- - Wednesday, April 6, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Recently some scrutiny has been cast upon evangelists representing the mega churches of America. Some people have raised legitimate questions about these evangelists’ compensation — is it fair, opulent or downright obscene?

The Leadership Network and the Christian Post have published findings on this matter. TV evangelist Joel Osteen, who is very successful in his approach despite coming under much criticism for “selling” admission tickets, states his net worth at $42 million. He has a 17,000-square-foot home and draws no salary. Pastor T.D. Jakes depends on his TV ministry for his major revenue flow and has a net worth of $18 million. Billy Graham, perhaps the most recognized clergy member in the world, is worth $25 million and reports the lowest salary, at just over $300,000. Creflo Dollar has a net worth of $27 million and is the most controversial of these figures, with a $2.3-million Atlanta mansion and a $17.5-million private jet. Kenneth Copeland and wife Gloria thave a combined annual salary of $658,000 and list personal assets at more than $17.5 million. Southern pastor John Hagee earns more than $1.3 million in salary from his ministry, with a large percentage derived from just 16 hours a week of actual work.

The most troubling TV mega preacher is Benny Hinn. His theatrics in allegedly healing afflicted participants has earned him widespread criticism from much of the rest of the Christian world. Yet millions of followers continue to flood his ministry with donations. Mr. Hinn acknowledges a net worth of $42 million and an annual salary exceeding $1 million.

Perhaps the most commendable TV evangelist is Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. Not only does Mr. Warren forego any salary, he has written several best-selling books and donates 100 percent of the proceeds to charity.

What is fair compensation? What sort of salary is in line with the Bible? Is it morally wrong to solicit funds under the guise of God’s work — and then use millions of dollars from these funds to live a life of luxury?

JAMES. W. ANDERSON

Talladega, Ala.


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