Saturday, August 22, 2015

Religious Scam Artists

Franklin Graham: con artist and modern day Pharisee
A piece in the Kansas City Star looks at the obscene salary of anti-gay bigot Franklin Graham - who has parlayed his fathers fame into a truly lucrative gig - and other leaders of so-called Christian charities.  The take away is that for those who have no real skills, waving a Bible around, manufacturing "threats" to the family and civilization, marketing hate, and duping the ignorant and gullible can make for a very, very good living.  In almost any realm other than religion, many of these folks would be seen for what they are - con artists and parasites living off of others.  Note that is what I refer to as the "professional Christin" crowd that is raking in the big bucks compared to many pastors who make paltry amounts in comparison.  These professional Christians obviously have forgotten the parable about selling all of one's belongings and following Christ's Gospel message.  And yes, thanks to undeserved tax-exempt status that many of these "charities" hold, all of us are indirectly subsidizing these obscene salaries.  Here are some story highlights:
Franklin Graham’s annual compensation of $880,000, revealed in a Charlotte Observer story, has some worrying that too many top Christian nonprofit leaders as well as pastors are seeing themselves as CEOs instead of as God’s servants.

Graham, son of renowned evangelist Billy Graham, is head of Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief agency based in Boone, N.C.

“Basically they are saying if Satan pays well, God should pay better,” said Maria Dixon, a Southern Methodist University professor of corporate communications and public affairs.

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CEOs at the top 50 U.S. charities, including Samaritan’s Purse, earn in the $350,000 to $450,000 range, which makes Graham’s $622,000 salary from his aid organization alone about 40 percent to 50 percent higher than average, according to a Forbes story. He receives the rest of his $258,000 compensation as CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

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Graham was not available to answer questions.

By contrast, pastor salaries at the nation’s biggest Christian churches are much lower for all but a select number. Only 3 percent of churches with more than 1,600 people in attendance pay senior pastors more than $300,000, said Warren Bird, research director at Leadership Network. At the other extreme, a recent study by the National Association of Church Business Administration found that the average American pastor with a congregation of 300 people earns a salary of less than $28,000 a year.

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In a 2011 comparison of megachurch pastors’ salaries, two senior pastors made $1 million and $1.1 million. Others were a fourth to less than half of that.

Among the exceptions: Southern Baptist the Rev. Ed Young, senior pastor at Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, pulled in well over $1 million, according to a 2012 Dallas television news report. And in 2013, his last year as pastor at Seattle’s Mars Hill Church, the Rev. Mark Driscoll was drawing a $607,000 package, with a $150,000 raise promised.

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the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability asks for more.  “Compensation-setting practices should be consistent with generally accepted biblical truths and practices,” according to its guidelines.

“It’s a moral issue particularly for a man of faith,” Pablo Eisenberg, a senior fellow at the Georgetown University Center for Public & Nonprofit Leadership, told the Observer. “And also you have to remember that (compensation is) partly paid for by the taxpayer. In a sense, we the taxpayers are subsidizing Frank Graham’s salary and his relatives who are paid.”

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Not all of the big Christian charity CEOs are making huge salaries.  Lutheran Charities, a $21 billion organization, pays $181,858 to its highest-paid employee. At Cru, the college campus ministry, the highest salary is $150,787, according to Forbes magazine.

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