborness. But why grieve long over Saul? He is gone and God will be his judge. With you “hiscrivener” I am not sure where he is, but I pray for God’s mercy on his soul. I wish that he had found it in his heart to offer an apology to the many he hurt, who found it necessary to flee the so called “City of Refuge” to find a more gracious shore. I hope that he confessed his sins to God and made it right before leaving this earthly coil.

  15. Jeffery Nix’s tribute to Bishop Earl P. Paulk is calm, irenic, and delivered in a tone of reverence. I am sure Jeffery is sincere in his desire to honor Earl Paulk. However, I must disagree with most of what he stated. Jeffery is sadly misinformed.

    Earl Paulk was not “a man after God’s own heart”. The biblical writers used that phrase of King David. David did heinous things but he confessed and repented. He acknowledged his sin openly (Psalm 51). Was that the attitude of Earl Paulk? From my recollection, EP blamed and vilified the victims up to the time of his death. He sued them on several occasions. He denied his sins. He placed to onus on the very ones with whom he committed adultery. He perjured himself in a court of law denying his wrongdoing and vilifying one of his victims.

    His lackeys and his lieutenants continue the lies and cover-ups even after his death. Earl Paulk committed similar same sins in Hemphill CoG and at CHHC. His nefarious activities include adultery with multiple women, one being his brother’s wife, perjury, pedophilia, lying publicly from the pulpit, shady dealing with the money of the church and perpetration of false doctrine.

    Jeffery would have us believe that Earl Paulk was a man who struggled with his morals but had a sound and helpful message to offer the world. That too, is incorrect. The “Kingdom Now Theology” as perpetrated by Earl Paulk was not a great message that he released to the mainline churches. His was a message that focused for over a decade on Earl Paulk’s personal spiritual authority. That authority he abused to an amazing degree. It led to his concept of “Kingdom relationships”, the very means by which he justified his sexual indiscretions. He held cult-like power over several women (eight came forward and testified to this!).

    Those who attended the church during that time can witness to the sheer volume of concentration on authority in his preaching. Spiritual authority translated to mean Earl Paulk’s authority. He used this teaching to act willfully without challenge. How often he quoted “Touch not mine anointed and do my prophets no harm” to instill fear in the hearers and foil any challenges to the direction he wished to take the church. He used his female consort as his “chief discerner” to pave the way for him. If someone disagreed or took issue with him, she would “discern” an evil spirit in that person to discredit them publicly. It was a crass form of spiritual manipulation and social control. Is that the work of a man after God’s own heart?

    CHHC/ Cathedral was/is a family owned and operated business. The people had no say in the matters financial. They gave and gave and gave as the Paulk family squandered their sacrificial oblations. This was the fruit of Earl Paulk’s Kingdom message. It would not surprise me if that clan passes the offering plates at EP’s funeral. They already are trying to spin the facts and turn him into a demigod.

    Notice how he groomed and handpicked his own nephew (who is his son) to succeed him as senior pastor. When Donnie earl Paulk took the reigns of power, he fired Earl Paulk’s most zealous defenders and disciples who were not family members. So much for their mindless loyalty, I suppose.

    Earl Paulk fits the profile, not of a man of God, but of a false prophet. His fruit was bad. The devastated lives and lost faith in young believers leads me to recall the terrible words of Jesus about those who cause little ones to sin. There was something in that passage about a millstone if memory serves. His teaching was perverse. The books, written mostly by his ghostwriters, contained many theological and ethical errors that need correcting. He did not leave behind a legacy of a great message. He left behind spiritually devastated Christians and many who gave up on the Christian faith altogether. I would like someone, anyone, who sat under his ministry to explain what his message really was. What unique thing did he bring to the table that has not been within the greater church for 2,000 years?

    Earl Paulk did leave something good behind. He left three daughters who were strong enough to walk away years ago heartbroken and torn. They saw the error of their father and in act of enormous courage and great cost to themselves withstood him and his Discerner. My heart goes out to the two remaining Paulk girls (as Becky has already departed to her God). Though they stood against Earl Paulk and bore the brunt of his lies and denunciations, they still lost a father and that must be exquisitely painful. My prayers are for them.

    • hiscrivener says:

      Kim,

      Nice summation of the man and his ministry. Paulk took the road most traveled by so many others in televangelical circles – he began as a man destined to impact Christianity, but then began to realize how the theocracy he promulgated was actually the autocracy he craved. His handsy self completely took the shovel and buried the godly self years ago. Jeff may want to eulogize Paulk, but I don’t think many people will be at that funeral.

      Thanks again.

      Peace,
      HiScrivener

  16. […] some-more here: Earl Paulk R.I.P., Where he goes, does any one know? « The Writing … Share and […]

  17. jeff Nix says:

    Earl Pearly Paulk Jr. May 30,1927 – March 29, 2009

    One of History’s great men of God has passed away; Bishop Earl Paulk went home to be with the Lord during the evening of March 29, 2009. Countless thousands and millions by extension throughout the earth have been touched by the positive message of the Gospel of the Kingdom. This powerful message for our times was also carried by many others who followed their own high calling but the Gospel of the Kingdom was delivered to the Christian mainstream by Bishop Paulk. Though this Biblical message of God’s rule in human hearts didn’t originate with him, his dynamic preaching and teaching brought relevancy and clarity to the Christian church in the late 20th century.

    Doubtless a man after God’s own heart, it’s without question that Bishop Paulk struggled with areas of his humanity as do so many of us who must balance life in the flesh with our spiritual inner man, confined to this earthen realm. Personal failures among mankind notwithstanding, the callings of God are without repentance and God continues to use those faithful to the call that he places in their life, and such was God’s call on the life of our dear Bishop.

    While unfortunate, it is also understandable that the human condition compels us to castigate in the light of impropriety’s discovery. Even so, the media outlets have announced Bishop’s passing, not with the recognition of his life’s work but rather the litany of accusation ascribed against him during his later years. The unbelieving world and those blinded to God’s goodness suffer greatly with the lack of understanding. As Christians, we however see and perceive the treasure of God’s deposit in the life of his called. As Jeremiah 15:19 tells us; If you can but extract the precious from the worthless then you will be my spokesman.

    As Christians serving the same God as did Bishop Paulk, we are admonished to uphold those in authority, spiritual and otherwise and to recognize the ministry, not the man. To share in his vision, not his plight. To view the role of the man as representative of God’s kind intention to the world. The message of God’s Kingdom is the key – not the frailty or the weakness of its messengers. The message endures and continues to touch the four corners of a dying world after the transgressions of God’s servant is all but forgotten.

    Many of you reading this tribute have been personally touched and perhaps even spiritually established through the life’s work and ministry of Bishop Earl Paulk. Regardless of personal life, he was the door through which many received God’s salvation. His was the vision that carried God’s Kingdom awareness to the world. It is therefore a credit to us individually and as a community of believers, united in God’s love to remember as 2 Corinthians 4:7 says: God’s precious deposit, or treasure lives in earthen vessels that the greatness may be of the power of God and that not of ourselves.

    Spiritual History will be kind to God’s message of the kingdom. This message as delivered through Bishop Earl Paulk has been recorded in both books and sermons for the past several decades. Thanks largely to the visionary calling of Donnie & Gina Harris, the durable preservation of the Bishop’s body of work on the Kingdom will be established at BishopEarlPaulk.net even now as we celebrate the life, the ministry, and home going of Bishop Earl Paulk.

    Jeff Nix 3/29/2009

    jeffnix@gmail.com – 678-776-8861

  18. […] some-more from a strange source: Earl Paulk R.I.P., Where he goes, does any one know? « The Writing … Share and […]

  19. […] Earl Paulk R.I.P., Where he goes, does anyone know? « The Writing on the Wall Pingback on Mar 29th, 2009 at 9:56 pm […]

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