Clergy Gender Pay Gap • ‘Spiritual Treatment’ and Abuse • Sex Offender Pastor: News Roundup
This week’s headlines that affect churches and church leaders.
Clergy Gender Pay Gap • ‘Spiritual Treatment’ and Abuse • Sex Offender Pastor: News Roundup

The Clergy Gender Pay Gap. “Female clergy earn less on average than their male counterparts, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The data was analyzed by Tobin Grant, a blogger for Religion News Service who found female clergy members earn 90 cents for every $1 male clergy members earn. That's up from 76 cents on the dollar reported in 2014, but Grant says the data is misleading. ‘It’s unlikely that female clergy actually experienced a 21 percent raise in pay,’ Grant wrote. ‘The change reflects the sensitivity of the estimates caused by the relatively few female clergy in the data. There are enough to make a report, but there is less stability in the figures than for other groups.’ Census information provides a look at overall salary figures. According to the Census Bureau, which surveyed 3,997 clergymen and women in 2014, male clergy members earned an average of $44,164 that year, while women earned $38,533” (“Data: Female Clergy Earn Less Than Male Counterparts,” OpposingViews.com).

For more statistics and objective standards on clergy compensation, see the 2016–2017 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff.


Tennessee Moves to Repeal ‘Spiritual Treatment’ Exemption in Child Abuse Statute. “Tennessee lawmakers are moving to repeal a controversial 1994 law that was at the center of a long court fight over the 2002 death of a Loudon County child whose mother refused medical care in favor of ‘spiritual treatment’ and prayer. Without debate, the Senate last week approved 32–0 a bill by Sen. Richard Briggs, R-Knoxville, a cardiac surgeon, to repeal the ‘spiritual treatment’ exemption to the state's child abuse and neglect statute. The House Criminal Justice Committee is scheduled to consider the bill Wednesday [March 16]. It's sponsored in the House by Rep. Andrew Farmer, R-Sevierville, a lawyer, and won easy approval last week in the criminal justice subcommittee. The provision was intended to provide a shield from prosecution for child abuse or neglect if ‘the child is being provided treatment by spiritual means through prayer alone, in accordance with the tenets or practices of a recognized church or religious denomination by a duly accredited practitioner of the recognized church or religious denomination, in lieu of medical or surgical treatment’” (“State May Remove ‘Spiritual Treatment’ Shield to Child Abuse Law,” CommercialAppeal.com).


Connecticut Pastor Led Church for Five Years as Registered Sex Offender. “A pastor at a Baptist Church in New Haven, Connecticut, was allowed to continue leading his church for five years while on the state sex offender registry after a child-molestation conviction, letters from church officials and state court records show. It was only after his second arrest—in 2014 on child pornography charges—that Eli Echevarria stepped down from leading El Calvario Baptist Church, according to the letters and court records. Church leaders, who operate independently of the central Baptist governing authority in Connecticut, have not responded to multiple requests for comment. Echevarria is serving a two-year prison sentence” (“Baptist Church Was Led by Sex Offender for Years,” Courant.com).

See a comprehensive overview of background checks in “Answering Church Leaders’ Common Questions about Background Checks.”


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