Ministry of Money
I've been reading the exchanges between Scott Ashley and Alex, and I wanted to comment on Scott's claim that he turned down an unsolicited $100,000 offer in order to work in the ministry for half as much.
First, whenever a minister claims he could make so much more money outside of the ministry, I have my doubts. The WCG ministers made so many inflated claims about themselves that I find it hard to believe anything they say. How many times have you heard a minister brag about his ability to discern the thoughts and attitudes of the average church member, which he was endowed with by the holy ghost at his ordination? Every minister I know loved to regale his congregation with stories of healings that were a result of his anointings prayers of faith. I've never seen a healing, and I have never been healed of anything myself. I view healings and miracles the same way I view UFO and bigfoot sightings, or Kennedy assassination conspirators: lots of books have been written about them, but I have yet to see one. Likewise, I view the ministers' frequent claim that they could make more money in jobs outside the ministry as mere self-promotion. They want their congregations to admire them for their sacrifices. Who wouldn't admire someone for sacrificing in order to work for a cause greater than themselves? Another goal is ego-gratification. They want church members to to admire them for the ability and talent which enables them to command six-figure incomes (isn't it funny how every minister could make $100,000 per year if they weren't in the ministry?).
Most of us are familiar with the story of David Robinson, the author of "Herbert Armstrong's Tangled Web." When he was fired from a responsible position in the ministry and kicked out of the church, he had to spend the rest of his life doing janitorial work. He deserves our admiration. He took on Herbert Armstrong and his wealthy church and at his own expense published his book and fought an expensive legal battle when the Worldwide Church of God went to court to block its publication. Most ministers kept quiet in order to keep their cushy jobs. It was church policy to discourage ministers from obtaining "outside degrees," lest they become less dependent on their church paychecks, and therefore less dependable as enforcers of Herbert Armstrong's will. Those ministers who were cut loose often suffered through hard times, as the experience of Gerald Witte shows.
Maybe the reason why Scott Ashley makes half as much money as a minister as he would in the real world is that being a minister is half a job. Church of god ministers don't work very hard. Their job consists of delegating work to deacons and deacon wannabes, and yelling at them when they botch the job. Other job functions include giving clever answers to uninformed beginner bible students, giving bad advice during counseling sessions and blaming the member when the advice doesn't work, and digging up old notes in order to give the same sermon for the fiftieth time.
Church of god ministers don't need as much money because many of their expenses are paid for them. In the good old days, Worldwide Church of God ministers received a rent subsidy known as a parsonage, which is not subject to income tax. Their festival expenses were paid by the church, plus they received a fleet car at church expense. Whether or not the less wealthy United Chuch of God provides the same perks, I don't know.
Ministers pay only the first tithe. They are exempted from second and third tithe. Only the poor dumb sheep lay membership pay second and third tithe. In addition, ministers are exempt from social security taxes. A minister's $50,000 salary yields a much greater after tax income than $50,000 earned by an ordinary employee, especially when you factor in all of the perks a church of god minister receives (and which he feels he is entitled to as a spiritual Levite).
Finally, we must remember who pays the minister's salary. A minister may think he is making a great sacrifice by turning down high paying position in the business world in order to serve his church. But his salary is paid by people who make voluntarily contributions, many of whom make less than the ministers whose salaries they are paying.
The point of all this is that when a church of god minister bemoans the fact that he sacrifices so much for the glory of God, he doesn't give up as much as it appears. It is just another example of the blowhard church of god ministry putting themselves on a pedestal.
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