If you’ve ever made $ 11,000 per year working in a ministry, while supporting a wife, three children, and a dog and then had the senior pastor you work for tell you that taking government assistance wasn’t “trusting God”…you might have been a fundamentalist.
Fundamentalist churches are generally not full of professional, high-income members. Doctors, Lawyers, and other such folks are noticeably absent from the church rolls and their tithes are noticeably absent from the church budget. As a result of this lack of funds, these churches often rely on a workforce of very poorly paid employees to take care of the ministry. Woe unto you if you’ve spent six years in school to get a Masters Degree in Education at an unaccredited fundamentalist college. At the local fundy school (the only place you’re qualified to work) that effort will probably net you church staff housing, no insurance, and less pay than you might get working at the local McDonalds.
To compound this problem, — and for reasons more political than doctrinal — many fundamentalists are deathly opposed to welfare of any kind. The claim is that if the government is helping you then they get the credit instead of God getting the credit. The idea that maybe God uses the government to help folks sometimes has evidently never dawned on them.
This lack of funds combined with an inability to seek help from any other source (not to mention threats that leaving this glorious ministry will ruin God’s will for your life), combines to create a class of indentured servitude with people who are too literally too poor to escape the cycle. Add to this the bellowing of preachers who blast their lackeys for even daring to inquire about how much money a ministry position might pay and you end up with a very sad situation indeed.
It’s all fine and good to be told that slaving away for sub-minimum wages is laying up treasure in heaven. One has to wonder if it’s inconceivable that it might be possible to get both treasure in heaven and a decent dental plan down here on earth in the meantime.