113 thoughts on “Fundy Thanksgiving: Day 3”

    1. One should note that the IFB are not the only religion to be enticed by big, shiny chandeliers. Mormons love them some gaudy chandeliers too – the LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake city has a 3-story chandelier.

      1. There’s a nice one at the Precious Moments Best Western Motel in Carthage MO……yet another approved location for fundy tourists to frequent.

      1. LOL. (really, I am laughing out loud!)

        I’m B.R.O. AtC was my transition moniker since I felt that my former fundy CEO was onto me. Like his wife said when we left and she revealed that they knew I visited another church, “busted!”

        Now that the cat is out of the bag, I’m trashing AtC and sticking with B.R.O. Sorry for the confusion, BJg. This will not happen again without ample warning.

        Sincerely,

        B.R.O.

        P.S. That thing still looks like a plus sized corset to me!

        1. Tony Hudson size corset. You never know what a fundie preacher wears under that suit. A good suit can hide a multitude of sins

        2. The WWI Zeppelin skins were made of sausage casings, i.e. cow intestines.
          Germany used so many of them for this purpose that their was a wartime shortage of sausage skins.

  1. What about priceless art work and your employee’s can’t retire. OR, students who have to work 3 jobs for the “privilege” of attending your Fundy U.

    1. Just as long as one of those jobs is a less-than-minimum wage job working in the warehouse selling the books that pay for all the swag. And be sure that the “pay” goes onto your school account, so at the end of the day they get to keep that too!

  2. How many gospel tracts could have been purchased with that money? Or more importantly, how many appropriate pieces of clothing could have been purchased to ensure that all of the students are saved (specifically, white cotton briefs for all the ladies)? Or how many suits could have been purchased for the MOG so he could look his most dapper when preaching? Talk about some really messed up priorities, eh?

  3. Yes, it is the same at Crown College too. One can never have too much of the best for God’s work, unless it is in regards to fairly compensating the staff…don’t ask what the pastor makes either, because it is none of the church’s business (even though the church pays his salary)…

    1. I so strongly agree; this concept that the pastor’s salary should be hidden is just wrong. Salaries that I pay part of should always be disclosed fully; I should know what the mayor of my city is paid, what the governor of my state is paid (and all the other public offices), and we should be able to know what the US President is paid.

      So, why hide a pastor’s salary? It may be hidden from non-members, if the church wishes (but there is no reason, really for that either), but it should be clear what the church is paying him and the other staff.

      I’ve also seen how churches cheat and hide salary figures.

      Jack Hyles, of course, was the king at this kind of deception – bragging about his meager $15,000 salary while pulling in millions from his books that were bought by his worshipping followers.

  4. Years ago I decided not to go into the Christian schools to teach because I would not be able to support my family. The “salary” for a Christian School teacher was only about 50% of the “salary” for a pastor.

    When I was a deacon, I found out how this was made worse. Pastors’ salaries look much lower on paper than they actually are.

    Let’s see. First there is the “housing allowance” that is given to the Pastor, but not included in the reported figure. Regular schmucks have to pay for housing out of their salary. Pastors of many IFB churches do not.

    Ahhh, but that is not the whole of it! For the Pastor also received a substantial “Equity Replacement” since he was unable to buy his home and build up equity. Renters don’t build equity either! And those who buy their homes have to build equity out of what they pay for their home after their salary. For the Pastor it was gravy.

    Oh. Then there was the electric bill. Since the Pastor’s residence was used for the ministry … well, … at Christmas time when the Pastor would have an open house for the church instead of a Sunday night service, the church thought it only fair to pay his electric bill. In full. All. Year. Long.

    Then there was the phone bill. Oh yes. Since the Pastor was in the ministry all the time, it was assumed that the church should pay the entire phone bill. I think the church also paid for water and sewage.

    College debt? No problem. The church paid a generous monthly amount to help pay that off. All outside the Salary designation. When the debt was paid that was converted to an amount to be used for for further education, if he so desired. Not to mention the ministry expense accounts. He could take someone to lunch, on the church. That’s a meal he didn’t have to pay for. His home repairs are paid for, also. Taxes? Well, he qualifies as exempt from Federal Income Taxes. He pays Social Security and Medicare. Except there are line items in the budget to pay those for him as well.

    At one point I suggested reporting the entire figure as a “salary package” and was shot down. It would be “misleading” and people would not understand.

    My wife and daughter once complained that I was making such and such an amount of money, so why couldn’t I afford to do this or that like the Pastor could. He made less than I did, after all! The Pastor really has made (a lot) more than I have. But the books don’t show it. Well, they do. But they are presented in such a way that the church members who usually don’t put any real thought into the matter won’t be able to see his total numbers, or maybe even realize that such and such a line item means more money to the Pastor.

    Fortunately we do not have a Christian school. But my guess is that Christian school teachers would get 50% of what is reported as “salary,” and never see any of the additional goodies given to the Pastor.

    I am not saying that the Pastor is a “bad” person. As an individual, he is probably about as good as an IFB pastor can be and still be in the system. But what a system!

    My IFB church is rather small. If such accounting practices (or lack thereof) oc

    1. In addition to all this our congregation paid for the pastor’s vehicle, and he would get gift cards and monetary gifts throughout the year, especially on his wedding anniversary and pastoral anniversary – stacks of gift cards at a time when we could barely afford groceries. But aside from that I have to say the Lord has always provided for our family – even though we now don’t attend any church (gasp!)

      1. (Gasp!) I utterly forgot that item! Yes, the Pastor’s vehicle was paid for, as well as insurance, gas, and maintenance.

        Thank you. Thank you!

        Have I missed anything else? Well, the fellow hired to mow the lawn always did the Pastor’s as well, but that would fall under maintenance, I suppose. Housing, vehicle, phone, utilities, am I missing anything else?

        1. Yes! Thank you.

          So many different items, so many everyday expenses removed from the Pastor’s “salary” that he enjoys a fairly – or very – comfortable life. But woe to anyone who might notice it or say anything about it!

        2. Free Christian school tuition for his kids. In fact, all church and school staff could send their kids to the school for free. If I recall close to 20% of the kids at the school when we were there were going for free, with the difference being made up with higher tuition for the rest of us. I’ve always wanted to ask the pastor he he tithed off the amount of free tuition he was receiving.

          Also when there were church lunches or dinners (being a baptist church that was quite often) much of the extra food that was left over was first given to the pastor and his family then other church staff. And this was good food that could feed a family for a week. I might have mentioned once that perhaps it could go to a more needier family but that didn’t fly.

        3. I’m more interested in whether or not the pastor pays taxes on all those perks he gets. They are part of his compensation, and if he doesn’t report their fair value along with his cash income, he is committing tax fraud.

        4. Taxes? Of course he doesn’t pay taxes on those things. The church has defined those things as ministry expenses.

          Put them in the microwave with the church accounts and you can cook the books.

        5. Leona Helmsley tried to leave all her money to her dog, Trouble. Donald Trump famously endorsed her decision saying, “He was the only thing she ever loved and the only thing that every loved her!”

        6. @Bryant. I was in a Southwest Baptist Church service in Oklahoma City one evening when the church presented Sam Davison with some special airline club membership so he could access VIP lounges and waiting areas. We were told that the purpose of this was so that he would not be distracted by “the people” in airports and could focus on Bible study.

        7. So, he gets to “study the Bible” at the airport while the rest of us are bash for not witnessing to the people, eh?

      2. The church should either pay for the car but absolutely restrict it to official business, or if the pastor uses his or her own vehicle, reimbursement should be at the Federal mileage rate plus tolls.. Anything extra is taxable.

    2. I would have liked to teach at an IFB school that gave their teachers 50% of what the pastor made. The places I have been a part of paid more in the range of 15-30%, of course not including the “extras.”
      You are still expected to tithe on your GROSS income, bringing that percentage down even more…

      1. Actually the 50% was a “recommendation” by (IIRC) Edwin DeWink in his book on Christian School Management. It was a textbook for one of my education courses at Bob Jones University, and DeWink was an administrator at the U.

        Doubtless DeWink thought he was being generous. I, the worldly young lout recently married, had other thoughts. When I saw the salary at one large CS in New Jersey would not even cover rent (plus they wanted the wife to contribute 20 hours at the church free), I threw away my Christian School plans in disgust. I had not chosen a career to become a slave or to starve, and I was **** sure I wanted to take care of my family.

        1. Always appreciate reading your comments rtg…surprised that someone from BJU can say something insightful from time to time. 🙂
          Your attitude was the same as mine a few years back. I wanted to take care of my family and not continue to wipe the mog’s @$$.
          In one meeting I told the pastor that my family was priority, to which he responded “You should be careful making that statement. Even Abraham was tempted to offer his son on the altar for the Lord.” I am certain I don’t have to point out the fallacies in this argument.

    3. In all fairness, the “housing allowance” is provided for in IRS regulations. This is exempt from gross income but is added back in figuring the Social Security tax.

      The SS tax is paid entirely by the pastor, not “halfsies” with the employer.

      The housing allowance must be used for that purpose. No renting a $200 a month trailer and claiming $30,000 in housing expenses.

      The expense account has to be used for legitimate expenses, not for personal gain. Yes, sometimes it includes discussing church business over lunch.

      1. Ordained ministers can opt out of SSI which will reduce their tax rate, but also exempts their ministry income from SS reimbursement after retirement. They can still collect SS payments based on non-ministry income that had the taxes witheld. They have to do this within a couple years of being ordained and its a one time decision that can’t be reversed later.

        I know many people have seen the big wigs of the IFB make hay with these types of compensation packages, but honestly many small church IFB pastors, especially the kind that don’t lord it over their subjects (yes they do exist) are largely not making more money than a majority of their congregation. Some of the tax benefits are unique, but many of the expense policies are no different than I have seen in many professional settings, and in fact the mileage reimbursement or tax credits are available for anyone who uses their own vehicle for business purposes. The difference which is important is that many churches don’t follow any kind of standards for documenting or justifying expenses. This opens the church and the pastor up to the potential for legal issues or for people accusing them of malfeasance, and really shouldn’t be happening. Unfortunately many of the high mukety mucks of fundamentalism do use the offering box as a slush fund and so deserve the distain they recieve for being the hirelings they clearly are.

        I don’t have an issue with pastors income being smaller on paper or for tax purposes, especially since most of the pastors I have known (with one glaring exception) were compensated far lower than they should have been due to the earned doctorates, extensive experience, and professional demeanor that they had. The problem is the number of posers that have used these types of men as a shield to hide their shennanigans behind.

        1. Right, Capt. Solo. When I was ordained in 1969 I was told about the possibility of exempting one’s self from the Social Security system. I, and the other ordinands, were also told that it was definitely not a good idea.

          There are all kinds of benefits by staying with the SS system, such as spousal benefits, coverage of children if the breadwinner dies, disability (SSI and SSDI) etc.

          However, the cleric must pay the entire amount; it cannot be picked up by the church. If so, that is counted as income.

        2. On occasion the IRS lets you get back on SSI. Our former pastor was able to do it. But it only comes around once in a blue moon,.

        3. A friend of mine was in the inner chambers of a HAC church – the pastor routinely used the church’s credit card to buy things for himself (and that’s embezzlement, as I understand it). He would usually pay it back (I still think it’s embezzlement, even if paid back), but there were times he met with the deacons in secret and they agreed to “forgive” the debt – “after all, our great preacher is entitled to these things, and the church would have given him the money as a bonus”. However, the sheeple were never informed about what was taking place.

          I still think that this is embezzlement, no matter how it’s dressed up, and the people covering it should have been dismissed, and the pastor fired. My friend eventually left that mess, but the pastor continues in that church.

        4. It could be a good idea, I have a pastor friend who opted out 20 years ago, and at every church he has been at, negotiated a similar amount to be placed in an IRA account, which has significantly outperformed SSI benefits. Obviously there are possible tax benefits/disability/spousal support that might even the score, but someone who is responsible and saves that amount of money over that long a period of time could turn that option into an advantage.

          The big benefit of SSI is that is just accrues over time without you consciously being responsible for that part of your retirement income. Especially since most pastors (like most professional jobs at this point) don’t have pension benefits and are going to be living on what they save for retirement themselves.

    4. If I’m not mistaken, at my old fundy church, a member suggested we should give the pastor an increase in his housing allowance instead of a pay raise because he wouldn’t have to pay as much on taxes that way.

      1. That’s legitimate, if the housing expenses actually go up.

        The goal should be to maximize the net pay of the cleric while minimizing the cost to the church. As others have pointed out, the majority of clergy do not make the mega-bucks that the MoGs do.

        As for “mission trips,” those are often arranged by travel agencies. If the pastor can sign up 10 or 12 folks paying full fare, the pastor, as leader, is given the trip gratis. That amounts to an 8-10% “commission.”

        That’s why you see so many “Join Pastor Whatever as we trace the footsteps of Paul” advertisements.

        1. Haha – a lady on the board of an organization I am familiar with is always trying to sign members of the organization up to “go to Europe” with her. She tells us all that the purpose is just to share amazing trips with her and learn of other cultures. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that she gets a free trip if enough other people sign up!!

    1. I think you would find that most people here don’t object to pastors being paid, especially commensurate with their education, experience, and ministry.

      I personally think pastors should be well compensated, and I also think they should recognize where their income is derived. I have met many fundy pastors who have deep respect for their people and have incredible humility regarding how their salary comes from the people who they minister to.

      What many are complaining about is the churches and ministries that take, take, take and never care for or respect the people who many times are sacrificing so these things can be done. As long as that is part of the equation, I have no problem with generous compensation to pastors, or for their ability to expense or be reimbursed for many educational and ministry expenses. Its about accountability, transparency, and wisdom in how it is used. This is sadly lacking in the structure of many churches, and those who try to call for it will be assaulted spiritually in order to shut them up while the hirelings return to the trough.

      1. Actually I object to a pastor being paid. Their position is non-biblical and therefore paying them is also non-biblical.
        Also, is studying God’s Word, telling others about Christ, caring for God’s people really labor? If so, then there is a deep problem.

        1. Well, even Paul supported himself making tents. I’ve built eight pavilions, so I have an idea how hard he was working. No slouch, for sure.

          I wonder how many people would go into the ministry if they had to support themselves some other way?

      2. If you want a pastor not to be paid, the church has to completely revamp what they expect their pastor to do which most American Christians would probably be unable to do.

      3. As a pastor I have no problem taking full advantage of the tax benefits that the law allows. But also keep in mind that as others have pointed out that most of us are technically self-employed and pay the full social security and self-employment tax which is more than 15%.

        And I can attest that even for those of us who earn an MDiv at a regionally accredited, legitimate seminary (which generally costs tens of thousands of dollars) there isn’t always a direct correlation in salary as there is in fields like nursing or education. Granted, you don’t go into ministry to get rich but I would guess that most pastors are paid less than other professionals with comparable education and experience.

      4. Many, many pastors are truly not ‘in it for the money’. My (late) father was an IFB pastor. I remember him being provided housing and $200 per week salary. This was in the 1970s. Even then, this was poverty wages. He did it because he thought, truly thought, that he was serving the Lord. He was a strict BJU separatist but he never thought that he should receive a large salary. When he passed away, he was living in borrowed housing, making $800/month in SS. He had nothing else. He died 2 years ago tomorrow.

        So we should probably be careful before we paint with too broad a brush. Many IFB pastors are in the business because they’re trying to serve God.

        As for ministers ‘cutting the fat hog’ financially, look no further than some of the evangelical or charismatic megachurch pastors. They far outdo any of the IFB MoGs.

      5. Yes, BJG, one of the many sad aspects of the Ted Haggard scandal a few years ago was that the media caught up with him for an interview just as he was leaving his gated super-posh neighborhood in an expensive SUV. I thought, well his lifestyle pretty much speaks for itself regardless of whether the sexuality allegations are true or not,

      6. Paul clearly articulated that he had every right to be paid by the churches for his ministry. He chose not to exercise that right.

        In many cases, PW is correct. A pastor choosing to go bi-vocational should be fully able to do that, but likely wouldn’t last long because he would either burn out from trying to meet the expectations of the typical congregation, or would be let go for not meeting them.

        The laborer is worthy of his hire. the fact that some take advantage and use that principle to justify their thievery doesn’t make it not true. Both paid and non-paid ministry is the same to me in many ways, and it depends on the context including surrounding culture/job market, size of the ministry, median income of the congregation, etc that should drive that local decision for each church.

      7. (As far as Paul working making tents, he also only had to support himself not a wife and kids. He even said that it was better for a man not to marry so as to serve the kingdom with total focus.)

  5. Maybe it’s just that I plan on playing this game a little more later today, but all I see in that chandelier is a gold colored version of the Sims plumb-bob. I can’t decide whether that’s funny or sad. I think I’ll go with the second.

  6. Nothing says “Cult” quite like the money trail.

    You can call it Christian, you can use Bible verses and even talk about Jesus (but those are merely props and advertising promoting the Pastor’s Empire!) As the pastor ascends to the sacred desk play one more verse of “How Great Thou Art.”

    1. Correct. And they think that people who earn minimum wage are being paid too much. Abolish minimum wage, let desperation drive wages down further and see how many people wind up starving to death! It is a game, and a very serious one for the losers.

      1. Dear rtgmath:

        Nothing like coerced labor, what?

        How odd that having delivered Israel from Pharaoh’s slavery, Yahweh now leads people into that condition as they construct pyramids to the MoG’s glory.

        Sometime, I really need to visit a fundy fellowship just to put that question to their learned master.

        Christian Socialist

    2. Dear Don:

      You wrote:

      ‘Nothing says “Cult” quite like the money trail.

      You can call it Christian, you can use Bible verses and even talk about Jesus (but those are merely props and advertising promoting the Pastor’s Empire!)’

      Christless Use of the Language of Theology = C U L T.

      Christian Socialist

    1. Yup. I remember when that 4000 sq ft custom home was being built…it was the most expensive home on the entire east side of the city for quite a while. Lots of serious upgrades. And then there were the rental homes. And the luxury vacations.

      I knew of two of his asst pastors who tried to emulate his real estate success, and ended up losing their first rental (Plan was to buy bigger, fancier home for themselves and rent out old house; when that failed they walked away from the old house obligation).

      1. And every October through March we would be “encouraged” to give sacrificially…..yes sacrificially. Yeah, because “it’s not equal giving, but equal sacrifice”.

        Sure it was.

  7. Ah, yes, the jewel in the crowne of PCC! It was always amazing to me that more value was placed on material things and image than on people. Just one more area where fundamentalism hasn’t got anything todo with historic Christian teachings.

    1. I arrived at PCC from a third world country. It was quite a shock to realize that the kids we saw starving on streets at home could have been fed, clothed, housed, and educated if only “Christians” in the States would be willing to have a slightly less pretentious building.

  8. I can’t speak for the few you mentioned, but in most cases, no, they do not. Their “soulwinning” efforts are from the pulpit. If there is a set time of soul-winning they may lead in prayer and then go back to their porn (or whatever else they do with all their free time).
    The idea is that the pastors receive rewards from the efforts of those in his church. It is a true religious pyramid scheme.

    1. I should also mention that most of them talk about years past, how they started the church by door knocking, soul-winning, etc.
      They have been there and done that and have moved on to more important things.

  9. Please don’t make me rant on this…. Ooooh, because I could. It’s one of those things that boils my blood and brings out my worst snark.

    But, I think I’ll be nice today.

  10. Ah yes, the CrownE CentrE – PCC’s memorial to sticking the letter E on the ends of words for no apparent reason. Amber Lamb and Button Bear would be so proud – the triumph of fonix is complete!!

        1. That should read “Olde Worlde”. I hate autocorrect sometimes. Or maybe Fundamentalists do want to exist in an older world. I know a lot of Ulster Protestants who do.

  11. A couple of fun facts about the Crowne Center:

    (1) I was told by a reliable source that the oddly incomplete stained glass window that you can see in the picture behind the chandelier was because they originally had selected a much more elaborate design but were unable to pay for it. I was also told that this was an example of how they sacrificed for the Lord’s work.

    (2) Two ladies (wives of prominent staff men – I forget who exactly) were responsible for selecting the god-awful jewel tone theme that runs throughout the entire building – walls, seats, even the choir robes are turquoise, deep purple, and other gaggy colors.

  12. Thlipis, an additional factor is that many are burdened by heavy student loans covering undergraduate and graduate education, even when they begin ministry as curates or pastors of small churches.

    Law and medical schools profit from alumni giving and have many wealthy donors. Theological schools do not, and most receive little or no financial support from their denominations. They’re responsible for their own budgets.

    Thus the financial crunch begins. In the Episcopal Church, many who go through the ordination process are folks who have already made their “pile”–older, second-career folks–who can afford to go three or four years without pay. There are very few who go straight from college to seminary.

    1. Interesting perspective and I’m sure it’s true for most denominations’ schools. It is not, however, true for most IFB schools. My wife is a BJU alumna and hardly a month goes by without us getting some piece of junk mail begging for donations. And many, many alumni do in fact give!! (This month, we were amused to get a letter that basically said, “you must not be getting your mail from us because we have sent you several letters asking for money but you have not yet donated.” My wife and I refer to these letters as “we thank God for every opportunity that he gives you to be a blessing to us” letters!!)

      Interesting to me how the doctrine of storehouse tithing flies out the window once one is associated with a Bible college.

      1. Oh, my college and my seminary put the squeeze on me several times a year. That’s what “alumni magazines” are really for.

        1. My wife has attended more colleges than the next six people (she has several degrees), and also a private high school, so we get alumni magazines and fundraising letters and the like a few times a week.
          My own alma mater seems not to have my current address, and I’m in no hurry to give it my present whereabouts.

      2. So if they think she’s not getting mail, why keep sending mail to that address.

        What you can do if the envelopes are postage-paid is take the begging, turn it into confetti, then put it in the return envelope, making sure that something with your address is readable and intact. That reduces your junk mail considerably.

        Or you could just not do anything, thereby making them spend money on you.

  13. My Mother taught in church-schools for my whole education. At one particular place, the teachers went without pay for months. The pastor, however, continued to be paid, and the teachers were forbidden to tell anyone in the church that they were not being paid. The pastor also continued with his “buy one for the church, get one free for me” policies……. buy two vacuums for the church but one goes home with me, etc.

    1. “The pastor also continued with his “buy one for the church, get one free for me” policies……. buy two vacuums for the church but one goes home with me, etc.”

      This reminds me of something my former Fundy church leadership not only did but taught to other church leaders during a break out session at one of their leadership conferences. If a leader booked a hotel/resort for a bunch of rooms for an off site retreat, they would ask the hotel/resort to throw in a free vacation for their family (for a different date) as part of the deal. Now, if the cost of their personal vacation was absorbed by the group booking the original stay (seems like it would be) that is very dishonest. I would have been fired from my secular job for requesting a kickback. Obviously their church retreat bookings went to those hotels/resorts who played their game.

      This is different from allowing leaders a free room while they actually attend the retreat they booked. That is a working trip and the church is actually the benefiting by having the overall costs of the booking reduced.

  14. I was a Pentecostal back in the day. Our youth pastor had to go to the church food shelf to feed his family. Meanwhile the church business manager and head pastor were stealing from the church. So sad.

  15. I’ve become cozy with a new term lately:
    “money church”
    Churches that are in it for butts, bucks, and buildings. Soulwinning/evangelism is a pious cover for recruitment, and any commitment to doctrine/holiness is just so much brand differentiation.
    Lancaster Baptist Church in Lancaster, CA is probably the purest example of such a church within IFB that I have seen.
    Many if not most generic evangelical churches are this way too. I mean when the most “successful” “pastors” are modeling themselves after CEOs, what do you expect.
    “money churches” are counterfeits, pure and simple. and they are ALL over America, saturating the church scene. They peddle the Word of God for profit (2 Cor 2:17) just as much as the schmaltziest televangelists they condemn.

  16. At the same time, no church would be able to survive of no one would do anything unless he were paid for it. I volunteer time at my chuch, and I’m grateful for the SS teachers that volunteer a lot of their time… not to mention the pianist and organist that spend a lot of time in practice. As a small church, we cannot afford to pay any of these people, and the good people who volunteer their time to be a blessing are a treasure!

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