Church Hurt - Has it happened to you?

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Principessa, Nov 24, 2007.

  1. Principessa

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    My cousin describes church hurt as what happens when as a believer in your chosen faith, something happens within the church to shake and/or destroy your faith. For the sake of clarity, I should explain that it is usually the people within the church that cause the deepest pain and not the denomination itself. Though it can sometimes be a combination of both.




    Sex Scandal Hits Atlanta Megachurch

    Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2007 By AP/DORIE TURNER

    (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.

    The living proof of that lie is 34-year-old D.E. Paulk, who for years was known publicly as Earl Paulk's nephew.

    "I am so very sorry for the collateral damage it's caused our family and the families hurt by the removing of the veil that hid our humanity and our sinfulness," said D.E. Paulk, who received the mantle of head pastor a year and a half ago.

    D.E. Paulk said he did not learn the secret of his parentage until the paternity test. "I was disappointed, and I was surprised," he said. Earl Paulk, his brother, Don, and his sister-in-law, Clariece, did not return calls for comment.

    A judge ordered the test at the request of the Cobb County district attorney's office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which are investigating Earl Paulk for possible perjury and false-swearing charges stemming from a lawsuit.
    The archbishop, his brother and the church are being sued by former church employee Mona Brewer, who says Earl Paulk manipulated her into an affair from 1989 to 2003 by telling her it was her only path to salvation. Earl Paulk admitted to the affair in front of the church last January.

    In a 2006 deposition stemming from the lawsuit, the archbishop said under oath that the only woman he had ever had sex with outside of his marriage was Brewer. But the paternity test said otherwise.

    So far no charges have been filed against Earl Paulk. District Attorney Pat Head and GBI spokesman John Bankhead would not comment.

    The shocking results of the paternity test are speeding up a transformation already under way in the church after more than a decade of sex scandals and lawsuits involving the Paulks, D.E. Paulk said.

    "It was a necessary evil to bring us back to a God-consciousness," said the younger Paulk, explaining that the church had become too personality-driven and prone to pastor worship.

    The flashy megachurch began in 1960 with just a few dozen members in the Little Five Points neighborhood of Atlanta. Now, it is in the suburbs on a 100-acre expanse, a collection of buildings surrounding a neo-Gothic cathedral.

    For years the church was at the forefront of many social movements — admitting black members in the 1960s, ordaining women and opening its doors to gays.

    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. 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."
    These days, Earl Paulk has a much-reduced role at the cathedral, giving 10-minute lectures as part of Sunday morning worship each week.

    "My uncle is 100 percent guilty, but his accusers are guilty as well," D.E. Paulk said, declining to talk further about the lawsuits.



     
  2. prince_will

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    it does happen...i've never really felt it, but i can imagine the horrible pain it must be to lose faith in something you so devoutly believed in. i know that there was this big scandal a while back where a bishop molested a girl, and even though there was glaring evidence, the members of the church branded the girl, a liar. during the trial, they tried to attack her and intimidate her so she couldn't testify...i'm sure she felt "church hurt".
     
  3. SpeedoGuy

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    Its not Christ that turns me off to regular worship. Its Christians.
     
  4. jason_els

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    I do not understand these megachurches. They give me the creeps. Too much money, too many fiscal questions, too many scandals. I'd feel lost, one of thousands; just another person passing through the gates of Disneygodland.

    As to the original question, yes and then just recently.

    I was raised without any sort of religion and my parents are Unitarians, but my grandmother and the rest of my family attended the Dutch Reformed Church here in town. My family's gone there for ages and when people need to be married or buried, the services are at that church. It's not a large church but one might say it's rather well-to-do. I used to go to Sunday school and, when that bored me, I joined the adult study group at 13 where I had some truly great discussions. I even served one year as an acolyte and I enjoyed it. Confirmation was out as I had no desire to join the church but nor could I get anyone to tell me just what the exact beliefs of the church were. Now I know better (it's Calvinist), but only because of my own research.

    While I had no desire to join the church, it was nice for Christmas or Easter and the aforementioned family things. Most importantly it has great L.C. Tiffany windows and the best organ in town. Then I found myself doing some research last week and I came across something that really did hurt me in a way I hadn't expected:

    So basically they're saying that they feel sorry for gays, feel they should be respected in every way other than their sexuality, and that they want to find ways to reach gay people to show them the error of their ways in the kindest manner possible.

    How sweet of them to care!

    Right now I don't know what to think or do. I don't want to attend services there of any sort including weddings or funerals but I feel an obligation to attend for the sake of my family during such times. Do I stick with principle or family? Both are important to me. I go into Catholic churches regularly, even St. Peter's, but I don't attend services in them. I'm at a bit of a loss as to what choice to make.
     
  5. Principessa

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    Grrrr, that kind of thing pisses me off! I wish it were rare but it's not. :mad:


    When I lived in Mass I worked with 2 fundamentalist christians who were truly looney tunes and sometimes down right evil. I coined a phrase as a result of a run in with one of them. "Never turn your back on someone who tells you they are a Christian! They will stab you in the back everytime."


    Sounds to me like you are having the same crisis of faith one of my friends had when he came out in his mid-20's. There is no perfect religion. The only thing I can tell you is to do some research and pick the one that offends you the least.:redface: That's a sucky answer; but it's the only one I have got.
     
  6. prince_will

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  7. Principessa

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  8. prince_will

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  9. jason_els

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    Actually they aren't Presbyterian. It's the Reformed Church of America, formerly the Dutch Reformed Church. While the beliefs are similar, they have never been affiliated.

    I don't think it's necessarily rude though it is selfish. It is also selfish of other people to tell me who I can sleep with and marry. These people stuck their nose in my sexuality. I didn't ask a thing about theirs and nor do I care. If it's an issue it's because they made it one.

    I've always leaned Unitarian anyway. Praying, "To Whom It May Concern," has a certain wry humor to it.

    You may be surprised by the number of churches that don't have issues with homosexuality. It's not the Episcopal church.
     
  10. Drifterwood

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    I can echo this sentiment. The two most inhuman people that I have ever known have been in your face christians. It is the deliberate abuse of the image of christians being good people that I find so shocking.
     
  11. BigDuder

    BigDuder New Member

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    when i found out god didnt exist it hurt my church beliefs
     
  12. Principessa

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    Their polity is listed as Presbyterian, hence my error.
    Ecclesiastical polity is the operational and governance structure of a church or Christian denomination. It also denotes the ministerial structure of the church and the authority relationships between churches. Polity is closely related to Ecclesiology, the study of doctrine and theology relating to church organization.
    Well enlighten us then . . . .
     
  13. Northland

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    More than 30 years ago I left the church. My faith as such was not at any point in question; what happened was how the church itself conducted business. Perhaps the fact that it was in some form a business explains where some of the difficulty lived. At the time of my withdrawing membership, they were heavily into recruiting as many souls as possible. That alone would not have been an issue I suppose. My issues arose when the Pastor's wife fired Sunday School teachers for not doing things the way she wanted them to be done. Adding to this, was a congregation and its various committees which refused to stand up to her and reinstate the persons who had been terminated- during Sunday School sessions, in front of children as young as 3 years of age who were understandably in tears at what they were seeing happen.

    Added to this was the church acting high and mighty. It was an unspoken statement by the majority of the church elders that our religion was better than the others. Strange- to me, it seemed all of the other Protestant religions were along the same pathway. They appeared to be in the business of leading us to Jesus and to God, all the while teaching us to love one another and to do no harm. The basic tenets of the Baptist, Methodist and Presbys was the same.

    Then came the choir fiasco! Church members becoming irate that the Pastor and his wife did not force their daughter to be part of the choir. (I myself was just surprised that they didn't force her, considering their usual behavior.) It never had dawned on me that religion and participation in certain areas was to be a requirement. At that point, I had had enough, submitted my letter of resignation and left. It took them 25 years to accept my resignation; and, if not for the death of my mother (who was a long time member), I doubt that it would have happened even yet.

    This does not mean I am against religion or churches in general. I believe that many of them are wonderful places and are held together by sincere individuals. Additionally, the church and its teachings have given many solace and taught many the difference between right and wrong.

    So, in the long run, I did suffer from a temporary church hurt; however I did not stay there for long and instead chose to embrace the good things which they had given to me- either freely or with some expected goal of their own. My existance, I believe, has been much more peaceful and caring than it would have been without the basic foundation which my life has been building upon ever since I first heard the words of Pastors Dale and Sparkman. My faith has at times been shaken; never though, completely demolished.
     
  14. dong20

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    I never had any faith to lose or be shaken. At least none of a religious nature.

    Putting this in basic and rather general terms; collectively, and speaking only for myself I think religion too often leads to uneccessary misery in many from the misguided application of faith by its more zealous adherents. I think religion is too often used by its 'management' as a convenient cover for a wide selection of heinous acts of a political, moral or fiscal nature (or frequently, all three) to merit much respect.

    On an individual level, however, many religions are deserving of great respect; for the actions actions of some of their followers, and no I don't believe that necessarily validates the faith that drove them.

    I respect the right of anyone to follow whatever religion they choose, until that leads to them to commits acts that are (by any modern measure) immoral or, as is often the case plain criminal. I only wish more of those with 'faith' would have equal regard to others. I wish they would see that is in fact neither their duty to 'save the souls' of non believers, neither is it welcomed by those on the receiving end of such selfish behaviour, for that's what it is, even if thought by them to be well intentioned.

    History (and the divisions in contemporary society) will surely bear me out on the consequences of such disgregard.
     
  15. B_tallbig

    B_tallbig New Member

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    People should live their life accepting it as it is without believing in imaginary things.
     
  16. prepstudinsc

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    The church is not a place for perfection, it is made up of imperfect people striving to be made whole. In many "megachurches", the Pastor is seen as God and the people treat him as if he's God--that's why pastors of these churches are seen in Roll-Royces, Bentleys, etc., and have multi-million dollar mansions, yet many of the church members are barely scraping by. A Pastor is not God and can never be God. He (or she) is human, with all the same flaws as the rest of us. Many people get into the ministry because it's supposedly an easy job, it gies you lots of fame, and can pay well. The difference is when people are truly called to the ministry and when they do it because there is nothing else for them to do. As long as churches are run by humans, they will be places will flaws. Ministers and church staff members need to try to hold themselves accountable to a higher standard, because we are supposed to be living examples of how Christ would have us be. If the church staff can't do it, how can we expect anyone in the congregation to try to do so?

    Christians are often the first to kick their own when they are down because it's easy to make judgements, but the Bible says we're not to judge--that is only for God. It's much harder to help those in need. It's harder to live right in a world full of temptation. It's harder to keep your head up when you're being attacked for no reason. When you do the right thing, though, the rewards are so much greater and everlasting.
     
  17. naughty

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    Workin&#039; up a good pot of mad!
    This may help in explaining the term "Reformed".The “Reformed”name refers to adherence to the biblical principles set down by the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. Our spiritual fathers include Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Knox.

    I am a member of the Presbyterian Church in America. This is the more conservative Southern branch of the Presbyterian Church. The home of the United Presbyterian Church was very near to Asheville, NC. We left them in the late 70's to join the Reformed Presbyterian Church and later the PCA.

    Though many associate Reformed with the idea of Scotch Presbyterianism the doctrine was preached in many countries. The "Puritans" went to Holland in order to worship this form of religion unhampered. The UNited States government is in many ways based on the Presbyterian form of Church government. Like our goverment it has three branches which serve to balance the power within the church at large and within local congregations .We have had three pastors in the last ten years resign because they had grown up under other forms of church government and upon realizing that the Session or church elders could override the pastor's decisions they were to say the very least uncomfortable.
     
  18. mountedarcher

    mountedarcher New Member

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    hmmm church hurt........you mean like the crusades????
     
  19. SpeedoGuy

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    When I was a child going to Mass regularly in the late 1960s we'd often sing a song with a phrase that included the words "They Will Know We are Christians by our Love." At the time I thought it a fitting and appropriate song to match our committment to Christ's teachings of brotherhood and self sacrifice. The song assured me I could always easily recognize Christians by their love and I believed it.

    Now, 35 years later, whenever someone makes a point of identifying themself as a Christian my defenses immediately go up and the armor goes on. Mentally I jump into a combat posture and I brace myself for whatever conflict and acrimony they're likely to heap on me: judgements, patronizing self-righteousness, intolerance, sarcastic editorial comments, smug superiority, etc. Just about everything except love.

    Few Christians seem to realize how much their behavior sets back the cause of Christ. Sad.
     
  20. naughty

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    To put this into perspectives, My mother always lets me know that Christians are just sinners who are (hopefully) saved by grace. One thing I realize is that often when one is looking at someone who identifies themselves as Christian but exudes offensive behavior , this is someone who is still in the state of transformation. In fact we all are. As long as humans are human they are going to try to find ways to tailor any religion or belief in a higher power into something or someone who works for them.
     
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