Clearly I’m in the wrong job

The Trinity Foundation, a religious watchdog organization, recently released its list of “100 Highly Paid Christian Ministry Executives.” The Foundation based their salary information on IRS Form 990. However, since churches, synagogues, and mosques aren’t required to file Form 990, they don’t have to provide any salary information. Thus, highly paid clergy like Joel Osteen do not appear on this list.

The top earner? David Cerullo, the CEO of Inspiration Ministries (radio and television stations) earned $7,319,371. No. 3 on the list is J.C. Watts, Jr., the CEO of Feed the Children, who earned $1,870,000 (I do wonder how many children you could feed with $1.8 million).

Franklin Graham earned $740,704 as CEO of Samaritan’s Purse, a relief organization. But he is also president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, which claims to be a “church,” which means his salary there is not reported to the IRS. I’d bet his total income is well over a million a year (see Mark 10:23).

It’s not just conservative Christians who earn the big bucks. Andrea Kelly, the Head of School at Friends Academy in Locust Valley, N.Y., earned $635,702.

For comparison, the most recent UUA salary guidelines recommend about $113,000 as the top salary for a Unitarian Universalist minister, serving one of our largest congregations in an area with the highest cost of living. I serve a small congregation is a less expensive region, so guess what — my salary is well below that.

Dang. I should have ditched Unitarian Universalist ministry and gone into Christian broadcasting or Christian relief work.

Clearly I’m in the wrong religion

The Trinity Foundation, which monitors religious fraud, has a project called “Pastr Planes” where they track the use of private jets by mega-church pastors, “ministry executives,” and staff of Christian universities.

As far as I know, the best you can do as a Unitarian Universalist minister is to get a plane ticket paid for under an IRS-approved accountable reimbursement plan (often incorrectly called “professional expenses”). I guess I’m in the wrong religion.

On the other hand, flying coach is sinfully bad for the environment. Flying in a private jet, therefore, is a super huge mega-sin. I would not want to be them when the Last Judgement (or whatever their theology calls for) comes and they are called to account for their sinning.

Not OK

Someone pointed out to me that Star Island has posted an interesting job opening. Star Island, for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, is a retreat center off the coast of New Hampshire that was founded by Unitarians and liberal Congregationalists, and remains affiliated with the United Church of Christ and the UUA.

The position, titled “Island Minister/Beloved Community Project Manager,” will “work to further Star Island Corporation’s Beloved Community Project — a diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative that is a core strategic priority of the Star Island Corporation (SIC).” This is a laudable goal, and it’s simply amazing that a nonprofit would hire a full-time year-round staffer to oversee diversity, equity, and inclusion.

There’s just one problem. The job posting does not list the salary range. Instead, applicants are told to submit their “salary requirements.”

I call bullshit.

The reason I call bullshit — and the reason that I use such a strong word to describe their action — is that refusal to include a salary range in a job posting is in itself a discriminatory act. In fact, in some jurisdictions, it is now illegal to post a job with no salary range: BBC news recently reported that Colorado now requires all job posting to include the hourly wage or the salary range. Similarly, SHRM recently reported that New York City will require all job posting in the city to include salary ranges. Why? Manhattan Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal says, “Failure to include a salary range would be considered a discriminatory practice.” That’s right, a discriminatory practice.

BBC has also reported: “Research shows that the pay gap, which is well documented, partly stems from the ‘ask gap’: the difference in salary expectations between groups, which undercuts women and minorities in particular. Closing this gendered and racialised ‘ask gap’ can pay major dividends for careers, reducing long-term salary inequality.”

Star Island is engaging in a discriminatory hiring practice — a practice that’s illegal in Colorado and New York City — in order to hire a staffer who will oversee diversity, equity, and inclusion. Oh, the irony. If you’re someone who has connections to Star Island (especially if you make donations to them), please contact their board and CEO and call them out on this racist, sexist practice.

We also need to call out all the UU congregations that post jobs with no salary range. Some day if I ever have time, I’m going to go through the job postings on the UUA “Jobs Board” and the LREDA employment postings and make a list of all the congregations that post jobs with no salary range — a sort of “Hall of Shame,” showing which congregations have racist, sexist hiring practices.

This is an equity issue that’s easy to fix. Let’s fix it.

“Three Cups of Deceit”

Carol discovered John Krakauer’s “Three Cups of Deceit,” put out by the new online publisher, Byliner Originals; it’s a 100,000 word non-fiction article about Greg Mortenson, the well-known author of Three Cups of Tea. As you might imagine from the title, Krakauer is critical of Mortenson, and concludes the following:

In all fairness, Greg Mortenson has done much that is admirable since he began working in Baltistan sixteen and a half years ago. He’s been a tireless advocate for girls’ education. He’s established dozens of schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan that have benefited tens of thousands [of] children, a significant percentage of them girls. A huge number of people regard him as a hero, and he inspires tremendous trust. It is now evident, however, that Mortenson recklessly betrayed this trust, damaging his credibility beyond repair. [pp. 67-68]

Krakauer alleges that Mortenson fabricated important parts of his two bestselling books, Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools. To prove these allegations, Krakauer identifies serious errors in chronology, he finds contradictions between the account in Three Cups of Tea and an earlier article by Mortenson, and he digs up lots of eyewitness testimony that does not agree with what Mortenson wrote.

Krakauer also alleges that Mortenson mismanaged Central Asia Institute (CAI), the nonprofit organization he established to build schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan. To prove these allegations, Krakauer interviewed former employees and associates of Mortenson, as well as former board members of CAI, who claim that Mortenson did not adequately document expenses (in some cases provided no documentation at all), used CAI funds for personal use, and bullied employees. Furthermore, according to Krakauer, Mortenson used CAI monies to promote Three Cups of Tea and Stones into Schools, while keeping the book profits for himself; promotional expenses allegedly included buying copies of his first book to keep it on the bestseller list. While it’s always wise to have some doubt about the opinions of disgruntled former employees, Krakauer managed to find so many disgruntled former employees and board members for such a small, newly-founded organization, that I at least had to doubt Mortenson’s managerial ability. Continue reading ““Three Cups of Deceit””