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Friday, May 28, 2010

Franklin Graham Earns over $1 Million a Year

A USA Today article published in October of last year reported that Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, earned over $1 millon in 2008 (Big non-profit organizations have highly paid leaders). I am not opposed to people earning large salaries, after all, it is the American way; but I do have a problem with people who claim to be Christian ministers (word means "servant") earning enormous paychecks. Graham earned $633,722 as President of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and another $483,000 from his second job as President of Samaritan's Purse. The former is supposed to be a missionary and evangelism organization, and the latter, a Christian relief organization to help the poor.

What Graham took in was mere "chump change" compared to Television Evangelists such as John Hagee, Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer, Benny Hinn and Joel Osteen. It, of course, is very difficult to get figures on exactly how much income these people get because they don't release the figures or they hide them among various entities to which they belong. Here is what I have been able to find:

John Hagee in 2001 "earned" $842,005 in compensation and $414,485 in benefits. This does not include all the money from his tapes and books.

Creflo Dollar (that is his real name) does pretty well too. He and his wife live in a million-dollar mansion in Atlanta. When he started another church in NYC, he purchased a $2.5M apartment there. He has two Rolls-Royces and his church has not one but two lear jets.

Joyce Meyer in 2002 "earned" a $900,000 annual salary and her husband, the Vice President of her ministry organization, "earned" $450,000. In addition, the ministry's board of directors agreed to provide the couple with free personal use of a corporate jet and luxury cars, a $2 million home where all bills are paid by the ministry and a separate $50,000-a-year housing allowance. The ministry paid $1.475 million to buy three houses for the three Meyer children. The board authorized Joyce and Dave Meyer to control a $790,000 fund to be used at their discretion for bonuses to "executive management."

Benny Hinn is going through a divorce so I expect his real net worth will become public but we know this much: In 2008, he made a cool $800K in less than two days "work" in Australia. Hinn’s salary is somewhere between half a million and a million dollars per year. He also gets royalties from the sales of his books and personal perks for Hinn, family and his entourage include a $10 million seaside mansion; a private jet with annual operating costs of about $1.5 million; a Mercedes SUV and convertible, each valued at about $80,000.

Joel Osteen,  in 2006, earned $13 million on just one of his books, Become a Better You . His Amazon page shows that he now has written over a dozen books. He recently bragged that he told his church to stop paying him his $200K annual salary. How magnanimous of him. If I were making millions off of books, I think I could turn down a measley $200K as well.

The really big money comes from book sales. As of the end of 2008 Rick Warren had sold around 40 million copies of his book: The Purpose Driven Life . Estimates of his royalties for this one book alone would be around $100 million dollars. No wonder he "reverse tithes" to his church (gives 90% and keeps 10%).

Below is a list of other prominent evangelicals and their annual compensation from the Chronicle of Philanthropy:

Neil J. Nicoll, CEO-------YMCA--------------------$432,600
Paul F. Crouch, CEO-------TBN-------------------$419,500
Janice Crouch, VP---------TBN---------------------$361,000
Elinor Hite, SVP----------YMCA---------------------$352,080
Richard Stearns, CEO------World Vision---------$336,472
William F. Horan, CEO-----Operation Blessing--$333,654
Gordon Robertson, CEO-----CBN------------------$326,820
Dennis Ryberg, CEO--------Young Life------------$279,338
James Daly, CEO-----------Focus on the Family-$240,002
Charles F. Stanley, CEO-In Touch Ministries---$226,704
Alexander D. Hill, CEO-InterVarsity Fellowship-$171,088
Michael Treneer, CEO------The Navigators------$161,476

At least these salaries are known. Some in the Southern Baptist Convention are "hopping mad," that the Convention will not publish the salaries of its executives. The blog Baptist Planet reports:
The most recent published figures we could find for top SBC leaders’ salaries are from 1990. They’re cited in the book The Conservative Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention by James C. Hefley. According to that book, five top SBC executives at the time were paid more than $100,000 a year. . . .The five, according to [Southern Baptist Advocate Editor Bob] Tenery, were Lloyd Elder, President, Sunday School Board, $157,086; Harold Bennett, President-Treasurer, Executive Committee, $151,079; Larry Lewis, President, Home Mission Board, $113,583; Keith Parks, President, Foreign Mission Board, $113,000. The Annuity Board decline to report renumeration (sic) for its newly-elected president, Paul W. Powell. Tenery further noted that the top six men at the Sunday School Board, where Tenery is a trustee, were paid $715,475 in salary and benefits.. . .

Even simple adjustments for inflation for the equivalent positions today result in very comfortable salaries for all. Such adjustments do not consider the implications of the subsequent revelation of extravagance by Bob Reccord while he headed the SBC’s North American Mission Board. Reccord funneled $3.3 million to business friends, including current SBC President Johnny Hunt, while NAMB staff was downsized. His severance package of two years’ salary plus benefits reportedly exceeded $500,000.


A 2005 Associated Baptist Press article noted that even members of the SBC’s own Executive Committee must sign a pledge not to reveal employee salaries. Details from Reccord’s rein emerged only because NAMB marketing director Mary Kinney Branson escaped without signing the standard agreement.

Branson is a former marketing director for the SBC’s North American Mission Board and her book [Spending God's Money: Extravagance And Misuse In The Name Of Ministry ]is “an insider’s account of the extravagance and financial mismanagement there” (See this article).

On the blog, Stop Baptist Predators, Christa Brown writes:
Branson provides details that implicate high Southern Baptist officials and those details are not flattering. For example, (NAMB President) Bob Reccord “had a $1 million fund he could use at his discretion, no questions asked and no receipts required.” (Branson at p. 61)

Can you imagine any other organization that would allow an official to spend such sums with so little oversight? According to Branson, that $1 million fund was replenished each year, and in Reccord’s last two years, the fund was reduced to $350,000. In other words, the money didn’t just sit there. He spent it. “No receipts required.”

When Reccord resigned, 41 Southern Baptist leaders signed a letter, praising Reccord and essentially whitewashing his “undisputed misuse of funds.” (Branson at p. 18) One of those signers was Johnny Hunt, who is now the president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Another was evangelist Jay Strack.

According to Branson, after Bob Reccord left the North American Mission Board, “auditors discovered that payments were being made to evangelist Jay Strack ($300,000) and Bob’s mega-pastor Johnny Hunt at Woodstock Baptist Church ($92,000). Final payments were sent after Bob resigned but before he left the building…. There were no written contracts. So nearly half a million dollars was paid to Strack and Hunt through verbal agreements with Bob.” (Branson at p. 113)

I know that the great majority of pastors and Christian workers are paid very modest wages. However, there is a significant number of high profile "leaders" who are compensated quite nicely. Sounds pretty foreign to the concept of a servant, doesn't it?

15 comments:

  1. The Jesus of the Synoptic gospels forbids the accumulation of wealth ... period. He tells people to sell all if they want to follow him. Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen and company would be rejected as potential disciples without a drastic change of heart. Likewise, most American Christians today would fail to meet the terms of discipleship.

    Later on, Paul allows for the existence of rich Christians, although he does ask them to share their wealth. No surprise that the Pauline epistles have far, far more influence on Christian belief than the first three gospels.

    How do these evangelists ever preach on the James passage, where the rich are told to weep and howl for the destruction coming upon them? Or the saying of Jesus, "Blessed are you poor"?

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  2. "I know that the great majority of pastors and Christian workers are paid very modest wages. However, there is a significant number of high profile "leaders" who are compensated quite nicely. Sounds pretty foreign to the concept of a servant, doesn't it?"

    It shore do. Even a dummy like me know that 10% of the peoples in the US owns 3/4 of the wealth. If yous in the bottom 40% like me, you own 1% of the wealth. Who you think watch all these false preachers and attend there big meetings? that top 10%? I dont think so. So Im not so quick to condemn the sheep for the hippocritcal actions of there sheperds.

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  3. How do these evangelists ever preach on the James passage, where the rich are told to weep and howl for the destruction coming upon them? Or the saying of Jesus, "Blessed are you poor"?

    The Puritans, basically.

    As soon as the idea firmly took hold that wealth = sign of the favor of god, the gloves came off. There was no concept of the ascetic living a monastic life of self-denial in North America.

    I don't think it hurts that America was a land of vast wealth that could be exploited by those who worked at it and/or got lucky. Lack of a concept of rigid class systems didn't hurt, either. So as the American Dream became to get rich and live well, it got conflated with the Puritanical idea that wealth showed god's favor.

    So, when it gets right down to it, Joel Osteen and Rick Warren are basically Puritanical Robber Barons.

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  4. ---

    I can agree with Christians that there are hypocrites out there and that their actions shouldn't sully the name of Christianity. But, the fact is, it does. The history of the Church and these modern day antics give Christianity a very poor name in the eyes of the outsider, and it should.

    What I can't understand is this: If Yahweh is real, and if he ostensibly cares about his name, honor and glory as well as the promotion of his church, his inaction to thwart these phony, hypocritical "Christians" is curiouis indeed. Even as a skeptic, I know, beyond the shadow of a daoubt, the message that Osteen preaches is not found in the NT. His message of health, wealth and prosperity goes against Jesus' teaching of self-denial, charity and taking up one's cross and following Jesus, even into the depths of poverty.

    Obviously, Osteen's teaching is not leading his flock to true repentance, but didn't Jesus say that anyone who leads another away from God should have a millstone hung around their necks and placed in the depths of the sea? Hell, Paul even publicly rebuked Peter for preaching a false gospel of accomodation to the Jewish ritual of circumcision.

    Yahweh didn't have any problem offing Annanias and Sapphira for their hypocrisy in the early church. But why isn't God doing anything to stop the hypocrisy of leaders like Osteen and Meyers and Hinn. They are most certainly preaching a false gospel, setting their eyes on the wealth of this world, a concept which Paul most definitely would not endorse in the least. (for the Kingdom of God is made of the imperishable and this world is made of the perishable...)

    This leads us to one of three conclusions:

    1) Joel Osteen and the like, along with their flocks are truly Christians, but the Holy Spirit is doing a terrible job of leading his sheep to the the truth, since Christians like John Piper decry nearly every word of out Osteen's mouth. And God is not supposed to be the author of confusion.

    2)God knows his message is being skewed and misrepresented, and for some mysterious reason he is not doing anything about it, despite the fact that the Bible gives us every reason to believe that he would not tolerate such deception, not only due to his love for people, his desire for their salvation, but also because he is jealous for his own name and his gospel.

    3)The Bible is full of crap and is just the product of men and their extremely active imaginations.

    I'll go with 3, but that's just me. I doubt any Christian would go with any of these three.

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    Replies
    1. there's a fourth option: the Bible is a collection of books and teachings of human beings, modified by humans...contains some good stuff, but combined with the history of godfraud, the fact that there are no "original autographs" to check modern versions against for meaning, and comes out of the middle East diluted by the imperialists....hence it is an imperialist document with some good stuff in it as all good scams have. the problem is that children and naive adults who are taught to believe and trust in the scams that come via disclaiming claiming it is "God's Word", inerrant and authoritative....that's the path of evil....so it shouldn't be dismissed as "full of crap"....it should be exposed as just a collection of little tracts and booklets that belong to another time and age that has no direct connection to the religionists of this day, by any reliable measurement. Thus, it is the prime vehicle for hustlers, deception and those who seek to control the minds and pocketbooks of the target audience, however that breaks out. Christianism is just target marketing....when it is done by sincere believers that's the only time i have compassion. essentially it is godfraud, no matter who does it. I spent the first 21 years of my life in intense indoctrination in Judaeo-Chrstian fundamentalist bible-based supremacism...it's a crock! but there are good people who try to be like the story of Yeshua/Jesus and i cut them slack...it is a hard thing to get out of once you have placed your childlike faith in it and its diabolical doctrines like being a hellbound sinner from birth. it is Psychological and often physical terrorism, state-sponsored and tax-free and should be prosecuted as such. but it won't be because 70% of invasive americans subscribe to some liberal to fundamentalist version of it. The answser is LOVE. Peace.

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  5. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa is questioning religious leaders of some of the 200,000 mega church’s who live in multi-million dollar homes, own private jets and Rolls Royce’s, and receive CEO-like salaries, perks and expense allowances. Among the leaders he is focusing on six of the most popular televangelists in the country. All are Pentecostals who preach the "prosperity gospel," which teaches that God will grant financial and spiritual wealth to the faithful. Their ministries include hundreds of thousands of worshipers who watch their TV shows, buy their products and donate to their churches. Perhaps the leader of this gang is evangelist Franklin Graham who is the CEO of two charitable organizations the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) and Samaritan’s Purse. BGHEA paid him $669,000 and Samaritan’s Purse paid him $535,000 in 2008. Wait, that’s not all, he also gets two retirement packages. Graham has proven (1) that he is the greatest CEO in the world or, (2) that running a major organization is so easy one can lead two. By the way BGEA terminated 10 percent of its workforce months before Graham’s compensation was announced.
    To be fair this apparent greed in the church is not pervasive, for example in 2010 the “Church Investors Group” in the UK and Ireland which managers $18.31 billion in pension funds for several Christian churches published a 30,000-word report, "The Ethics of Executive Remuneration: A Guide for Christian Investors," written by theologians Richard Higginson and David Clough. The report offers guidelines for executive pay and maintains that excessive executive pay will negatively influence where they will invest.

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  6. I have to admit I was surprised by Franklin Graham. It is obvious that the TV evangelists are in it for the money but I guess I naively thought that Graham might have purer motives. What is especially hypocritical is that he would received so much money from an organization that is supposed to help the poor. Why couldn't he just donate his time to them, after all he is already making over 1/2 million a year with Billy Graham Evangelistic Enterprises.

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  7. This may be slightly off-topic, but as I was reading this it reminded me of something I've been pondering for a while: If Christians truly wanted to model their lives after Jesus' teachings and have their faith directly affect their politics, shouldn't their stance be very fiscally liberal and very socially conservative? Why are so many Christians so obsessed with money?

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  8. Have a look:

    http://awesome.good.is/transparency/web/1002/almighty-dollar/flat.html

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  9. A successful book, even if it is drivel can bring in tons of money in royalties. Osteen and the like aren't much different in that regard than J.K. Rowling or Stephanie Meyer. It seems like the greater point here is that Christians lack discretion. Many "believers" have read all of the above.

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  10. I see the problem not with money paid, but with the gnostic theology of most of TBN-like shows. Twisting scripture to not only expect wealth from God, but a spiritual pride that u have the Holy Spirit & others don't. I do see that many people would not give if the true gospel was preached. I think Franklin Graham would still make money because he(& some others) preach Jesus as Lord, not 'me Lord over Jesus'. Then the Hinn's wouldn't be rich because many would not be tempted with greed & others would, hopefully, have eyes to see the error of these false prophets.

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  11. I totally agree with you however, if people are making money off books that they write- is that really wrong? We don't complain about other authors in the marketplace writing a best seller.

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  12. Wouldn't it be better to have their organization furnish them with a comfortable house in a safe area. Minimal salary (like maybe $500-1000 per month for each person in their family) should be offered. Most of the things they need (car, occasional vacations, etc) should be provided by their organization. This would screen out the power/materialisticly hungry preachers and the organization would be a lot purer.

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  13. I do not wish be rude. But if you deconverted because of someone else then your christianity was built on wrong foundation. We cant worry about someone else. We have worry about us and are ee obeying Lord. God will judge them. However, i also thete are many discrepancies in pistings, articles etc. Such as i heard granklinbonly really makes about 80,ooo a year and he has no retirement he will be receiving. The ministry also has on their site records for whole public to see what they do with their money. He went many years without receiving retirement so reason why it is so much is becausecof that very reason. So part of the funds was that reason be so high. They were catching up for past years of delays. They are work process out where he will work for free by 2022. So dont be quick to judge. Frances chan gave away 90 percent of his income. You have no idea what these men do with their income. With massive hours they work ( some of them) end up spend probably half their income pay travel fees or giving it away. Why should they tell you what they give. Father says do it in secret their giving. Franklin graham could sit down for a week and you guys be harassing gossipers. You dont know what that man carries, what he gives, how many hours he works around the clock, how far he from his family, who are you judge him?? Some other folks are a bit quacky but some of them arent. They give exhaust selves be on fields where churches have been bombed, they pay for traveling, they give who knows how much, probably sponsor many children in secret to pay for their needs. To me this is a joke talking about other men. Our love grows waxcold to Lord because our foundation might be based off sand. Religiousness. Lord still inside of you. But in order for you get breakthrough you will have open air preach NONSTOP and go jail for Lord. Spiritual famine is coming 2014. Even if demon has bitten you and you dont walk in Lord anymore, you can still come back.open air NONSTOP. Be willing lose all possessions for Lord. Are you willing open preach amywgere anytime any hour? 24/7??? This will be new standard for all. Confess all known sins as well. Go to bible college and working isnt enough. Must open air preach non-stop. In jail too open air preach. There is a demon coming and it going to swirl around people hearts and make them feel seperated from God. But it demon doing it not God. God still keep you alive inside til you decide give up everything for Him to preach open air nonstop. Nonstop= breakthrough. Just as peter did obey God above man. Be arrested for Lord. Be will preach NONSTOP, be beaten up kicked rage poured out on you, etc. Raped etc. When you preach nonstop open air all time youll be able be overcomer. I really do wish you well your journey and hope you return to Lord. Try to watch some open air preaching. Ive seen people on youtube preach in restauraunts, airports, malls, etc....casinos, burger joints, bars, psychic places. In usa. Look try it. Greater display your faith, living waters should flow again. But it will cost you all you are to preach.

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  14. I think this youtube sums up new standard for women man and child who have Lord for 2014. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JQOBMi4QS8 it will cost you everything to have Lord or shall we say you continue to feel Him inside. He always in you. Just buried by all stones.
    Now granted some of them arent perfect but you can still be encouraged watch them so you can do it.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EZHZy75l04. Open air preaching.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLiSZ-Er9PA
    Granted like said they arent perfect but you can watch many on youtube so you can study them. Talk to them. Maybe youll find local brethren work with.
    Jesse morrell http://www.youtube.com/user/OpenAirOutreach

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