How much should an evangelist earn?

Elizabeth Scalia responds here to the accusations about enormous salaries being earned by professional Catholics.

Here’s my take on the evangelist’s pay scale:

If you work for free you’re just a volunteer.  You must not be very qualified, and anyway, what you’re doing isn’t work, it’s just a hobby.  It’s okay to impinge on your work hours.  It’s also okay to make you feel guilty for not doing more of it.

If you work for a pittance you must not be very good at it, or you’d be earning more.  Also, shame on you for accepting financial assistance from the government.  You should go out and get a real job.

If you work for a modest living wage, you probably couldn’t do any better in the private sector, anyway.  Also, how are your kids going to pay for college?  You should get a real job.

If you work for a respectable middle- to upper-middle class income, you’re in it for the money.  Don’t you know immigrants are living ten to a single-bedroom apartment?  Don’t you care about people?  Despicable professional Catholics. Also, you probably don’t care about the Gospel, just your paycheck.

If you work for a professional salary, commensurate with your skill and experience, you’re a sleazy money-grubbing con artist. It would be okay to work as an engineer, or an accountant, or a doctor, or even as a professor or an advertising guy, for that kind of money.  But you absolutely must not accept a professional salary for doing professional work of the top caliber, if that work is related to the Catholic faith.

If you run a vast and highly accomplished organization, and accept a salary that vaguely approaches something sort of like a shadow of what senior managers and CEO’s in the private sector earn, you’re working your way straight to Hell, one paycheck at a time.  Good Christians run car dealerships if they want that kind of money. Also, even though you’ve essentially walked away from millions of dollars in would-have-been wages had you worked with the same diligence in the private sector, you can’t be trusted to be generous and intelligent about how you spend your spare income.  You might be able to sneak into purgatory if you pay enough taxes (leftist critic) or contribute to the pundit’s cause (right wing critic).

So, how much should an evangelist earn?  About 25% less than the pundit.


17 thoughts on “How much should an evangelist earn?

      1. Scott Hahn’s not half bad either. Eric Sammons. Christian LeBlanc (underpaid, but he has a day job). Fr. Dwight Longenecker. Jason Evert. Heidi Hess Saxton. The whole crew at Midwest Theological Forum. Dr. Ed Peters. Sherry Weddell. Mark Shea holds his own admirably. Lisa Hendey. Larry D., in a puppet-exploding fashion. Eye of the Tiber. Dan Burke. Fivable. There’s a pile of good work being done.

        1. Chris Tollefsen. Peter Kreeft, most of the time. John McNichol does pretty well in his niche. Deanna Klingel. Mary Beth Bonacci, and Christopher West isn’t so shoddy either. Family Honor, small but diligent, and on the ball for what they do. Leticia Velasquez. Ignatius Press, Tan/St. Benedict, Pauline Media, and even my humble publisher Liguori is generating some good work that meets a real need. Sam Rocha? Have you discovered Sam Rocha yet? Watch out for him. Leah Perrault and her sidekick Brett Salkeld. David Calvillo. Marian Minute. William Mays. Brian Brown. Sarah Reinhard. Teresa Tomeo and her whole team. Holly Gatling. Never heard of her I bet, but she’s saved more lives than most bloggers put together, even if her desk is almost as chaotic as mine. Dr. Boli. Never underestimate the good work being done by Dr. Boli.

          1. The Nashville Dominicans, the Ann Arbor Dominicans, the Poor Clares of the Holy Eucharist in Charlotte, NC, the Franciscan brothers and sisters of the Renewal, the Benedictines in Oklahoma and the ones in Kansas, though the ladies chant better (to my ear) than the men do. People chuckle over John Michael Talbot, but I can personally put a few converted souls on his tally card, and if anyone’s going to help ordinary people learn to chant, he’s the one. L’Angelus is another winner on the better music in reasonable ranges collection. Bishop Baker has done alright (I don’t like to bishop-watch, but I’m a longtime fan). Fr. Kirby at Charleston Vocations and Fr. Jim LeBlanc in Family Life both do what they do impressively well. And with that I’m going to let off for the evening, because beer calls. Have a great one.

  1. Psst. To some it’s not ok to be an accountant making a salary commensurate with ones skill and experience either. Everything must be equal, equal all the time. It’s not just the evangelists who get nailed for making money. That said I am disgusted with what I have read about this video. Geez, can we please stop the infighting?

    1. Hehe. I always tell people that if you can stand accounting, it’s a great field. Not actually that hard, but most people are scared and/or bored by it, so they’ll happily shell out to get you to do their math for them. :-).

      1. ha! People who think accounting isn’t that hard or is for lesser mortals are usually the ones who haven’t found they need one yet.

  2. The issue stated on Kathy Schiffer’s Patheos blog in the 100+ comments be ex-CatholicAnswers supporters was not really how much anyone made, but how DARE someone making 6 figure salaries beg for more from their supporters. At least that is how the comments on Schiffer and Creative Minority Report read to me.

    1. CT – That is a valid point, absolutely. I think that donors should seriously evaluate the financials of the organizations they are considering supporting, and ask themselves if the group is managing resources effectively. Doesn’t bother me a bit if someone says, “I think the salaries indicate the organization does not need donors at this time.” Or even, “I think the salaries indicate the organization is using resources poorly.” So be it. That’s what managers do, and donors are arm’s-length mini-managers.

      (To clarify here: Where the amounts are small, or where a proxy measure of financial accountability satisfies the donor, so be it. But sheesh I get annoyed at the opacity of so many non-profits in this era when financials can be easily shared online in great detail.)

    1. No, I don’t think there’s much money — at least not that you can publicly admit to receiving without getting arrested. But hey, the question was who’s doing top notch work, not who’s getting paid for it. :-).

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