A Georgia minister tied to the radical Christian Reconstructionist movement has admitted he lied under oath about a sexual relationship he had with his brother’s wife.
Earl Paulk Jr., formerly pastor of Chapel Hill Harvester Church in Atlanta, testified during a legal proceeding that he did not have a sexual relationship with his brother’s wife, Clariece Paulk. But a court-ordered DNA test found that Paulk is the father of Clariece’s son, Donnie Earl Paulk. Donnie Earl Paulk, who now heads the church, grew up believing Earl Paulk was his uncle.
The DNA test results conflict with statements Earl Paulk made under oath in 2005 during a civil lawsuit filed by Bobby and Mona Brewer, leading the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to look into the possibility of perjury.
Mona Brewer claimed that Earl Paulk coerced her into a 14-year affair by convincing her that her salvation depended on having sex with him. Under oath during a deposition in the case, Paulk admitted to the affair with Brewer but insisted it was the only one he had had.
Paulk, 80, turned himself in to authorities in Cobb County Jan. 15 after a warrant was issued for his arrest. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 years of probation and fined $1,000.
This is not the first time Paulk has faced charges of sexual misconduct. In December, Paulk’s granddaughter, Penielle White, told an Atlanta television station that Paulk inappropriately touched her and a friend, Jessica Battle, years ago when the two were 8 years old.
Paulk denies the allegations, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted the claim is “the latest in years of allegations of sexual misconduct by Bishop Earl Paulk….” The newspaper also noted that Battle sued Paulk for molestation in 1991, claiming he fondled her and engaged in other sex acts. Paulk settled out of court with Battle in 2003.
Donnie Earl Paulk heads the church, now called the Cathedral at Chapel Hill. The church’s congregation was once over 10,000 members and included a TV ministry. It has since fallen to below 2,000 members.
Earl Paulk’s ties to the Reconstructionists came through an Atlanta minister named Joseph Morecraft. In 1988, Morecraft told Church & State that he hoped to bring the Recontructionists’ ultra-Calvinist views into Pentecostal churches through Paulk, who was then prominent in a movement called “Kingdom Theology.”
Kingdom Theology teaches that believers should “take dominion” over human institutions, including government, and establish an “immortal” church before Christ’s return.
Earl Paulk’s involvement with the Reconstructionists was unusual, because most adherents of that philosophy scorn charismatic worship practices. Nevertheless, Paulk gave a forum to Gary North and other Reconstructionists over the years.
Given his recent troubles, Paulk’s decision to align with the Reconstructionists may not have been the best idea. Reconstructionists believe in applying the Old Testament legal code to modern society. In their view, adultery and “unchastity” are serious offenses. The punishment, some say, is death by stoning.